Timpo Toy Knights of the Round Table 

This is were my interest in toy knights originated with these lead figures made by Timpo and inspired by the 1953 MGM Film .

All the models were painted as their screen characters. 14 models in all, but sadly no Guinevere. A model of Ava Gardner would have completed the set, but would small boys in those early fifties wanted a "girl" in their battles ?,unless perhaps Boadicea.

 

The models we advertised in toy magazines from late 1951 prior to the films release in 1953 and the look of the Timpo models follow the film style quite closely.
Especially the standing figure of King Arthur  Compared with to the production still

 

These 54mm scale hollow-cast Timpo Knights were designed by Norman Tooth and because of his expertise in mould design are well detailed. The knights are detachable from their horse, have visors on their helmets which go up and down, their lances and shields are also detachable. 

Plus they sport a brush like colour plumes. Sadly these do have a tendency to fall out, but can be replaced as they are standard air gun darts. 

The Knights are very different from the earlier Timpo Ivanhoe series, also produced for another MGM film, which have a different less detailed body casting. Please see Timpo Ivanhoe.

The early successful experiments to produce their lances in plastic lead to their demise when Timpo went into full time plastic production probably early 1956.and the Knights of the Round series and all their other great hollow-cast series were ended.

 

My information below is formulated from viewing a very large number of Timpo knights over the years, but I must point I'm still learning and finding and nothing is gospel in research of old figures

 

Production Changes.

Knight's Body

The Knights when first introduced were equipped metal lance and detachable shield. By the time production ceased the shield was soldered to the knights body and the lance was plastic. These changes came late in the production run, precise dates I don't have a clue.

The lances are very brittle, always breaking at the thin handle end ,just where it fits in the knights hand. Its not surprising that the later knights were sent out with plastic lances in black, orange, green, red and some of the very late coloured lances were also silvered.

There are now many replacements lances around, some almost as old as the original knights.

Unless they are made from white metal, they are very difficult to spot.

Most Timpo's because of their original price were bought as toys, and hence from personal experience the lances were the first things to get lost or break.

Production variations in colour did occur. I have collected a large number of this series, so when I note a colour change in my list below it has occurred on a good number of figures.

The horse and rider always colour match. 

Production problems. Shields such as Sir Modreds, I have found on King Arthur, but correctly painted in Arthur's colours. Sometimes I think a shield was a shield to a Timpo painter and production did not stop for lack of the wrong design. But, It didn't cause any problems for most of the knights as there was no raised motif on most shields. 

Sorry I sound such an anorak......as if it mattered.

Shields shapes. 2 new designs with raised motif's and 3 from the Ivanhoe series.

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King Arthur 

Sir Lancelot

Sir Mordred

Green Knight

Sir Bedivere

Sir Agravaine

Sir Percival

Sir Gawaine

Sir Gareth

Sir Percival

In the film Arthur has a dragon on his shield. The dragon is given to Arthur on the standing model, but for the mounted model Timpo took the lion design from the film for both Lancelot's and Arthur's shield. Obviously this was a cost cutting idea, the one shield design, two models with reversed paintings. Mordred got his own shield design, shame Arthur lost out, a dragon shield would have been wonderful.

In the film you may also notice that the lion on Lancelot's horse faces forward on the left side, but  backwards on the right side, heraldically not correct, but that's just too nit picking, its only a film.

Horses

The horse was the standard horse body use in knights of Armour and Ivanhoe series

The horses lost some of their decoration, resulting in later models having a smooth head without the bump.

id_horse_with_bump.JPG (14072 bytes) id_horse_without_bump.JPG (16309 bytes)

 

Heraldic Design

  Colour and heraldry did vary in some and this I have listed by figure where known.

Heraldic differences toy figures and MGM movie.

Timpo did a great job in reproducing models to fit in with the movie of Knights of the Round Table. When you consider they were designed while the film was being shot and appeared before the film was released in the UK. Model production costs had to be as low as possible so no intricate heraldic designs were possible. For fun have a look at what may have been, trying still to keep in the true toy style. Please see Arthur and Lancelot   HERE

 

Packaging.

Each knight was individually packed in tissue, with a sheet listing the Round Table range in a white box with a green label stuck on the front. This was later changed to blue. The product number and knights name were both stamped on one flap

Timpo_web_knight14.jpg (62967 bytes) Timpo_web_knight15.jpg (48952 bytes)

timpo_round_table_boxed_web_image.jpg (147703 bytes)

I have been told by a few, who remember seeing these knights being sold in sets in the USA .but I can't find any examples with this type packaging. Believe me I have hunted for for years.

Out there there as well , there must be a / some sample boxes with all the knights displayed. They were produce for the other knight figures for the Timpo salesmen, see no reason why this series should be be the exception. If you have a different box in your collection I would love to see a picture.

The 14 Timpo models

 

King Arthur. timpo number K.N.69 (mounted) K.N.78 (standing)

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Film character played by Mel  Ferrer 

MGM Film .

The heraldry colours don't vary too much nor does the paint design. 
 

 

Sir Lancelot. timpo number K.N.70 (mounted) K.N.79 (standing)
flancelot.JPG (27726 bytes)

timpo_round_table_70_1.gif (89395 bytes)

lancelots.JPG (15737 bytes)

Film character played by Robert Taylor 

MGM Film .

The colours are almost the reverse of King Arthur's. The raised shield motif is the same but painted golden yellow instead of Arthur's red. 
 

 

Sir Mordred. timpo number K.N.71 (mounted) K.N.80 (standing)
fmordred.JPG (26725 bytes) timpo_round_table_71_2.gif (117107 bytes)

mordreds.JPG (14267 bytes)

Film character played by Stanley Baker

MGM Film .

The unicorn shield raised motif is only used for Mordred.

As can be seen from the photograph usually black plume, but I have found originals with a blue plume

 

 

Sir Percival. timpo number K.N.72 (mounted)
fpercival.JPG (25901 bytes)

Timpo_round_table_percival_web.jpg (314678 bytes)

percival_shields.jpg (11108 bytes)

Film character played by Gabriel Woolf

MGM Film .

Colours are quite constant either a light blue or dark blue,I find them in equal numbers.The shields can be found in two types, wide crusader or the narrower as found on Ivanhoe knight Ralph de Vipont  or Hugh de Bracy.

The shield heraldry colours blue and white can be reversed, found in equal numbers  

 

 

Sir Gareth. timpo number K.N.73 (mounted)
fgareth.JPG (25373 bytes)

Timpo_round_table_gareth_web.jpg (65535 bytes)

Film character played by Anthony Forwood

MGM Film .

Colours are usually quite constant, but I have found the dark grey/black colour as a dark green on the knights body. Shield used is the same as found on Ivanhoe knight Ralph de Vimper etc
 

 

Sir Gawaine. timpo number K.N.74 (mounted)
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Timpo_web_knight19.jpg (21043 bytes)

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Film character played by Robert Qrquhart

MGM Film .

Colour change, some figures are dark blue with blue yellow shied or mid blue with a yellow blue shield. . Shield used is the same as found on Ivanhoe knight Ralph de Vipont etc
 

 

Sir Agravaine. timpo number K.N.75 (mounted)
fagravain.JPG (27899 bytes)

timpo_round_table_75_2.gif (96796 bytes)

timpo_round_table_75_1.gif (106208 bytes)

Film character played by Stephen Vercoe

MGM Film .

Colour, a darker and lighter versions found. Shield used is the same as found on Ivanhoe knight Philip de Malvoisn etc.
 

 

Sir Bedivere. timpo number K.N.76 (mounted)
fbedivere.JPG (27721 bytes) timpo_round_table_76_2.gif (82741 bytes)

Film character played by John Brooking

MGM Film .

colour, few differences found. Shield used is the same as found on Ivanhoe knight Philip de Malvoisn etc.
 

 

The Green Knight. timpo number K.N.77 (mounted)
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timpo_round_table_77_1.gif (87171 bytes)

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Film character played by Niall MacGinnis

MGM Film .

I often wonder why this knight was designed so differently. and only used once in the range. Perhaps that's why it was re issues as the second series Ivanhoe. A round shield like Ivanhoe the black knight. Colour, the green changes from a mid green to a lime green in a few models. 
 

 

Simon. timpo number K.N.81 (standing)
simon.JPG (14153 bytes)

Film character played by Howard Marion-Crawford

MGM Film .

I have noticed no changes. You get quite a few models that have been embellished with shield colour by collectors.
 

 

Lambert.timpo number K.N.82 (standing)
lamberts.JPG (14966 bytes)

Film character played by John Sherman

MGM Film .

I have noticed no changes. You get quite a few models that have been embellished with shield colour by collectors.
Why stop with what was produced, there are plenty of broken figures around for your own conversions 

Three of my figure conversions   HERE 

timpo king arthur group 2.jpg (82782 bytes)

 

 

Timpo Hollow-cast figures have been under the shadow of the mighty Britains ranges, but now at long last they are being recognized as the gems they have always been.. Happily Alley Gee's Timpo name will take it's rightful place along side Britains as one of the great figure manufactures.

 

 

Further model Knights by other makers inspired by the Arthurian Legend 

                

If you would like to see more of the Timpo range of knights such as their Ivanhoe Knights range     please go to my Toy Knights page    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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