Clifford Ansell was looking for an interesting retirement job that would keep him busy. Cliff had spent much of his life working in the mining industry (apart from a few years away with the Royal Navy in the 1940s) he ended up a mining engineer and an expert on mine safety, ventilation and dust suppression. In the 60s Cliff moved on to a second career as a maths teacher: he taught maths at Bishop Dunn Comprehensive in Nottingham.

Cliff's son was, and is, my father: Bryan Ansell who had made toy soldiers with Skytrex, Tabletop, Asgard and Citadel/Games Workshop. He ended up owning GW and was responsible for games like Warhammer Fantasy Battle, 40K, Space Hulk etc.

When Cliff announced that he was going to take early retirement, Bryan suggested that Cliff might like to have a go at manufacturing toy soldiers himself.

Cliff was already experienced in dealing with both stubborn Lancashire miners and wilful, disorganised children: so it was clear that the strange mindset of the confused denizens of the toy soldier industry would be absolutely no problem for Cliff to handle.

As it happened: this was the time when Citadel was starting to change from metal based models to their new "slotta bases", and also ceasing to make historical models. Bryan was able to set Foundry up with a number of discontinued ranges - Barons Wars and Wars of the Roses Medievals, Samurai and the Vikings, Normans and Saxons, Woodland Indians, Huns and Elizabethans initially (these had all previously served as Human forces in Warhammer Fantasy Battle for some years). Further hundreds of other Citadel models followed. We still make those models at Foundry today, though we cannot manage to have them all in stock at the same time.

Michael and Alan Perry sculpted almost all these models and were keen to continue sculpting historical models for their own painting and wargaming purposes, so they continued to sculpt new Foundry ranges for Cliff for quite some years. Alistair Morrison and Dave Andrews both contributed ranges too.

So, Foundry was up and running very quickly indeed. Cliff first had premises in Sherwood, then moved to a larger unit in New Basford. The upstairs in New Basford was taken by Alistair and Trish Morrison: who sculpted the Marauder range for Games Workshop up there.

For a long period, Foundry was making many master moulds and production moulds for Games Workshop whenever they found themselves with more moulds than they could handle. Over the years many ex Games Workshop staff worked for Foundry; most notably John "Bones" Ellard, "Ep" Epworth, Andy Pattinson, Kevin Adams, Colin Dixon and Shane Hoyle.

In 1991 my father left Games Workshop and went off to Guernsey for a decade or so. In Guernsey he had three children, restored four old houses (he does that wherever he goes: not the children, just the houses) started Guernsey Foundry and made Seven Years War, Old West, Pirates and Darkest Africa models these were mostly sculpted by Mark Copplestone. When he came back to England in 2000 he brought his ranges and a couple of the Guernsey staff with him, started restoring a house near Newark and took over running Foundry from Cliff. He produced more Seven Years War, Darkest Africa and loads more Old West, then Street Violence, Vikings, Gladiators, various Romans, 16th century Swashbucklers, huge ranges of Greeks and Macedonians, Fantasy and various odds and ends.

In 2005 my father left Foundry and went back to gardening and restoring houses.

We only re-entered the world of toy soldiers because my cousin Neil Littlewood went to work at Foundry for a while, and it became apparent that there were serious problems that needed sorting out. In the end we stepped in, and the Ansell family are running the factory again.

We have moved Foundry into the huge old Carriage Court alongside our house in East Stoke.

My father has recently returned to the fray: working on new ranges with Kevin Adams.


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