BRAZILIAN FORTS MADE IN THE 1970's



As mentioned in my last text – Brazilian Far West – the shareholders of the company Casablanca decided to terminate its activities in 1969. One of its shareholders, Luis Lavin, together with other family members, decided to create a new company – Gulliver – to keep making far west toys in Brazil.

In this text I will talk about the forts made in Brazil during the 1970’s by this new company – Gulliver. In the sequence I will also talk about the forts made during that same decade by another toy maker – Trol.

All forts made by these two toy makers in the 1970’s were made of wood. No plastic. Well, there is one exception … in 1977 Trol released in Brazil (under license) the Playmobil collection, and the Playmobil fort (Fort Union) was made of plastic…

I finished my last text (mentioned above) with a fort that I referred to as “mistery fort”. That is because I am not 100% sure if this fort was produced by Casablanca, of if it was the first fort made by Gulliver. Then I will start this new text showing the same fort, since it can be one of the models made in the beginning of the 1970’s:

I do not have reliable information regarding the forts made by Gulliver between 1970 and 1972. In 1973 the company launched a new series named “Série Far-West” and, since then, we have well documented information.

Therefore, the fort shown above may have been the first one made by Gulliver, in its first years. This fort, if made by Gulliver, was almost a copy of the forts made by Casablanca. This copy would be understandable, since Gulliver was only starting its operations and did not have yet its own projects. The differences to the Casablanca forts were: a) the flag (7th cavalry, instead of American flag) and b) the way the lettering “Fort Apache” was shown.

The fort was composed of four walls, tower and headquarters.

Although the real 7th cavalry never garrisoned the real Fort Apache, this historical fact was always ignored by Gulliver. The company decided to explore the popularity of Fort Apache (from Rin Tin Tin), together with the popularity of the 7th cavalry (from General Custer and the Little Bighorn).

If I have doubt about the above mentioned Fort, I am pretty sure that the next fort was made by Gulliver between 1971 and 1972. It was the “small” model. Since then Gulliver would always make forts with different sizes: small, big and, sometimes, medium.

This next fort came assembled in the box. The box of this fort was decorated with an illustration from Nelson Reis, which I consider the most beautiful ever used in far west’s toy’s boxes made in Brazil. This same illustration would be used for the forts made until 1977.

Below is a picture of me with the artist Nelson Reis. The picture is from 2007:

Nelson Reis produced the illustration for many of Gulliver’s boxes, and some of his works will be shown in my texts.

This second fort did not have headquarters. However, it came with two sentry boxes (in plastic). Gulliver’s forts would then have sentry-boxes until the 1979 model, when they would be substituted by towers.

In 1973 Gulliver released the Far-West series, with various toys. Other toys that composed this series will be subject of future texts.

The series came with three models of forts: big, medium and small.

Differently from the previous one, they did come assembled, the four walls had to be engaged by the user. Big and medium ones had headquarters (a house). The small one did not have headquarters. The big one had four sentry-boxes. The medium and small ones had two sentry-boxes. All three came with 7th Cavalry flag, in flagpole. The gate of the big one was divided in two halves.

This is the big one:

Production of this model would finish in 1974. The big fort made between 1975 and 1977 would be different. However, the medium and small models would be almost the same from 1973 up to 1977. Differences;

In 1975 the word “Fort” would be changed to “Forte” (fort in Portuguese);

The headquarters house from the medium model would change – in 73 and 74 the “boards” of the house were vertical, just like the ones from the sentry-boxes. Between 75 and 77 the “boards” were horizontal, as shown in the picture below. That was the major difference.

Here are pictures of the medium and the small forts. The word “Forte” and the house tell us that these ones from the pictures were made between 75 and 77:

While the medium and small forts made between 75 and 77 were basically the same that were made in 73 and 74, the big one was very different. Below is a picture of the big:

At the end of 1977, sales of far-west toys were, unfortunately, decreasing. To try to stimulate them, Gulliver made big changes in the forts for 1978:

Instead of three sizes, big, medium and small, the forts now would have only two sizes: big and small. That would be the rule valid until 1989;

The color of the wood changed from red (used since 1964) to something like orange. That color would be used until 1989;

The forts came assembled, fixed on a basis;

The color of the sentry-boxes changed from brown to yellow;

The flag pole migrated from the center of the forts to the roof of the sentry-boxes;

In the big one the headquarters houses was substituted by three buildings: general quarters, command and ammunition warehouse. All made in plastic;

The small one now came with headquarters (the same house used since 1975 for the medium and big models);

Forts now came with American and 7th Cavalry flags, instead of only 7th Cavalry one.

The Brazilian production of far-west toys was always “inspired” by what happened in Spain…

If a Spanish factory decided to decorate the box with a picture of a boy playing … here we had the same idea…

That is what happened in 1978. The beautiful artwork from Nelson Reis, show above, was “retired”, and two boys were shown in the boxes of 1978 and 1979. Nelson Reis would come back in 1980. From these new boxes it is interesting to note that the boy shown in the box of the big fort is a little older than the boy shown in the box of the small one…bigger X big, smaller X small.

This is the box of the big fort:

This is the box of the small fort:

Bellow is a picture of the 1978 big model:

This is the 1978 small fort (missing the American flag):

The only change made for the 1979 forts was the substitution of the sentry-boxes for towers (always “inspired” by Spain). Below is a picture of the big 1979 fort. I do not have a picture of the small one, but just look at the last picture shown above and imagine towers instead of sentry-boxes.

The basis of the 1978 and 1979 forts represented desert terrain. Interestingly, the basis of the fort that I gained at the end of 1979 did not have this design, it was simply green.

I do not have images of the boxes of the 1979 forts. However, they were basically the same ones from the 1978 ones, only the fort was different (towers X sentry-boxes). If my memory is good the shirt worn by the boys was also a little different.

Forts made by Trol:

Since Brazilians did not care to preserve the history of our toys, we have to rely in the memory of the collectors to try to reconstruct such history. With some reliability my memory goes as far back as 1975. Behind that date it can not be relied on.

The first fort I will show is named Fort Sioux. I define this fort as being made before 1975 before I never had it, and my friends (with the same age) also never had it. I can not even be sure that it was made by Trol. However, if you look at the other forts that will be shown in the sequence you will see that the model is basically the same. That is why I list this fort as one of the models made by Trol.

Sentry-boxes and headquarters shown in the picture below are not original from this fort. The original ones are unknown, and might be different.

This fort came assembled.

Next three models are named Fort Rin Tin Tin. The TV series was a huge success in Brazil in the 1960’s and 1970’s, that is why Trol decided to use this name.

The first picture shows the small Fort Rin Tin Tin made before 1975. If there was a big one at that time, I do not have a picture of it.

Next two ones are the models of my childhood, made between 1975 and the beginning of the 1980’s. The fort was made in two sizes – big and small. The big one was named Super Fort Rin Tin Tin. Windows of the sentry-boxes were different from the prior model (shown above). Flag was neither American, nor 7th Cavalry, it only had the number 13. Maybe it represented a 13th Cavalry, which never existed in the old west…

Below are pictures of the two boxes (big and small), both showing Corporal Rusty and Rin Tin Tin. The artist is unknown.

Rusty and Rin Tin Tin were my heroes. I still remember the day when I entered a toy store and saw this box (above) for the first time. Do you know how it is when a kid “gets crazy”? Just imagine…

Here are the forts:

1977 was the year of a revolution for us, Brazilian kids. Playmobil showed up here, made by Trol. Maybe you can’t imagine the success … children literally invading the stores, pulling their parents, to get their new Playmobil toys. It is incredible that by the end of the 1980’s even with all this success, Trol went bankrupt and terminated its activities.

Anyway, I lived that frenzy, and I really wanted the Fort Union (first Playmobil fort made by Trol). That time was a little different, and we, kids, did not get everything we want. In modern times, kids command their parents and get everything they want. Thus, although I really wanted it I had to wait for some special date to get mine. When I finally got it I was very happy, but had a little frustration … only one soldier came with the fort. How could I do a battle with only one soldier? Of course, the strategy of Trol was to force parents to buy soldiers, once that their kids had the fort.

Here are the pictures of the box and the fort:

Well folks, that was what I had for now. Hope you have enjoyed this little trip through the 1970’s. Comments are welcome, even if you did not like the text.

See you in two months from now.

Marcos Guazzelli

September 2011





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De: Tadeu Mahfud
Nice Marcos, I just read it all again in English. Thanks for your efforts to keep our memories alive. I remember that I got the Fort Union from Trol as well, I love it by that time. All gone forever. Thanks to Lord I am getting everything back again. Best Regards.