While some students may see art class as a time to unwind or let their creativity really surge outward, Jacob decided to combine his creativity with a love for his country, the United States of America. This high school junior decided to make an American flag using materials other than cloth; he used plastic Army men for a project that required more nearly a dozen days to complete.
Jacob’s “flag formation” of toy soldiers consists of seven varieties and totals out to 4,466 pieces. Rather than track down army men made of plastic colored to match the flag’s colors, Jacob used a spray-painting tool to apply the appropriate colors to his brigade of soldiers. Once every soldier was properly saturated in red, white or blue, Jacob hot-glued their bases to a 4′ by 6′ panel; the end result was a group of soldiers positioned exactly where the 50 stars and 13 bars belong on the American flag.
Jacob’s primary medium in the project, the army men toy soldiers, were first molded as toys back in 1938. Plastic army men were sold as light-weight alternatives to lead soldiers, possibly because plastic was a new, cheap, and more exciting material for many industries. While the initial army men toy soldiers were designed after the attire and equipment American servicemen from World War I, the conclusion of World War II shifted the designs to reflect the uniform and equipment of American soldiers of World War II.
Army men have been produced in several colors of plastic beyond olive green; German soldiers were made in grey plastic, Japanese soldiers in yellow, French soldiers in deep blue, British soldiers in khaki brown. The toys have become such a consistent toy in American childhoods that they make appearances in the “Toy Story” films and also inspired a franchise of video games among the third-person action and real-time strategy genres.