Little green army men have been a mainstay in toy boxes for generations, but they are rarely updated. When you see them, you get a World War II vibe, particularly from the green color that isn't reflected in more modern military uniforms. However, if the color were changed, they wouldn't be little green army men anymore, now, would they? But that's not the reason they are what they are. These plastic soldiers actually predate World War II, having been introduced in 1938. And if you take the time to look closely, they aren't era-specific or consistent at all.
Those very first soldiers from 1938 were based off World War I troops and were fairly accurate models. Over time, however, they’ve become less and less accurate, mixing time periods with little regard for history. As the Wikipedia page for them explains, “They are equipped with a variety of weapons, typically from World War II to the current era, often depicting the 1964 Vietnam-era M16 rifle with fixed M7 bayonet. … Army men are considered toys and not models; due to this fact, historical and chronological accuracy are generally not a priority.” So they actually aren’t just from World War II, yet somehow they still seem to be from that time. “The little green army men sold in buckets are usually used like WWII GIs, although they more resemble Vietnam War era soldiers,” explains Kent Sprecher, the owner of Toy Soldier HQ and an expert on the history of toy soldiers.
Still, there are reasons that the World War II vibe is preserved in the little green army men -even as they are joined by little green army women. Read about the iconic plastic soldiers and how they became what they are at Mel magazine. -via Digg