The introduction of the first plastic farm animals and figures derived from Britains metal moulds has provided the source of much debate and offers perhaps the most intriguing and largely undocumented account in the history of Britains plastic farm models, deserving of a chapter to itself.
The earliest reference to Britains plastic farm models is a 1957 monochrome export leaflet announcing the introduction of the first 9 models of a new "Unbreakable Model Home Farm Series". The leaflet exclaims - "The following short list indicates the first batch available, we have many others on the way" and "All models are finely detailed, hand finished and are a pleasure to look at". The leaflet lists the first 9 models issued, catalogue numbers 801-809 and, oddly, 814. Given Britains' apparent policy of issuing new models three or so times a year, my best guess would be that these models were issued towards the end of 1957.
Group of 1958 Britains lead mould figure colour variations - 812 Shepherd with Lamb and 813 Girl with feeding Bucket
Britains 1958 New Lines leaflet announced "We have pleasure in bringing to your notice our First Range of New Lines for 1958, with particular emphasis on the entirely new "Unbreakable" Farm and Soldiers", including new colourful triangular boxes, Farm Series Picture Packs and a show stand and show card available free of charge to the retailer. Loose farm models were sold in "bright and attractive" counter packs, the lid of which has a triangular shaped cut out to enable the contents to be clearly displayed on the retailer's counter.
LOOSE FARM MODELS
Britains allocated an 800 series to their new "unbreakable" farm models, renumbered in the Herald Farm range for 1959 - H2000 for the animals and people; H1700 for the accessories:
Lead mould Britains Ducks, left and Geese, right
H1719 Fence 
Derived from the lead mould fencing (586) issued in metal. Original catalogue number 801, this white plastic fence was moulded with two diamond-shaped bases and joined together at the top by two (or later three) integral plastic clips. Marked 'Made in England Britains Limited'. Sold from a 2-dozen counter pack. Renumbered H1719 in 1959 and from 1962 the 'H' prefix was discontinued. This cheaper utility fence was changed from polythene to pvc plastic around 1968 and was eventually withdrawn at the end of 1976.
Rarity rating: E
H2262 Goose 
Derived from the lead mould Goose (520). Issued as 802 in white plastic with grey wings, orange bill, eyes and feet. Renumbered H2262 in 1959 and in 1962 the 'H' prefixed was discontinued. Produced in pvc plastic from around 1968 and eventually withdrawn at the end of 1981.
Rarity rating: E
H2269 Ducks and Drakes assorted 
Derived from the lead mould Ducks and Drakes (533). Produced in white plastic with black painted eyes, yellow bill and feet. Renumbered H2269 in 1959 and in 1962 the 'H' prefix was discontinued. Only the duck is depicted in the 1965 catalogue, yet both the duck and drake appear to have been produced in pvc plastic and are found roughly in equal numbers. 2269 duck continued in the catalogue until it's eventual deletion.
Rarity rating: E
Smooth plastic 804 Cow, standing and 814 Calf, lying
H2132 Cow, standing 
The first lead mould standing cows were produced in smooth white plastic, probably only for 1958, before switching to textured plastic. Derived from the lead mould Cow standing (508). Unlike Herald, Britains used the same catalogue number for assorted colours of the same model so that 804 was issued in white textured plastic with either black Friesian or brown markings (various shades), grey horns and hooves, pink udders, ears and muzzle, black or brown painted eyes. The underbelly is marked 'BRITAINS LTD ENGLAND'.
Renumbered H2132 in 1959 with the 'H' prefix discontinued from 1962. Changed from polythene to pvc plastic around 1968. The eyes are now the same colour as the body markings, whilst the hooves are painted lighter green-grey.
The cow, standing is also known in rare dark brown plastic with light brown eyes, light grey hooves, horns and grey tip of tail.
Rarity rating: E (brown plastic: C)
Early Britains 806 Sheep, standing and 805, feeding, with black and cream painted faces and legs. All unmarked underbellies
H2209 Sheep, feeding 
H2209 Sheep, standing 
Derived from the lead mould Sheep feeding (511) and Sheep walking (510). Produced in grey textured plastic Early models have either chocolate brown or cream painted faces and hooves, which harder to find - especially the cream faced sheep face and hooves. Probably around 1960 only painted with chocolate brown painted eyes.
Renumbered H2209 'Sheep, assorted colours and positions' in 1959 and from 1962 the 'H' prefix was dropped to 2209. From around 1962 the base plastic changed to a slightly lighter grey and the underbelly is marked 'ENGLAND'. A rare variation of the later 'ENGLAND' marked sheep also exists in white plastic with pink painted face and hooves and black painted eyes. Withdrawn at the end of 1964.
Rarity rating: D (painted face and hooves: C)
Colour variations of Britains Collie Dog, with unusual brick painted example centre
H2229 Collie Dog, standing 
Derived from the lead mould Collie Dog (511). Produced in white plastic with either black or tan markings and black painted eyes. Marked 'ENGLAND' on underbelly. Non-standard variations are also known in dark brown or brick. Renumbered H2229 in 1959 and from 1962 the 'H' prefix was dropped to 2229. Withdrawn at the end of 1964.
Rarity rating: E (dark brown or brick markings: C)
H2187 Pig 
Derived from the lead mould Pig (514). Produced in either tan or black textured plastic, moulded with open or closed snout. Early pigs were unpainted and their underbellies unmarked. Renumbered H2187 'Pig, assorted colours' in 1959 and from 1962 the 'H' prefix was dropped to 2187. At some point the tan pigs switched to pink plastic with black painted eyes. Both the pink and black plastic pigs are marked 'ENGLAND' on their underbelly.
Buff plastic, unpainted lead mouldd pig and later pink plastic with black painted eyes
Black plastic Britains pigs with closed and open snout
Note: as with some other models it seems any transitional permutation is possible - the unmarked tan pig is found with black painted eyes and the pink 'ENGLAND' marked pig with unpainted eyes. In addition, the later pink pig is found unmarked. Withdrawn at the end of 1964.
Rarity rating: D
809 Piglets, assorted
Derived from the lead mould Piglets (546) issued between 1946-59. Produced in tan or black textured plastic. There are two poses - one piglet has its head up, the other is smaller and has its head down. The lead mould piglets were largely unpainted (though I do have one larger tan piglet with black painted eyes) and unmarked.
The lead mould piglets did not appear as loose models in the merged 1959 catalogue and, although depicted in two of the picture packs for that year, it seems likely they were replaced with the Herald piglets H2189 in these sets. Due to its size, the smaller lead mould piglet is particularly hard to find.
Rarity rating: C
Black plastic lead mould 809 Piglets, in assorted poses
H2261 Angry Gander 
Derived from the lead mould Angry Gander (519). Produced in white textured plastic with grey wings, orange bill, eyes and legs. Early ganders are unmarked with later models marked 'ENGLAND' under the right wing. Renumbered H2261 in 1959 and from 1962 the 'H' prefix was discontinued. From 1968 polythene changed to pvc plastic before being withdrawn at the end of 1969.
Rarity rating: E
Britains Lead mould lambs, including early painted lamb, centre
H2215 Lamb 
Derived from the lead mould Lamb (512). Produced in black or cream textured plastic marked 'ENGLAND' on underbelly. Early cream plastic lambs are painted with a black nose and hooves and are scarcer than later unpainted lambs. Renumbered H2215 'Lamb in assorted colours' in 1959 and from 1962 the 'H' prefix was discontinued. At some point white plastic lead mould lambs were introduced, probably replacing the cream plastic. Withdrawn at the end of 1964.
Rarity rating: D
Brown and grey plastic Britains lead mould Shepherds (the grey plastic figure has a replacement movable right arm)
812 Shepherd with Lamb
Derived from the lead mould Shepherd with Lamb (594) issued between 1954-59. Produced in either dark brown or grey plastic marked 'BRITAINS LTD ENGLAND' on underside of base and has a movable right arm.
· The dark brown plastic shepherd has a white shirt and lamb under left arm, grey beard and hair, flesh face and hands, yellow waistcoat, light brown boots and green base.
· The grey plastic shepherd's colour scheme differs in that he has a dark brown beard and hair; red waistcoat and dark brown boots.
In my experience, the grey plastic figure is harder to find than the brown plastic version and both are scarcer than 813 Girl with Bucket (see below). Not available loose after the end of 1958 (though continued to be depicted in the triangular box sets during 1959).
Rarity rating: C (grey plastic: B)