How to play with toy soldiers – AKA plastic army men! You probably already know there are numerous ways of playing with these little dudes but one of the most enjoyable ways (opinion) is by standing them up, and knocking them down with a ball or a rubber band!

And another way of playing with your little toy soldiers is by playing “Forts”.

This article looks into the details of how to play Forts based around the modes of play mentioned above. Standing these little plastic soldiers up and knocking them down on your own isn’t out of the ordinary – but… the army men aren’t your enemy!

The other player is!

How to play with toy soldiers - thy fortress style

Plastic army men! These little bits of neglected plastic are often left at the bottom of the toy drawer or lay abandoned in attics for decades on end. Their distorted features left to stare and gurn into toy purgatory. Forever lost and hidden behind old furniture.

“Help us… we want to be played with. We are only plastic, but if we could talk.”

That is what they would say if could talk. Or shout, they often have shouting expressions.

It is time to dust these their distorted bodies off – and put them to action!

Line up them up, and knock them down!

Playing Forts: This post shows what you can do with these little guys and how to play with toy soldiers is simple, just follow steps. There are numerous ways of course you can play with little plastic army men, but this way tells it from a first-hand perspective, going into detail and of how it plays with simple to follow rules.

Myself and my brother…

We had great fun with them!

Especially if you like pinging, or throwing things.

Playing Forts involves turn-based moves to knock out your enemy’s forces before they knock out yours.

This mode of play combines accuracy, the ability to protect your squad, ingenuity, and … a pinch of strategy.But mostly throwing! Lots of throwing actually, or bowling!

“Forts” it didn’t have an official name when I and my brother played it. But it works. In simple steps, how we played Forts with army men and how you can too.

Attack them, knock them down before they knock over yours!

How to play with toy soldiers | the “Forts” way!

Playing with toy soldiers the way I’m going to show is easy enough for a child to understand from the ages of 7+. The learning curve is more like a gentle slope so should be okay. But be warned, things may get a bit carried away for an excitable 7-year-old, or excitable 32-year-old for that matter.

“The player that knocks down the most soldiers WINS!” – that is a general idea. That is the trophy of awesomeness you can give to yourself

– I knocked a lot of soldiers over, with a ball! By smashing little green army men!

Side note, I have played this game with colleagues and it was a laugh and huge stress reliever in a busy office. Assuming you are allowed, or semi- allowed. You should bring your big old bag of toy soldiers to work and give it a try, you big kid! But not to the detriment of your job! Don’t get fired as HR may not permit this game being played at work so bet to check first!

The gameplay

These are the core principles and rules for the game.

1) Position your army to your advantage – reduce causalities.

2) The other principle is to knock as many enemies soldiers over as you can!

2 armies meet on the battle field - how to play a game with plastic army men!
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What you need to play “Forts” with Army Men

  • You will need to select an army each. (2 armies)
  • Each player will occupy each side of the room. You will need to be at least 6 feet apart (if possible). So an open space. (floor)
  • Each player will set up their armies opposite each other. You can use bits and pieces such as boxes, CDs, cups etc as barriers if you want to – I would even advise too!
  • You will need a small squishy ball or a ping pong ball to play.
  • Both players will take it in turns to throw the ball/bullet/projectile to knock down your enemies soldiers
  • The player that knocks down the most soldiers, WINS! So you will need your victory dance or how not to be a sore loser.

That is the main (simplified) rules for the game. Pick an army each, stand them up, knock them down, and the player that does this best wins the game!

There are hardly any rules to remember.

The fun comes with seeing all the enemy players soldiers bouncing into the air and flying in all directions from the impact of your ball.

But be warned.

This game can get silly. A bit like Throw Throw Burrito. That’s a very silly game for all the right reasons!

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About Playing “Forts” with plastic army men

If you are in your 30’s, you may look at plastic army men as a redundant toy (oh yeah them!). A toy that harks back to the 80’s long before computers were the main and the term “screen time” was yet to become a thing.

These little green men were more often than not toy box filler and something to clutter up your shelves.

Many kids had these back in the day. We were left to use our imagination, build dens, hang out on street corners, etc. Or get a bag of cheap army men to play with! And play with them we did.

We played Forts with them and we loved it! I say we – me and my brother mostly.

Playing Forts with plastic toy soldiers was both fun and cheap. It kept everybody away from screens, even commodore 64’s, and encouraged a bit of lively bonding! And I am sure it will do the same for you.

How to play with toy soldiers... the aftermath


Let’s build an army base with these guys!

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Steps for playing with army men as a game | Part 1 | BUILD YOUR ‘FORTS’ OVERVIEW

With this mode of play, you will both need to stand your soldiers up, and knockdown each other’s soldiers to win the game.

As mentioned above you need, very little to play this game.

Steps on playing forts or “Army Men” the rules and set up!

1) Select your army colours

Each player will need to select different colour armies. For example, “player 1” can be the green army, and the other player, “player2” can be grey, tan, black of whichever other colours you have. Basically, you both need different colours.

2) Select how many soldiers you want to play with

Depending on how strict you want to be, select an equal number of soldiers each to make it a fair game. You may wish to play with 20, 50, 100, 300! It is down to you. A couple of things I would like to mention when playing with certain numbers is this.

Playing with more soldiers can make it more satisfying for both players. More pieces, more chaos!

Also, the more soldiers you decide to play with, the longer it will take to set up and tidy up afterwards.

3 ) Set the soldiers up for the game | build their army bases – Forts

Try to get approximately 6 feet apart, you can either play on the floor or on a kitchen table. If you can’t you cant! It shouldn’t break the game if you can’t put enough distance between you. Just try to put some if nothing else.

With your selected army, start to build your fort, base, or camp, however, you wish to see it. I’ve called it “Forts” in this post and it also fitting for the style of game you are going to play with them.

Once you have positioned your toy soldiers, jeeps, and tanks, make sure your opponent can knock your pieces over with the ball/missile. Tricky targets are allowed – just not impossible ones!

You can place your pieces on boxes, use barriers included, jeeps all sorts! As long as part or most of the soldier is able to be hit by the enemy player when the ball is thrown.

How to play with toy soldiers aim of the game

4 ) You will need a ‘bullet’ to play with – what to throw at the army men

Now that you have set up your army soldiers ready for play, you will now need a ‘bullet’ or a ball to throw at each other’s, soldiers!

A good item to use as a projectile or bullet is a Ping Pong ball or small squishy ball. Nothing heavy, nothing dangerous and nothing that can break family heirlooms!

This ball will be used to knock down each other’s army, just keep that in mind.

How to play with toy soldiers, what to throw!

So you have built your bases and forts for your army men! Now to the next stage. This stage is established.

Prepare your army for battle | Part 2

Now that your army is set up and ready for action. The next stage looks at how to play with toy soldiers with the detailed Fort rules. It should be mentioned, these are not official rules – as there are many ways to play with toy soldiers. But ones I used to play by.

You should both now have:-

  • Player 1 – one army set up so that the enemy player can see and or hit your soldiers
  • Player 2 – one army set up and ready for battle directly opposite the enemy player, player 1 so they can hit your army too!
  • A ball or projectile. This will be used to hit the other army!

Brace yourself, all crockery, pets, lamps, valuable objects are best moved out of the way The next stage looks at the rules of play.

Play with toy soldiers | THE FORT RULES | Easy follow

The main aim of this game is to knock out or knock over all of your enemy’s soldiers, vehicles, and barricades using the ball or the bullet. The player to knock over all (or most if you want a turn limit) of other players toy soldiers first, wins the game!


The overview of the game…

– Knock over as many of the enemy players’ soldiers as possible with the ball!

That is it.

“The player that has knocked the most soldiers over, wins. “

The rules to play forts with toy soldiers in simple bullets

1 ) Select an army each, 1 player can be green for example the other player can the brown.

2 ) Both players need an even amount of soldiers, try to make it so that the game can be played fairly.

3 ) Stand or sit approximately 6 feet apart and face each other. This is where your bases will be built. The space between you should be clear as to not interrupt your throw or shot. ( if you playing on a table, play at each end)

4 ) Build your bases or camps. Take the time to stand up and get all of your soldiers set up in place. Call this the preparation for battle. A bit of strategy can help here too, make use of cover.

5 ) Select your bullet – you need a soft, small light ball to throw at each other. As mentioned already , nothing too heavy as you do not wish to damage furniture

6 ) Get yourself into position ‘behind’ your army

7 ) The youngest player goes first

8 ) The youngest player takes the ball, takes aim, and throws the ball at the enemy player’s solders base (smash!)

9 ) Both players count the damage by seeing how many soldiers have fallen over. The fallen soldiers must be left where they fall. Remember – don’t be a sore loser!

10 ) Now player 2 takes their turn, take aim and knock the other player’s, soldiers, over and count the damage.

11 ) Both players now take turns until the end of the game. The game ends and the player wins when all of the opponent’s soldiers are knocked down first.

How to play with toy soldiers rules 3
Diagram from top down view of playing forts – game in motion. Get behind your line. Take aim player 1.
How to play with toy soldiers rules 2
Wham! player 1 hits player 2’s army. Player 2 looks at the damage and plans his throw. Players 2 is next.
How to play with toy soldiers rules diagram
Nice shot player 2! This goes on until the end of the game.

Happy gaming!

That is how you can play with plastic toy soldiers and get an hour or so of fun from relatively cheap toys!

Idea for a battle formation close up!

How to play with toy soldiers schematic

If you do not wish to play the game until all soldiers in the opposition have been eliminated, then you can play with a turn cap.

For example, after 6 goes each. The player that has knocked the most soldiers over, wins.

The only trouble with playing with a turn limit is that getting accurate numbers can be difficult. To get around this, you are the best counting how many soldiers you each have left at the end as opposed to trying to count the ones you have lost.

And if you lose your plastic army men… you may need to expand your army!

I don’t have any army men to play with, where can I get them?


In order to play the game of Forts, you will need to have some plastic army men to play with.

If you would like to support Dragon Bone Games by buying soldiers for your game of “Forts” you can purchase them, here on eBay. By following this link DBG may receive a small commission if you buy the product at no additional cost to you.

If you do not wish to buy these army men online, you can go to many thrift stores or £1 shops to buy a bag of soldiers to use in your game.

The more plastic soldiers, the merrier! At least that is my opinion.

You may also be interested in seeing what games you can play in flatshare and what low-cost family card games there are for adults and children. If you are looking for alternative ideas for games you can play at home.

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Additional rules for Army Men | Throwing the ball “bullet” at your targets

How you are allowed to throw the ball at the army men. Pretty much anyway that pleases you as long as you are behind your baseline when throwing.

The ball can either be bowled, thrown over arm, thrown under arm, skimmed, bounced, thrown hard, light it is down to you…

You can even try trick shots by bouncing the ball off of furniture such as a chair leg or table. The one thing that should be noted is that the other player is not allowed to interrupt your throw by catching, waving, or intercepting the ball.

The enemy player should be as out the way as possible so you can take clean shots at your target. So no waving hands, or flapping objects in the way! Cheaters!

You are only allowed 1 throw per turn.

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What other types of games can play with plastic toy soldiers?

There isn’t one single defined way with how to play with plastic toy soldiers, but I am confident in saying that the one mentioned throughout this post – “Forts” is great fun.

Using plastic army men is great for playing “forts” or bases as the little toys are cheap to buy and are generally and tough to break. Although they are easy to lose!

With toy soldiers, you could also use them in a board game setting taking turns to conquer the land.

With army plastic army men you could also role play with them and create an RPG. You can use them as action figures going in to save the day.

You can even shot at them with a NERF gun!

But, buy far in my biased opinion one of my most cherished childhood memories. Is by standing them up and knocking them down with a small ball.

Just remember not to be a grump when all your pieces go flying!

Had enough?

or read on to the BATTLE of the VHS tower further down. An epic between plastic army men and brothers!

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Product Listings

Where to buy plastic army men –


The battle of the knackered 1980’s living room floor & VHS Tower

plasticine ball

It was a gruelling battle. My brother had set his base up, I had set mine up. The battlefield was set, its natty greige pattern and shallow pile barely disguised our squadrons.

The bunker was made from Sega Mega drive cases – the VHS video’s too had also been amalgamated into epic 3 tier watch towers for my little green army men to stand upon and gaze to over the horizon line of 5 foot away.

One soldier stood proud, watching the conflict from his tower of videos.

Binocular guy scouted the horizon…


Same day, day different- well you know how the saying goes. Binocular guy pulls out a fictitious miniature invisible army ration sandwich and takes a hearty bite. Cheese and pickle, his favourite but he can’t take another bite. No, not because he is made of plastic and it is imaginary. He has seen something.

From nowhere a hairy bitty ball of brown plasticine covered in nasty came hurtling towards the tower!

Army men animation - prepare for impact

“TAKE COVER!!!” He cried!

The 3 tier watchtower was destroyed, the troops were scattered. The corner had been knocked out. It was chaos… it was a bitter blow.

The imaginary sandwich lay discarded on the ground with cliché bite mark taken out of the corner. The binocular guy was gone…

But one crafty soldier – no not binocular guy… heavy machine gunner remained! The long barrel of his 50 cal gun popped out from behind the lowest VHS case… the non-destroyed one.

My army retaliated. I picked up the grotty-hairy-gritty ball of plasticine that had picked up even more hair and bits as it rolled across the living room carpet – most likely un-hoovered! And threw it back into his ranks!

Soldiers flew in all directions on impact! Some bounced into other soldiers, knocking them over. Others tumbled over but a few unfortunate ones were hit with such force they vanished behind the sofa… most likely not to be seen for 10 years.

It was and long tense battle, most likely lasting every bit of 15 minutes. And I can’t really remember who won.

But that wasn’t the important thing.

Not really.

All I can remember is the massive amount of fun I had playing with little plastic army men with my older brother.

A good memory.

Fancy a game of Army men anyone? Or should I say “Forts”

That is just one way of how to play with little plastic soldiers – there are many. And I am sure there are many many more ways people have played with this cult and under-appreciated toy. You can play it our way which we loved. And that is how you can play army men…

Or you can play it your way.

Over and out squadron! That was one way of how to play with toy soldiers. Here is another way as seen on Fatherly.