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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Action Report: National Capital Model Soldier Society 2011 Toy Soldier Show

As I mentioned in a previous post, yesterday I had the chance to attend the 50th NCMSS Toy Soldier Show. There is always something special about seeing all these figures and vehicles live, even if some of them are in a diferent scale, time period or material than what I collect. In fact, sometimes it feels like I could just get them all if space and budget weren't a constraint! the other nice thing about attending these shows is that you get a chance to talk to and share experiences with some of the other folks in the hobby, dealers and fellow enthusiasts in person, and that's also enjoyable and rewarding.  Larry Weindorf from Larry's Legions, Gary Green from Warstore Collectibles, and the guys from the Northern Virginia Gamers Society were a real pleasure to chat with. Anyhow, I took a few pictures -just a thin slice of what there was to see- to try to give you an impression of what the event was like.

So this is a view of the dealer room. It was hosted inside the basketball gym at a local college. There were probably about 30 or 40 vendors. On the smaller side compared to other shows I've been to, or the one coming up in Chicago, but large enough to keep you busy for several hours with all sorts of things beyond figures like books, videos, paintings, etc. In terms of attendance, it was very well attended from the start. I got there 10 minutes after it opened and I already had to park in the adjacent parking lot!

One of the vendor displays that I enjoy the most is the one from George Guerriero's Minute Men Toy Soldiers. He spent the entire evening before and the morning of the show just setting up his scenes. A real joy to look at. The other nice thing about stopping by Gerorge's stand is that I always get a good deal from him on my figures and vehicles!

Minute Men Toy Soldier's North Africa display. I only took pictures of WWII scenes, but there was plenty more to see as you can tell by the other scene just to the left.

A western front scene: Fighting in hedgerow country.
Someday I have to get me some of those grassy mats. They really look like the real thing!

A bit of urban warfare. Unfortunately, most of these figures are metal, from King & Country, so they are outside the bounds that I have set for my collection, but they are still the right scale and time period!

Here is one of my favorite details in the whole display. Looks like Santa got himself into a little bit of trouble!

Another stand with a nice display was the one from the Hobby Bunker.

I particularly liked their Figarti Minesweeper Sherman. Unfortunately, that manufacturer is really for collectors with very deep pockets. The price tag on this Sherman, about $250!

Here is another nice display from Crown Miniatures.
I particularly liked their mounted unit.

The Marine Corps Museum was also present at the show and had a stand with the WWII uniform and equipment. I had to snap a picture to document the actual colors as the marines are one of the sets that I am going to be painting in the next few months. BTW, if you ever have a chance to visit the Marine Corps Museum, do so. They have some very nice life-size dioramas and the entrance is free!

The Soldier Show also has another room setup with dioramas and figure displays from members of the NCMSS. Those are not for sale, but are even nicer to look at. This is a really nice and detailed diorama, courtesy of modeler William Herd, of a fighting scene on Italy's Gothic line. The German defenders are fighting from a gun turret and a series of trenches that surround it. The turret is just the tip of an underground bunker, with multiple layers of nice, realistic detail.  

The diorama slopes back to represent the mountainous and rugged terrain of the italian countryside, and makes ingenious use of different figure scales to increase the depth peception in a short distance. Another nice detail are the explosions. It is really hard to make fire look realistic, and not only has William managed to do that, but also he has posed the figures and equipment that were caught in the explosion in mid-air. My quick picture shots don't really do justice to it, but at least you get an idea of the caliber of this scene and the skill involved.

Another nice scene by William Herd. If I recall correctly these guys are alpine French troops.

This is a Tarawa diorama courtesy of modeler David Vickers. Next to it there was a 10+ page document describing all the research and work that went into putting it together. Every detail was researched (like the handles to the tank hatches or the tanks exhaust system) and if necessary it was custom built. Even the palm trees were built from two manufaturers: one makes good foliage with inadequate trunks, the other makes good trunks with poor foliage, so what did he do? He took the best from each and built his own palm trees. Very impressive.

A close up of the action. Definitely an inspiration for when I finally manage to put together my marine landing scene. BTW, did I mention that I also got a few Amtrak's yesterday in preparation for it?

So there it is. Just a few of the sights, but I hope they give you an idea of what the show had to offer.

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