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Old Soldier Night
Alex Riches explains a little about the British Model Soldier Society’s annual ‘Old Soldier Night’
The December meeting of the BMSS which is held at Napier Hall, Hide Place, Vincent Square, London is one where members are invited to bring along items from their collections and display them for the interest of their fellow collectors.
'Old Toy Soldier Night', as it has become known, is one of the most popular meetings the BMSS has each year and it always produces interesting displays with surprises and generally increases knowledge within our hobby, suffice to say this year was no exception.
In the past I have seen models by numerous different makers from around the world but where it was once mainly rare Britains and Lucotte that filled the tables, this year it was the turn of the German firm Heyde. Because of the strong interest in America and Germany, Heyde products are now among the most expensive toy soldiers to buy at auction, though a lot were imported here between the wars and if you are very lucky you may still find some at fairs and antique shops around the country.
The evening centres around a competition for the best or most interesting display and this year it was won By Alan Spalding with a large group of Heyde Arabs, among which was a set on rearing horses. In my fifty odd years of collecting I have never seen that particular figure and I believe they are rarer than my own Saxon Artillery Drum Wagon and member Stephen Dance's British Army Camp scene with its tents and a delightful vignette of officers seated round a table looking at a map, all three of the displays mentioned are by Heyde.
Another member, Peter Jackson, always brings along something a little different, this time it was a group of card and wooden cut out figures, some of the latter by Rene North, he also had a nice display of flats. One day when someone who knows something about flat figures judges this competition we might have a different result. John Franklin presented us with a little brainteaser, three boxed sets of Britains: Polish, Dutch (Netherlands) and Argentine Infantry, the question was which one was considered basic, which better and which was the best, now where did that idea come from? As these sets are based on the same figure maybe they should have been graded by rarity, afterwards John informed me that the Polish set is not rare and that the Dutch are rarer than the Argentines.
Sadly the Society was unable to hold the regular January auction this year, but there may yet be one in October. The annual show this year is to be held at The Holiday Inn Bloomsbury on Saturday April 28, and will as always cater for collectors as well as the keen modeller, with dealers selling plastic tank kits next to those selling toy soldiers, also for toy soldier enthusiasts, there is an open competition for figures painted in the toy style and another for converted or recast Britains.
If you are interested membership to the BMSS rates are as follows: £4 for children and £19 for adults (UK), £9 and £25 (Europe), £15 and £31 (ROW) and $22 and $47 (USA). Membership includes four quarterly magazines plus many other benefits.
12 Savay Lane
Heyde English Infantry Encampment (from the collection of Stephen Dance)
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