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Collecting Fighting Pairs
A.J. Mergenthaler explores the merits of collecting two figures which oppose each other and can be used to create small and dramatic displays
There are numerous and diverse ways to collect toy soldiers and military miniatures. I know there are collectors that specialize in a specific manufacturer, historic period, war, campaign, scale, medium, etc. I have even been aware of collectors of just cavalry of any period or specific units. I am sure that I have only scratched the surface of the plethora of collecting preferences of members of our shared hobby.
Although I am basically a generalist in terms of what I have collected over the years I have also attempted, when possible, to include two fighting adversaries to represent the opposing forces of those conflicts. Just to display a single fighting figure seems, to me, to be incomplete and disconnected to say the least. So I have tried to select pairs in order to put a degree of context to the figures. That requires, in many instances, a considerable amount of time and even luck to find complimentary, action, fighting figures that match up relatively well and are of similar quality or manufacture.
Space, in a magazine of this size and restriction, doesn't permit me to show all of the pairings I have acquired over the years. Illustrated are ten fighting pairs that demonstrate my penchant for mini-combat couplings. You can decide who has the advantage in each case. Try not to let your prejudices color your decision of the possible victor. In some cases the type of weapon would seem to settle the question or the combatants stance and/or position. There is only one pairing that seems to be a fait accompli that you would have difficulty to disagree with considering the situation. The selections include two Greeks vs. Persians; two Romans vs. a Briton and a Celt; a Gladiator pairing; three Crusaders vs. Saracens; a Japanese Samurai vs. a warrior priest and finally a Landsknecht vs. period hand cannoneer.
Only two are double base figures with the remainder paired up from available figures.
As mentioned above I am as a collector a generalist with interest in history from ancient to modern times and everything in between. Having said that I have always been drawn to figures of those periods of history where personal skill, strength and resolve in one-on-one, life and death confrontations were very personal and visceral. In more modern warfare where weapons, fire-power and technology have removed, to a degree, the personal contact and eye-to-eye confrontations of the past the examples shown are of the mano-a-mano variety.
Today, computer or radar guided missiles or unmanned drones can easily eliminate a vehicle, man or area miles or even continents away without having any personal contact directly with the target that is eliminated. An almost clinical approach in many cases to what in centuries past was an experience that was both terrifying and final for one or the other in the face to face, life and death situation.
Don't misunderstand me. War, death and killing are just as permanent whether by arrow, spear, sword, rifle, machine gun or missile. It is the personal, up close confrontation versus the more separated 'longer distance' experience that are illustrated in the ten pairings selected. Though the figures shown are beautifully sculpted, posed and painted they do represent the less 'civilized' way we as mankind have decided to settle our differences individually or collectively as societies and countries. The results, however, are the same only the means and general proximity of the combatants have changed to a greater degree.
I have always preferred action poses rather than the more static and commonly produced marching or standing at attention soldiers. And I generally am drawn not to fashion plate, immaculately clean uniforms but something much more in keeping with the reality of combat. Unlike many of the figures produced in the past some newer manufacturers are 'dirtying up' their figures to more accurately represent the reality of the battlefield. Having said that I hope you enjoy the ten examples illustrated in this short article. All of the pairings shown are figures that are from the Aero Art St. Petersburg Collection and are 54mm in scale.
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