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Toy Soldier Collector 75 Years strong
75 Years strong

British Model Soldier Society President Michael Creese reports from their annual show at which the Society celebrated its 75th anniversary

The Annual Show arranged by the British Model Soldier Society is a unique event. No other modelling show offers such an eclectic mix of displays, competitions and trade stands right in the heart of London. It is an event which caters for all aspects of military modelling and collecting, from the old toy soldier right through to the most modern of trends. This year's Jubilee Show, marking the seventy fifth anniversary of the Society's foundation, was at a new, and by popular consent, more pleasant venue the Holiday Inn, Coram Street, London. The founders of the Society would have been astonished to see the variety and the high level of skill demonstrated by the entries in the competitions. Much has changed over the period of the Society's existence and it is certain that change will continue over the next epoch. In his closing remarks, the President of the Society thanked Historex Agents for sponsoring the competitions and all those who had worked so hard to make the day such a success.

Class 1, for single figures up to and including 54mm in height, is always a popular and keenly fought class. This year, for some reason, it was dominated by WWI pilots ! There were two examples of Billy Bishop, Werner Voss (with tailplane), a RNAS pilot, and finally 'Low Flyer', a German pilot with his motorcycle. This piece with its beautifully and subtly rendered fieldgrey uniform not only won a Gold Medal for Dave Maddox but also the President's Medal.

In Class 2, for larger single foot figures, there was a wide range of subjects including four Napoleonic 75mm models made by Pegaso. These were alongside a Roman, two Templars, Nelson and a soldier of WWI.

Class 3, for single mounted figures, has not been particularly well supported for a number of years. The winner of the Silver Medal awarded in this class was a 30mm flat 'Raymond of Toulouse'. As the judges pointed out, painting a horse effectively requires a very special skill.

Sadly Class 4, for vignettes of two or three figures, was not well supported either, though 'Men at Arms' was a charming piece with the two men leaning against a foliage bedecked pole. Nor were there were many entries in the class for groups and dioramas either (Class 5), though the Chief Judge's entry of a howitzer was an impressive piece of work.

Fortunately Class 6, for tanks, soft skinned vehicles and artillery, was much better supported. There were two ambulances among the tanks and an even more unusual entry was the Hussite war wagon. A few figures would have enhanced this entry significantly. Most striking of all, however, was the destroyed armoured car among a group of small scale models. One wonders how many spotted the little grave marker alongside the wreck. Modelling at this level requires a very high level of knowledge, skill and above all, imagination.

Class 7 for so-called 'Toy Soldiers' takes the Society back to its roots though the present day models which are marketed as so-called 'toys' are a long way from the early Britains. This year among a wide variety of subjects we had a War Elephant, a range of figures from American history and soldiers of Louis XIV. The Crimean Royal Artillery battery travelled from Yorkshire in sections and was assembled at the Show.

Class 8, for converted and scratchbuilt models, was another class which enabled the entrants to display their skills at the highest level. There was a large scale model of the US pilot in the act of ejection from his cockpit, a football game between an RFC pilot and his dog with the outstanding entry in this class being the Civil War officer entitled 'Roundway Down'.

Class 9, for Busts, had some superb examples of the genre, some of which have recently appeared in the modelling press. There were two 'Lucky Jack's, a Minuteman and a beautiful Elizabeth I. The outstanding piece in the class was 'They told me it would be over by Christmas' with a Grenadier Guardsman (judging by the cap badge) blowing on his mittened fingers.

Class 10, for non-military entries, had a very wide range of subject with flats, a bust and fantasy figures among the more conventional round figures.

Class 11, for younger modellers, should please readers of this magazine as two 54mm figures were among the models the younger members decided to enter and I personally look forward to seeing more of the younger hobbyists work in the future.

One of the most popular classes was the Crusader Class which was a special class to mark the Society's Jubilee. The figure was generously made available to BMSS members by Matthew Thair of White Tower Miniatures and the class was judged by him. The three placed modellers were presented with figures of their choice from the White Tower range. There were thirteen entries in the class and it was interesting to see the variation which could be achieved using the same basic figure. The majority of the Crusaders entered wore white surcoats but there were also red, black, crimson and parti-coloured robes. One entrant had added a horse, and another a palm tree.

Overall the show, and competitions, proved to once again be an enjoyable day for members, general public, competitors and traders who attended on the day. Here's looking forward to the next 75 years of the UK's oldest modelling and collecting club!

Date Published Tue, 07/27/2010 - 18:52
Author: Michael Creese

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Denham Green



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