Cannonball reader Mark Anderson supplied these photographs which first appeared in the Birmingham News supplement on June 24, 1956. Identifiable figure manufacturers include Bussler, Wm. Britains, and Tru-Craft.
The 1950s marked the beginning of the golden era of toy soldiers. So many manufacturers came and went in the 50s and 60s, with so many wonderful memories for a generation of boys. I had a huge collection of 54mm figures, which included Marx, Timpo, MPC Ring-hand, and so many others. My kids, and now my grandsons, played with them as well, so we have received three generations of fun and entertainment from the toy soldiers.
One wonders what ever happened to the Connecticut diorama shown above and below?
Scan of another page of the old newspaper article from 1956. Ike was in the White House, and interest in action-oriented themes was high. It was the era of Davy Crockett, science fiction, toy soldiers, cowboys and Indians, and the like.
I have recently completed a small vignette for my wargaming table, as well as to use to attract attention to my table when I am selling and signing my Civil War books I have written. This scene shows a Pennsylvania German farmer, let’s call him Jacob, nervously guarding his barn as he spots a distant dust cloud which indicates the arrival of Confederate foraging parties in his neighborhood. “Here come the Rebels!” has been the cry for weeks, and they have not come.
Until now, that is.
Jacob has failed to take his horses to safety (they are in the stable in back of the barn). He will attempt to negotiate with the raiders. He has a yellow membership card to the Knights of the Golden Circle, knows their secret password and identifying hand signals. For this information he has paid $1 to a couple of men from New York City who have visited his farm. They sold him the ticket and secret signs and told him the Rebels would leave his personal property, livestock, and horses alone if he showed them he was a member of the Southern-sympathizing K.G.C.
Click on the photos for better views of old Jacob and his farmstead.
Here are a few photos of sections of the massive HO-scale diorama of the Battle of Gettysburg which is located at the Gettysburg History Center (formerly Patriot Point) on Steinwehr Avenue in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A Michigan man constructed the layout in the early 197os in southwestern Michigan and displayed it at a shopping mall in Kalamazoo. Later, the diorama was moved to Artillery Ridge Campground in Gettysburg and more recently was relocated to the present location along the main tourist street in Gettysburg.
Wm. Britains has long been one of the best producers of collectible 54mm toy soldiers. In recent years, they have been producing dioramas as advertising pieces. Shown above is a part of the diorama at the Gettysburg National Military Park’s museum bookstore in the Visitors Center.
Here are two photographs of a similar diorama in the Visitors Center at Manassas.
Wm. Britains is a long-time and storied name in toy soldiers. I had a small collection of Britains as a kid growing up in southeastern Ohio. The name has stood for quality for many decades. The firm has produced thousands of poses in a wide variety of genres over the years.
The company as sales promotion has provided small dioramas to several sales retail outlets such as Visitors Centers at selected battlefields, including the Manassas National Battlefield in Virginia.
Click on the photo to enlarge it for easier viewing.
Back in the late 1970s when I was in the undergrad Paper Science & Engineering program at Miami University near Cincinnati, Ohio, my roommate Charles Reace and I used to enjoy playing all kinds of wargames. One of my favorites was a board game from SPI entitled Fast Carriers. We spent hours playing that game and munching on pizza from Student Delivery Service (SDS had some of the very best pizza that I have ever eaten). Charles and I also enjoyed marathon games of Risk with some of our dorm buddies.
We also got into miniatures, thanks to a grad student named George Nafziger. He invited my roomie and me to start playing 25mm Napoleonics, and we were hooked.
Charles starting buying and painting WWII miniature aircraft, and I began painting 20mm ACW figures I bought via mail order from K&L in Oklahoma. I saw an ad in the back of Civil War Times Illustrated and ordered some figures. Whenever I had some extra money, which for a college kid was not often enough, I ordered a few more figures until I had amassed more than 100.
Dennis Morris of New York is one of my cyber buddies on a popular website, http://www.militaryhistory.com, where he frequently posts photographs of his massive Gettysburg diorama. He sent me a couple photos of his latest diorama effort; it is a superb effort worthy of museum quality. He sells art prints based upon photographs he takes of his diorama layout; for examples from his portfolio and ordering information, please visit his website, Diographics.
Here’s his newest layout – what a magnificent terrain table!
Click on the photo to enlarge it for easier viewing!
What a massive layout! This is Dennis’s second layout; pix of his first effort have previously appeared here on the CHARGE! blog. Have a look!
To see all my previous posts on Dennis’s fantastic dioramas, please visit the links below!
How’s this for a very large gaming layout / Civil War diorama? The tabletop is 80 square meters (yes, 80!!!) in area and there are 25,000 carefully painted 25mm figures in miniature action! A gaming group in Germany has constructed this impressive layout for their planned refight of the Battle of Gettysburg in miniature.
Very nice, indeed!
For more photos by Uwe Wild, please click here.
Advance skirmishers from the 6th U.S. Cavalry await the expected approach of enemy troopers off to the east. “Grumble” Jones’ Rebel horsemen have dismounted and are slowly working their way toward the Federal position. They will need to cross a muddy plowed field while under the carbine fire from the blue-bellies, whose mission is to slow the Laurel Brigade as long as possible to allow time for the rest of Wesley Merritt’s Regular Brigade to arrive on the scene and deploy.