Friday, February 14, 2020

Louis Marx...Santa's best helper

I’m a baby-boomer who is running breathlessly trying to catch up with my childhood. Over the last few years I’ve been selectively acquiring some of the favored toys from my childhood including the wonderful toys of Louis Marx.



"Toy King" Louis Marx made the watershed of product with his wonderful playsets - Civil War, Fort Apache, Roy Rogers Melody Ranch, Zorro, Rin-Tin-Tin, Sunnytime Farm, Alamo, Space Patrol, Allstate service station, etc.  These playsets set the standard for two generations of kids and are still spoken of with awe by toy soldier enthusiasts. 

In 1964 or ’65 my parents got me the Marx Battleground set (the Giant Blue and Gray set was for my tenth birthday in 1962 which coincided with a trip to Gettysburg). As WWII was still relatively fresh in the minds of everyone at that time, Battleground had a fertile audience among kids as well as their doting parents, and Marx sets were flying off the shelves.
Over the winter I’ve been buying Battleground components as well as an original (though somewhat tattered) box. The plan is not to recreate the set that I had, but a set with a lot of extras and redundancies...the fantasy set. Right now I’m deciding whether to keep the accessories (blockhouses, dragon’s teeth, etc) in their original marbled plastic color or to paint them.  I invite your opinions on that.

Soldier on!
Mannie

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Dunker Church in 54mm


About ten years ago when I was still rangering at Antietam National Battlefield, one of the products carried in the bookstore was the 54mm model of Dunker Church which was a specialty item made by BMC.  The bookstore manager asked me to make an assembled one that he could use as a store display.  I did, and it came out pretty well.

BMC, unfortunately, no longer makes that model, and the new bookstore manager asked me if, after all this years, I'd like it back.  I gave her an enthusiastic "yes" and today I swung by the battlefield and picked it up.





The BMC model was one of their least imaginative buildings  but it provides a good starting place.


I used the Alexander Gardner photograph of the aftermath of the battle of Antietam as my guide.



The cannon damage to Dunker Church came from two miles away where the Union 20-pounder parrott guns were firing upon the Confederate battery deployed just across the road from the church.


Flat pieces of packaging plastic were used as the shattered window panes.  To simulate whitewash worn from the bricks, I brushed brick red over the white plastic, let it dry, covered the brick color with packing tape, and stripped it off.  I was very happy with the result.




I'm really happy to have it back.




In addition to working at Antietam for over eight years, I have another personal connection to Dunker Church...



My wife and I were married there nine years ago. Cheers!


Soldier on!

Mannie

p.s.  Here's a video that I made with one of my ranger friends, Alann Schmidt, who is the authority on Dunker Church:





Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Toy soldier frolic at Monocacy National Battlefield

I'm doing a sixty-day detail at Monocacy National Battlefield, and one of my projects was oversee a toy soldier painting workshop.



We had about thirteen participants, both children and adults, and as many girls as boys.


We used BMC/Americana figures as they are cheap and don't have an overabundance of detail. Cheap craft paints gave great coverage on the primed figures.



Each figure was primed beforehand and the base was hot-glued to a square of cardboard to make handling easier.

A good time was had by all.

It's nice to see that there will be a whole new generation to...


soldier on!

Mannie

p.s.  If you want to follow my park ranger hijinx, you can go to volunteersinparks.blogspot.com

Sunday, January 26, 2020

February project

Over the years I've accumulated a lot of broken-down Britian's Swoppet limber sets.  The winter project is to bring some order to the chaos and salvage or rehabilitate what I can.




The men are all repainted, now the issue is one of repairing limbers, making new limber lids, fixing trace chains and painting limbers and horses.

This will be a fun project and the grist of an upcoming post.

Stay tuned, and...


Soldier on!

Mannie


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Action on the toy soldier table


The set-up on the toy soldier table right now is all W. Britains - 103 Federals and 101 Rebels.  Photos and narrative will be posted in a couple of weeks.

Soldier on!

Mannie