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!

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!


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