Attention! Shropshire home sought for big collection of tiny soldiers - with video
One of the best model soldier collections in the world is looking for a new home – and it might just be in Shropshire.
The British Model Soldier Society is looking to rehouse its 4,000-strong collection of figurines after losing their previous space at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire and at the Stratford Armouries.
And now local member Chris Bartlett is calling on potential venues in Shropshire to offer a little room to the hugely popular figures.
Chris, from High Ercall, who has thousands 20,000 of his own figurines, said it would be a hugely popular attraction for any suitable venue.
“The public would find the collection very interesting, very colourful – it’s very much something to see,” he said.
“We want to work with the owners of the building, then we can arrange special weekends where people can come to see the collection and we can run activities.
“It would bring excellent footfall. It’s not only the very young or old that are interested, anybody who likes toys will see something that makes them think ‘I remember that’.
“I’d like to think it would bring an extra attraction to Shropshire.”
The society was originally founded in 1935 and its national collection started in 1974.The collection consists of both old vintage toy soldiers and modern connoisseur models. The majority of the collection is single figures, but there are also some dioramas.
Society president and former Army librarian Paul Vickers said the collection took a lot of visitors by surprise.
“People say they never realised you could get such artistry, detail and technique into model figures,” the 62-year-old Surrey man said.
“On the other hand, we have things like the trooping of the colour diorama, with dozens of models. Put together it really has what they call the ‘wow’ factor.
“It is superb. It attracts a great deal of interest.
“We want anywhere that is open to the public, as well as somewhere that is sympathetic to this sort of material. It could be a historic place, any link with the military would be superb. We’re looking for some sort of cultural link to this sort of artistic endeavour.”
Paul, like a lot of members of the society, became interested in model soldiers at a young age.
It was when he realised the potential for his ideas that he fell in love with model making.
“It’s a source of endless fascination,” he said.
“No matter what models I’m doing, there’s always more inspiration coming along. If I live to 150 I will never run out of ideas.
“Some 43 year ago I joined the society, met wonderful people who wanted to exchange ideas and techniques, and I’ve never looked back. To this day I still regard so many people across the country as good friends.
“There’s a wonderful camaraderie between us. I’ve met so many interesting people.”
The society is finding new blood through the increasing popularity of fantasy models with younger people.
The likes of Warhammer and Lord of the Rings are keeping teenagers and young adults interested in the world of model making, and are welcome in society competitions.
“The techniques for the fantasy figures, which are interesting a lot of young people, are not dissimilar to traditional model making,” Paul said.
“Within the Model Society we say that it is fine if you want to bring in Warhammer. We want to encourage them, and then we find having got the modelling bug that they will be interested in all kinds of different subjects.”
Any venues interested in housing the collection should contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the British Model Soldier Society visit bmssonline.com