Berdan Sharpshooters from The Collectors Showcase


Berdan Sharpshooters were an American Civil War regiment of sharpshooters named after Col. Hiram Berdan (1823-1893). The 1st and 2nd regiment were selected from various Northern states in 1861, through a rigorous test of placing 10 consecutive shots in a 10″ space about 200 yards away without use of a scope. Believe it or not, enough people were able to accomplish this task to create 18 companies within 2 regiments. The regiments marched to their first battle dressed in forest green jackets, trousers, and caps. Each sharpshooter was armed with a 5 shot Colt revolving rifle. Berdan sharpshooters were placed strategically on the battlefield to pick-off officers and distinguished people from the South. The Berdan Sharpshooters made their mark in the Battle of Yorktown. They were also key to the success of the North in the Battle of Gettysburg, as they held stalled the Confederate advance on Devils Den. The Collectors Showcase have released three sets of figures modeled from the Berdan Sharpshooters. There are three soldiers per set. And only a total of 300 of each set will be produced. The sets are: Sharpshooters Firing, Sharpshooters Loading and Sharpshooters Command. Learn more about these great ACW figures from www.thecollectorsshowcase.com

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Mannie Gentile’s Toy Soldiers Forever Blog


Posting on the 1st and 15th of each month, Mannie Gentile’s Toy Soldiers Forever Blog features photos, reviews, discussions, conversions, and play about 54mm Toy Soldiers of the American Civil War. Mannie’s most recent topic is a feature about blue plastic toy soldiers. Now, how cool is that? Visit Mannie’s blog…

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Share-A-Ride or Carpool a Ride to Our Show on 11/1/09


Has the high cost of gas got you down? Well if it does, consider either Sharing-A-Ride, or being a part of a Carpool to our Show. You’ll save some money and share some good conversations with like minded collectors and even make some new toy soldier friends. Send me an email, type “Carpool” in the subject line, and be sure to include your address. bill@vintagecastings.com

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Blog | Jul 26

American Dimestore Basics, Manoil Hollow-Base Figures


No other American Dimestore figures have raised as much speculation over their evolution as a small group of early production Manoils known to collectors as “Hollow-Base.”

Figure in the center of my photo is a regular two hole base Manoil. It’s flanked by two hollow-base figures.

I theorize that since hollow-base castings were, and still are,
extensively used in the manufacture of hand-cast lamp parts, it was only natural for Manoil’s management, who at the time were in the lamp manufacturing business, to adopt this similiar hollow-base design in the manufacture of their earliest toy soldier. Unfortunately, no written records have surfaced as why the hollow-base design was dropped in favor of the “two gate,” or two hole base.

Since Manoil’s hollow-base figures do have a thicker slightly chunkier base, which may have required more metal, perhaps, to Manoil’s management, their hollow-base figures didn’t look as well as their competitors thinner base (two hole base) figures.

Here’s another theory: Looking closely at the bottoms of hollow-base figures in my collection, I can easily see distinct irregular file marks on the circular area of each base. Employees must have had to remove the excess “flash” by hand filing each base, thereby adding an extra time consuming production step to an already labor intensive manufacturing process.

While not scarce or difficult to find, because of their uniqueness, all Manoil hollow-base figures are quite desirable and, of course, more costly than their two hole base brothers.

To many, however, they are often overlooked and sold as regular Manoils. So make it a point to check the bases of Manoils when buying at show, since duplicates make excellent trading material.

A total of 11 different types of Manoil hollow-base figures are known to exist, and are listed here according to Manoil’s own numbering system.

#7 Flag Bearer; #8 Parade; #9 Officer; #10 Bugler; #11 Drummer; #13 Cadet; #14 Sailor; #15 Marine; #16 Ensign; #17 Sailor Signal Man; #18 Cowboy with Pistol.

Collecting all 11 Manoil hollow-base variations is within the reach of most collectors. Grouped together, they they make a nice cameo collection within your American Dimestore collection.

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Britains Set No. 163, Boy Scout Signallers


Boy Scout Signallers, Post war 1954 – 1959, set number 163, contained five Boy Scout figures with rotating arms holding semaphore signal flags that could rotate in a full circle to form any semaphore signal.

The Scouts in Post war sets wear olive-drab shirts and shorts, with brown belts, black knee socks, olive-drab Boy Scout style wide brim hats, with brown hatbands, brown shoes, and either red, green, or yellow neckerchiefs.

As unique as these figures are, the box lid drawing by Fred Whisstock is even more unique, because in the title, “Boy Scout Signallers,” the word SCOUT is spelled out in semaphore.

Adding to the uniqueness of this label’s graphics is the printed border that shows the entire semaphore alphabet, numbers, and some of the most common conventional signals.

In producing this set Britains may have unknowningly helped to encourage many young Scouts to use the set in completing the difficult task of memorizing semaphore code. Yet, one thing is certain: this set of Britains Boy Scout figures with fully rotating arms held great play value for any boy growing up in the mid to late 1950s.

Photo courtesy of Old Toy Soldier

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Bill Imrie, Founder of Imrie/Risley Military Miniatures, dies


William “Bill” Ferguson Imrie, founder of Imrie/Risley Miniatures in Ballston Spa, New York and an important influence on the development of the military miniatures hobby, died on May 5, 2008, of natural causes, he was 77.

Bill was not just an important part of the military miniatures hobby in this country; he was its founding father. He is shown at his desk in this undated photo, courtesy of Helen Imrie.

He began his career in the 1950s by producing commissioned 54 and 60mm military miniatures for museums and private clients. This modest start led to a small commercial outlet named: Imrie Custom Miniatures.

Even in the early days of production, his models were subjected to so much research that collectors were assured of accuracy down to the smallest details.

In 1956, Bill was joined by his wife Helen, herself a trained artist, together they expanded their efforts and began producing a series of Napoleonic era miniature kits under the Hellenic Miniatures name.

Bill was a co-founder of the Military Historical Society in New York City in 1960, and was an associate editor or their journal Adjutant’s Call. He was elected a fellow of The Company of Military Collectors and Historians, and contributed articles on soldiers of the American Revolution to both societies. He was also a member of the Arms and Armor Society, and of the Baker Street Irregulars and the Altamont Agents, both Sherlock Holmes groups. Bill was also co-author of The Model Soldier Guide.

His partner, the late Clyde A. Risley, joined them in 1964, with the company being renamed Imrie/Risley Miniatures. The I/R Miniatures’ team used their combined knowledge of military history, uniforms and human and equine anatomies in the manufacture of their military miniatures that was seldom seen before; making I/R Miniatures the most highly regarded museum quality military miniature company in America.

So highly regarded were Imrie/Risley Miniatures that they were contracted by the Franklin Mint to produce the first pewter figures offered by the Frankin Mint. A stunning group of thirteen figures that represented the original thirteen states for America’s Bicentennial.

At one time, I/R Miniatures’ range of figures were enormous, and were stocked by a wide array of retailers. Peter Blum’s, now shuttered, Soldier Shoppe, as well as Nat Polk’s, Polk’s Hobbies in Manhattan stocked a huge inventoy of both painted and unfinished I/R kits. Today, Hobby Bunker remains as one of the largest stocklists of I/R Miniatures.

His models appear in many museums around the country. One of his custom miniatures was featured on the cover of Look Magazine. Bill received various awards for his contributions to the hobby. Yet, he was a quiet man who never relished publicity or accolades.

My favorite I/R figures are from the range of Medieval Figures. I spent many a relaxing hour assembling and painting I/R Medieval knights and other Medieval figures for display in my bookshelf dioramas. Later I became attracted to the accurate representations of their Christmas range of Dicken’s figures, which I painted and gave as Christmas gifts.

But it was his contagious and unassuming personality that attracted me to Bill Imire back in the early 1970s. He was “approachable,” easy to talk with and never was too busy to chat.

I remember him, with his boyish smile, manning his table at either the MFCA Chester, PA shows, or the NJHMA shows at the college in Montclair and later at Somerset, NJ.

Bill was never too busy to share his knowledge with me. The last time I met Bill was at the Albany Toy Soldier Show about seven years ago. Although it was obvious he had some health concerns he still smiled and spoke to me as if I was the only person in the hall. He will be missed.

He is survived by his wife (and partner) of 55 years, Helen, two daughters and a grandson. Helen will continue with the business as she has for many years!

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Announcements | Jun 29

Four New Toy Soldier Sets from Beau-Geste


It should come as no surprise to any toy soldier collector that a traditional style toy soldier maker with the name Beau-Geste would introduce yet another set of French Foreign Legionnaires.

Beau-Geste has also released three additional sets. A nice touch is that Beau-Geste has also posted the image sources they used as the inspiration for each set.

You can see the sets and more by clicking here…

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Weekend of Heroes 1/6th Action Figure Convention


Those of us who collect toy soldiers and military miniatures in either 54mm size or 1/35 scale, seldom, if ever, get to see and appreciate the great work that’s going on today with 1/6th scale figures. So it was good news for us when we read nerdsociety.com’s review of the recent Weekend of Heroes, 1/6th military convention in Glendale, California.

It’s a great read with plenty of photos and links. Take your time to read it all. Be sure to click on all the links in the feature and see all the pictures. You’ll be impressed!
Read more…

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The Official Marx Toy Museum


It’s always nice when we read an article or a review about an exhibitor at our show. Such was the case when we came upon a recent article in the Miami Herald newspaper about Francis Turner and his The Official Marx Toy Museum, in West Virginia. Those of you who attend our show and collect Marx are sure to remember Francis and the impressive amount of vintage Marx he brings to the Annual East Coast Toy Soldier Show & Sale. Read more…

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Review of Alpine Miniatures WSS Panzer Crew Kit


There has always been a quiet battle raging between Toy Soldier enthusiasts and Military Modelling enthusiasts. I could go on and on about the differences between toy soldiers and military miniatures. And I’ll probably do that in a future post, but for today I want to pass on to our readers a very accurate review of Alpine Miniatures1/35th scale, WSS Panzer Crew Set 1944-45, by Vinnie Branigan that appears on Military Modelling’s web site. Read more…

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