With political upheaval at home and abroad, enduring war in the Middle East and the death of a clutch of iconic celebrities, 2016 proved to be a year full of surprises and challenges. But at Islington’s Business Design Centre on December 3, the London Toy Soldier Show provided collectors with some reassuring familiarity in the midst of much uncertainty.
What a year 2016 proved to be! For practically everyone I know, work has been busier than anyone can remember, the economic outlook has been uncertain and the political dramas acted out across the world stage have created a sense of unease for many.
It was against this backdrop that I anticipated with relish one of the reassuring ‘constants’ in the life of the toy soldier collector: the December London Show.
Arriving early at the Business Design Centre to get my show report underway, I was met by the cheery countenances of Alan Hall, Reg Auckland and the team at Guideline Publications, the producers of this publication and since 2012, the organisers of the London shows.
A quick chat with the team, a glug of hot coffee to shake off the morning cobwebs and I was into the lower-level display area of the show.
Close to the entrance of the main hall lay the display of Steve Dixon of Mariela Miniatures. Steve was accompanied on the day by daughters Jade and Stephanie who had travelled down to London to keep the ‘old man’ company and to provide some additional support when things got busy.
I was saddened to hear of the death of Eddie Rollinson, a toy soldier enthusiast, collector and old friend of Steve’s who used to accompany him to the London show and was a familiar and friendly face on the Mariela Miniatures stand for many years. Eddie passed away in October 2016 aged 78 after a bout of illness and it was very poignant that Steve was seeking to sell some of his old friend’s collection to raise funds for Eddie’s family.
Among the items for sale on Steve’s stall was a beautifully executed diorama featuring two Woodland Indians moving fast over rocky terrain. Steve couldn’t recall the manufacturer of the resin figures – maybe a reader can identify them and put me out of my misery? – but when painted and incorporated into the diorama, they have fantastic animation and look terrific from every angle.
For the discerning collector of French and Indian Wars figures who appreciates top-notch detailing and paintwork, these were a snip at £85.
Trader Andy Morant can always be relied upon to offer some classic Britains sets for sale and at the December Show, he didn’t disappoint. First up was a beautiful set of Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment rifleman in Boer War uniforms.
According to Andy, the set was produced around 1900, making it contemporary with the Second Boer War of 1899- 1902. In pith hats and khaki uniforms, the “ Yorks and Lancs” figures are advancing at the double behind an officer, with their long Enfield rifles held in their right hands.
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