Jewish World Review March 6, 2003 / 2 Adar II, 5763
our toy troops
With my esteemed fellow-columnist Gordon
Dillow at my home paper positioned in Kuwait City to cover
the looming war, it would be easy to assume
that I've been left off the
This past Sunday, I kissed my tearful wife
and two baby girls goodbye and embedded
with the West Coaster Toy Soldier &
Miniature Figure Show, aka Camp Super Geek.
Just minutes after my arrival in the Bore
Zone, I faced my first chemical attack -
an authentically funky Union Army uniform
worn by a Civil War re-enactor. He introduced
himself as 6th U.S. Calvary.
"We were stationed in San Diego prior
to the Civil War,'' the man said as if he
were an actual Civil War combatant. "Once
Sumter was fired on, we were moved east."
Presumably without our medication.
Opportunities to engage the enemy - maturity
- abounded at the Irvine Marriott show.
Should I "Relive history at the Battle
of Churubusco with Robert E. Lee and General
Santa Ana in THE WAR WITH MEXICO!"
Or would my heroism be better suited for
the "Famous World War II Battles of
Navarone Giant Play Set"?
So much death, so little time.
The main focus of the show, of course,
was toy soldiers - both the pricey collectibles
that catch dust in cabinets until the estate
sale and the cheaper combat-ready miniatures
that get scuffed up in "battle."
One guy told me he makes his own "casualty
figures" - miniature dead guys in various
states of horrific repose, while another
Ivy League historian enthused, "Hey,
you get to make your own story (with miniatures).
You can make the Germans win if you want
to. Even the French." OK, maybe not
the French, but you get the idea. There
was even a brochure promoting replicas of
"the Warrior Irish" - fifth
of Jameson not included. It struck me that
the assembled generals might view an outside
journalist with suspicion, so I tried to
circulate unobtrusively through the room
to capture candid snippets of strategy.
Here's the best I could come up with:
"I'll take a grenade thrower."
"The three-pound barrel that I
got, I intended to put on a field carriage.
But it was just too expensive."
"We're talking about a horse-drawn
"You need the American to kill
"I'm a bus driver."
The message that comes through here is
that war is hell. So is love with this bunch.
Sharon Vause said she broke up with her
future husband when she discovered his home
was a repository for thousands of toy soldiers.
"It wasn't macho,'' she said, recalling
her reaction at the time. "It wasn't
hip and cool. But I was being shallow."
She wound up marrying the guy - and his
collection - and they get along swell but
she draws the line at sharing the hobby.
"I can't get into little lead men,"
One can only feel for our nation's miniature
military spouses - waiting, forever waiting,
for their men to come home safe and sound.
From the basement.
JWR contributor Jeff Kramer is a humor columnist based at the Orange County Register. Comment by clicking here.
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