Sunday, September 24, 2023

Treasures from the Chicago Toy Soldier Show


Salt Box style clapboard house in 1/32 scale that I purchased at the show.

This weekend saw the Chicago Toy Soldier Show coming to Schaumburg, Illinois starting Thursday September 21 through Sunday September 24, 2023. There were 100 plus dealers from all over the country, coast to coast. The event was organized by Mike Murphy, who operates The Hobby Bunker out in Massachusetts. The focus of the show is on, wait for it, TOY SOLDIERS and runs the gamut from old plastic play sets to aged William Britain hollow cast metal figures.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday the show has something that they call "Room Trading." The various dealers set up their wares in their hotel rooms and punters like me can walk through the halls of the hotel (on three floors) and go room to room looking at all of the goodies. The dealers put a sign outside their door so that one doesn't walk in a private room unannounced. Hmm, what could go wrong here?

On Sunday the dealers move their wares into a large banquet hall where they are all in one room and then the public can come in and browse or buy figures.

It's amazing how many of the old plastic play sets still remain and even more amazing that so many of the original boxes survived years of play, followed by Mom throwing everything in the garbage can when her son hit his teenager years. Are you detecting that someone here has a few issues to resolve with therapy?

A play set is a boxed collection of plastic soldiers and terrain (buildings, fences, earthworks, bunkers, etc) pieces that represent either a television show of the 1950s and early 1960s, or an historical era such as Romans, knights, Civil War, Cowboys & Indians, etc. The Marx company was probably the leading producer of plastic toy soldiers during this era. Examples of boxed sets include Captain Gallant (French Foreign Legion), Combat (WW2), Fort Apache, The Alamo, Tombstone, The Guns of Navarone, Gettysburg, Antietam and Johny Reb.

However, I wasn't particularly interested in any of the boxed sets, other than to click on my nostalgia button, but rather, I was searching for 1/32 scale (54mm) buildings and other terrain pieces. My priority goal was to find a Pennsylvania style barn that I could use as the Codori Barn at Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg.

Lo and behold, there I was walking into my very first dealer room MicShaun's Closet and the owner, Mr. David Cook, pointed me towards some foam 54mm buildings that come preprinted (by him). There it was looking right at me (sort of like the Big W in It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World), a red Pennsylvania barn in 1/32 scale! Che Ching, he scores!

The actual Codori Barn at Gettysburg, on the Emmitsburg Road

My foam Pennsylvania barn.

Pennsylvania barns in the Gettysburg often have the foundation built well above the ground and have a dirt ramp leading out from the second story of the barn. It's similar to what we call an English Basement or a Walk Out Basement in houses. David told me that this model was based on the Rummel Farm barn at East Cavalry Field in Gettysburg.

I also found a 1/32 scale clapboard house done in the New England Salt Box style, but I figure that it can stand in for a house in Gettysburg on my game table.

The front view of the Salt Box house.

Britain's Deetail Range of 1/32 scale Confederate cavalry

Britain's Deetail Union cavalry.

Britain's Deetail ACW Napoleon cannon and Union crew.

I also bought a Deetail 10-pound Parrot gun with Confederate crew.
The Parrot is the gun on the left behind the fence.

Current view of my ACW game table with the Pennsylvania barn in the 
upper right corner.

Finally, one of my best finds was a couple of bags of CTS plastic Civil War figures. I will post pictures of them in one of my next blog posts. They have a level of animation and action that looks superb. CTS stands for Classic Toy Soldier company, the outfit that makes the figures. CTS has its own webstore where you can find lots of different plastic figures and a few buildings.

Here are the links to the companies mentioned in this blog post.

Classic Toy Soldier Company

MicShaun's Closet

Britain's ACW Deetail figures


  1. Nothing but Crickets on this and most of my blog posts. I wonder if there is anything that I can do to generate some comments and discussion on this blog. Very disappointing. Check out the Palouse Wargaming Journal blog and you will routinely see 20-30 even 50 comments on one of his posts. I wonder what I am doing wrong?

  2. I believe that it is "Matt" Murphy who owns Hobby Bunker and runs the Chicago show😀