Perched above the brewing town of Kulmbach, Plassenburg castle houses the biggest tin soldier museum in the world, with a claimed 300,000 or so figures in the collection. The 4 floors cover most periods of history from ancients to the mid 20th Century, and there are plenty of examples of early toy soldiers.
Take the bus from the Stadthalle – it takes barely 5 minutes to get up to the top and only costs a few Euros.
Although the collection tells its story mostly with traditional German 30mm flats, round figures and other scales and styles are represented.
The big collections are from the 18th Century and Napoleonics, but much more is mixed in – including a room devoted to early North America.
A few photos can never do such a vast collection justice – but I will attempt to give pictorial impression by way of a review/taste:
(the museum was obviously busy all day – zinnfiguren clearly appeal to a big audience)
(early figures of different styles)
(do click on the pictures for a closer look)
(wartime German toy soldiers)
(Hyde figures camel corps)
Some of the figures are individual items on their glass shelves, or lined up in imaginary units, some are displayed as composed vignetes either on plinths or in light boxes …
… whilst most of the rooms have vast dioramas featuring thousands of figures recreating famous battles from military history.
(Prussian infantry drills modelled one-to-one)
The Age of Napoleon
(Crossing the Berezina)
The Age of Der Alte Fritz
… including the famous Battle of Leuthen diorama
A few other items
(North Eastern Indians)
(The Battle of Pavia 1525)
(a scene from the Niebelungenleid)
(a cleverly posed boxed Pirate scene)
(Aztecs and Conquistadors)
Of course, the military collection includes airplanes, tanks, vehicles, balloons and ships …
I cannot recommend the Plassenburg soldier museum highly enough. The were several other exhibitions in the castle when we visited, from regional history, the story of the castle in the Peasants uprisings, an art show, and the ‘Army of Frederick the Great’ (which boasted a splendid collection of flags and weapons), all of them would generally be worth an hour or so – but (if you share my tastes) the soldier museum is simply without parallel. Entry to the soldier museum was a modest €4.00 (or available packaged with other exhibitions)
(central courtyard at Plassenburg – the shop and ticket office is in the far corner, the Zinnfiguren Museum opposite on the right)