Just closing at Kettering Museum, Kettering Collects is an exhibition looking at the history and potential of collecting – from the philanthropic amateurs whose collections have passed into public ownership as today’s Museums and Galleries … to how museums work and what motivates today’s collectors.
One of the rooms showcases 4 sample exhibits from the collections of local enthusiasts … pop-up books, Jack Daniels souvenirs and memorabilia, die-cast cars and, of course, toy soldiers.
I was delighted that my collection made the cut and so had to work out how to fill the cabinet I had been allocated.
The challenge, of course, was to distill what I have so it shows toy soldier collecting to best advantage, demonstrates the full breadth of military interests and, of course, reflects what I like (in the end, it is my story to tell).
Fortunately, my collection is very diverse and covers many of the important periods of history in most of the popular collector/wargame scales. So even if it was only to be a few figures, I wanted to get something of everything in.
But I think, all along, 3 components struck me as essential … some old Britains plastics (because my wargaming story starts with them); my Bosworth Wars of the Roses 54mm figures (as they are local and topical as well as quite eye-catching) … and some of the former Deryck Guyler 30mm flats collection (as they are so collectible – and these are the figures that put the Society of Ancients in my mind when I saw them on Blue Peter as a youngster) …
I managed to include, from the ancient world Egyptians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Goths; HYW and WotR medievals; the New Model at Naseby; some sample Marlburian, Napoleonic and Colonial figures … plus a Tiger, a T55 and a Humvee to bring us almost up to date.
The figures I chose included 2mm, 6mm, 10mm, 15mm, 20mm, 28mm, 30mm flats, 54mm and 90mm. Inevitably, me being the exhibitor, the majority were 10s, 15s, flats and 54s.
This is the last weekend before I get my toys back after 3 months on show. Although I had had plenty of positive feedback, I dropped by the Museum, yesterday, just to reassure myself that everything was still looking good – and arrange for the reboxing.
Yes, I was pleased.
We went for the ‘more is more’ approach because of the space available and the style of the exhibition, and I really do hope that some of the constant flow of youngsters they take through the Museum will find in it the sort of bug that I got from seeing Deryck’s figures and discovering Charge! all those years ago.
For those who like to worry over the supposed greying of their hobby, all I can say is you cannot make people play wargames or collect toy soldiers (and nobody made us do it all those years ago) … what you can do is get your collections out there at shows, fairs, Museum exhibitions and the like, so today’s youngsters can see them and be inspired by them.
Remember, the purveyors of cheap thrills, mind addling video games and junk hobbies will always ensure that their wares are shown to the market and with as much razzmatazz and gloss as the advertising buck can deliver – so if wargaming and toy soldier collecting are to have a chance, we have to get them on show too.
Many thanks to Ellie and the team at the Manor House Museum for giving me the chance to put mine on show.