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Posted on Feb 13, 2007 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Soldiers In Scale – Report From the Frontlines of the North American Toy Fair

By Peter Suciu

For centuries boys have played with toy soldiers. Over the years the detail has gotten better, and for those of us who never grew up these are still long time favorites. But instead of army men, we call these miniatures. Instead of dolls, we have our action figures. And the latest of these were unveiled this week at the annual North American International Toy Fair in New York City.

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Italian Infantry from BBI

This is among the longest running trade shows in the country, and for more than 100 years it has been the event where new and upcoming releases are shown to retail buyers and the press. While military figures had been in decline for many years, these made a strong resurgence in the late 1990s and today are part of the regular offerings that can be seen each year.

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A number of American and international companies returned this year, including SideShow Toys, 21st Century Toys, Bluebox/bbi and Forces of Valor. This may also be the year that the 12-inch figures, which had dominated the miniature battlefield for the last decade, might be showing signs of a major retreat, at least in the military space.

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An impressive Me262 from Admiral Toys.

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Corgi toy soldiers charge into action. This is a Howitzer from 21st Century

While Sideshow had a number of fantasy and science fiction figures on display, their military figures must have been involved in a different campaign. The only significant new arrival was John Wayne, who arrived in an over sized version from the western True Grit, and also in his military grab from Sands of Iwo Jima and The Green Berets. The Duke hasn’t been with us in more than 25 years, but he looked as good as ever in figure form.

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John Wayne as seen in The Green Berets… …and in the Sands of Iwo Jima.

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The complete John Wayne collection

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