Tiny Painted Soldiers

Autumn is a great time to visit battlefields in Virginia–not too hot, but clear and mild weather with all the variety of hardwood trees changing colors which sets a pleasing frame to the carefully mowed fields and lonely field artillery. And since it’s not summer, there are no crowds, especially during the week days. I spent a few days this past week in October to visit several battlefields around Richmond, Virginia, and after walking along miles of paths and reading scores of historic markers and plaques, by Friday I was tired and ready to stay within the city limits.

IMG_0499 After breakfast with my wife at the hotel, we parted ways, and I drove down to the Virginia War Memorial. The memorial was built in 1956, but more recently a visitor’s center was added, and in the basement I marveled at an extensive collection of tiny painted soldiers, some of which were set up in dynamic dioramas.

IMG_0520These are just a portion of the 7,000 figure collection, all painted and donated by a single hobbyist. These figures are larger than the 32mm figures I usually paint, standing around 54mm high. Some were even larger.

toy soldier cabinet

These display cases are only half of what’s in the visitor’s center.

The detail on many of these figures are quite incredible. The patterns on the dresses of the figures below, for example, must have been painted by hand. And on figures smaller than your thumb!

toy soldiersI later spent the afternoon walking along the canal and riverbank of the James. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I enjoyed coming across a very vocal songbird before doubling back to check out the old Tredagar Iron Works.

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New Game in Town

A new game & hobby store opened in town this past weekend, and I realized I’m still feeling strange about the old one that closed a year ago. There are several reasons why the old Friendly Local Gaming Store closing without notice was, for me, something like going through a bad breakup with an ex-girlfriend; chief among those reasons was how much energy I had devoted to helping out with online promotion. In fact, I’m still technically an administrator for the FB page which is still up, and I feel a small ache of disappointment each time I receive a notice that someone new has “liked” the store’s page so many months after the sudden closure….

But the old FLGS closed almost a full year ago, and, although I occasionally dream that it reopens and I walk in to see some old friends and play games and organize events, I know it’s going to stay closed forever.

storeSo, it’s time to move on. And after checking out the new place in town, now open for business, I’m pleasantly surprised. Before I visited inside, I had doubts they would even stock the sort of games I prefer to play, and I considered not even bothering to check out the place because there was no way it could fill the gap as a FLGS for me here in my little town. But curiosity overcame skepticism, and the store is a gaming and hobby space I have only dreamed about–it’s clean, in a good location, stocks a variety of awesome products, features plenty of gaming tables (especially a couple of tables for miniature gaming), and the proprietor is a friendly guy with all the right attitude about community and customer service.

I’m reluctant to stretch the analogy between a favorite FLGS and a romantic relationship, but I find the best way to get over the hurt and disappointment of a favorite game & hobby store closing down is finding a new one open which is more appealing in every way than the ex.