A BRIEF HISTORY

  • SCMMS Hat Picture















    by: Patrick m. Teague (with the open and honest acknowledgement that most of it was borrowed from Dennis Fontana's (Col. U.S.A. Ret.) earlier tome: History of SCMMS. However I take full responsibility for all errors, flaws, overlooks and omissions for which I heartily apologize. I fear that I have completely changed the serious historical tone of Professor Dennis' work. I can only dare to hope that my work conveys to the reader not only the basic tale of SCMMS but also the legend. Pmt)

    2015 will be the 40th anniversary of the founding of The South Carolina Military Miniature Society; aka SCMMS. Since 1975 the hobby of creating, painting and collecting little (mostly 1/32d scale) people and objects mainly of the military genre, has been the passion of a score or two of overgrown kids who never gave up their love of the 'toy soldier.' OK, 'military miniature' if you prefer, but I personally am partial to the 'toy soldier' because that is what I grew up playing with. I never in my golden youth found a brightly colored package of 'military miniatures' under the Christmas tree. It was those toy soldiers of long ago that first captured my imagination then and still do sixty years later.

    SCMMS is the glue that holds our company of toy soldier lovers together. SCMMS boasts many members from distant states and cities who share our passion for the colorful little troops. Since 1993, every second Saturday in August, we gain new members at our annual Southeastern Toy Soldier Show (SETSS) held at the South Carolina State Museum. This show has been a huge success attracting many vendors, collectors, and the general public. In addition to the Columbia group, there exists a SCMMS chapter in Charleston. Both SCMMS groups conduct monthly meetings at members' homes wherein all are invited to share food and drink and stories of their toys and their creative ideas about the hobby. We have also been known to engage in rather detailed discussions of historical events, battles, books, movies, notable and not so notable characters and anything that could possibly be related to making our 'toys' more historically relevant and interesting to us men of distinction. We count among our numbers many military veterans, professional persons from the business world, the law, medicine, education, engineers, law enforcement, the arts, government administration and some we aren't too sure what they do. Many of us are retired. As was stated at the very beginning of this paper, SCMMS was founded in 1975 and many of us are still around. We wish it known that SCMMS seeks and welcomes new members of any age; the only requirements being an abnormal interest in toy soldiers and the ability to pay a ten dollar annual membership fee.

    So what else do we do besides make, paint and collect little people and talk about them? Well, for starters, SCMMS has produced, as a a club, a major diorama every year since 1980 depicting what we considered an interesting event or scene based upon either an actual historical moment or a conceptual representation of an imagined event based upon history. For example, our first diorama consisted of a military parade as we imagined it might have appeared in London circa 1900. As you can imagine this subject provided almost unlimited use of marching British soldiers, cavalry units, flags, dignitaries in coaches, London buildings, streets, and civilians observing the parade. I t contained almost as many civilians as military figures. The buildings and streets had to be constructed as well as figures painted. The end result was a very colorful, (mostly historically accurate we like to think) scene that was pleasing to the eye and much more fun to look at than just a bunch of soldiers lined up.

    Our diorama philosophy was thus established: We would try to create dioramas that would be fun to make, fun to look at and interesting from an historical standpoint. I believe we have succeeded in this. Over the years our dioramas have included military action scenes such as: "British Landing in the Sudan, 1882-1884"; "Roarke's Drift"; "Islandawana"; "Charge of the Light Brigade"; "Roger's Rangers"; "Battle of Britain"; "Assault on Battery Wagoner"; " British Evacuation of Charleston 1779"; "A Viking Raid"; "The World Turned Upside Down, Surrender at Yorktown"; "The Four Feathers"; and many others. Other military theme dioramas but not actual battle-type scenes included: "Christmas at Aldershot", a depiction of a Victorian British military Christmas ball; "Age of Chivalry", depicting a medieval joust; "Rome visits Egypt, Cleopatra's Court"; "The Durbar", 1902 parade in India celebrating the coronation of Edward VII; "Churchill reviewing the troops at Fort Jackson, 1942"; "The 11th Hussars Field Day"; "Launching the Hunley"; "The Succession Ball, Charleston 1861"; Other dioramas included: "Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show before the Queen at Windsor Castle"; "Ben Hur-The Chariot race"; "Barnum and Bailey Three Ring Circus"; 1945 Army-Navy football game"; "Building the Great Pyramid"; "1920's Air Show"; "The Treasure Safari", an Indiana Jones type African adventure .

    Most of these dioramas and many others by individual SCMMS members won awards at toy soldier shows in Atlanta and Valley Forge, PA. Awards included "Best in Show" and numerous Gold medals. We have always maintained that winning awards was not the primary or even the secondary goal of entering our work in competition at shows. Our goals are multiple: to educate the public about our hobby and about history; to entertain all who look at and enjoy our work; to involve as many SCMMS members as possible in the creative making, painting and displaying of our toy armies, and last but not least, to have loads of fun. Part of the fun is taking road trips to various soldier shows around the country. We take a contingent and our diorama to the Atlanta show almost every year. We made several trips to Valley Forge, Pa., Chester, Pa., Williamsburg, Va. , Gettysburg,Pa., Petersburg, Va., Cowpens, SC, Charleston, SC, . In September of 2012 about six or seven hardy souls climbed into a fifteen passenger van to make the 800 or so mile trek to Chicago for the "granddaddy" of the toy shows. It lived up to its billing. All the SCMMS delegates had a great time buying, selling and just looking. That's it in a nutshell toy fans!! SCMMS hopes to continue its work and play for the foreseeable future.