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Gettysburg. I was a little guy, probably about 4 or 5 and my parents took me to Gettysburg with my older brother. At a toy store they got me some 54mm plastic Union and Confederates with detatchable guns, canteens, kepis etc..... lord I LOVED them.
Then a year or so later I saw these neat boxes of little soldiers (Airfix) and was transformed. I could field huge armies ! My local toy store owner - back when Mom and Pop stores existed - actually told me if I learned the names of all the wars of the US and could name a general from each he would GIVE me a free box. I did and he actually gave me 10 free boxes....what a great old gentleman. Till he passed away many years later I bought from his store ....... a wonderful magical beginning to a hobby that is now seeing me into my middle - middle age !
Then Revell about 1991, Hat and Italeri about 1996 now ther are two many to mention.
I had the standard Airfix collection starting about age 9 and matchox got the hardplastic armour and vehicle end of things going. I abandonned the hobby in disgust, when MPC took over and started puting out those low-grade hardplastic ripoffs. Happily ESCI's Romans/Barbarions, Modern US/Soviets, and Vietnam series revived the hobby and all of the other ESCI sets soon followed. Revell soon joined the game opening even more new teritory and things have just been escalating out of hand ever since.
Started with the very first two sets available in the US in the early sixties.
i 1st came into this hobby at about 7 or 8 collecting & playing w/ toy soldiers from Giant i purchased at the long defunct Grants dept store. i discovered my 1st Airfix sets a couple of years later at Woolworths. these t 2 makers were the bulk of my army til high school when i lost interest for nearly 20yrs before i was given my old soldiers from my father during a move. seeing them brought back many memories & i decided to get back into the hobby, but all the stores i used to buy them from were gone! i started checking out hobby shops in my home town, Buffalo & Cleveland where i discovered Atlantic, Matchbox, ESCI & Revell. the internet & Plastic Figure & Playset Review mag allowed me to fill in gaps in my Airfix collection. since then, i've bought every set that's come out from numerous new manufacturers! my army is now well over 60,000 in my standing army w/ probably another 40,000 in unwanted poses or older boxed sets!