Friday, August 16, 2013

9th - 11th August, Kulmbach, Bavaria


This trip grew out of my acquisition of a large number of flats from the early years of ancient wargaming ... a collection of Deryck Guyler and Tony Bath ancients plus Phil Barker's Romans.

My early interest was sparked by seeing the Guyler collection on Blue Peter as a youngster and then the Trimsos game in Don Featherstone's book - so being asked to give a home to some of those figures has been a great opportunity ...

But all enthusiasts know that collections are never complete and refurbishment always means going shopping...


... and, for flats, the Kulmbach show is the pace to go.  

For those that don't know it, the Zinnfiguren Borse (Tin Figure Market) takes place every two years, and although it covers all sizes and styles of model soldier it famously specialises in the traditional German style flat figure.

It shares Kulmbach with two other appropriate specialities ... the brewery and the Plassenburg Zinnfiguren Museum.   On my first day in Kulmbach I explored and acclimatised to the show: on day two I made the trip up to the Plassenburg (which overlooks the show) and discovered the best museum in the world, ever ...


At the show, while some figures are displayed in dioramas like these excellent Rangers, most are racked up on picture boards like the beautiful 'Battle of Issus' figures from Cortum ...


This is one of the ranges I went out to see.   There are literally hundreds of these boards to browse, plus cardboard sheets piled up and stacks (honestly, stacks) of trays to shuffle.    It seemed impossible to see everything (which is what I usually try to do at a show) ...

Everything seemed available in ample supply, and although a lot of the figures come in sets, everything was available singly as required.

The price seemed to vary by, at most, 20% either side of 1E for foot, 2E for mounted (so about the same as round figures, give or take) ...


Way above the town (the toy soldier show is in the big white-roofed structure just below half way on the right of the picture) ... sits the Plassenburg, where I spent the afternoon of Day 2.

(Don't despair - there's a bus up the hill and it only takes 5 minutes)

My first impression of the Plassenburg Museum was that it was very busy.  I guess lots of people are in town for the soldier show, and build a visit into the trip.


There are 4 floors of toy soldiers here, all historical, the core 2 floors being the age of Frederick the Great and the age of  Napoleon.   But here are some inspiring ancients ..

(Priests carrying a ceremonial barge in ancient Egypt)

(Aztecs and Conquistadors)

A couple of relief dioramas (part of a series on Hannibal's crossing of the Alps)



Of course, Kulmbach is but a few kilometers from Bayreuth ... so, although the Museum is otherwise mercifully free of fantasy, there is room for characters from the Niebelungenleid ... here, Rudiger ...


I will report more on the Museum elsewhere, but suffice to say here that anyone who loves military figures should put it on their list of places to visit at least once.   You might as well make it an odd-numbered year and the second weekend in August (that way you can take in a unique toy soldier show too)


Meanwhile I was back down the road to finish my shopping ...


This was one of my better efforts: ignore the Egyptian boat (that beauty will decorate the river on my 'Lords of the Nile' DBA board) ... mostly, this little haul will finish the oddments in my Plataea collection.  The guys lying down are for casualty markers, of course.

Verdict:

The Plassenburg Museum is magical and a must for any serious enthusiast.

The Zinnfiguren Borse was essential for me as I had gaps to fill in a flats collection.   If you are not (yet?) a flats enthusiast, there is still plenty of good stuff, especially non-UK figures ... Mirliton, those Spanish guys, the rarer plastic and resin 20mm sets 

Of course, it is just shopping, and lacks the ambience of a UK show and all the lush attractions of set out wargames and participation games.   I think without the Plassenburg up the road it would be a  bit soulless (a vision of the future maybe for the cranks who want to turn UK shows over to the trade stands) - in this case the mix works and I will surely be back.


7 comments:

BigRedBat said...

That's quite a way to go for figures, Phil! :-) I'd never heard of the show or museum, sounds great. Simon

Will McNally said...

Looks like a great trip

Graham C said...

My flats collection is growing and I would love to go this show so 2015 most probably.
Was it easy to book accommodation etc?

SoA Shows North said...

Thanks guys ...

Graham C: for family reasons I couldn't commit until the last week before.

Even so, I was able to book reasonable rooms (we were pleased) after 10/15 mins searching on the internet within 6 miles of the venue. As we were fly/driving that wasn't a problem.

It all fell together quite easily, even so close to the event.

For a flats collector, the choice at Kulmbach is genuinely bewildering ...

SoA Shows North said...

I should perhaps have included in the review that the aisles seemd more narrow than at UK shows - and German rucksacks seem bigger ... so progress up and down the avenues was at best slow. Good for browsing and chatting but not good for 'nipping back to buy that figure I saw this morning'.

For my tastes it needed spreading out a bit ... and having some quality wargames displays mixing into it.

Corporal_Trim said...

Excellent report. Thanks, Phil. I actually have the Battle of Issos set, at least the core figures belonging to it.

Yes, I really have to think about saving for 2015.

Regards,
Steve

SoA Shows North said...

Thanks, Steve ... I should comment that it was seeing the Issus figures on your 'Castles of Tin' blog that had enabled me to ID some of the newer figures I had been given.