Miniature Soldiers Provide History Lesson at Cantigny

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 3, 2014 | Go to article overview

Miniature Soldiers Provide History Lesson at Cantigny


Byline: Bob Smith and Mark Black rsmith@dailyherald.com mblack@dailyherald.com

Nick Albanese knows what you're thinking.

Here he is, a grown man, someone who used to work in the rough-and-tumble construction industry, and you know what he likes to do when he sneaks off to the family room at night?

Paint toy soldiers.

Go ahead, roll your eyes. Snicker. Albanese doesn't care because, first, after all these years, it still relaxes him and, second, he turned his hobby into a long-running business called Camp Randall Miniatures in Watertown, Wisconsin.

Oh, yeah, here's the other thing: He's the fellow who has been organizing the annual Toy Soldier Show at Cantigny Park in Wheaton for right around 15 years now.

And when folks come out to see the work he and 17 other dealers do, as they did Sunday at the Visitors Center, they discover those toy soldiers -- and the even more detailed "miniatures" -- are really pretty darn cool.

People of all ages were able to get a close look at the soldiers, many just a couple of inches high, that represent nearly every conflict you can name, dating back to the Vikings and continuing through Napoleon to the Civil War, to World War II, to Vietnam and beyond.

Some of the most intricate pieces feature details from shaded wrinkles in the soldiers' pants to five o'clock shadows on their faces.

Albanese himself specializes in World War I soldiers, partly because they helped "change the world," he says, and partly because it's a time period that's far enough removed from the present to reduce some of the sting. …

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