The Herald Bulletin

Midday Update

Community

April 20, 2013

History inspires miniature displays

ANDERSON, Ind. — Cowboys, gunslingers, tipis and buffalo — they’re the signs of  Wild West adventure but they’re all in miniature.

The sagas play out in a display containing over 100 handpainted figures just over two inches high — all the work of Chesterfield resident Mike Arnold. The exhibit which brings to life the uniquely American history of “Winning the West” is currently on display in the Indiana Room at the Anderson Public Library.

“We usually have a lot of children who come ... They’re very popular,” said Indiana Room librarian Beth Oljace. “They’re very intricate. The detail is amazing. They tell a story.”

Visitors peering into the case will discover detailed events taking place in the miniature world Arnold created.  Over here is the gunfight in the O.K. Corral, and, over there — that’s Billy the Kid in the newspaper offices.  Wild Bill Hickok can be spotted in the saloon.  There are buffalo roaming, Lakota Indians taking part in a sun ceremony, Lewis and Clark on expedition and plenty more.

“That kind of stuff fascinates me,” said Arnold. “My goal is for a couple of kids to get interested in the subject — in history.”

It started in 1951 when Arnold was just six years old. That’s when his parents gave him his first set of toy figures, a Fort Apache set from Sears.  “My generation lived on Sears Roebuck playsets by Marx. ... They’re priceless now.”

He locked onto history with a focus that never let go. He earned bachelors and masters degrees in the subject at Ball State University. Arnold  worked as an educator until the mid ‘70s, and has since held various positions.

Arnold’s interest in the historical toy soldiers rekindled after his son, Damon, was born 18 years ago.

“When he was two, I saw an ad for toy soldiers. I hadn’t collected them since I was 12 or 13. I had so much fun.  I said I was going to get him an old time toy — a traditional toy. I got him his first little set,” said Arnold. It was a set of reissued medieval knights.

Hours of detail work

Damon and his dad shared the hobby, and started painting the little 54- and 60-millimeter figures together.

“I do remember when I was about four, I remember painting a horse purple, gold, all kinds of colors,” said Damon. He rcalled his father’s chuckle, telling his son, “That’s good.”

Damon is a senior at Anderson High School. Although he doesn’t paint the figures with his dad anymore, he helps transport displays to the library.

“You can learn a lot from them,” said Damon.

Arnold researches the historical material in preparing a display for the library. Then he lays the scene out on graph paper.

“It takes hours and hours and hours to paint everything,” said Arnold. He’s got about 40 to 50 hours in the current display of more than 100 pieces, each one painted with painstaking detail. Most of the pieces are plastic, but some are metal.

Arnold started sharing his hobby with the citizens of Anderson by setting up displays in the Anderson Public Library about four years ago. In July, Arnold will set up a display of Gettysburg. For Veterans Day in November, Arnold is planning a display of the history of United States uniforms, from King Philip’s War to Iraq.

As for Arnold’s partner and Damon’s mom, Beth, Arnold said, “She loves it. It gives me something to do.”

Arnold laughingly describes himself and others engrossed in the toy soldiers hobby, “We’re little boys that didn’t grow up.”

1
Text Only
Community
  • FEA - HB0729 - Senior Falls Aging safely in the comfort of her home Marilyn Moneyhun said being totally reliant on others is difficult. "Losing your independence is a shock to your system," Moneyhun, 84, said. "You are not in control anymore."

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Community Briefs: July 29 A compilation of community news items as published in the Tuesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 29, 2014

  • FEA - HB0728 - Fresh Orientation - SH Elwood freshmen learn the ways of high school through mentoring program About half the 112 incoming freshmen at Elwood Jr./Sr. High School got a jump on their friends recently by attending a freshman orientation session. Joan Mercer, an English teacher who helped organize the the orientation, said the mentor program, which has been in place for several years, has been effective in new students make the high school transition.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA-HB0727-MCWinery-JC6.JPG Having a wine time

    Cathy Hensley’s never been much of a drinker. It wasn’t something that interested her very much, so it seemed unfathomable that she would ever run a winery. But after her son Eric offered her and her husband, Duke, some wine he made, it changed things.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lanane among LifeStream honorees Dr. Jon Hendrix and Katie Lucas, both of Muncie; Janet Privett, Montezuma, Ohio, and Sen. Tim Lanane (D), Anderson, will be honored during a reception Aug. 7 in Muncie for their work in making a difference in the lives of aging adults and people with disabilities.

    July 26, 2014

  • Community Briefs: July 27 A compilation of community news items as published in the Sunday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 26, 2014

  • FEA HB0727 Homes 0113 Storage solution The key to creating a beautiful home on a budget is to look beyond the intended purpose of an item, and beyond its appearance. Instead, check for sturdiness of the frame, and the functionality of the components.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • What's Where: July 27-Aug. 2 Local meetings and activities are scheduled this week.

    July 26, 2014

  • Help available locally to navigate health care options If you feel like you’re drowning in the shifting sea of health care options, don’t panic: SHIP, a local Navigator and Life Stream are ready to help.

    July 26, 2014

  • FEA HB0727 Camp Chesterfield Spiritualists' home Camp Chesterfield is one of 10 spiritualist camps in the United States, and the only one of its kind in Indiana. Founded in the late 1800s, It's home to the Indiana Association of Spiritualists and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

Reader Pet Photos


We're looking for your best pet photos! Share your photos of your favorite non-human companions in our new photo gallery. Click here to upload your photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin