As a lad who lives "up-country" I'm often a bit behind those Big City types. Anyhow, this week I had to be in London for a job interview and as I had some time on my hands I went out to the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood to see their exhibition of war toys, which currently is running until March next year. I know the Londan lads have done a bit of blogging about this already, but this is what I think.
It's a very thoughtful piece of work and is definitely in the "explaining" as opposed to "it's all wrong" school of thought. It places war toys in their historical context, and explains as well how the "opposition movement" so to speak came into being.
I took some pictures.
Everyone takes a picture of this at the entrance, and why not? It is brilliant. It's big, - that's a door way to the left.
Sorry for the glare on the next one. That's a first edition Little Wars, with "L'Attaque" in the background.
Next up the toy gun cabinet.
Bottom right is the "Johnny-7 One Man Army". How I lusted after one of those when I was 4 or 5. No one I knew could afford one, however. If you have no idea what one was, here's the original TV add on Youtube: Johnny 7 - OMA advert.
This is the first proper toy soldier display in the exhibition. It's a "tie-in" set, released to cash in on the British victory at El-Teb. Not a great picture, but I only had my compact camera with me.
There's a fair few basic board games on display. This one is "Hunt the Submarine". You could probably blow this picture up and play the game if you felt so inclined.
Gotta love this picture of a "salle Boche" doing for a Frenchie:
With the tin flat being a Teutonic speciality there's quite a bit of this stuff:
If I was going to criticise the exhibition I'd say there's a lot of German flats, but not much in the Airfix / Timpo / Britains area, which I think is a shame. There's a lot of German Nazi influenced stuff which does seem, subconsciously, link the war toy with militaristic regimes, which doesn't strike me as right.
Of course, whilst the Germans were churning out tin stormtroopers, were designing games to help you survive the blitz.
This one has received some coverage in the press, but shows how your focus varies when you're not being bombed everyday.
And I guess everyone wants a 54mm scale 88mm & half track
There's a load more stuff and you're not meant to take pictures, so that's your lot.
It let me pass an enjoyable 40 minutes, but no more. As mentioned above I felt there were a few missed opportunities. I'm glad I've been to see it, but pleased that I hadn't gone out of my way to do so. It isn't, in my view, worth a day trip out to see it.
However, on the way out in the main hall I saw one of these:
It may not look much to you lot, but I had one of these, the highlight of my Christmas gifts one year. The walls are kept in place by pins and are taken off and stored in the base. It was guarded by Timpo Guardsmen in bearskins. My favourite toy for years.