Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Supersize Fort Apache: An Introduction

I've been a toy soldier nut since I was barely bigger than a nut. Christmas and my birthday meant one thing: a new playset. It's all I lived for, all I dreamed, schemed and thought about. Nothing else mattered, beginning at kindergarten, when my maternal grandparents gave me the tin litho suitcase Fort Apache for Christmas.

After cracking open the tin litho fort, the addiction was instantaneous and permanent. A plastic avalanche of 54mm fixes followed through the years - Knights and Vikings, Guns of Navarone, Marx's Civil War, Marx's Battleground, The Alamo, Timpo's WWII playset (with the weird tanks and Bren gun carrier), Marx's Blockhouse Fort Apache, Fort Cheyenne, Marx's "Pacific" playset, and so on. Today, I'm closer to 50 than I am to 40, and indulge myself with the shamelessness that can only come after you've been through a very rough spot and come out of it more or less sane - and understand that life is short. And that if you want to play with toy soldiers, go for it.

Supersize Fort Apache is the centerpiece to my hobby. It consumes most of a dining room table that I set up in my spare bedroom for that purpose. I build on it as one adds to a baseball card, coin or stamp collection. In addition to a cavalry, infantry and artillery garrison, the fort houses civilian sutlers, a handful of washerwomen, a garden, a Playmobil pond and hogs, chickens, ducks, geese and sheep. President Lincoln visits regularly.

Structural upgrades are as enjoyable as "piece" acquisitions. Above, it's clear that the timber supports of the fighting cabin behind the American flag are unsafe.

So I replaced them with Roy Toys - square, flat and immune to tipping and earthquakes. (Supersize Fort Apache is located on the New Madrid Fault.)

Close-up of a firing cabin's upgraded, hand-hewn log foundation. Not only is it tremblor-resistant, the structure - with its thick, Red oak walls - is impervious to cannonballs, as well.

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