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February 22, 2008


Tim Abbott

In fairness to the manufacturer, Conte Collectibles has an Alamo line that deliberately highlights the participation of its Tejano defenders. There are two figures of Mexican ancestry included alongside Crockett and Bowie and Travis and the like. The sculptor was Robert Ortiz.


Tim Abbott

Thanks, David. I'd be glad to share some of my collection and appreciate the interest.

When I was a boy, it was always more fun to dress up as Indians than as cowboys. I had a fairly large collection of Britains plastic "Deetail" range of Indians, knights and Civil War soldiers. I had an extensive hoard of 15mm plastic figures (HO scale)as well, by Airfix. The first ones my parents bought me were a British marching band, civilians, zoo animals and pioneers with a covered wagon, but these soon grew to cover everything from robin hood to WWII British commandos. There was a Tarzan set, I believe, with spear and shield carrying tribesmen.

David Corbett

Dear Berks. ,
I agree it is odd that a Crater battle set would not include U.S.C.T. especially if they already cast them in metal . Perhaps if was more profitable just to include generic Federal troops.
Did not mean to suggest that you based your views on the soldiers you collect or choose not to collect . Other than a racial preference or a preference for more exotic troops ( "Zouaves " for example ) , it seems any collector would appreciate the historically correct Rhode Island or U.S.C.T.'s in their collections . Actually black African toy soldiers have been available for almost one hundred years and I have purchased in the early Eighties , African-American wargame figures both Rhode Island and U.S.C.T.
If possible may we see more of your collection in future ?
cordially ,
David Corbett

Tim Abbott

Mr. Corbett, my point was not that our choice in toy soldier subject matter makes us better or worse people. There were two points, here.

The first, about which I am comfortable generalizing, was that one of the very few toy manufacturers who represent African American soldiers from the Civil War invested a great deal of time and money depicting the battle of the Crater in plastic without any black participants, even though there were figures available that had been previously issued by that same manufacturer in metal. I believe that the omission is worthy of discussion given the prominence of colored troops in this battle.

You did not challenge this point, and from your comment I understand what you found nettlesome was what I had to say about the roots of my own adult collecting choices. I am not satisfied with my personal explanation for why I do not have any colored troops in my collection when there are excellent ones available. I'm not interested in a facile litmus test to determine how racist I or anyone else may or may not be as predicted by this choice, as you as a long-time reader of this blog should be able to judge by the way in which I approach historical subject matter, but I am interested in the choice itself. I presume that you know your own heart in these matters. I was exposing some of mine.

Respectfully, Tim Abbott

David Corbett

Dear Berkshires ,
So what's your point ? Having African-American toys makes you more sensitive to the social needs of the African-American community ? I used to have a Britains King's African Rifles set of eight soldiers when I was a kid and thought they were great . Had Arabs on horses and camels and Egyptian and Indian infantry too . Guess I was socially conscious when being socially conscious wasn't cool or perhaps they were just toy represenatives of the British Empire . I can only hope that my precocious multi-culturalism will not cause me to support Barry Husein Obama now that the Nation of Islam has endorsed him !
cordially ,
David Corbett

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