These miniature figurines are part of the "Scotland Forever" set...

These miniature figurines are part of the "Scotland Forever" set by Sheperd Paine. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

It's a big show for such little things.

Miniature figures are a booming business, and this weekend some of the best modelers and collectors from around the world will be on Long Island to showcase their wares and talents.

These are more than just the green plastic toy soldiers from "Toy Story." These little gems, most not more than four inches tall, can be made of metal or plastic and often are hand-painted in extraordinary detail by artists who pay extra attention to the historical details of the uniforms. Figures can depict eras of battles from the Middle Ages to modern-day warfare.

With 400 to 500 people expected, this show is considered one of the better attended of all the miniature-figure events held nationwide.

"It's probably the best little show in the country," says Scott Miller, 65, an avid collector from East Northport.

The field has expanded beyond military figures. The new wave of miniatures includes fantasy and horror figures, which appeal more to younger adults and teens, says John Jefferies, 65, a board member of the Long Island Miniature Collectors Society, which has been hosting the annual show for decades.


Fans of the Netflix series "House of Cards" may recall the ruthless politician Frank Underwood up late at night with his miniatures in the study of his Virginia home.

But narcissistic killers aside, collectors -- mostly men and a few women, too -- had their interest sparked when they would get toy soldiers for holidays and birthdays as children, and began amassing them. Many of the metal ones, starting sometime in the 1950s, came boxed from England.

"I always remembered that, at Christmastime, I would have a box stuffed into the sock," Jefferies says.

Soon, he says, the hobby cements into a more adult one, as the historical reference of each of the pieces becomes what's important.

"There is this overriding feeling that it's about war," says Jefferies. "But it's not. It's about history."

Most miniature model hobbyists not only paint or sculpt their own figures, but collect those done professionally. Miller has more than 10,000 miniatures, most bought from top-selling modelers, although he does a lot of "conversions" himself, which is taking a kit and altering it into another historic figure by changing clothing and accessories.

The collectible figures can sell for anywhere from 25 cents to $4,000 or more.

"They are bordering on works of art," Miller says.


While soldiers have been front and center, the work of the newest miniature artists and collectors to take the field often is in the realm of fantasy, horror and science fiction.

"We've really reached out to the sci-fi and horror people," says Jefferies. "It's a very diverse group of men and women," breaking out of the "good old boys" mold associated with the hobby.

To military figure collectors, historical accuracy is crucial, but in the world of fantasy, creativity is key. Some figures are based on video game or TV characters from shows such as HBO's "Game of Thrones," and others are designed just for the hobbyist to paint or collect.

"The hobby has taken a big turn toward fantasy," says Miller.


No need to be a collector to enjoy the show, say the organizers. Exhibitors are on hand to explain the different techniques of sculpting and painting, and there will be plenty of swapping, too.

For those interested in painting and sculpting figurines, model kits, art supplies and books will be available for sale.

Among the highlights are competitions held throughout the two days in areas related to soldiers, aircraft, tanks, automobiles, ships, fantasy and science fiction.

Long Island Miniature Model Show

WHEN | WHERE 6-9:30 p.m. Friday. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Freeport Recreation Center, 130 E. Merrick Rd.

INFO 516-662-5281,

ADMISSION $10 (free younger than 12)

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