The World's Largest Collection of Toy Soldiers, Re-enacting History

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The Museo de los Soldaditos de Plomo in Valencia, Spain, which we first heard about over at BoingBoing, holds the world’s largest collection of toy soldiers and miniature figures — there are over a million pieces in the collection, many of them on display in historical dioramas and extensive battle scenes. Museum director Alejandro Noguera has been a collector of the trinkets from childhood, a hobby inherited from his father, who used the toys as teaching tools for his children, and who himself had an extensive collection that now makes up a large portion of the museum. The displays, like the 10,000-piece re-enactment of the 1707 Battle of Almansa, are highly detailed, each figure, from soldier to butcher to “camp follower” in its proper place, carefully and often beautifully rendered. Click through to see a few historic scenes acted out in miniature and read descriptions from the Smithsonian Magazine , and then be sure to check out the full article for even more photos and information.

A miniature version of the famous scene where Caesar is about to be murdered by Brutus.

Photo by Derek Workman via Smithsonian.

This scene depicts the moment Queen Isabella of Spain surrendered her jewels to a banker to provide funds for the building and equipping of the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, leading to Columbus’ discovery of the Americas.

Photo by Derek Workman via Smithsonian.

The Paris Metro from the Pixi series by Alexi Poliakoff.

Photo by Derek Workman via Smithsonian.

A dock-side scene from 19th century Peking.

Photo by Derek Workman via Smithsonian.

This scene depicts French soldiers at the siege of Peking, 1901.

Photo by Derek Workman via Smithsonian.

When Napoleon Bonaparte planned his military campaigns, he used models made by Lucotte, one of the top French toy soldier makers of the day, to show the positions of his armies.

Photo by Derek Workman via Smithsonian.

The craze for collecting toy soldiers began with the French in the 18th century. In this scene, British foot soldiers attack a French officer.

Photo by Derek Workman via Smithsonian.