About the Military Miniature Society of Illinois: A Short History
The MMSI Logo: A Soldier on Guard at Fort Dearborn
The MMSI is a an organization based in the Chicago area dedicated to the art of painting and sculpting military miniatures and toy soldiers as well as collecting these scale works of military and fantasy art. We hold a show (not a competition, but a "juried exhibition") each year in October. There are also monthly meetings that deal with a wide variety of subjects held on the first first Friday of the month, except for a break during the summer. We do host summer get-togethers, however--also ask about joining us at breakfast on Mondays or Fridays!--as well as an annual Holiday party during the Christmas season. We publish a quarterly journal called The Scabbard that includes articles on history, uniforms, miniatures, and much more, and it is included (electronic copy or, at an extra charge, a print copy if you must) as part of the annual membership dues.
The Military Miniature Society of Illinois was founded in 1952 by five toy soldier collectors and figure
converters. Among the founders was J. Edward Jones, a prominent manufacturer of hollow-cast toy soldiers,
which are much in demand among collectors today. The club slowly expanded during the next 10 years, totaling about 35 members by 1962. Meetings were held in members' homes throughout the Chicago area. A larger percentage of members lived in the northern suburbs, so when the number of members exceeded the feasibility of meeting in members' homes, a central meeting place in downtown Evanston was set up, and the MMSI began another period of expansion.
In 1968, the MMSI took a quantum leap forward and began publishing a monthly journal called The Scabbard. Actually, it was a re-introduction of a journal, since Mr. Jones tried to publish the original Scabbard in 1953-1954, but only five issues were printed before that version of the journal folded. A monthly journal brings people together, and when The Scabbard was relaunched, the membership expanded again, gaining enthusiasts from across the country, now that they connect with the local members.
The membership continued to grow as the interest in the military miniature hobby began to blossom in the '70s. TheMMSI had to move to several different venues to accommodate the larger number of members attending the meetings. After a period of years, a suitable meeting place was discovered at Oakton Community College, and the MMSI found a home for good, first at the Skokie campus and then at the DesPlaines campus, where the group now meets regularly.
The next milestone for the Society came in 1975 when the very first "Chicago Show" was held in a small hall at the Park Ridge VFW hall. The show lasted two years at the hall until it outgrew the exhibit and vendor space. A move was in order, and for the next seven or eight years, the Chicago Show was held at the Serbian Hall across the Kennedy Expressway from the VFW hall. Then, due to increased costs, the show was forced to move again, this time to the brand new Hyatt Regency Hotel in Schaumburg, IL, where the Chicago Show found a home for the next decade. This was the first time that a show was held in the same location as the hotel,thereby eliminating the need for transportation for out of town guests and providing a closer, friendlier atmosphere. The MMSI moved to Oak Brook, IL at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in 1995; then to Schaumburg again at the Chicago Marriot hotel 15 years later.
The Society meets every month during the year, usually on the first Friday night. Programs and theme nights are planned throughout the year, with general conversation, critiques, how-to and comradeship in evidence. The membership in the Society started with a very small amount of enthusiasts and now numbers near 300 nationwide with members in England, France & Canada.
The current membership numbers among its members some of the best painters and sculptors in the U.S. The Chicago
Show attracts artists from all over the world, making it one of the largest such shows anywhere. The
hospitality of the MMSI is second to none and its members strive to make everyone who visits, whether the meetings or the show, feel right at home, among friends.
The Chicago Marriott Schaumburg, site of the current MMSI Chicago Show.