Toy soldiers invade Schaumburg during annual convention

SCHAUMBURG -- An army of toy soldiers old and new was joined by farm, zoo, and circus figures as part of the 37th Annual Chicago Toy Soldier Show on Sunday.

You could call Ken Osen the general of toy soldiers, as his company, William Britain, is one of the oldest in the world, and dedicated to telling a story through miniatures. He said their sales are driven by a passion for history and famous figures from the past.

"There’s been a fascination with miniatures since ancient times," Osen said. "We embrace history, we respect history."

Jeff Johnson said he's come to every show in the last 35 years, and was one of 2,000 who came to one of the largest toy soldier conventions in the world Sunday.

"This is all the crazy people like me that are into this stuff," Johnson joked.

Andy Neilson’s made a living out of his passion selling the expensive toys, which can run from $20 to several hundred dollars. The figures cover nearly all eras of human time, depicting scenes from places like ancient Egypt and modern Afghanistan.

"This stuff is not the toy soldiers I played with as a kid," Neilson said. "It’s really an art that’s developed over the last 30,40,50 years."