Sunday, 6 October 2013

L'Iber Museo de los Soldaditos de Plomo - Valencia, Spain

Apologies for going quiet for the last few weeks. Work has been fairly busy (including visits to Scotland, and Champagne), I've also completed Battlestar Galactica and have moved on to watching another series I always meant to see - The Wire (I'm very much enjoying Bunk and McNulty). But the main distraction was ten days in Spain, visiting Barcelona and Valencia with my wife. I hadn't been to Barcelona in 15 years or so and had never been to Valencia so I was rather looking forward to it.

Barcelona was wonderful - but slightly spoiled by the hordes of tourists everywhere you went. We had a great time. However, what had sold Valencia to me when I was looking for where we should go was that Valencia is home to one of the world's largest toy soldier museums - L'Iber Museo de los soldaditos de plomo. 80,000 figures on display in an old mansion house in the centre of the old city in Valencia. When I saw this place pop up on Trip Advisor it was as if God had spoken!!

I've added a link to the Museo's website to the right - but for those of you too lazy to go look, the collection is the work of a gentleman called Mr Alvaro Gimenez who collected toy soldiers all his life, and in the 80's started a museum in an old mansion house in the city. Now I have to say, if you do not speak Spanish this place isn't that user friendly - once in the Museum itself all the signs are in Spanish, essentially, you pay the 5 Euro, are given a very small floorplan of the mansion and allowed in. After that you are on your own (literally, for large parts of my visit).

Each room of the mansion is home to numerous glass cases full of (mostly) 54mm toy soldiers. I'm not into 54mm toy soldiers too much myself but I defy anyone interested in our hobby not to feel their heart lift as they see rank upon rank of these little guys. Most of the figures are of Spanish subjects and are from a variety of makers (Almirall Palau, Elastolin, King & Country, Rose and Pheonix amongst many others)..

Amongst the rows of display cabinets are some diorama style displays - this is just a small detail of a large display loosely based upon Waterloo.

However, in amongst the ranks of 54mm lovelies there were at least two large dioramas - one was in 15mm and featured Greeks and Persians squaring off - as I understood the label, all the figures were by a small figure line by Almirall. From what I could gather they were originally bought ready painted in small boxes of two to four figures.

There were two dioramas that featured 25mm Minifigs and Hinchcliffe figures - one was the battle of Almansa 1707, and the other was an Egyptian battle (lots of chariots). I've got to say - I rather look down on both Hinchcliffe and Minifigs these days (although I had a fair few back when I was a small boy) but these two tables showed them to their best advantage en masse.

I spent a thoroughly enjoyable hour and a half wandering around the museum. It was absolutely delightful - I was particularly pleased to see some Pheonix Miniatures figures there (Napoleonics and civilian ladies mostly) - when I was about 12 I started buying their 25mm Napoleonics - they were beautiful figures (I was a lead snob even then).

Overrall, I'd recommend Valencia - Barcelona was wonderful but so full of tourists it began to be a bit wearing, whereas Valencia was a bit more laid back. I'd say it was an excellent choice for a long weekend if you just fancy mooching around the cathedral, hitting a couple of museums, shopping in the small shops throughout the old town or going to the beach. We also ate particularly well in Valencia - and I enjoyed one rather exciting local wine that particularly stuck with me - Dominio de la Vega Artemayor -  a single vineyard red from old vines made from the local grape variety, Bobal. Interestingly, it is a non vintage wine (the bottle I drank was made from the 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages vinified individually and then blended). Apparently it is a small production wine (<5000 bottles per annum) - and is the top of their range (47 Euro in a local restaurant so not too outrageous). Layton's are the UK importer for Dominio de la Vega (they also do quite a useful cava but I haven't tried their cheaper light wines) but the Artemayor isn't on their published list. I suppose I'll need to get my salesman on the case...  


  1. Looks like a great visit...will add to the list

  2. Great photos, Malcolm. I've only been to Barcelona once, and as that was my brother's stag do it doesn't really count as a visit!