To honor the culture of the Chicago Toy Soldier Show and grow the toy-soldier-collecting hobby.
The Chicago Toy Soldier Show reflects the trends and innovations of the toy-soldier-collecting hobby, integrates related hobbies, and honors the traditions of the hobby.
- Honor the founders of the Chicago Toy Soldier Show and their vision
- Operate with honesty, integrity, and transparency
- Support local suppliers and partners
- Engage family in the business
- Provide our toy-soldier-vendors with community, camaraderie, and enjoyment
Chicago Toy Soldier Show, Inc. is an S corporation, incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The Chicago Toy Soldier Show premiered in 1980 as a spinoff of the hobby publication, Old Toy Soldier Newsletter (OTSN), which began publication in the mid-1970s. The five founding OTSN partners—Steve and JoEllen Sommers, Joe Wallis, Don Pielin, and Roger Garfield—envisioned a publication dedicated solely to the toy-soldier-collecting hobby. Collectors were enthusiastic about the venture and suggested a Show of their own.
All but the first two of the past Shows have been held at the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg. The Show venue helped to create the culture of the Show. Room sales, for which the Chicago Show is famous, start 4 days prior to the Sunday Show. The room sales started because vendors and friends looked forward to seeing each other at the Show and would arrive prior to the Show to socialize and trade. Over time, this informal trading became formalized into Chicago Toy Soldier Show room sales.
When first founded, the Show was primarily a showcase for vintage and antique toy soldiers and related items. As the hobby evolved, manufacturers began to produce toy soldiers in the manner of the original toys. More recently, manufacturers began to produce exquisite model figures that are detailed and not intended for use as toys. Today, visitors to the Chicago Toy Soldier Show will see vintage and antique toys, original toys that are compatible with the old toys, and reproductions cast from the same molds as the original toys. There is also an array of exquisitely detailed models that are made to be admired rather than played with. Because of its longevity and size, the Chicago Toy Soldier Show has also become a trade show; many manufacturers will debut new lines and products.
Visitors to the Show will find toy soldiers made of metal, plastic, composition, paper, and other materials. There are toy soldiers for every taste and every budget.
Roger was one of the original partners that founded OTSN and the Chicago Toy Soldier Show. He and his wife purchased the Show from Roger’s partners in 2016. Roger is a retired high school administrator. Roger has collected Britains, Elastolin, Mignot, and most recently Marx toy soldiers. He also collects and sells British militaria, focusing on Scottish regiments. Currently, Roger collects toy soldiers that represent Scottish regiments. Roger is CEO of CTSS, Inc. and serves as Show manager.
Jan is Roger’s wife and business partner. Jan teaches full-time in Walden University’s doctoral program in business administration. She is a long-time examiner for the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and a Certified Quality Engineer. Jan collects Britain’s miniature garden and zoo figures. Jan is CTSS quality manager.
Graham is Roger’s son and a general manager for the Chicago Transit Authority. Graham is an historian and avid fan of the Chicago elevated train system, the “L.” Graham is CTSS assistant Show manager.
Gillian is Roger’s daughter and an FAA air traffic controller. Gillian’s interests include tap dancing, bicycling, and in-line skating. Gillian is CTSS business manager.
Judy is Jan’s sister and is recently retired from a long career in children’s literature and educational publishing. She was co-founder, with her late husband, of an educational publishing company. She has also served on local school boards and held the board chair position for an independent day/boarding school in the Northeast. Judy is CTSS publicity manager.