August 21st, 2012 by Bob Letterman
I began my collection in 1983. I already had many momentos and, at the time was acquiring a lot of trophies and show momentos. The seed company of VLS, Warwinds International was growing fast, and it occurred to me that one day I would like to look back over all the coming years. That collection quickly expanded, not only with models, but also 1 to 1 scale militaria. Over the years, I was sent a ton of uniforms and equipment. Usually from modelers who wanted products made from them. They only asked for a number of the kits when they were released in exchange for the uniforms. In 1993, Miniature World opened in O’Fallon, Missouri, at the VLS building. Utilizing 5000 square feet for the museum only. There was quite the fanfare on opening day.
This is me on the right, My partner, Ralph Koebbeman, (Who passed away in 2011), and in the center, the Mayor of O’Fallon, who will pull the lanyard and cut the ribbon Ralph and I are holding. Click on images to enlarge.
A shot of me between my two career partners, Francois Verlinden on the left in the model business, and Joe Mokwa, my police partner and later Chief of the St. Louis Police department. Click on images to enlarge.
A shot of Ralph and Shepherd Paine. Click on images to enlarge.
Talk about a rogues gallery left to right, Shep Paine, Lewis Pruneau and Francois Verlinden. Click on images to enlarge.
The checkout counter at the museum model shop. Tessie Gerringer and Del Miller.
An overall shot of the museum with Pruneau’s Drag Strip in the foreground. Click on images to enlarge.
Another shot of the museum. Click on images to enlarge.
It remained at that location until 1996. Then it was moved to old town St. Charles, Missouri. I will be posting pics of that location as soon as I find them. The museum, called Miniature World did very well in the summer months as St. Charles is an area attraction. Then we learned a hard fact to face. The modeler’s came year around, but, it just wasn’t enough to keep it open between tourist seasons. Locals don’t go to their own attractions. That thought never occurred to either me or Ralph. I subsidized it for the next 6 years. Then I had Ralph come down and we shut it down. He took all his exhibits back to his home where he has them on display, or did have. Since his passing, I have no idea where the collection is today. After 9 years, Miniature World closed it’s doors
For the next 4 years, it was in the VLS warehouse where our customers could view it. Then I sold VLS on January first, 2007. I had a huge garage built, (For about 10 cars) behind my house. It was finished with heat and A/C. It took 4 semi trucks to move it all, then me and some friends, Wes Bradley and Steve Hoard, worked for over a month hanging everything on the walls, putting the models into glass cases and arranging the free standing ones. Here are some general pics taken when it was finished.
These are shots of the walls. They are filled with magazine, book and newspaper articles, That painting was done by Rosemarion, Ralph Keobbemann’s wife. She is 96 and still teaching painting to students.
Whenever any of you are near the St. Louis area, send me an email through this site. If we are able, we’ll make arrangements for you to see it. It isn’t open to the public and there are no admission fees. It is for modelers in general and our friends only. If you are a modeler or a model enthusiast, we will do our best to give you the grand tour! There are some works from each of the following names; Shep Paine, Lewis Pruneau, Francois Verlinden, Mike Good, Don Kanaval, Alex Boui, Mort Schmitt, Alan Griffith, Bob Oehler, Gordon Stronach, Jim Stephens, Bill Konn, George Woodard, Dan Clover, Ian Hill, Duane Pfister, myself and others. There is a lot of militaria and 50 years of modeling memorabilia, most you will never find anywhere else, as far back as the 50s, ancient Model magazines and catalogs, posters, kits, a collection of nametags saved over the years beginning with 70s and 80s shows, and lots of displays from Miniature World Museum. There are hundreds of box art models from Custom Dioramics, Warriors, Techstar, Streets of Laredo, and so on. There are around a hundred dioramas, hundreds and hundreds of models and so much more! At 1400 square feet, there is more packed into this space than I ever imagined possible!
Chris Saulet, Bob & Susan along the west wall. On the left is “Cocoon”, a large dry dock diorama, on the right is “Quota” the Krupp 88 factory. Photos taken in 2007.
First three photos courtesy of Ken Jones. (Click on photos to enlarge)
Susan, Chris and Stephanie Saulet looking toward north wall.
Sadly, Chris Saulet passed away from terminal cancer a few years ago. He was much too young. Chris was a great friend and fellow modeler.
Looking toward West wall. Click on images to enlarge.
Sandra Jones, wife of Ken Jones, editor of Military Modelling Magazine visiting from England, looking at Legacies II. The diorama in back of her is the new “Logistics”, currently under construction and near right is “Cocoon”. Cocoon is the smallest of the 4 large ones I built. The Winds of War is in a private collection, Legacies and Cocoon are here as is the current project Logistics. Susan and I had met Ken Jones at Euromilitaire several times back in the 80s and early 90s. He came over in 1999 for Mastercon and he and his wife Sandra have become very close friends since. They come over to visit once or twice a year and we travel around in the motor home or just “kick back” and enjoy the attractions of St. Louis. He retired last year, (2011)!
Last two photos courtesy of Wes Bradley. I entered my first major competition in the St. Louis IPMS Nationals in 1982. During the next two years, I accumulated the trophies on this wall. In 1984, I decided that a businessman should not be competing with his customers and have never competed since. Although retired, after almost 30 years away from competition, I will never compete again.
Partial south wall of museum. Click on images to enlarge.
Partial north wall of museum
I also have a section for my police career. The following are shots of that. A complete German police uniform from the 80s. Includes trousers and shoes. I have always had police officers sending me uniforms and hats, etc. from the world over.
There is a St. Louis S.W.A.T. uniform, also complete. Click on images to enlarge.
A 24 year old Bob and a 20 year old Susan, taken one year after we were married.
Other major articles, commendations, medals, etc. Click on images to enlarge.
Then comes the uniforms and equipment. A U.S. Navy A-6 Intruder pilot’s flying suit acquired about 20 years ago, so, I doubt if it is current.
One side of a glass tower with hats of military and police uniforms from all over the world, ranging from the 40s up to the 90s. Click on images to enlarge.
During Operation Desert Storm, several of our customers got together and had this uniform tagged with my name and sent it to me.
An F-15 fighter pilot’s flight suit, (complete) Click on images to enlarge.
Two American flags, One a 48 star from WW II. The other, a flag flown at a firebase in Danong, Vietnam. Click on images to enlarge.
A Boots and Coots fire suit. It can withstand 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Original cost, around $100K.
A MIG-21 Pilot’s flight suit. (Complete) Click on images to enlarge.
I am not certain, but was told this was a practice bomb used at Pearl Harbor prior to December 7th.
On top, An army helmet from Vietnam, bottom, A U.S. Carrier flight deck head gear. Click on images to enlarge.
A WW I case, everything is authentic from 1917-18. Click on images to enlarge.
A Doughboy’s campaign hat, WW I. Click on images to enlarge.
One of my most prized pieces. General Colin Powells’s Helmet from Desert Storm. Acquired through the Office of the Joint Chiefs of staff.
Another shot of a hat case. Click on images to enlarge.
From here forward will be many of the models in the museum. Not all, but it can give the viewer a good idea. I will post each one by the order I took them and give the name of the builder.
Nest, a 1/24 Bf-109 diorama set in a castle farm on the Normandy coast. (Letterman, 1985)
The Liberation of Sheila. a 1/48th scale dio set in a German Beutepark in Paris, 1945. (Letterman, 1989) Click on images to enlarge.
A glass case with work from Letterman, Verlinden, Buck McKlin, and Ralph Koebbemann. If you look on the third shelf down, on the left side, there is a red 1/32nd MGTC. Susan built that years ago and it won several first places. Click on images to enlarge.
The Custom Diorama box art case. These were all built by Letterman as box art between 1999 and 2007.
Another case with cars built by me back in the early 80s. Click on images to enlarge.
The box art for the ejection seat built by Verlinden in 1986. The photo behind it was made on a cruise in 1986. Click on images to enlarge.
One of my big dios, Coccoon, 1988.
A very nice diorama by Ian Hill of Australia. I believe it was built in 1992 or 1993. Click on images to enlarge.
Another large case with some box art and car models. (Letterman, 1982) Click on images to enlarge.
Same Case. That bus won a best of category in the 1983 IPMS Nationals in Phoenix, AZ.
Same case again. The Jaguar, 1/8th scale also took a first place at the Phoenix nationals in ‘83.
Click on images to enlarge.
A nice bust of Josey Wales. This was painted by Joe Porter. Behind are the characters from Lonesome Dove.
These models were built by the late Don Kanaval. Click on images to enlarge.
Also more of Don’s work. The cheerleader was about Susan, my wife, and Don gave that to her in 1994. Horse Apples he gave her at Mastercon 1, 1992.
Knight takes King’s Bishop, a 1/35th dio of the Israeli conflict. (Letterman, 1990). Click on images to enlarge.
Here is a pic of a middleeast event in 1/24th scale. (Bill Konn, 1990)
The 1/35th diorama, Lost Cause. (Letterman, 1986) Click on images to enlarge.
A Fantasy diorama by Don Kanaval. More box art, mostly from the series, “The Streets of Laredo”.
A shot through the plexiglass of Legacies II. This is my most publicized diorama. It has been featured in 64 books and magazines from around the world. (Letterman, 1984) Click on images to enlarge.
A Lewis Pruneau Civil War piece.
A scratch built German motorcycle diorama. (Pruneau, 1990) Click on images to enlarge.
Two dios, A German Afrika Korps halftrack in 120mm scale. (Pruneau, 1997) The “Gas Pedal Stuck” dio in 1/16th scale. (Letterman, 1992)
A V-1 piloted suicide bomb scratched by Pruneau. They had no volunteers so the project never got off the ground. Pardon the pun. Click on images to enlarge.
Masquerade, a 1/35th diorama about the 5th column during the “Battle of the Bulge. (Letterman, 1991)
Some nice busts and a figure. From left to right. Bust by Hal Sanford. The figure and the bust on the right were sculpted and painted by Mike Good. Click on images to enlarge.
The Stewart in 1/16th scale is Mastercon Gold medal winner by Mort Schmidt!
The next one is a Nichimo 1/35th Porsche turret Tiger II with complete interior. (Letterman, 1981)
Click on images to enlarge.
A Jordanian M-47 by Bob Oehler. Click on images to enlarge.
A scratch 1/16th scale truck by the late Douane Pfister. Douane’s models were featured for may years in the California publication, Military Models.
A 1/12th Porsche 930 Turbo. (Letterman, 1982) Click on images to enlarge.
The hats and scarfs of Colin Powell and Gen. Schwartzkoph. Authenticated by the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Click on images to enlarge.
Some box art by Letterman and a Napoleonic piece by Alex Buey of Vietnam. Another of the late Don Kanaval’s “Nose Art”, made for Ralph Koebbemann.
A rescue diorama that was a collaboration between Lewis Pruneau and Gordon Stronach. Click on images to enlarge.
Richard Mitchell won more trophies at Mastercon through the years then anyone. Here is his “The Last Council” A 120mm Civil War diorama. Richard passed away several years ago.
Another great dio by Richard Mitchell, “Grandpa’s War. Click on images to enlarge.
Box Art for the series “Superdiorama” (Letterman, 2004)
A War Elephant, again by Alex Buey. Below is another box art piece by Letterman in the Superdiorama series. Click on images to enlarge.
A scratch built Russian Siege gun in Berlin. 120mm scale. (Pruneau, 1997)
A 120mm Napoleonic Shadowbox, “The Limits of Glory”. (Letterman, 1998) Click on images to enlarge.
One of my personal favorites, One of the promotional diorama that was used in the Monogram armor kits during the 70s. (Shep Paine, 1972) Click on images to enlarge.
Another glass case. This one is filled with the work of many great modelers from around the world.
On the left, a collaboration between Verlinden and Lewis Pruneau. On the right, another collaboration. This time with Joe Porter, Verlinden and Pruneau. 120mm scale. Click on images to enlarge.
Several box art figures and busts. Sean Connery, Bogart, Taras Bulba, Napoleon and Josephine and, Die Hard. Click on images to enlarge.
This amazing 1/24th scale scratchbuilt truck is by Jim Stephens. A fantastic modeler with a unique style. You may remember him from the Shep Paine books.
Costly Lesson at Tarawa. A 120mm diorama, again a collaboration between Verlinden and Pruneau.
Click on images to enlarge.
The War Elephant. (Alex Buey, Vietnam) Click on images to enlarge.
The lower diorama. Also a piece by Alex Buey.
When Verlinden and I first became partners, he gave me the following two dioramas. This one is the “Tobruk Pit”. 1/35th scale, it was featured in The Verlinden Way series of books. (Verlinden, 1985)
Click on images to enlarge.
The next is “The Rathaus” Both these were featured in the first series of books, “The Verlinden Way”. (Verlinden, 1985)
When I joined I.P.M.S. way back when, the “Armor Man” in America at the time was George Woodard. He took 3 years to complete this scratch built “Lee”. It has a full and lighted interior with every conceivable detail. 1/35th scale. Click on images to enlarge.
And last, but not least, A 120mm WW I battlefield in 120mm scale. (Lewis Pruneau, 1998)
I hope you enjoy these. The museum is private, but, if you are going to be in the St. Louis Missouri area in the future. Email me with some advance notice, and I will be happy to give you the grand tour. (There is no admission charge).