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Little Green Army Men | "Today's Fighting Force"

action figure | play set

Major William Hartel of the United States Army spectulates that he is in the military these days because he enjoyed his childhood imaginary play with little green army figures more than four decades ago. Hartel, a dentist by trade, established a practice in St. Louis and saw civilian patients for more than 30 years. In 2011 he joined the army reserves and was soon placed on active duty. While stationed somewhere in the Middle East during the summer of 2014, Hartel made what he calls "trench art" army men. His figures reflect "new" army soldiers who use cell phones and iPads. Hartel made these figures from the standard green figures available at any base store or discount store. He set the figures in the "blazing desert heat" until they were soft enough to remold. He cut the small, white electronic devices from chow-hall utensils (perhaps also softened in the desert sun). Hartel's soldier figures suggest some significant ideas about play. Imaginative childhood play often leads to adult vocations, just as Hartel has spectulated. The green army figures also represent adult play in that Hartel made his "trench art" soldiers some 40 years after he first played with toy soldiers. The figures further suggest how an army officer serving "downrange" of a combat zone spends his leisure time.

  • Material: molded plastic
  • Object ID: 114.5513
  • Credit Line: Gift of Major William Hartel
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