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VCU Archaeology

Memorializing in Miniature: 3D Imaging of Toy Soldiers

by Bernard K. Means, Director, Virtual Curation Laboratory

Reenactors help screen soil at Ferry Farm.

Reenactors help VCU students and Ferry Farm interns Allen Huber and Ashley McCuistion screen soil at Ferry Farm.

On Saturday, May 25, I was at George Washington’s Ferry Farm to use our laser scanner to create digital models of artifacts recovered at that site.  Ferry Farm that day was celebrating and memorializing World War II, including with reenactors dressed in period military uniforms.  The reenactors set up a small camp site, complete with a jeep and World War II bike, but did make forays over to the public dig location. The archaeologists at Ferry Farm, including three VCU students who also work with the Virtual Curation Laboratory during the academic year, were busy excavating and documenting a wide range of features. The excavations that day were an extension of the public programs tied to the Memorial Day celebrations, as were my own scanning efforts.

3D scanning of a toy soldier is viewed by Maggie Lovitt, a University of Mary Washington student who also works for the George Washington Foundation

3D scanning of a toy soldier is viewed by Maggie Lovitt, a University of Mary Washington student who also works for the George Washington Foundation

I set up in the Small Finds Laboratory at Ferry Farm for my scanning efforts.  The Small Finds Laboratory has a nice large window that allows visitors to view analysts at work.  In addition to setting up the 3D scanner in front of the window, I also placed a selection of plastic replicas that we have made from the 3D models we have created.  These include models made from artifacts recovered as close as a few hundred feet from the Small Finds Laboratory to some found thousands of miles away in southern Africa. My primary focus was to scan some of the American Indian artifacts recovered at Ferry Farm, although I also scanned a groundhog skull found last year in the base of a shovel test pit (STP) from an earlier phase of excavations at the site. I did take time, in honor of Memorial Day, to scan a green plastic army man who was depicted as firing a bazooka. This was the second army man that we scanned at Ferry Farm, and both were actually recovered during archaeological investigations.  These toy soldiers were associated with a 20th century family that lived atop the Washington family landscape.

The digital model of an army man as it is forming on the laptop's screen.

The digital model of an army man as it is forming on the laptop’s screen.

The other toy soldier that we scanned and that was recovered archaeologically at Ferry Farm appears to represent a man leading troops into battle, while holding an M-16 rifle.

Scan by the Virtual Curation Laboratory used courtesy of the George Washington Foundation.

Scan by the Virtual Curation Laboratory used courtesy of the George Washington Foundation.

Children (and adults) from earlier generations also played with figurines that represent military men. Below is a World War I doughboy toy soldier made of lead and recovered at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest.

Scan by the Virtual Curation Laboratory used courtesy of Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest.

Scan by the Virtual Curation Laboratory used courtesy of Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest.

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Discussion

9 thoughts on “Memorializing in Miniature: 3D Imaging of Toy Soldiers

  1. The scanned green plastic army man is looking fabulous.Your 3D Imaging of Toy Soldiers is great.

    Posted by Rachel | June 10, 2013, 2:19 am
  2. Yes it’s true and memorable about the soldiers and 2nd world war, this toy soldiers say all this things regarding the soldiers like gun, uniform, and it’s look, Now a day we used toy soldiers for plying and entertainment, we used some software to see toy soldiers games in 3D.;-)

    Posted by jamesmunt | July 18, 2013, 12:50 am
  3. Scans look great, especially bazooka soldier and m-16 guy. I didn’t know NextEngine could get this good a result. Not even using Multi drive or HD Pro software, right? Is the scanner calibrated in any special way, or is this just out of the box settings?

    Posted by Chris | April 10, 2014, 2:46 am
    • We are using HD Pro Software but not multidrive. Multidrive is not particularly useful for most archaeological applications as hard to secure an object without affecting it. The firmware has improved over our use of the scanner so this has made scanning of challenging items with thin pieces somewhat easier (e.g. the rifles of the soldiers!). Thanks for the question.

      Posted by bkmeans | April 10, 2014, 7:20 am
      • Thanks for replying, it’s really cool what you all are doing here. In the picture of the bazooka guy on screen, I see “ScanStudio HD” underneath the toolbar. Was that scan done before you got HD Pro? How long would an object like this take, and would that good a scan require maximum density and resolution settings?

        Posted by Chris | April 10, 2014, 2:49 pm
      • You know, we use HD Pro for editing, not scanning…… so my mistake there. It takes an hour to scan on macro setting (one vertical/one horizontal) and we do 8 divisions but the rest of the settings I do not recall at present

        Posted by bkmeans | April 11, 2014, 7:23 am
  4. Hi all–I’m very excited by the work you’re doing, and am looking for repositories of high quality scans of academic relevance. So far, I’ve seen some government ones (http://3dprint.nih.gov/, http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/, and the growing http://3d.si.edu/browser).

    Do you put your scans online anywhere, or know of any great repositories for historic scans? Thanks! -Terence MSU

    Posted by Terence | October 16, 2014, 11:31 am
    • Terence,

      We will begin moving some of our scans online within the next couple of weeks, at least those without restrictions. I will blog about this on this web site when that happens. Due to demand, we will begin with our passenger pigeon and other animal bones, and them move to projectile points.

      Cheers,

      Bernard

      Posted by bkmeans | October 16, 2014, 2:07 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Memorial Day at Ferry Farm | Digging Anthropology - May 28, 2013

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