Fidelis Models started business in the year 2000, but the story goes back much farther than that. We've been small scale military modelers for a long time before then.
Back in the early 1960s, Mike Bunkermeister Creek started using his $1 weekly allowance to buy one Roco Minitank and one box of Airfix figures per week at Bob’s Hobby Shop in Long Beach, California. Over the years he never stopped collecting and building those little Roco Minitanks. When Mike got to college in the mid-1970’s he joined a wargame club. Panzer Leader Wargamers, in Cerritos, California, met in a garage every week and would play a miniature wargame. They usually played World War Two scenarios, but also NATO vs Warsaw Pact, Starship Battles, and others. The group consisted of an Army ROTC cadet, a US Air Force Vietnam War veteran, a couple of private security guards, a law student and several others. Over time the group got larger and expanded to new locations.
|Mike's modern US Army collection circa 1982|
The group started with an 8X8 foot plywood wargame table in Cerritos, then moved to a 6X16 foot long sand table in Downey, and eventually a 7X16 foot table covered in indoor / outdoor carpeting in Fountain Valley, California. The group met nearly every weekend for forty-five years, and still meets today in a game room in Downey, California.
This wargaming group has included many influential hobbyists such as Mike Bunkermeister Creek, who has been writing the Bunker Talk blog for over ten years. Paul Heiser, the founder and operator of Lakewood Models, would often stop by for a chat or to deliver new products direct to his customers. Also in the group were Larry Squire and Calvin Ong, who operated Crusader Models for decades making both HO and 1/76th scale resin kits. Randy Davis, owner and operator of Fidelis Models, was also a member.
|Mike's modern US Army collection circa 1992.|
Mike founded Miniature Soldiers Company in January, 1987. It was a mail order company that placed tiny advertisements in comic books. He specialized in selling the new 1/87th scale Petner Panzer T-72 tank model. Later offerings included the Armortec T-62, and even a few resin models. After over ten years in business as Miniature Soldiers Company, Randy Davis took over the company, increased the offerings, and created Fidelis Models, one of the best on line venders of HO scale military and civilian vehicles.
Mike and Randy worked together and Mike was always telling Randy about this wargaming hobby and his Panzer Leaders Wargaming club. The whole idea of wargaming with small scale models seemed intriguing, so Randy decided to give it a try and was immediately hooked!
Over many years, they wargamed every weekend, improved the wargaming room, wrote more rules, built and painted more models, and came up with wilder game scenarios. Club members came and went (usually leaving when they got married). Randy got married, started a family, and moved to San Diego. The weekly wargaming became difficult, but we got the group together for a game as often as we could.
|Randy surveys the wargaming table circa 1992|
Then, in 2000, Randy started Fidelis Models specializing in selling small scale military vehicle models and soldier figures. This is a small, niche part of the hobby market. This was about the joy of the hobby and sticking to what you know.
Fidelis Models produced some unique resin military kits for many years. This included an M3GMC halftrack, several versions of the LVTP7A1, a few other vehicles, terrain pieces, and bunkers. Today, Fidelis Models offers a service of making custom RTV resin molds to make copies of any scratch built kits you may want to reproduce. We can even make the resin copies for you.
Having bought and traded 87th scale kits for decades for our own collections, it seemed there might be a market for buying and selling "used" model kits. Fidelis Models started buying model collections and offering the kits for sale at reduced "used" prices and this proved to be very popular with customers.
Over time, the 87th scale model availability was "exploding" with new manufacturers from all over the world. Model kits of specialized vehicles that we never thought would be produced were popping up all the time.
Fidelis Models had been almost exclusively offering military models, but with the launch of the Boley Dept 1-87 kits, a great selection of ready to roll fire and police vehicles became available. Fidelis Models started offering emergency vehicles in 87th scale and this was a great success. This led to also offering other civilian work vehicle models suitable for use on HO scale train layouts or for collecting.
Sometimes used collections were purchased which had been customized, painted, and decaled to a higher level of craftmanship. It seemed appropriate that these high quality kits should be sold separately from other "used" kits. Thus the "Select" kits were first offered in 1999. These kits are carefully selected, individually photographed for the website, and are shipped in individual plastic boxes.
Mike and Randy both retired from the job which had originally brought them together. Mike and his wife moved 2,000 miles away to rural Kentucky a few years ago. His new home is custom build around a wargaming room in his walkout basement.
Thanks to the internet, they still regularly discuss the hobby they love so much and promote 87th scale (HO) military model hobby through social media (Facebook and Me-We), blogging (Bunker Talk), and the Fidelis Models retail store.