“Toy Surgeon” Dennis Widner Makes Miniature Munition Masterpieces in Perfect 1:6 Scale

This is the masterpiece I was fortunate enough to purchase, a Tellermine 42 box, handmade by Dennis Widner. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

During the day, GIjOE collector Dennis Widner works at the University of Georgia teaching courses in radiation safety. Back at home, he transforms into a highly-specialized artist, creating handcrafted miniature 1:6 scale replicas of WW2 munition boxes. (Wow. Talk about your “narrow niches!”)

I caught up with Dennis at this year’s Joelanta show in Atlanta, GA. He told me that he began creating these mini munition masterpieces back in 1995, and that every crate and case is thoroughly researched, studied and planned-out before ANY work is begun. According to Widner…

Dennis Widner, aka “The Toy Surgeon,” poses in front of the small, unassuming display case he uses to sell his amazing creations. (Photo: Mark Otnes)

“I do a LOT of research beforehand, because I don’t care for miniatures that’re inaccurate. So whenever I decide to make something, it’s going to be an exact, scaled-down copy—as close as humanly possible.”

Of course, such high-quality work doesn’t go unnoticed by the public for long. In fact, Widner told me…

“A few times after I’ve finished a piece, I’ve had others copying it exactly (without credit or compensation). But I guess that sort of thing is inevitable and can actually be considered a form of flattery.”

I don’t think Dennis has anything to worry about. No “knock-off” copy will EVER come close to the high-level of quality and character evident in his work. Widner confirmed that he makes everything by hand, using a mixture of hand-sculpted resin parts, tiny wooden pieces, working metal hinges and clasps, and even miniature metal nails (they’re so tiny!). The final results are simply astounding. You need to hold them in your hands to really appreciate the quality. Each crate or case looks, feels and even SMELLS like its 1:1 counterpart.

This closeup reveals astounding details in one of Dennis’ creations. There’s even a real, wooden handle! (Photo: Mark Otnes)

Dennis’ crates are fully functional too. All of the hinges, clasps and tiny slots for the munitions. It’s all correct. Nothing’s phony or forgotten. I was floored by the amount of time and work each item requires. Nothing is mass-produced by a plastic vac-u-form machine in China for 5 cents a copy. It’s more like you’re holding a miniature piece of HISTORY in your hands. Not surprisingly though, according to Widner…

“I don’t really make any money. I know that. I make these purely for the love of our hobby. Typically, I only sell my work “face to face” to the public, about once a year, usually down here at Joelanta. They’re considered to be Joelanta ‘exclusives.’ But I guess if someone’s really interested, they could email me directly and place an order.”

Some of Dennis’ amazing work includes (from l to r): US 50cal ammo crate, 2cm German flak gun magazine case, 8cm German mortor case and (far r) the “holy grail” Tellermine 42 box.
(Photo: Mark Otnes)

Bottom Line: Before I left his booth, I snagged one of Dennis’ Tellermine 42 boxes for myself (imagine the incredible diorama possibilities). I would’ve completely emptied out his entire display case, if not for my meager, limited funds. ARRGH!

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7 thoughts on ““Toy Surgeon” Dennis Widner Makes Miniature Munition Masterpieces in Perfect 1:6 Scale

  1. Danny Garrett says:

    excellent work, real craftsman,

  2. Dennis Widner says:

    Thank you Mark for the interview. Dying to see what you do with that Teller mine crate! The quality of all the articles in the Joe Report are astounding. Mark is a real credit to the 1/6 hobby and GI Joe. Hope you make it down to Atlanta next year. I have some more goodies.

    I really appreciate what you have done for the hobby.

    Dennis AKA thetoysurgeon

  3. PaulG says:

    I am a big fan of Dennis’ work and several of his excellent pieces. They are well worth the money and I hope to acquire more in the future.

  4. Nick says:

    I cant seem to get intouch with dennis, i would possibliy like to order some 2cm ammo cans from you

  5. Dennis Widner says:

    Hello All, Email addy has changed sorry for the inconvenience

    thetoysurgeon@att.net

  6. Dennis Widner says:

    Email has changed again for the toysurgeon

    thetoysurgeon@charter.net

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