An Interview with Gene Abravaya of Paragon Scenics & Miniatures.

Paragon

One of my favorite themes to collect is from the Great Plains Indians Wars period. When collecting figures for this theme Paragon is one of the first companies that come to mind first. If not, it should be. You can visit their website by clicking on this link here Paragon.

I first learned about Paragon Scenics & Miniatures in 2012. They produce Western themed sets in plastic. Their miniatures fit into three themes; The Alamo, American Civil War and The Great Plains Indian Wars. Besides the miniatures they also sell foam terrain pieces, buildings and Forts. They also have produced a few playsets. Their Native Americans figures are considered some of the best ever made in plastic.

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I have wanted to do an interview with Gene since I started doing them. But we couldn’t set some thing up until now. With the help of Ed Borris I was able to put this together. Thanks Ed : )

Ed Borris

An Ed Borris figure by Jason Pope fighting off two Paragon Native Sioux Warriors.

Today we get a chance to talk to Gene Abravaya the owner of Paragon Scenics & Miniatures. Hi Gene. Thank you in advance for taking your time to answer some of these questions.

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Box Art from one of Paragon’s sets.

Warhorse Miniatures: Can you tell us about yourself and how did Paragon get started?

 

Gene: First of all, thank you Mike for giving me this opportunity to reach out to other collectors. This labor of love started a long, long time ago for me when, back in 1959 or so, I received my first Marx Fort Apache playset. I admit that, during my teenage and college years, when I was more concerned about dating and pleasing girlfriends, I was absent from the hobby. After that, pursuing a career and then raising a family took me further away. But always the love of toy soldiers lingered. It wasn’t until my own children gave me a set of Lord of The Rings figures that the desire to collect was reawakened. And shortly after that, the desire to create my own line of figures took hold of me. I have always been a creative person, a lover of all the arts and an over-achiever – the type of person who has always looked to challenge himself. If I was going to make my own line of figures, I was going to make them myself. Something in me kept saying ,”you can do this.” So I did.

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(Gene continues) After checking out the leading manufacturers of new figure sets – Conte and TSSD in particular, I realized how far the industry had come. The work they did and continue to do in advancing the quality of product has to be recognized for its genius and respected its love for the hobby. They were my inspiration and still are. I contacted Nick VerSteeg, who not only unselfishly gave me the benefit of all his insight but gave me the names of the people I needed to contact if I was serious about getting into “the business.” That’s how it started, and after producing sixteen different sets and close to thirty foam diorama pieces, I am still at it. 

Paragon Wilson’s Creek Banks

 

Warhorse Miniatures: Your Native American figures are some of the best sculpted miniatures ever made. Who is the sculptor and can you tell us any background in the development with these figures?

 

Gene: Whether or not other collectors are a fan of my figures, I can honestly say they are the product of my own creation. I personally sculpt each figure of each set. The process has taught me patience if nothing else.

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Warhorse Miniatures: Your latest set is the Alamo Mexican Set 3. They look very nice. I like the new pattern of mixing some mounted figures with figures on foot. Will you continue this practice?

 

Gene: Most of our sets are six figures. Recently, because of rising costs, I have released new sets with four poses but, in many cases, these sets have swivel and swappable heads, giving collectors options that they don’t have when buying other manufacturers’ sets with six or more poses with fused features.

Paragon Mexicans Set3

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Warhorse Miniatures: It seems that you are very fond of the American West or American Civil War History. Have you ever thought about producing another theme?

 

Gene: Taking a serious look at what had already been produced and what needed to be produced, it seemed like there was an opportunity to make my own presence known to the collecting community by beginning with a line of figures that, growing up, I had always wanted for myself. I have always loved John Ford’s Cavalry trilogy – Fort Apache, Rio Grande, and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. At that time no one had done the Apache Wars of the Southwest, circa 1870’s, so it seemed like the perfect time to do it. We now do three Apache warrior sets, four US Cavalry sets and one set of Cavalry and Apache Scouts.

Paragon Fort Apache

(Gene Continues) From there we have produced two sets of Civil War figures, Sioux warriors and, another personal favorite, The Alamo. The very next set I received as a boy after my Marx Fort Apache was, you guessed it, Disney’s Davy Crockett Alamo playset. I still remember watching the Davy Crockett series on TV. It was the first time, I believe, a main character of any TV series, died at the end, and if you didn’t exactly see him Fess Parker die (I think the final scene Davy is swinging his rifle at the top of the stairs, the camera pans up as he is surrounded by Mexican soldiers from all sides), it was definitely implied. Nevertheless, to a youngster it was riveting and The Alamo, became not just a monument and a memorial to the nation but something epic in scale in my imagination. I’m very proud of my Alamo sets. What they lack in authenticity, they make up for in drama and versatility. The Mexicans are very reminiscent of Disney’s original designs (minus the backpacks) and the defenders are not just buckskin-clad Tennesseans but from all walks including Tejano.

Paragon Alamo Mexicans Set2a

Paragon Alamo Defenders 2

Warhorse Miniatures: There was some talk on one of the forums about you retiring at the end of this year? What are your plans?

 

Gene: That brings us to the present and the future of Paragon Scenics and Miniatures. I am currently working on a whole array of foam scenic pieces, twenty or more to be specific, intended for five new playsets that are in development. Two will be 7th Cavalry in concept – Paragon’s version of Custer Hill and the defensive position by Reno and Benteen’s men on the bluffs above.

(Gene Continues) Two will be what I call The Antietam Series – The Bloody Road and the taking of Burnside’s Bridge.

(Gene Continues) The fifth and last of the new playsets will be an expanded version of what we began with – The Final battle in John Ford’s Fort Apache. I believe the design and detail in these new pieces will be unsurpassed by anything plastic collectors have seen in the past, and I hope they delight and spark not only those collectors’ imaginations but their children’s and their grandchildren’s.

Paragon The Apache Wars

Warhorse Miniatures: Thank you again Gene. Is there anything else that you would like to say to the readers?

 

Gene: What does the future hold? My answer to that is “who knows”. I have always been driven by inspiration and by my wife’s love and patience. Currently, I have sacrificed a den, a guest room and 90% of my garage to this business. How much more I can sacrifice depends on my health, my wife’s love and her patience. Happy collecting to all!

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Well that is some exciting news about all the future sets and terrain pieces. I can not wait until the Plains Indian theme sets show up.

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Paragon makes some really nice foam pieces. You should try to get them while they are still available. 

Their figures blend very well with other companies like these Barzso Buffalo. They also look great with the TSSD Native American sets. Speaking of TSSD, the new owners have a new website over here at https://micshaunscloset.com/.

Paragon also has painted sets available for sale. Check them at over at http://www.paragon-scenics.com/miniatures/Painted_Figures.html.

 

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The Gettysburg Toy Soldier Show

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Warhorse Miniatures is proud to support Prikaz Toy Soldiers. I have set up a online catalog for Alexey Pisarev. The page is still under construction and will be updated soon. It also will be updated as each new set is produced. You can see and read more about this over here at Prikaz Toy Soldiers

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Well folks that is it for now. Thank you for reading.