About SOLDAT and Soldat FHQ
I saw my first bit of German WWII 'war booty' in my uncles house. I was fascinated with it even though he wouldn't talk about it. It was mysterious and I began to read and collect one piece at a time. By the time I was just entering high school I met another guy on the bus, the only seat open and he had a catalog of German militaria from Germany! I never looked back. Years later I look back on the places I have been the veterans I have met and known. At the time I am writing this I'm glancing at a Christmas card from a 91 year old veteran of the 12th SS-Panzer Division ,,Hitlerjugend" on of the last still with us in 2019!
By my junior year in high school I had two collecting friends. A local newspaper guy was interested in our story. I remain friends the Kevin (left) & Grant (center) to this day. Grant's Knight's Cross was an original. The ones Kevin and I wear were copies I only wish we could get now! Everything else was original!
In 1979 I enlisted in the US Army to get to Germany so I could get serious about learning this hobby. I remained there, with only one year back in the US, until 1994. With the writing of my first SOLDAT book I found new access into German and other archives and museums for study and meeting many of the European Icon collectors of the time. I went to veteran meetings of Panzerkorps Großdeutschland, the 1st SS-Panzerkorps and Fallschirmäger where I set up displays from my collections. I haunted European military shows and flea markets.
Graf Training Area around 1980-81 3rd Squad, 3rd Platoon, B Company, 2/48 Infantry (Mech), 3r Armored Division. Decided to paint a TK on B-3/3 SP4 Sanchez from LA squad M60 gunner and one of his friends from HHC. My squad waiting for a run at the CALFX Course. All are wearing Bundesgrenschütz camo I got at the Frankfurt am Main Flomarkt. There were still a lot of Ost Front vets in those days; we got a lotta smiles and some beers tossed to us on road marches near the border. After a few months I was told to 'Loose the Jolly Roger' so covered it with camo paint, but it was thick and still stood out!
SOLDAT began in Missoula, Montana in 1987. Frustrated with the lack of publications dealing with the subject of German Army Combat Uniforms of World War II, I began to search for ways of producing a book that had detailed photos that featured original uniforms and equipment modeled for modern detailed photographs combined with descriptive text. This original format is now the one used by nearly every publication today.
The SOLDAT series, as well as other books I have done are the result of what Carl G. Jung would have called "synchronicity" that is, things coming about because of people, circumstances, and events all occurring at the right place and the right time. Begun with collectors in mind, SOLDAT books now provides information to reenactors and living historians as well.
In 1994 I published SOLDAT Volume XI. The first in the XI series the book focused on helping collectors spot the fakes that had come to fill the market. This book blew the cover on the massive fraud being perpetuated on collectors of German militaria.
After years in Germany and extensive contact with European makers, and sellers of replicas, I had put together a substantial source list and with the rise of the internet in 1996 I opened Soldat FHQ to bring high quality replicas to the collecting community in a totally straight forward way; fairly priced, accurate, and honestly represented. This business has let me meet some great people and go many places. Thank you to all!
Now into the next decade! Soldat FHQ continues to change with the times and with the start of 2019; 32 years since the first SOLDAT volume was published & 23 years since we went into business on line!
Soldat FHQ now enjoys the reputation as one of the premier places for collectors to have their projects completed. Offering technical support projects are planned, assembled, run through the 'Time-Machine' to insure all parts match your collection. Along with your custom project Soldat FHQ can also create it's historical background based on nearly 30 years of historical publication as well as over 50 years of collecting and historical research experience. Just take a look at some of the new SOLDAT publications in the new larger, full color format!
In the last 10 years Soldat FHQ has taken on projects outside of the 'traditional' German WWII area. SOLDAT began in between tours in Germany where I had gone in 1979 as a soldier with the 3rd Armored Division. This was post Vietnam and during the end of Cold War when the 'Wall' came down in Berlin. The growing interest in the Vietnam Era has connected me with collectors wanting to work on a number of projects which has included work on militaria & publication of the first in a new series 'In-Country'. The allied forces of WWII have found a place as children and grandchildren of these veterans work to preserve and tell their family history reassembling family artifacts with original or high quality replicas. Several potential publication projects are in the works in this area as well.
With the passing of time since 1996 many of the artists who created Soldat FHQ's collector grade replicas have passed on. For a long time I left these items on the site as a WARNING for collectors live on as "100% Original" passed from one collection to another, growing older and gaining 'history'. Unfortunately, this has just confused visitors to the site who want to return to that golden age when quality vendors in the US could be easily counted on fingers and toes. These sections are now gone. I've archived a lot of these products; someday another SOLDAT Volume with these photos to arm the collector against fraud.
I'm looking forward to putting my knowledge to work for you as we work together to make your collection the one you want to have. I appreciate you taking the time to read my background. Let's talk, email@example.com Cyrus A. Lee