EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Delantero! Forward!


OK I want to be very clear, I am not an Alamo nut. I may have a coon skin cap and can take my pick of Fess Parker, John Wayne or Billy Bob Thorton portraying the last days of Davy Crocket, any time I want, but I am NOT an Alamo nut. The print above was won at a convention in Seattle about 5 years ago when as Santa Anna, I led the Mexican Army in a relatively bloodless conquest of the Alamo but I like the image of a boy in a coonskin cap playing with toy soldiers. Sums it up nicely.   

When I came across the 40mm Zinnbrigade molds nearly 10 years ago, and decided that I "had" to have them, I needed a  project to justify the purchase. Since the molds that were still easy to get included Napoleonic French in wide shakos and later Prussians in spiked helmets, the obvious choice was to use them for the 1st Schleiswig-Holstein War which I had been thinking about doing using recast Britain's toy soldiers.

The French were not exactly right for Danes in the old red uniform but for glossy toy soldiers they seemed close enough. I was willing to overlook the small, late 19thC version of the spiked helmet, the packs and the tighter tunic but I had trouble getting the one Prussian infantryman in loose trousers and the others in skin tight pants tucked into high boots just didn't work for me as 1848 Prussians. When the chunky Sash & Saber ACW figures that I started converting for Danes in the new uniform  turned out to clash horribly style-wise, I scrapped the whole project.  

Putting the Prussians aside for conversion fodder and a possible future FPW or WW1 project, in 2005 I turned to the "Savage & Romantic" Carlist Wars. In short order I turned out the 1st 12 figures of a Charge! style Cristino unit, and very pleased I was with them. I converted a few sample Carlists then figured out that converting all those Carlists was going to be a lot of work for a casual side project so that idea was canned as well.

Last year, after using my 1812, Sikh War and Mexican American War troops to test the Imagi-Nation waters, I decided to stick to historical fantasy and resurrected my Aroostock to Oregon project. Since Mexican California was right next door to the Oregon Territory, giving the British a brigade of Mexican auxiliaries seemed like a good idea. (I like lots of variety when I paint.) Since I have 1847 US forces, painting Mexicans of the same era would make sense, but naturally, I like the Alamo period uniforms with the wide topped shako better. Luckily these also look a lot like the Spanish that I had already painted.  These are toy soldiers for imaginary games so I'm not going to get too hung up on details but a few small touch ups will help update the 6 year old figures:  red turnbacks, cuffs and piping, tri-colour cockade and a blue overcoat on the pack.
 
Left, a Cristino, on the right, transformed into a Mexican.  

The rest of the regiment has been cast and primed and by the end of the week the new San Carlos Active Militia Battalion, 20 strong, will, at long last, be ready for action.

A second battalion and a mounted officer are needed to fill out the "brigade". I was planning a 2nd Zinnbrigade unit but do have Sash & Saber Mexicans left over from the ladder party pack and they are more compatible with the Zinnbrigade figures than the ACW figures were so I will dig them out and have a look. Lancers and Dragoons will naturally follow. At last the project is crystallizing!

A ladder party using a mix of converted S&S Mexicans with Zinnbrigade heads and Zinnbrigade figures.

6 comments:

  1. Interesting post - I'm often relatively unfussy regarding exact uniform details. I can never find it in my heart to paint over previous paintjobs though as I get rather too attached.

    The print is very charming though. Odd, I never really think of American celebrating their defeats. Something of a national pastime where I come from.

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  2. I very rarely do any over-painting. If the unit had been complete, I would have just left it but with 10 more figures to paint as well as a new identity and only minor details, I decided to go for it.

    As far as I can tell, Little Big Horn is about the only defeat that the Americans celebrate. For most, the Alamo and Bunkerhill seem to be considered some form of moral victories.

    Ross

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  3. I don't know if anyone except native Americans celebrate Little Big Horn. ha!
    You're right about the "moral victory" thing though. A defeat can be turned into a victory of sorts if framed "correctly".

    I have to admit I do like the toy soldier look of these figures.

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  4. That's a lovely print - I'm sure we can all relate to it! As to celebrating defeats, well as a Scot I couldn't possibly comment...

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  5. Fitz, I find them absolutely appealing, of course I feel guilty about every figure I haven't cast yet when I think about buying something new.

    Tim, are you referring to those rare times when "the English by guile, for once won the day?"

    -Ross

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  6. I don't know about 'guile' - I expect it was more down to cheating or lucky dice rolling!

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