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

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's in a hat?

Being all excited on Sunday, I decided to get cracking on a horde of spear chucking native types. My plan was to use the Prince August Skraeling molds that I have. The Natives' plan was to hide. They won.

As compensation I decided to do a peasant soldier in straw hat. Normally, I would (should anyway) research first and sculpt 2nd but where am I going to research a fictional army? I decided to sculpt from the gut and figure it out later.

This is one of my US infantry castings with his hat cut off and replaced by putty, and with his trousers cut a bit shorter and shapeless boots touched up a bit with toes added to suggest sandels. So far, so good. But something looked right but not quite right. I spent sometime researching strawhats around the world. Even plugged in the old John Wayne Alamo to look at the scenes of sombrero wearing Mexicans.

Here is one of the big traps of fictional armies for me, finding the balance between authenticity and originality. If I gave him a typical Mexican sombrero, he would just look Mexican and various pre-conceived notions would start filling my head and I would start worrying about inaccuracies. But if I invent something, does it look and feel right?  Well, I did find some pictures of sraw hats that could bend that way though most, not all,  seem to have fairly rigid shapes, I also found some felt hats that had brims like that but usually not quite so tall crowned. But felt, hmm I wasn't picturing felt, I wonder what the use of felt would imply? My first thought was colder weather but both Boers and Apaches can be seen in felt hats. I decided I need to think about who these people are.

Then I remembered, at a very inconvenient time, that if/when Mike at Historifigs releases  the Scruby 40mm "Arabs" I am committed to buying as many as I can afford. Which isn't many but a hundred or so anyway. But how are they going to fit in? hmmm They are wearing a low Sudan style turban,  could almost be a sweat band style turban with no top. Hmmm  or maybe I need to look closer at an idea from a  few years back about   Arab slaver involvement below the mountains.

By this time, of course, my mind has wandered back to some other figures I've been meaning to do for a while, some shaggy, bearded frontiersmen in wide brimmed hats, or Metis. hmmmmmmm If only those PA wild west types weren't 2 sizes bigger then the Scrubies...... or maybe some Boer types, very similar. I mean, I need to sand down the front of the hat a bit more anyway......

So......... I now have another unit of twelve 25mm Turkish infantry painted up for my portable 18thC Army. Well, they were already cast, weren't hiding and knew who they wanted to be.


  1. One of the my oldest wargaming friend was notorious for his thrift and mustering weird armies (Irish Civil War, Portuguese in Africa, the Riel Rebellion, Klansmen etc). He would use practically anything, including using Zulu War British as Second World War Dutch at one point - but he always maintained that the figure has to have the right hat.

  2. One of the reasons that I like the 18th century is the tricornes.

    Hats are important.

    -- Jeff