EXCERPT 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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Man Interupted

Strike while the Tin is hot!

Isn't  that what they  say? Well, same thing but different as the idiom would have it. Anyway I have begun, and begun by resurrcting a dusty, abandoned and half forgotten project.

Can't remember when I started this chap, might be over 10 years ago but I found the body and have resumed work. He now has a head with noticeable nose, a flintlock, etc but still needs a right foot and bit of general tidying up and finishing.  
Since last summer, the remaining War of 1812 collection has been tagged to be reduced to a small, Battle in a Box, gridded game, but that wasn't where it started. It was just over 20 years ago that I first dabbled my toes in 54mm gaming and my chosen subject was small actions of the War of 1812, initially centred on the Western campaigns. This was just before the deluge of new plastic soldiers  for adults, so conversions were de rigueur. ( and also back to my roots!).

54mm Variations: L->R: Quebec Sedentary Militia, original Accurate ACW, US 1812.
The outside fellows appeared at Chateauguay, Cold Wars 1998, the first public MacDuff game.
The wargaming side of 54's got a big boost when Pete Panzeri put out a call on r.g.m.h. for 54mm figures that could be used in his La Haye Sainte game at Cold Wars 1997.
My Marx Canadian (ie Mexican) Militia playing KGL manning the sandpit in the foreground, while beyond them, my US regulars, led by a Hoeffler General, are playing Belgians against battalions of their fellow BMC Mexicans used by Pete as French.

So it was that about 100 of my 54mm British, Canadian and American troops played the role of KGL and Dutch-Belgians in public and I met new friends and enough 54mm enthusiasts to set me on my current path and eventually resulted in the Little Wars Yahoo group. It was also the weekend where I met Rob Dean and didn't close a deal on some original 1/32nd Airfix Russians, still in the box. (Still have them if anyone is interested.) It was of course Rob who later diverted me into 40mm and homecasting but that's another story.

Tricky business trying to copy old glossy prints that weren't the best when new.
A 54mm 1812 "get the convoy to the fort" game with Rob & sons en route to (or from?) Louisburg in 1999.
    This is the fort that was cut up to make the current Fort MacDuff.
When I downsized to 40mm I initially stayed with low level actions with the occasional small battle. It was when I decided to re-home the chunkier, detailed half of my 1812 collection to focus on the smaller, shiny toy look and also came to the decision that I needed to cut back on periods and figures, that I decided that 1812 could be relegated to a portable, quick, battle-in-a-box. I wonder if I was just reluctant to resume painting 1812 figures?

Luckily, just in time, along came various blog posts and videos that whetted my appetite to paint  and field some tight packed battalions. My 18thC semi-flats would have served, but only if I dropped NQSYW conventions and tight based them en masse with 20ish man battalions. Putting all that out of my mind, I decided to start rehabiliting some 1812 troops who had been converted to 1839 uniforms.

With that aim I went rifling through the spares boxes for some of the round hats and 1812 US shakos that I had made and cast in 1805.  I found some, but also found a forgotten, unfinished, 1812 US infantry master. Hmm...just needs a head and some finishing up..hmm...I have a head....I also have a gallon of rtv on its way....shame not to use him....  and so it was that the decision was quickly but thoughtfully made to resurrect the original 1812 project aimed initially at the 1812/1813 raids, ambushes and small battles along the frontier from the Richelieu to to Lake Erie but with the option to expand into the 1814 and/or the western campaigns as well.

After some deliberation and checking of table space, ranges and troop numbers versus various historical battles and skirmishes I have settled on a theoretical base scale of 1 inch to 20 yards (or 1 grid square = 80 yards) and 1 figure to 20 men.

With a standard wargame line infantry battalion being 18 figures on a 6" frontage  but possibly being 24 or 12 figures in some scenarios, and my grid being of 4" squares, it won't be a conventional gridded game after all. However, if I can't make the grid work for me for measuring at least, then I can always resort to my measuring sticks.


  1. Hi Ross,

    Good luck with your new casting project, he looks great. And your old photos of the 1/32 games are fantastic! I just want to daydream over those! And I love the Quebec Militia man you converted, very clever! I am about to embark on a 1st Sikh project using All The Kings Men miniatures, but after seeing what you did with the Accurate figure - any 1/32 miniature may be fair game for converting.

    1. You would have loved the 2001 54mm Montgomery's New Years Eve assault on Quebec game at Cold Wars, snow and all. No pictures alas.
      Those were the days though.

      Sikh wars are good, pretty wrll any British nsp can be converted (or used) as British and Sepot. Just cut down the shako, add neckcloth from putty for Brits, remove peak for Sepoys. The Sikhs are a bit harder.

      Have fun!

  2. I'm glad that I'm not the only one that thought of using Dutch Belgians as Americans. Or vice versa.

    1. Closed coat, Blue faced red, bit of lace, tall hat, its a natural if you don't look too close. Just needs a bit of imagination and forgiveness.

  3. Hi Ross, Believe it or not, I still have pictures from those days. You left out Ken Cliffe, who did some great 1812 conversions. I have 5 or 6 of your converted figures from a trade we did way back. Good to see you back where it all started......Bill Nevins

    1. Bill, Not quite back to the start, I'm still on my shiny 40mm toy soldier kick. That's why I didn't write more about Littlewars group which will be 20 years old before long!

      I can't remember what you got from me but I used some of your heads last summer when I got back to doing a few 54's.

  4. "A little forgiveness and imagination..." Isn't that the secret to all of our hobby doings?