French and Indian War: British Regulars from North Star Military Figures

At the beginning of 2020, Studio Tomahawk announced the release of the second edition of Muskets & Tomahawks, some ten years after the release of the much-beloved miniatures game. Set in the 18th-and-19th North American skirmish eras of the French and Indian War, American Revolution, War or 1812, US Civil War and various worldwide conflicts, the second edition of M&T was hotly anticipated by a worldwide community of gamers hungry for the long out-of-print rules.

In conjunction with the release, North Star Military Figures re-launched their line of 28mm FIW figures as an official tie-in with M&T. A long-time fan of their sculpts, I snapped up a unit of British Regulars and an officer to add to my collection.

North Star figures, cast in my preferred material of metal, are on the large end of the 28mm spectrum and showcase thick, broad details that make them a joy to paint. Features really pop on their castings, allowing my painting to capture a lot of the intricacies of the 18th-century uniforms and equipment.

With my order, I also added in an Indian warrior figure clad in a stolen red coat, ostensibly taken from the corpse of a fallen British soldier. This kind of unique character figure is what makes me a fan of the period and North Star’s models.

As a collector of all their previous FIW miniatures, I was so glad to see the return of North Star’s FIW figures after many years of being out of production and only available on the secondary market. Aside from my British Regulars, they’ve also released new sets of British Rangers, Highland Light Infantry, Indians and Canadian Militia. For gamers in the US, North Star’s figures are available from Brigade Games, a distributor I’ve used for many years to source models from many eras. I’ve also heard they are about to launch their own lines of new FIW figures, something I am very excited about as I continuously build out my 18th-century tabletop forces.

French and Indian War: Campsite Terrain from Renedra Limited, WizKids and Mantic Games

Gaming miniatures scenarios in the wilderness of 18th-century America and the French and Indian War period necessitates terrain that speaks of the period’s stories, often played out far away from towns and homesteads. With campaign seasons hacked through the woods of the Northeast, Ohio Country and Great Lakes region, impermanent campsites are often the more regular terrain encountered during play.

I’ve found a couple manufacturer’s that provide some great, inexpensive plastic terrain to create campsite vignettes on the table. The Terrain Crate Hunter’s Camp from Mantic Games, while produced for fantasy role-playing gaming, is a great out-of-the box foundation for any wilderness camp. The inexpensive box comes with a tent, campfire, bedroll, stack of gear and firewood pile. My one knock on the set is the rubbery plastic that takes flat paint and creates a bit of a gloss.

To supplement this set, I have a couple more bedrolls from the blisterpack from WizKids. These casts are primed and take paint exceedignly well right out of the box. The company has been adding all sorts of terrain, bits and pieces to their line of figures over the past few years including cannons, barrels, boxes, furniture, etc., all of which can find a home in a historical setting.

I painted and glued up all the smaller WizKids and Mantic pieces onto a freeform cut balsa base which I flocked. I kept the tent and campire (mounted on a large metal washer) separate from tha larger campsite scene for ease of tarnsport and a bit more flexibility of use on the table.

I also have a number of ridge tents, a campfire and barrels from Renedra Ltd. Like the other manufacturers above, this UK-based company manufacturers a variety of plastic terrain including buildings, fences and gabions apprpriate to the 18th-century. The barrels glue up from two halves and I mounted them up in various piles on smll strips of balsa.

Along the way, I’ve also picked up a resin cast of a pile of beaver pelts, a key item for traders making their way through the North American back woods of the 1700s. All together, these elements from three manufacturers combine to give me a pretty good sized campsite for trappers adventuring in the wilderness or a European army on campaign.

French and Indian War: Comparing 28mm Miniatures Scales – British

Looking across my couple hundred British metal models, they are reflective of the diversity of the British in North America of the 18th-century. These include regulars, irregulars, colonial forces and civillians. Following on my recent post comparing 28mm Indian scales, I’m having a look at these British figures and their comparitive sizes for French and Indian War tabletop gaming.

My British collection spans about ten manufacturers and I’ve lined up a selection of miniatures in the photos below. Elsewhere on the site you can see the separate, detailed posts for Conquest Miniatures Regulars, Front Rank Light Infantry, Blue Moon British Royal Regiment, AW Miniatures Lights Infantry, Blue Moon British Regulars, Redoubt Enterprises Light Infantry and Galloping Major Virginia Provincials.

As with other sculpts in their lines, the traditional Conquest models (now distributed by Warlord Games) tend toward a 25mm scale along with those from Front Rank. On the other end of the spectrum, figures from Redoubt Enterprises and Galloping Major Wargames stand a head above other makers with their heroic-scaled 28mm. Two different sized casts from the Blue Moon Manufacturing shows how their can be significant variation even with the same manufacturer’s offering.

In the above, I’ve got common British Regulars (“Redcoats”) from both Blue Moon and Conquest side-by-side to show the extremes in scale. By keeping my units grouped by manufacturers when I play, I can generally avoid any of this standout size difference that practically disappears at arm’s length on the tabletop battlefield.

On the smaller side of the 25/28mm range, I’ve got three officers above from Warlord, Eureka Miniatures and Sash & Saber Castings. Again, I find these three companies mix pretty interchangeably with each other with accurately-scaled features and equipment details. (I also can’t speak more highly of the Sash & Saber models which launched a huge line of figures over a year ago. I syill have a bunch on my workbench in progress).

Finally, my British inventory holds a fair number of civillian models as laborers of frontier fighters. Workers from Front Rank and the Perry Miniatures American Revolution line have sharp, realistic scaling toward the 25mm side. As with their other castings, Galloping Major and Redoubt civilian figures offer a lot of animated variety at the larger 28mm size.

As with my Indian FIW models, its the variety to be found across manufacturers the weighs heavier than any difference in side-by-side scaling. The differences in kit, headgear, uniforms, poses and personalities are what call out to me strongest for the period and keep me coming back to the table again.

French and Indian War: Mounted Officers and Characters from Sash and Saber Castings and Warlord Games

In the close forests on 18th-century North America during the French and Indian War, the vast majority of the skirmishes and battles among French, Briitsh and Indian forces took place on foot among individual warriors. That said, especially among Europeans, mounted officers still held a place on many battlefields.

Of the hundreds of figures in my collection, few are mounted for this very reason. Aside from that, I’m not a big fan of painting horses although I’ve developed some quick techniques to get tabletop quality mounted models on the table. With this in mind, I recently set to fiishing up some horses and riders for the period.

First up, I bought the excellent three-figure set of British Characters from Warlord Games. This trio includes the young Virginia Colonial Militia officer Lt. Col. George Washington, a mounted figure of British Lt. Col. George Munro and General James Wolfe on foot. These metal figures each come packed with some real animated personality, and I’m a particular fan of the young Washington brazenlt cocking his pistoal as he charges forward.

One other Warlord figure is a plastic officer on a rearing horse. I pulled this figure from the Field Artillery and Army Commanders box made for the American War of Independence. This is one of the few plastic figures in my entire collection, but its sprue provided some options for choices in heads and poses. I’ve modelled mine as a British officer, and atop his bucking horse he is serviceable as a command figure for the earlier period.

To these Warlord figures, I also added four figures — two more British and two French — from Sash and Saber Castings. These sculpts are from the huge line of FIW figures launched via Kickstarter that makes it one of the broadest lines currently available for the period. Like the Warlord models, the Sash and Saber figures tend more toward a leaner, smaller 28mm scale. The horses reveal a lot of detail and varied poses while riders can be a bit flat in their facial expressions.

Together, this half-dozen mounted officers made for a bit of a break in my usual rotation of purely foot figures. Set at the lead of dozens of other soldiers in the American wilderness, they’ll be a great fit with any number of units of my tabletop.

In Memoriam of Neal Catapano and The WarStore

If you’ve been a miniatures hobbyist over the past twenty years, chances are you may have had dealing with the The WarStore. What you may or may not have heard was the passing of the owner, Neal Catapano, this past week.

Housed on the property of Catapano Farms, on the North Fork of Long Island in Southold, NY, the online store had a two-decade history of serving customers near and far before closing suddenly in 2019. Founded in 1999 and just a few years behind online retail giants like eBay and Amazon, Neal’s online store was a bit ahead of its time in the gaming community. The modest online store held a broad inventory of modeling paint, brushes and supplies as well rule books, player aids and miniatures and terrain covering multiple eras, scales and interest from fantasy to sci-fi to historical. Neal was always my first stop before I had a look elsewhere.

Living in nearby Brooklyn and less than a three hour drive away, I regret I never made the pilgrimage to Southold but I was always grateful I received speedy responses to my inquiries and quick delivery of my orders. People notoriously groused online (as people do) about poor customer service, but this was never my experience in my dozens of orders over the years. To the contrary, I found Neal and the staff to be incredibly responsive to inquiries, order updates and special orders — an unfortunate rarity in today’s lowered expectations of impersonal customer service in an ecommerce world. With every online order, my heart always soared with the very personal email verfication:

Hi! This is Neal at TheWarstore.com. Thank you Very Much for placing your order with us! This email is to confirm that we have received your order, an actual human being has reviewed it here at the store, and we will ship as soon as all of your ordered items can be readied.”

With the decline of local NYC hobby stores, Neal’s WarStore split the difference with a small, independently owned shop feel and the convenience of a 24/7 website. I looked forward to his quirky sale announcements, pre-release specials and holiday shopping messages. The online store wasn’t always the easiest to navigate, although it had improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Neal’s title of “Grand Pooh Bah” and his personal email of neal@thewarstore.com in all communication contributed to the small store experience increasingly absent from the modern world. Although a brick and mortar store had been an extension of The Warstore at one point in its history, it was through the unique online presence that Neal’s legacy was made.

When Neal announced an abrupt shuttering of the business in the middle of last year and a hurried final sale, I felt in the pit of my stomach there was most likely something deeper behind the decision. This past week’s news of his passing confirmed that feeling and charted the true passing of an era.

Rest in peace Neal and The WarStore where their motto spoke volumes to thousands of loyal customers: “We Bring the War to Your Door, For Less!”

French and Indian War: Comparing 28mm Miniatures Scales – Indians

Sometimes it seems the #1 topic all miniatures gamers have is one of scale and how miniatures from different manufacturers scale together. When I run convention games or post photos of scenarios online, people don’t ask about what books I used in my research or what sites, museums or archives I’ve visited. What they do ask about is manufacturers and scale.

So here it is, taking the first of a couple swings at addressing scale for French and Indian War tabletop gaming with a look at Indians from my collection. After some visual comparisons, I’ll weigh in at the end with some commentary about how I feel about the scale conversation.

Currently I have Indians miniatures from seven manufactures, each of which can be viewed in detail on separate posts: AW Miniatures, Conquest Miniatures, Galloping Major Wargames, Knuckleduster Miniatures, North Star Military Figures, Redoubt Enterprises and Sash and Saber Castings. In the photo below, I’ve lined up a sample from each manufacturer from what I see as the smallest on the left with Conquest all the way up to the largest with Redoubt.

In the next photo, I’m showing a zoomed-in look at the manufacturers on the smlaller side — Conquest, Sash and Saber and Knuckleduster. I find these three hew more toward a thinner, more traditional 25mm scale.

On the larger end of the spectrum, I’ve shown a line-up of North Star, AW, Galloping Major and Redoubt as the modern 28mm “heroic” scale.

Finally, I’ve placed two Indian leaders side by side with the Conquest model at one extreme and the towering Redoubt figure on the other.

So there you have it, some visual comparisons of what are broadly viewed as 28mm Indian miniatures. And with that, I have a lot of opinions.

The first one is that many manufacturers use different sculptors over time, creating variations even within one company’s lines of figures. For example, Warlord Games uses older Conquest sculpts in their FIW offering but have also added work from other artists. Companies like AW, Galloping Major and Sash and Saber have a lot of consistency in their models since they are owned and operated by the sculptors themselves. So, broad statements like “X manufacturer always scales well with Y manufacturer” are not always 100% accurate.

Next, my bias is toward metal castings and I try to avoid plastics. I like the heft of metal on the table, I don’t like to put in assembly time and I like how metal takes paint. This means I’m not looking at a very popular manufacturer like Perry Miniatures in the photos above. I have played with Perry plastics and I own some of their wagons cast in metal. Mostly, I find their sculpts are thin, with very acurate real-life scaling that tends toward the smaller end of the 25mm scale.

As a third point, few players I know put their heads right down on the table at figure eye level when playing. Figures used in actual play are seen at arm’s length or table distance of some three feet or more, obscuring fine differences of a millilmeter or two between models. Differences in models on the table can be further obscuredby keeping manufacturers together in cohesive units. I use the approach, and my “tabletop quality” of painting allows my miniatures to fight just fine (provided the dice are cooperating on any given day).

Finally, variety to me is so much more important than scale. With over 120 Indians painted up in my collection (and probably more on the way), I’ve always been more focused on the visual interest of the sculpts than height of one versus another. By stretching across seven manufacturers I’m supporting more companies and artists feeding the hobby and getting a ton more interesting looking Indian units on my table.

French and Indian War: Woodland Indians from Redoubt Enterprises – Warriors

I have a fair amount of Indian models from Redoubt Enterprises. Previously, I have posted some work on some very unique torch-wielding raiders and sachems. To these models I’ve added over a dozen more warrior miniatures from the same maker.

Redoubt casts are a joy to paint with old-scale, stockier molds that take paint well on broad surfaces. In six-figure packs of firing and advancing poses with both bare chests and more European-style clothing, these figures showcase minimal detail while also offering a bit of nuanced variety. These figures scale well with my more than 120 Indian warriors from some six manufacturers now all ready to hit the table.

French and Indian War: British Light Infantry from AW Miniatures, Front Rank Figurines and Redoubt Miniatures

During the French and Indian War, tactics by necessity evolved quickly in the North American wilderness. After some initial bloody tactical disasters, British leadership rapidly recognized the need to adopt a new way of warfare, shifting from a regular European style of fighting to more irregular tactics led by light infantry units. The recruits in these groups wore cut down hats, coats and leather leggings and carried equipment focused on swift movement and close, skirmish-style combat. To build out my FIW Britsh light infantry units, I’ve drawn upon a variety of manufacturers.

To begin, I purchased the single offering of British light infantry models available from AW Miniatures. This small package comes with two copies each of just three different poses with two firing variations and one model loading on the move. The figures are dressed in the popular jockey caps of light infantry soldiers along with spare equipment on chunky molds which scale well with a variety of manufacturers.

Seeking to layer in some significant variety to my forces, I went next to Redoubt Enterprises and their large offering of FIW figures. Redoubt offers two six-packs of British light infnatry, one with jockey caps and the other wearing basic round hats. The packages each come with no duplication of poses, offering a lot of variety in firing, loading and advancing sculpts. One figure in each set comes with a separate hands and rifle piece meant to be glued with the musket raised high in melee mode. I chose to invert the piece in a loading posture on each of the two models.

Finally, I went to Front Rank Figurines with their vast listing of FIW models available individually for purchase. Again, there was a lot of variety here with shooting, advancing, loading and at-the-ready troops, many hauling small campaign-ready backpacks. To these, I added two NCOs — one at ease and one commanding trops forward — along with a more formal officer sold as Major General James Wolfe (middle above).

Across three UK-based manufacturers, these figures all fit well together as heftier 28mm casts. With them, I’ve been able to create 3-4 small units of British light infantry which serve as key components to so many FIW engagements on the table.

French and Indian War: British Colonial Militia from Kings Mountain Miniatures

 FIWMilitia.jpg
 
 

My French and Indian War 28mm collection spans a lot of manufacturers in an effort to avoid duplication of poses as much as possible. I’m not a fan of plastic miniatures and I stick to metal models which tend toward poses with little opportunity for customization short of a lot of additional hacking and kitbashing.

One of the few exceptions to this is Kings Mountain Miniatures which offers a broad line of figures which can span any number of conflicts including FIW, American Revolution, War of 1812 and other eras. With dozens of base models and over 250 head options, the interchangeability is nearly endless.

I have a dozen of Kings Mountains figures in my collection, fielding them as irregular British colonial militia and settlers. To start, I choose twelve poses in a variety of firing, charging and loading styles and then added two packs of heads wearing tricornes and floppy hats.

Six of the figures received red uniforms and tricornes and the remainder were painted to reflect a more rustic, irregular militia unit. My favorite of the group is the animated officer with arms broadly outstretched with a pistol in one hand and sword in the other. While uniform and equipment details can be somewhat spare, the sheer action of these figures more than compensate.

With so hundreds of FIW miniatures in my collection, these Kings Mountain casts really stand out for their flexibility in modeling, variety of pose and pure personality. With just a dozen on my table so far, I look forward to adding more to my tabletop forces.

French and Indian War: British Royal American Regiment from Blue Moon Manufacturing

Following the defeat of General Edward Braddock at the Battle of the Monogehela in July 1765, the British Parliment decreed the creation of the Royal American Regiment to defend the North American colonies against the French and their Indian allies. Consisting of an unprecedented four battalions of troops, the regiment would go on to be one of the most prominent non-regular British forces throughout the period.

I took a number of models from the Blue Moon Manufacturing (part of Old GloryDrums In The Ohio Valley Braddock’s Battle British boxed set to paint up into a representaion of this famed regiment. With red coats and blue cuffs and facings, the troops present a look that seems halfway between British and Americans.

Blue Moon castings are typically hefty and tall for 28mm comparisons, but these molds are reasonably thin and scale easily with just about any other manufacturer’s figures. There are a lot of poses in this small box with both standing and kneeling firing sculpts as well as men at the ready, loading and on the run. The cast bases also provide a bonus of no extra basing needed.

The regiment would go on to serve the British Empire for some 200 years around the world as the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Together, these Blue Moon models make for a good representation of this famed unit’s beginnings during the French and Indian War.