Before I was a gamer or miniatures modeler, I was a fan ofStar Wars when my mom plopped me down in a movie theater seat in the summer of 1977. Over more than four decades of movies, TV shows, cartoons, books, action figures, puzzles, board games, shirts and all things Star Wars, I’ve remained a huge fan and raised my sons as second generation devotees to the space opera franchise.
In 2019, I picked up a copy of Star Wars Legion at a discount, opened it up, looked at the models, leafed through the rules and put it back on the shelf. In the past month, my sons and I decided to give it another look. One of my sons went to work painting up the Imperials and I tasked myself with painting the Rebel units.
I’m generally not a fan of plastic miniatures, but at the large 34mm scale, the figures are a joy to paint. The Rebel units have a lot of personality and detail with a mix of weapons and gear. The AT-RT and Luke Skywalker models are also a lot of fun, adding diversity to the two squads included in the base starter kit.
I was a bit skeptical of the skirmish nature of a Star Wars game, given the general epic proportion of the saga. The base set is a huge value for the amount of stuff that comes in the box, and the quality of the painted-up models really pops. With my first figures painted and a new dive into the rules, my mind has been changed. I’m going to be quickly adding more from the Legion game to my collection and playing out my own Star Wars stories on the table soon.
I finally broke down and picked up four of the models from Warlord Games at about $30 USD each. As pure objectives, this was a high rice to pay for models that were going to serve no game purpose other than table decoration.
I have a lot of Warlord’s metal (always metal) models from their Bolt Action line, and I’ve always found the casts to be detailed and clean. The package comes with the gun, four crew figures and a couple pieces of crates to add flavor to the set-up. Assembly of the howitzers is a bit finicky but Warlord offers a diagram online to guide gluing up the kit. My one knock is there is no option for variation in the crew, given I’m fielding four of these, but this is a minor complaint.
I mounted up the figures and extra pieces on washers, filled the bases and primed black. Once I got to the painting, the work went fast with simple color schemes and just a few details picked out on the crew. Assembled and painted, the howitzer and crew really pay off. With one done, I had three more to go to get another step closer to getting my vision for the scenario closer to a gaming reality.
I took the occasion of the 75th anniversary of VE Day recently to revisit some long-neglected World War IIUS Airborne models from Warlord Games. I model all my 28mm WWII figures in metal from a variety of manufacturers, preferring the heft, durability, speed to complete and detail to that of miniatures cast in plastic.
Warlord sells their models in conjunction with their Bolt Action game, but I use the miniatures in a variety of systems. The HQ set includes a radio operator, medic and two officers, including one chomping on the stub of a cigar. Each of the jeeps (sold individually) have a group of soldiers piled in and a wire catcher extending up from the front to prevent wire traps from injuring the riders. Finally, the M1 57mm anti tank gun features two loaders I mounted directly to the gun’s base while keeping the command figure separate in case I want to field him separately.
These models paint quickly and I finish them off with appropriate 101st Airborne insignia decals from Company B. As with all Warlord casts, these models all feature some great detail, poses and personality, making them a great mix and addition to my miniature WWII allied forces.
As I have researched, played and traveled sites of 18th-century in America, I’ve amassed a reference library of books, pamphlets and websites I’ve found most useful to those interested in the period. Below is a personal, albeit not comprehensive, list of references useful to amateur historians of the decisive era that shaped the continent and world.
If I were to read just one book, I would suggest Fred Anderson’s Crucible of War which not only covers the major military actions of the French and Indian War but also goes into the effects of the conflict on world politics and conditions that led to the American Revolution. Start with this book and take it from there, and I’ll be certain to update as my reading makes new discoveries in the American wilderness.
Anderson, Fred. Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.
———. The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War. New York: Viking, 2005.
Anderson, Niles. The Battle of Bushy Run. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, 1975.
Baker, Norman L. Braddock’s Road: Mapping the British Expedition from Alexandria to the Monongahela. Stroud, UK: The History Press, 2013.
Bellico, Russell P. Empires in the Mountains: French and Indian War Campaigns and Forts in the Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Hudson River Corridor. Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press, 2010.
Berleth, Richard. Bloody Mohawk: The French and Indian War & American Revolution on New York’s Frontier. Delmar, NY: Black Dome Press, 2009.
Borneman, Walter R. The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.
Kummerow, Burton K. and Christine H. O’Toole and R. Scott Stephenson. Pennsylvania’s Forbes Trail: Gateways and Getaways Along the Legendary Route from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2008.
The Last of the Mohicans. 20th Century Fox, 1992.
Leckie, Robert. A Few Acres of Snow: The Saga of the French and Indian Wars. New York: Wiley, 1999.
Loescher, Burt Garfield. The History of Rogers’ Rangers, Volumes I-IV. Berwyn Heights, MD: Heritage Books, 2006.
c, 1754-1760. New York: Routledge, 2003.
May, Robin, and Gerry Embleton. Wolfe’s Army. London: Osprey Publishing, 1998.
McCulloch, Ian MacPherson. Highlander in the French-Indian War: 1756–67. London: Osprey Publishing, 2008.
McDonnell, Michael. Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America. New York: Hill & Wang, 2016.
Silver, Peter. Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 200
Stark, Peter. Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father. New York: Ecco Press, 2018.
Tanner, Helen Hornbeck. Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.
Taylor, Alan. American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2017.
Tilberg, Frederick. Fort Necessity National Battlefield Site, Pennsylvania. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, 1956
Todish, Timothy J. and Todd E. Harburn. A “Most Troublesome Situation”: The British Military and the Pontiac Indian Uprising of 1763-1764. Fleischmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press, 2006.
Treganza, Adan E., and J. C. Harrington. “New Light on Washington’s Fort Necessity: A Report on the Archeological Explorations at Fort Necessity National Battlefield Site.” American Journal of Archaeology 63.2 (1959)
Waddell, Ward and Bruce D. Bomberger. The French and Indian War in Pennsylvania, 1753-1763: Fortification and Struggle. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1997.
Ward, Matthew C. Breaking the Backcountry: The Seven Years’ War in Virginia and Pennsylvania, 1754-1765. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003.
West, J. Martin (editor). War for Empire in Western Pennsylvania. Ligonier, PA: Fort Ligonier Association, 1993.
Windrow, Martin, and Michael Roffe. Montcalm’s Army. London: Osprey Publishing, 1973.
Wullf, Matt. Henry Bouquet’s Destiny – The March To Bushy Run. Lewisburg, PA: Wennawoods Publishing, 2014.
The War That Made America–Parts 1-4, A Country Between. PBS, 2005.
I took advantage of having a few four-packs of unpainted British Provincial models from the relatively new and extensive line of FIW models from Sash and Saber Castings to add a Pennsylvania Provincial Regiment to my collection. My force consists of Provincials Firing (FWB28), Loading (FWB29) and Advancing (FWB30), plus Provincial Officers and NCOs (FWB213). With green coats, red vests and tan leather breeches, the color scheme provides a great break from the more typical mix of red and blue clothing on most British soldiers. Together, the sixteen figures allows me to field two units of Pennsylvania Provincials.
Sash and Saber sculpts hew toward the smaller side of 28mm figures (like those from Conquest and Perry Miniatures) with thinner, naturalistic scaling still filled with decent variations in pose and personality. While details fade a bit in faces, sculpted equipment, uniforms and poses all offer the kind of variety I seek in the models I like to paint.
I also purchased the British Personalities pack (FWB402) which includes Lt. Col. George Washington and Jeffrey Amherst, Commander-In-Chief of British Forces in North America during the FIW. The Washington figure is one of three I own of him (along with those from Eureka and Warlord), and he is dressed in his blue British Virginia Provincial officer uniform he wore during the war. Amherst stands with orders in his hand by his side, a nice detail that makes Sash and Saber sculpts unique within such an extensive line.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!”