As a first generation Star Wars fan, I’ve always loved the Rebel Commandos from the Battle of Endor in 1985’s Return of the Jedi. The gritty, rugged camouflage-clad fighters have always reminded me of World War II or Vietnam War soldiers, just the sort of realism found in so much of the Star Wars saga.
I love the seven figures in this box with their flowing, hooded ponchos and five toting A-280 blaster rifles. The other two figures include a saboteur armed with proton charges and a crouching Mon Calamari sniper carefully aiming a DH-447 rifle with his fish-like eye. The inclusion of this alien race, along with a Dressellian, expands the story of the Rebellion stretching across systems.
Leading them all, I added the Commander Leia Organa figure to the squad. her figure strikes a heroic pose on the run, and blaster at outstretched. With the Rebel Commandos at her back, Leia is no doubt leading the charge of this small squad fighting for a free galaxy.
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 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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.