French and Indian War: Woodland Indian Civilians from Sash and Saber Castings

So much of history focuses on armies that it is hard to remember the vast number of civilians swept up into grand conflicts. By many estimates, more than 10 million native people occupied the North American continent through the 18th-century, and only a fraction of them were direct and active participants as warriors.

Recreated 17th-century Seneca longhouse at Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, NY

Visiting sites like Ganondagan State Historic Site is a real opportunity to step back and experience the life among the men, women and children of the Seneca and other members of the Haudenosaunee. Passing through the introductory cultural film and exhibits of the modern museum, a traditional longhouse greets visitors as a passage back in time to the true experience of the people who once populated Western New York in the centuries predating European arrival.

Everyday 17th-century Seneca items at Ganondagan State Historic Site

Within the natural light of the longhouse, central cooking fires are surrounded by stacked levels of storage and sleeping platforms. The immersive exhibit teems with traditional wares of everyday life and also reveals the influence of European trade goods. Although tour guides will caution visitors against it, one can reach out and feel the trappings of a indigenous civilian just as it was in the 17th-century and years before and after.

Iroquois Unarmed Men (FIW8) from Sash and saber castings

The 2018 Kickstarter from Sash and Saber Castings launched a broadly comprehensive line of French and Indian War miniatures. Along with the usual military models, the range presented a nice selection of Indian civilians often ignored by wargaming manufacturers.

Iroquois Women (FIW9) from Sash and Saber Castings

In my pledge I included all the Indian civilians packs, including Iroquois Unarmed Men (FIW8), Iroquois Women (FIW9) and Iroquois Children (FIW10). As with everything in the range, the figures present some nice detail in naturally lean sculpts that hew toward 25mm rather than the larger, more common 28mm heroic scale models of today. The inclusion of children and adolescent figures is of particular note as these are almost completely absent in the hobby.

The full line is now available on the company’s website, retailing for $8 a pack. Taking a dive into the Sash and Saber range is endlessly rewarding whether your armies need more troops or whether you want to get some realism on the table with these native villagers of the period.

Iroquois Children (FIW10) from Sash and Saber Castings

Star Wars Legion: Terrain

Star Wars: Legion – Priority Supplies Battlefield Expansion, Fantasy Flight Games, 2018 — front cover (image provided by the publisher)

One of my favorite aspects of the Star Wars franchise is the environments in which the space opera is set. From the desert planets of Tatooine and Jakku, the snowy Hoth, swampy Dagobah and the volcanic surface of Mustafar, the universe created from the imagination of George Lucas is one of varied settings. Gaming this universe in miniature provides a great opportunity to model and play within terrain of all types. Judging from online photos from the wide community of players of Star Wars Legion from Fantasy Flight Games, fans of the game love terrain.

As a miniatures wargamer for over 30 years, creating and using terrain is one of the many rewards of the hobby. In building out my Star Wars Legion games I’ve relied on my existing collection of trees from Woodland Scenics and other manufacturers, thus creating a forested table like the forested moon of Endor from Return of the Jedi. I glue the trees to round, flocked bases to provide stability on the table and additional visual interest. I also have a big bag of scatter made up of clumps of foliage, lichens and small twigs that I toss around on my flocked green 4′ x 6′ playmat to visually fill in otherwise flat open space.

Fantasy Flight Games includes some simple plastic barricades in the base starter kit for the game and the Priority Supplies expansion with moisture vaporators, communication terminals and crates. I painted up all these pieces in simple layers of grey and metallic dry brushing, picking out some computer panel details in other brighter colors.

Moisture vaporators communication terminals, crates and barricades from Fantasy Flight Games

My existing terrain collection also includes a number of cast, pre-painted rocky hills from Gale Force Nine which can be used in just about any setting. Their Battlefield In A Box line offers a bunch of historical, fantasy, scenic and sci-fi terrain, and the generically-named Galactic Warzones pieces provide some great models for playing Star Wars Legion.

Rocky hill from Gale Force Nine and various pieces from Fantasy Flight Games

I picked up the bunker which is modeled on the one on Endor in ROTJ. Right out the box, the painted resin bunker is ready to play and the removable roof is a big plus for scenarios involving raids or rescue missions. Fantasy Flight also offers an official Imperial Bunker expansion that is slightly larger with additional detail like a sliding blast door. That said, at half the price, I am more than satisfied with the Gale Force Nine model.

Bunker from Gale Force Nine

Finally, Star Wars Legion arrived right at the time when 3D printing has been exploding in the gaming hobby. Countless manufacturers and individual hobbyists have created hundreds of custom, non-licensed models to fill tabletop Star Wars settings with all sorts of alien races, characters, spaceships, buildings and terrain pieces. I’ve grabbed a few spaceship wrecks from Extruded Gaming, each of which also comes with a small rocky outcroppings.

With my existing terrain and few models I’ve recently picked up, I’ve quickly pulled together a nice selection of tabletop scenario options. With Star Wars Legion the terrain possibilities are as vast as the entire Star Wars universe.

Spaceships wrecks from Extruded Gaming

Star Wars Legion: Dewback Rider

When I first saw Star Wars in the summer of 1977, there was only a brief and far off glimpse of a Dewback, the large lizard-like creature ridden by Stormtroopers on the desert planet of Tatooine. When the original movies were re-released for the 20th-anniversary in 1997 as the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition, modern digital effects added more film time for the Dewbacks (one of the few changes I don’t complain about as a fan).

Kenner’s Patrol Dewback from 1979

Despite its only brief cameo in the original movie, Kenner’s Patrol Dewback toy in 1979 became a favorite of mine and other first generation fans. I wound up with two in my toy box — one for me and one for my brother — and our Stormtroopers spent many hours marching around mounted on their Dewbacks on our bedroom floor.

Dewback | Wookieepedia | Fandom
Stormtrooper and Dewback from a production still from Star Wars (1977)

One of the joys I find with Star Wars Legion miniatures game from Fantasy Flight Games is the chance to revisit some of my favorite characters and creatures from the Star Wars universe. And, all these years later, I still like playing with Star Wars toys.

Dewback rider with shock prod

The Dewback Rider unit expansion is a chunky model and includes two swappable torsos of Stormtrooper riders. With these bodies, four weapons are offered — a shock prod, a T-21 blaster rifle, a RT-97C blaster rifle and a CR-24 flame rifle. I chose to model my two riders with the standard shock prod and RT-97C blaster rifle. My long term thinking is to get a second Dewback and model the other two weapons on those riders.

If I’m totally honest with myself, I am not a fan of painting primarily white figures. This is also why I’ve avoided Imperial troops to this point. In my four decades of miniatures painting I can never quite get white figures right and my first shot at Stormtroopers is no different. Fortunately, the sculpt and detail in the model offsets my so-so painting. All said, I’ve enjoyed getting my first Dewback on the table after so many years.

Dewback rider with RT-97C blaster rifle

Star Wars Legion: Rebel Commandos and Commander Leia Organa

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.

Having just jumped into Star Wars Legion from Fantasy Flight Games, I’ve quickly moved to boost my forces from the base starter set. Given my interest in the Rebel Troopers in the starter kit, it was a natural next-step to add the Rebel Commandos unit expansion to my collection.

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.

Mon Calamari Rebel Sniper and Dressellian Rebel Commando
Rebel Commando and Saboteur
Rebel Commandos
Rebel Commander Leia Organa

French and Indian War: False Face Society Shaman and Jesuit Priest from Sash and Saber Castings

North America in the 17th-and-18th-centuries was a clash European and Native cultures in many ways – ways of life, ways of trade, ways of war and ways of faith. Faith for all people in this era was not an abstract but a truth that informed every part of their existence. Finding ways to incorporate the dynamic push-pull between these faiths into games provides an interesting challenge and opportunity.

Free RPG Day 2019 edition of Forts &Frontiers The Feast of the Dead

In 2019, two partners and I in a founded Campaign Games to create games with a focus on history and narrative play. That spring, we introduced a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition compatible role playing game adventure called Forts & Frontiers: The Feast of the Dead as part of Free RPG Day. A month later, we successfully funded a Kickstarter to expand the game into a deluxe version with a more fleshed-out game system focused on the friction among cultures in colonial America.

As part of the Kickstarter, we were thrilled to partner with Sash and Saber Castings to create two exclusive miniatures as part of their expansive French and Indian War line of 28mm models.

False Face Society Shaman

Traditional False Face Society masks

The False Face Society figure depicts a member of the Haudenosaunee healer tradition. Wearing a fearsome carved and painted wooden mask and carrying a turtle shell rattle, a member of the society would make rounds twice a year to chase away evil spirits and disease from a village. Masks came in a lot of varieties, including some woven from corn husks, and the healing rituals would also include singing and burning tobacco.

False Face Society figure from Sash and Saber Castings

Jesuit Priest

Martyrdom of Jean de Brébeuf as depicted in a 1657 map by Francesco Giuseppe Bressani

The Jesuit Order was founded in Spain in the mid-1500s and its member missionaries spread through North, Central and South America in the 17th-and-18th-centuries. Rooted in Catholic faith, Jesuits lived a life of meditation and contemplation of Jesus Christ. Intellectually, they sought to bring formal education of languages, history and science in a reform of church leadership.

Missionaries to what Europeans called the New World viewed natives of these regions to be in need of saving through baptism and rejection of their perceived savage rituals and traditions. At the same time, Jesuits were at odds with European secular colonial governments for their documentation of native cultures and languages during their years of living among these people. Effectively living between the two societies, Jesuits were famously the victims of torture and martyred execution by natives who recognized the threat they symbolized.

With no experience in the wilderness of the Americas and only their faith to guide them, Jesuits ventured deep into heart of the country largely unexplored by other Europeans. The Jesuit figure depicts the plain dress and spare possessions of a missionary of the era, clutching a Bible close to his heart and a cross hanging from his waist.

Jesuit Missionary figure from Sash and Saber Castings

Together, the False Face Society Shaman and Jesuit models depict two competing traditions of faith in the Americas during the era of European colonization. In each tradition, rituals and physical items — whether a turtle rattle, mask, Bible or cross — provide opportunities for contrast but also a shared belief that something exists beyond the physical land where people clashed for domination.

Star Wars Legion: Rebel Troopers, AT-RT and Luke Skywalker

Before I was a gamer or miniatures modeler, I was a fan of Star 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.

Star Wars games in my collection from Fantasy Flight Games

All that said, my Star Wars gaming has been limited until recently. I jumped in early with Star Wars X-Wing, and I’ve added a bunch of other Star Wars games from Fantasy Flight Games to my collection over the years including Armada, Imperial Assault. Destiny and Rebellion.

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.

Rebel Troopers
Rebel MPL-57 Ion Trooper, Unit Leader and Z-6 Trooper
Rebel Trooper Squad
Rebel AT-RT and Luke Skywalker
Completed Rebel Troopers, AT-RT and Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars Legion Base Set

28mm: German 10.5cm leFH 18/40 Howitzers from Warlord Games

Pin on Artillery

I’ve had a project on my list for a long time to fully model a game of the Brecourt Manor Assault from June 6, 1944 (made famous by HBO’s Band of Brothers series) in 28mm. I’ve had all the individual German and American 101st Airborne figures for quite a while but on of the primary obstacles was modelling the four 10.5cm leFH 18/40 howitzers which were the objectives in the famed US assault.

Unassembled German Heer leFH 18/40 10.5cm howitzer (1943-45) from Warlord Games

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.

Assembled German Heer leFH 18/40 10.5cm howitzer (1943-45) from Warlord Games

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.

Primed German Heer leFH 18/40 10.5cm howitzer (1943-45) from Warlord Games

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.

28mm: US Airborne HQ, Jeeps and 57mm Anti-Tank Gun from Warlord Games

Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division load an M1 57mm Anti ...

I took the occasion of the 75th anniversary of VE Day recently to revisit some long-neglected World War II US 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.

US Airborne HQ (1944-45) from Warlord Games
US Airborne Jeep (1944-45) from Warlord Games
US Airborne 57mm Anti-Tank Gun (1944-45) from Warlord Games

French and Indian War: Pennsylvania Provincials and British Command from Sash and Saber Castings

One of the joys of painting figures for the French and Indian War is in the diversity of uniforms among British colonial forces. Previously I’ve painted up units to reflect Virginia Provincials and the British Royal American Regiment which allow for uniforms that deviate from the usual red-coated British Regulars of 18th-century England.

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.

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.