Der Resin Kavalier

Friday, December 14, 2018

Recruiting an Army, Part 6

Recruiting a 54mm Army (Part 6), or,
Sometimes you just need to improvise!

In the last installment, I took a look at Armies in Plastic (AIP) American Revolution Cavalry. Unlike some of their other sets this one's interpretation of light cavalry in the AMR (or AWI) is problematic. There are only five figures in the set: one officer, one bugler, two swordsmen, and some fool shooting his carbine, possibly at a circled wagon train. Now, granted these are toy soldiers and not specifically designed for collecting or gaming, but carbines were rare during the AMR, at least among the Americans. As for the tricorns they are wearing, few units, militia or otherwise, wore such headgear. The only exception I am aware of was the Connecticut Light Horse.

So what to do? Slice and improvise! The pictures below show this same basic AIP unit with new headgear and arms (literally) to give a better impression of American Light Cavalry. The heads and some of the arms are extras I purchased from All the Kings Men, now sadly out of business. Other arms were just cut off and swapped, and the seams filled with modeling putty as necessary.

I did find another source, however. Irregular Miniatures ( offers an extensive line of 54mm parts, headgear, and figures. I have not done business with them, but it might be something worth looking into. As always, I welcome your comments!

This photo and the one below shows the original figures pictured in my previous posting. The heads and arms have been replaced or swapped.

And here's the new unit, ready for action in a uniform similar to the 4th Continental Dragoons (artistic license freely included).

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Recruiting an Army, Part 5

Recruiting a 54mm Army (Part 5)
The Cavalry

It's been awhile since I last sat down to write another edition of Der Resin Kavalier. Some might offer an excuse, but I'm retired, I don't need one. It has been a busy late summer and fall, and with Christmas only about two weeks away, I thought it was probably time to publish 'something'. So here we are, writing about finishing up your army with the cavalry.

First off, I hate painting horses. Back in the day, I convinced my eldest that painting horses was fun--just slap on some shade of brown paint. Give it a black tail and mane. Finish up with a green base, and it's done: ready to glue one of Daddy's toy soldiers on it. Back then, of course, Scruby figures were the most widely available, so highly detailed models was more dependent on the painter than the sculptor.  British figures, such as Minifigs or Hinchcliffe were few and far between on this side of the pond.

I've talked about figures for war gaming the American Revolution (AMR) in 54mm in my earlier posts for this series. Some of the figures are quite detailed and paint up well. When it comes to infantry or artillery, there is a lot out there and a wide variation of price points. Sadly, with regard to cavalry, there's not much. But there is an answer: conversion. And just like Airfix figures were converted into a myriad of different types and armies in the past, we can do the same thing and we're going to use my favorite candidates, Armies in Plastic (AIP).

Below is the basic AIP American Revolution Cavalry set, in this case Militia. But like all the AIP sets, the same figures are used with other sets, only the color of the plastic changes. In this case, militia is molded in brown. French on the other hand would be the same figures, but in white plastic; British red, and Americans in dark blue. There are five figures in each set, none of whom looks much like a historical AMR light cavalry figure. One of which, the fellow firing his carbine, is probably next to useless in an AMR context. Next time, I'll show you some modifications to increase both their usefulness and accuracy.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Small Battle: the Triple Line

Overall view of the start positions. The lack of Royalist artillery would be critical.

The Triple Line

Being a Report of the late battle between the Forces of His Majesty and the Provincial Rebels

Recently, I have been reading Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames, with the idea of having a few small battles with my 54's and trying out various rule sets. In an earlier post, Keith Flint's  Honours of War (published by Osprey) was tried at Huzzah 2018. This time I am trying a variation of Charge! that I found posted on Keith's blog (listed on Der Resin Kavalier as one I follow). Stuart Asquith, a pioneer of war gaming modified the original to meet his current needs of more limited space, something with which I am quite familiar. I modified them somewhat more, and the following battle report presented takes a scenario from Neil's book, but using Charge!

The game lasted 8 turns, and the end result was decisive. To begin with, Neil's book has a chapter on solo play, something I had to revert as I am on a summer hiatus from my local club, Old Colony Wargamers which was useful. Armies are chosen based on a random die roll. In this scenario, the Blue Army (Provincial Rebels) had 6 units. The King's forces had 4.

Based on the roll, Blue (Rebels) had 3 infantry units, 1 skirmisher unit, and 2 guns. Red (Royalists) on the other hand had 3 infantry units and 1 Skirmisher. The Royalist lack of artillery would be a major factor in the game. The British ( and some of the Rebel) staring positions are shown below:

Looking toward the British line, the main attack prepares.

Even though the Provincials had to start south of the river, they were aggressive from the beginning. Unfortunately (for the King's forces) according to the scenario conditions,the Royalists could not move until the rebels got within 6 inches of them. I interpreted that as the trigger for all the British forces. As the rebels advanced, casualties on both sides began to mount. A bloody exchange of musketry and artillery marked the Rebel advance. One gun battery was particularly effective.

The initial fight at the bridge saw the destruction of the Provincial Light Infantry.

Among the modifications I made was a morale trigger when the unit reached fifty-percent (for those of you familiar with CLS, this was called a "CE or "combat effectiveness" check). Both sides passed, at least the first time, although the Rebel skirmishers eventually dies to a man. With each additional casualty, checks were made, and inevitably, the failures began to occur. First the royals, then the rebels. But more on that next time, including some notes on the forces involved. (Franconians??)
Rebels surge across the bridge as the British fall back.
The British morale breaks. Now it is up to their Franconian allies to stop the enemy.
The Provincial start to break. The last Rebel unit crosses the bridge as the Franconians advance.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Recruiting an Army, Part 4

Recruiting a 54mm Army (Part 4), or Boom! Sir!

In the my last posting,  I reviewed different figures for the AWI in 54mm. Today i would like to take a brief look at the artillery that is available and which is suitable for both the AWI as wall as the SYW and Napoleonic era. Since I've already reviewed the figures offered by these companies, I'll stick to the gun models. I'm also going to show just the painted models leaving you to imagine the same in shiny plastic of various hues.

The first of pictures are models from the Armies in Plastic line. These are the most readily available and have enough variety of type to be a very useful addition to your forces. All of the sets have a five or six man crew.

This is a fairly good representation of a French 8-pounder. It's painted in Foundry Miniatures "French Gun Olive Green" triad (# 109). The set also comes with a medium howitzer or light gun barrels.

Here's another AIP offering (above). This, to me, would be more representative of AWI guns, either 4 or 6 pounders. These are also painted in Foundry colors, in this case "British Gun Grey" (#108).

This last is from IMEX British Artillery Set (#710). The American Artillery Set (#711) contains the same carriage but a light howitzer barrel. Interesting enough, the crew figures are different in each set. They could be painted as pretty much either British, Hessian, or American. All of them are well sculpted. I have some pictures of both the AIP and IMEX artillerymen in an earlier post on this blog.

The carriage is painted in Foundry's "French Hussar Sky Blue" (#76). The bronze barrels on all the models was Foundry's "Bronze Barrel" (#103).

In my next installment, we'll put this altogether with a AWI battle report using a scenario from Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames and a variation of the classic Charge! rules. Until then, thank you for your reads and comments.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Recruiting an Army, Part 3

Recruiting a 54mm Army (Part 3)
or, Build an Army and They Will Come

In my last entry I gave an overview of one of the major sources of plastic 54mm figures, namely Armies in Plastic (AIP). Today I am going to focus on three other manufacturers: Accurate Figures Company, A Call to Arms, and BMC. Most of these can be readily found online and in some of the better stocked hobby shops. Check around for prices because these can vary.

Accurate Figures produces an excellent range of 54mm American Revolutionary War troops. These are from the British Army series, but could easily be painted as well-dressed Continentals. The plastic is somewhat more rigid than than found in AIP figures and I think this makes them both easier to prep and paint. The molded detail, as you can see, is excellent. They also offer American Militia, and of course these can be used for either side. There are twenty figures to a box, two sprues of ten.

 A Call to Arms is a British made line of figures, comparable both in quality and detail as the ones above.  Pictured is a British Light Infantryman, one of sixteen per box. There are four sprues, each having the same four poses. If anything, they are physically a bit slighter than either the AIP or Accurate Figures, but blend in nicely on the tabletop. They also offer British Grenadiers and Maryland Continental Infantry. All are well-done. The Maryland troops particularly interesting because they have a number of different uniforms ranging from standard regimental sets and tricorns, to hunting shirts, to a curious cap that reminds me of a cap worn by the 2nd Canadian or Butler's Rangers.

BMC is the last one we'll look at today. These are sold primarily as playsets. This Fusilier comes from the Yorktown one. They are meant to be toys, and are detailed and priced accordingly. The features are simple and barely raised. It really requires a decent paint job to do them any justice. Personally, although these Hessians aren't too bad, the Contiental/French standard infantry will not likely be seen in any game I might put on. The heads of the figures are oversized and the arms seem way too short. But, they are cheap!

I'll finish up today with the three together (apparently the RSM has other ideas for these lads). Next time I'll talk about the available artillery, "customizing" AIP cavalry, and how to make movement trays, like the ones below.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Recruiting an Army, Part 2

Recruiting a 54mm Army (Part 2)

or, Build an Army, and They Will Come


In my last post I discussed some of the factors and decisions that have to be made before embarking on 54mm building and painting sprees. I made some suggestions on where to start and what to consider, not the least of which are era and rules. Now let's take a look at what's available. Unlike smaller scales where the variety of figures and equipment is mind-boggling, for 54's -- not so much!  Let's take a look at what's out there for Horse and Musket gamers.

The most extensive line readily available is Armies in Plastic (AIP). They can be found at many Hobby Shops (both online and brick-and-mortar) as well as directly from the manufacturer. The line is extensive although keep in mind that more often than not you are getting the same figures but in different colored plastic. For example, the figures in the SYW Prussians/SYW French are the same, but one is blue, the other grey. It will be the paint job that will distinguish them.

Additionally, although 16 figures are in the box, you are getting 8 poses. This presents a couple of practical issues. For example I have in front of me the two bags of figures from the French and Indian War French Army (5542). Each bag contains the following: 1-Officer waving a sword; 1-Drummer standing; 1-NCO with Halberd waving his hat; 1-kneeling firer; 1-standing firer; 1-infantryman, running, musket at the ready; 1-infantryman, walking, musket at port; and 1-infantryman, standing, doing pretty much nothing. With two bags to a box, if I want 12 figures doing the same thing, you will need 6 boxes. Even then, you have 11 each drummers,officers, and NCO's left over. But on the other hand you have enough identical figures for up to five 12-man units. Hmmm...

 Artillery? It's not available. Although if you are not too picky, the American Revolution line of artillery would work. Again, it depends on the paint job.

Cavalry will be a problem. Der Resin Kavalier (above) is one of AIP's American Revolution Cavalry, painted to resemble a dragoon from one of the North German States. The uniform I painted was inspired by the ill-fated Brunswick Dragoons, part of Burgoyne's Saratoga debacle. It's not quite accurate but to those who might complain: "Hey, we're dealing with toy soldiers here, not collections."

Well next time I'll go into some of the other manufacturers like IMEX, A Call to Arms, and HaT.
Until then, TTFN!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Recruiting an Army, Part 1

Recruiting a 54mm Army

or, Build an Army, and They Will Come! (Part 1)

Among the comments to my last post was a question about building an army for a small battle such as the one depicted. Specifically, I was asked what figures I would use for either the SYW or the Napoleonic Era. Now arguably, this should be a simple answer but upon reflection, there are other considerations. What tactical level do we want to play? What rules do we want to use? How historical do we want to make this? Is this a low key game with a couple of friends, or is it something you want to show at a local convention or club night?

I recently picked up a book by Neil Thomas called ONE-HOUR WARGAMES and published by Pen & Sword. It is available from a particular online seller in both digital and print editions.  I mention this because the author answers many of these questions in the course of the book (it is a easy read and you can read as many or as few parts as you wish). One of the most useful is how he describes the armies: SIX UNIT armies, FOUR UNIT armies, etc. This provides a plan, if you will, on just what you're going to need, and it's generic enough to do it "your way". It also includes rules for a number of periods. They are basic but would get the job done.

One particular set of rules that I like for 54's, and they were even written for 54's is All the King's Men written by Ken Cliffe. As of yesterday, his website is still up and these rules, plus a skirmish set (All the Queen's Men) can be downloaded for free. I find them easy enough to learn quickly but challenging enough to give a good game. I won't mention that I've modified a few parts to "improve" them (at least from my perspective).

Units are relatively small: 12 figures + 2 supernumeraries (an officer and flag bearer) for line, grenadiers, and militia; 6 figures + 2 for light infantry, rifles and cavalry; 4/5 figures + 2 for artillery. The rules also have supplemental organizations for particular situations.

Using Neil Thomas' x-unit armies, I would suggest for the following for a generic SIX UNIT army (the smallest I think feasible): 3 Line Units, 1 Light Unit, 1 Cavalry Unit, 1 Artillery Unit, plus one or two mounted commanders. That's about 66 figures, which is doable over a relatively short period of time (of course, I'm retired so it's easy for me to say that).

Now where to get the figures? I'll go over that in my next post.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Huzzah! 2018

Recently at Huzzah! 2018, I tested out a new (for me anyhow) set of rules, Honours of War, for use with 54mm figures. Now, in truth they are designed for the Seven Years War, but I've played enough AWI and SYW games in the last few decades to realize that Horse and Musket rules generally work well for horse and musket armies. Every set covers four basics: movement, firing, melee, and morale. The rest I would assert, is commentary (but that's a post for another time!)

An Osprey publication, they were not specifically designed for large figures but did have, available for download, rules adaptations of 28-30mm figures. Ranges and movement distance were roughly compatible with my primary set for this scale (All The King's Men), and since the author claimed that basing was not critical, I figured, what the heck, let's give it a go.

I had originally planned a one-on-one game with two (no doubt enthusiastic) players. Well, four could work also and so it began. The rules worked as expected with a few modifications. The mechanisms were easy to learn, and the results were if not realistic, certainly reasonable. Bottom line: they would probably work better with smaller scales although the participants all seemed to enjoy themselves. I am posting some pictures of the opening positions. The figures are mostly IMEX and AIP, with the cavalry from the late and sorely missed All the King's Men. The flags are from Adolph Ramos (highly recommended!).

As always, your comments are welcome.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Introduction and Welcome

Since I was a boy, toy soldiers have been a part of my life. As a young lad, most of my excess capital (which wasn't much) would be spent on either comic books (SGT Rock of Easy Company was a particular favorite), or toy soldiers. In my teens, my friend Tom and I discovered Jack Scruby and his extensive line of metal miniatures, a revelation to be sure. But more importantly, we discovered his set of war game rules, Fire and Charge. That was around 1967. Now, fifty plus years later, we still game together, although our horizons and gaming interests have broadened considerably from those Fire and Charge games. For after what seemed like hours of maneuver, it would come down to a giant melee, usually in the middle of the table, with the result resting on the roll of a single die. Most of our friends by that time had left such things behind. In truth, Tom and I thought we were about the only war gamers in America.

But then, just like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and other British rock bands had invaded just a couple of years before, the name Donald F. Featherstone started showing up in some of the local bookstores. Tom got a copy of his Wargames and Advanced Wargames, which I borrowed of course. New vistas suddenly opened up.

Not long after, Dick Bryant and the fellows of the New England Wargamers Association invited us to join them on their Wednesday night games at Dick's home. I started helping put the old Courier together, and the rest, as they say is history. We've lost a couple since then, but I see most of the others on a fairly regular basis. Indeed, the annual Huzzah! convention in Portland, ME is a reunion I look forward to each year.

When I started playing with toy soldiers as a child, most were 54mm (not that I ever questioned it). The first Scurby's I bought were smaller, 30mm. Then we pretty much went to 25mm, then 15, and ultimately for a brief time 1/285th micro. Perhaps it's a function of age, but everything is returning full circle: 25's have become 28's; 30's are now 40's. Me? I'm back to 54's, hence the name of this blog: Der Resin Kavalier, a play on Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier (an opera not quite as appreciated as some).

So, we're off. I've never blogged before, so expect a rocky start. My goal is basically to spread the word on the marvelous world of plastic toy soldiers: 54's primarily, but 40's will show up.  There is so much out there and more coming every day. I'll talk about painting, manufacturers, and of course war games. Your input is welcome. And for those of you retired like like me, remember something a good friend once told me: Retirement is like a second childhood, except now, you are legal and have money (at least some) to buy the stuff you really want!