Tuesday, March 24, 2009


As promised, I have managed a few acceptable pictures of my Comanches by Conquest Miniatures. They are very nice figures with lots of extras to add on. I ordered some extra weapon packs, though I really could not make the cast lance heads work. I ended up using brass wire which I pounded flat and shaped (a bit) on my anvil.

I have twenty of these, plus a mounted acrobat, which I'll use as two ten figure units and a leader for my Lewis and Clark game.

Things are shaping up figure-wise. I'm down to having eleven mounted figures, plus thirteen dismounted figures to paint. I'm hoping to have all the dismounted figures completed before I leave on vacation on Sunday.

Casey Jones and Men He Left Behind

Sometimes scenarios just don't go quite the way we plan them. Mark Waddington had a playtest on Saturday of his Enfilade East Africa game. It's a World War I game with lots of cool Germans and Askaris and British and their imperial hangers on. Most importantly, it has a train. The Germans are raiding the Brits, with eyes on destroying their headquarters and blowing up the train tracks. The British goal is to prevent all of that. The British start with two units on the board: a unit of unhappy Indian troops, and a unit of pretty good Kings African Rifles. They are reinforced by a many troops and heavy weapons on a train.

The train's role in the game was brief. Bruce Meyer commanding the train simply put it in drive and sped the train and its contents, the British reinforcements through the board and off. Gary Griess and I commanded the two units on the board, and we held on as long as we could (and waved good bye to our friends) as we prepared to hold out against a pile of Germans. Actually, I commanded the KAR and got in a bloody firefight with some sailors and suckered them into an ambush by some hidden Masai auxiliaries, but it looked like my troops were going to have to light out into the bush.

Sorry about the pictures, they're pretty dark.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ahhhhhh, no pics

Okay, I promised pics of the Comanches, but I don't have any. This week for sure. The good news is that I've been finishing figures pretty quickly. Seventeen of the Comanches are done, and I painted nine of the dismounted Soldados de Cuera. They're border militia types that almost certainly would have been included in the Spanish expedition to capture Lewis and Clark.

Progress is good.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Quick update

It's been a week since my last post. I've been working on my Comanches, and I hoped I'd have some to share by this time. I've made progress on all twenty foot figures and finished a couple of them. I should be finishing them in batches of four or five per night. Unfortunately I've had a busy weekend and things just didn't get done as I planned.

This is the second year I've missed out on Salute hosted by the Trumpeter's Club in Vancouver, B.C. I really miss it, but it conflicts with the WJEA state convention and competitions and my students rightfully expect me to be there. There are great guys, those I consider my friends in the Trumpeters Club and I feel quite sheepish not being there to support them. Unfortunately there isn't much I can do at this point.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Conquest Miniatures: Comanches

I'm coming off a deadline week, so not much to report on Lewis and Clark progress. However, last night I felt compelled to run out and pick up some wire so I could begin to assemble the Conquest Comanches I received in the mail. Yeah, I have Spaniards I'm still painting, but I thought this would be useful and give me a break.

First, let me just say that Eric R., the owner of Conquest has a grand vision for modeling many Native American topics. He has a full range of Woodland Indians, a range for the Seminole Wars, and has some flat gorgeous figures for the plains-though that project hasn't advanced very far. I think, that as a small producer, his real life has overtaken his ambition, and his projects are resting on the back burner.

What do I mean? It took a while to get my order, and he had to assemble figures and accessories into a bubble wrap bag and it was kind of messy. On the other hand he was apologetic about the delay and included a few extra figures as well as a gorgeous Comanche acrobat, mounted figure. So, it was all good.

The figures are quite beautiful, and full of detail. Whether it s the feathers in the hair, the necklaces or the bone breastplates, these miniatures have lots of character. Most of the figures I ordered have open hands, and can hold the extra weapons I ordered. There are some great hand weapon-various warclubs, bow and quiver. The gunpowder weapons sprue is just beautiful, with flintlock muskets and pistols as well as later 19th century weapons as well. The tips are also available for spears, together with feathers to decorate them with.

I opted for the spears, and hoped to make them out of florist wire. I'd read about this on TMP and picked some up at Michael's on the way home from work. Usually I use steel or brass wire, but because there is no longer a shop in Puyallup that sells such basic material, I decided to try the craft shop. I brought it home and for whatever reason found it would not bind with CA glue to the spearpoint. Off to Parkland I went, and opted for brass wire. When I brought it home I cut it to usable lengths and took it out to the garage and pounded the spearpoints into shape. I spent the rest of last night assembling the minis and getting the ready to prime. All in all it took about three hours.

I hope finish the Spaniards I'm working on by Monday and get started on the Comanches. Maybe post pictures next weekend.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Figures for the Corps of Discovery

Coming up with figures for the Corps of Discovery can be maddening. First there is a perception problem that these guys all wandered around in dirty buckskins so anything goes. Wrongo, Buckwheat. The Corps of Discovery was a military expedition and they were issued uniforms. When it was appropriate, they wore them too-when impressing Indians, at Sgt. Floyd's funeral, on Independence Day and New Years Day 1805, and for inspections you can bet they wore their dress regimentals.

Um, what exactly did those look like? Well kind of like this:
These are Old Glory's Mad Anthony Wayne's Legion skirmishing figures. They wear the round hat with bearskin crest, and blue jacket with red facings. There are couple of differences between the Legion and the Corps. First, there aren't any of those funky red, green, yellow or white unit designations in the Corps. The distinctive colored hat band has been replaced by a black silk band. Also the plume is gone and replaced by a bucktail. The hat also has white tape around the edging. The trousers are white in summer and blue in "winter." I used both just to keep things interesting. I chose to use just ten in uniform. They would have been out of place during a normal day. However, they also serve the purpose of being the guys with smoothbore muskets and bayonets. Much of the party was rifle armed.

There were three squads of infantry in the Corps of Discovery, each commanded by a sergeant. I used the NCO figures, plus the kneeling guys in the skirmishing pack. None of these were particularly fun to paint. There isn't anything special about them.

The figures represent Sgts. Pryor, Gass and Ordway from left to right. Ordway was the only sergeant with regular army experience, and was left in charge if the captains were away from camp.

One of the only civilians in the expedition was a half-French, half Indian named George Drouillard. Drouillard was an incredibly important member of the expedition. He was a very talented woodsman, scout and hunter, and the expedition's best shot. He also knew Native American sign language, which helped him interpret the gestures of many different cultures. Drouillard appeared in many of the Corps' tight spots where he behaved with such bravery that Lewis asked that he receive an extra five dollars per month for his service when the captain made his final report to the War Department. One of the very first mountain men, Drouillard was killed by the Blackfeet in 1810. I've used one of the Foundry Mountain Men figures to represent Drouillard.

In 1803, on his way to Camp DuBois, the winter encampment near St. Louis, he made stops in Kentucky to recruit unmarried men who were good woodsmen and used to physical hardship. The volunteers he found were called the "nine young men from Kentucky." Without exception, they distinguished themselves time and again. Though they were mustered in to the regular army, received army pay and served under army regulations, there wasn't sufficient time to fit them with regular army dress. Both Michael Haynes and the U.S. Army website show them as having their own uniform of a gray roundabout, with blue or white overalls. they wear a round hat without the bearskin crest. They probably carried their own Kentuck rifles, and hence no bayonet. The figures are militia from the War of 1812 range. I've filed down the tall top hats (probably not enough.) The brims have the white tape, and should also have a cockade. the figures should probably have their coattails further shortened.
The figure in the middle wears a linen undress smock

It is likely that most of the men would have worn undress attire or civilian clothing when they were out of the barracks or traveling. The work they did each day was difficult, whether it was hunting, foraging, wading, cutting would, poling or cordelling (pulling the keelboat.) It would have taken a toll on their clothes. By the time the expedition left the Fort Mandan in the winter of 1805, clothes would have begun to wear out. We know that the the weather on the Columbia was so wet it literally rotted the clothing off their backs. On the return trip the Corps would have been dressed in buckskins, saving brass buttons and other articles as trade items for food. The last picture is an example of some of the other figures I've used to represent men of the Corps of Discovery. The figure on the left with a blunderbuss is another Foundry mountain man. The rest are all Front Rank figures from the their American Revolution range. In addition I have minute men from the Old Glory and Foundry AWI ranges, and even a few Canadian militia from the OG French and Indian War range (their caps make great American forage caps, and their smock-like dress looks like summer undress.)

There were 51 men in the Corps of Discovery that made their way upriver to the Mandan villages. Far fewer were in the permanent party that made their way to the Pacific Coast. These are some easily available options for you to use if you think this period may interest you.