Armies in Plastic 54mm Woodland Indians Painted and Out in the Wild

I really enjoyed painting these 54mm Armies in Plastic Woodland Indians, plentiful straps and tassels and all.

They were part of a kind gift of a box of surplus mixed plastic figures from Alan Tradgardland Gruber for my Close Little Wars forest skirmishes.

I introduced them to the garden forests and mountains today, after a gloss spray varnish and final shiny paint bits.

These Woodland Indians of the little known Gull Tribe (see their prized head dress feathers) have little adornment and decoration, unlike other Indian Tribes in North Gondal and North Generica.

They are not as richly decorated as many of the Woodland Indians of the French Indian War and “The Revolutionary War”.

Lots of equipment detail to choose to paint (or not).
Halt! I have found trail signs … many Three Cornered Hat men went this way a few hours ago.

Looking through the uniform plates in various AWI books, Pinterest, box art and figures from different figure ranges (everything from John Jenkins and modern Wm. Britain’s to the shiny gloss Tradition of London range), I settled on a generic plainer shiny gloss look for my under-adorned Woodland Indian ImgaiNations tribe.

Interesting to look at the flintlock and powder horn equipment, tomahawk in its sling, knife held on the upper chest. Much of this equipment is found on the 54mm plastic AIP Gruber’s / Rogers Rangers figures AWI Light Infantry and Rangers that I painted last week.

I struggled a little to find the toy soldier look I wanted but used an old hollowcast painting trick of using bronze or copper skin tones.

Bronze or copper skin worked well enough repairing damaged old hollowcast Britain’s and other makers’ more 50s Hollywood Indians (and Cowboys). It didn’t work recently for some 54mm to 60mm Steve Weston plastic Mexican peasants.

So with these gloss toy soldier style Indians in mind I used Revell Aquacolor Acrylic Gloss Leather Brown for the Woodland Indian skin tone. All the other colours used were Matt like the musket in Matt Leather Brown and desert Afrikabraun for the Buckskin leggings and equipment. They were all going to get gloss spray varnished anyway.

The toy soldier style face was achieved with black pin dot eyes and eyebrows, red mouth dot (both using a shaved cocktail stick) and after gloss varnish, the final copper cheek dot.

This is how the Three Cornered Hat warriors (Tricornes) fight and die in the forest – in volley rows.

There was one interesting pose with a fearsome looking wooden root club. Interestingly the character is carrying a powder horn so has laid down a flintlock somewhere.

Having rewatched the 1992 Daniel Day Lewis Last of the Mohicans film for the Indian costumes, the slow reload of a flintlock musket is obviously a problem for troops engaging charging Natives in ‘Close Wars, type forest skirmishes and melees.

My Ladybird book version of Last of the Mohicans illustrated by Frank Humphris also came in handy for painting ideas.

Plain Indians rather than Plains Indians?

I could have spent a long time painting different Indian beadwork and breechclout patterns, legging ties etc and facial paints but I didn’t really want to. I tried one club figure with Citadel Agrax Earthshade Wash (brown) but I didn’t really think it would work with gloss varnish toy soldier style.

These were not the only Indians in the Back Yarden Forests.

This colourful Plains Indian is Crescent plastic repair and paint from a joblot from Alan Gruber

And finally –

How would they work in my Bold Frontiers pine forests?

Just what Bold Frontiers trees are designed for … painted or unpainted figures.

The Gull Tribe go clubbing or the Woodland Indian version of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” ..

A shadowy Brown figure appears moving amongst the trees. Is it a fierce Brown bear?

Not a Bear! How! The Patrol Leader greets the brown clad figure. Friar, Friend or Foe?

Friend! Another log for the fire, please, friar!

(Camp fire by Safari Toob – Powhatan Indian camp set)

The Crescent / Kellogg’s Cornflakes 1960s plastic Friar Tuck is from the Robin Hood plastic range. We had him at home bizarrely painted bright gloss red ever since I was a child. Now over fifty years on, he finally gets a new gloss toy soldier paint job.

Next time we are in Sherwood Forest, this old Friar Tuck can take part!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 14 / 15 August 2020

Forest Rangers in 54mm

AIP 54mm plastic Roger’s Rangers with Light Infantry caps.

Part of the delightful parcel from Alan Tradgardland Gruber received a week or two ago was this box of Roger’s Rangers from Armies in Plastic. It was part of his contribution of surplus 54mm figures to my forest skirmish Close Wars games.

The Rogers Rangers and various other light infantry ranger units were highly mobile and lightly equipped as scouts and skirmishers for backwoods work, around the time of the French Indian Wars of the 1750s (Seven Years War).

Wikipedia media – portrait of Robert Rogers 1776

Some had ‘Light Infantry’ type headgear with brass forehead plates. One figure looked like he was modelled on portraits of Robert Rogers and other contemporary officers of the American War of Independence who had gone somewhat native in their dress and their dealings with the local forest Indians.

The Rangers with Berets

A few of the Ranger figures had already had some partial conversion work to headgear, including cutting away parts of Light Infantry helmets into more woollen or raccoon skin caps.

Other Rangers in the pack had a soft beret or cloth Tam O’Shanter type Highland Bonnet, rather than the light Infantry hat. This more formal Light Infantry hat had a shiny brass plate which must have been some simple armour plating for the head.

The Rogers Rangers are one of the most famous of the Ranger companies and inspire reanactors, gamers and modellers to this day with their 28 Rules of Ranging.

A little research on Pinterest and reenactor pages gave me an idea of the range of equipment and colours of green that these troops, Rangers and woods runners (French: coureurs des bois) wore in the forest

Both interesting blogs or websites.

I was pleased to read in Preben Kannik’s trusty old Military Uniforms of The World that these Rangers and light Infantry did not fuss with prinky lace, wigs or shaving, so were permitted to grow quite elaborate facial hair. Most of my Rangers have a fine moustache, some the makings of a full wilderness beard.

Preben Kannik 118. Great Britain Light Infantry in North America. Man, 1758.

“Various items of the Infantry man’s normal equipment were made lighter as a result of the campaign in the forests of North America. This applies especially to the equipment of the light companies of specially picked men from the regiment, who were trained to move and fight in the forests. The uniforms were stripped of all lace. The sleeves of the coat were attached instead to the jacket, which became the principal garment, and the now sleeveless coat was used as an outer garment.

“As shown here the coat was rolled up with the pack which, for the first time, is carried high on the back by the means of two straps. The water bottle was carried below the pack and a powder horn under the right arm. A tomahawk was also carried below the cartridge pouch, which was carried on a narrow strap. Two pockets made of leather or rawhide were sewn to the breast of the jacket, for carrying shot and flints. Trouser-leggings were worn instead of knee breeches and boots.”

“The hat had been cut down to a cap, which had black flaps over neck and ears. The troops were allowed to be unshaven on active service, which frequently resulted in some picturesque growths of hair and beard.

Preben Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour.

Although the light companies supposedly wore no lace, many of the illustrations how shiny buttons, which surprised me. My Rangers have mostly blacked out their shiny buttons much in the way of the Rifles Companies 50 years later.

That spare head came in handy for a headless rebuilt hollowcast archer who was missing legs, head and bow.

The Ranger archer with added Fimo Polymer Clay pack …

Painting Armies in Plastic Miniatures

I had been forewarned by Jen Burdoo and others that Armies in Plastic Miniatures are quite hard to get Acrylic paint to adhere to, that it easily flakes and chips off weapons, extremities and bases.

After a little web browsing in various forums, I decided to undercoat in PVA glue, after their initial wash, scrub and brush up to remove any loose paint, grease or mould releasant.

An undercoat in various shades of dark green was followed by two coats of Revell Aquacolor Acrylic Matt paint. Two coats? Painting over PVA, I often find that the first coat of Acrylic often cracks a little, so a second one covers this well.

As they arrived, some of the Rangers more colourfully painted …

I left any metallic paints like the flintlock and tomahawk metal until after a coat of spray Acrylic Varnish. I really do not like the heady stink of spray paint or spray varnish.

These figures have a gloss toy soldier finish and face, using the distinctive pink gloss dot highlight on the cheek.

No two of my Ranger figures are painted the same as often these troops brought their own kit, clothes and weapons along.

The Rangers lived off the land and carried all they needed into the forest, able to hunt and forgave for themselves, making them much more independent of the army supply column. Even without buttons and lace, all that even left a lot of straps and equipment to paint – knapsack, powder horn, blanket or coat roll, tomahawk, cartridge pouch, legging straps or garters. I was surprised by the amount of such detail on these AIP figures. It felt a little like painting US or British WW2 paratroops with all their straps and buckles.

Rangers Colours and Uniforms

I did not intend my Rangers unit to be a particular type or regiment, although maybe in thanks they should be called Gruber’s Rangers?

I don’t believe that many Rangers quite wore that regimented uniform as shown in this dapper 1970s Rene North Military Uniforms paperback.

The headless figure and his 60s footballer replacement head. His old head ended up on an archer.

What they need next is some time spent on the Tabletop amongst forest trees like my Bold Frontiers trees and some company or opposition.

In my ImagiNations Close Little Wars I already have my various repaired hollowcast Forest Indians, along with plastic BMC 54mm opponents or allies in Tricornes that I have stored away for painting.

A similar box of toy soldier 54mm garage gleanings arrived from Alan Gruber today mixed in with a box of Armies in Plastic Woodland Indians. More delight for the paint table. Thanks again, Alan!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 1 August 2020.