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. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/10/classic-close-wars-and-comic-book-soldiers-back-to-the-forest/

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.

http://cerealoffers.com/Kelloggs/Cornflakes/1960s/Robin_Hood_Figures/robin_hood_figures.html

https://collectablefigures.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/crescent-part-1-plastic-and-cereal/

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

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/30/quarter-staff-fighting-in-sherwood-forest/

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

Classic Close Wars and Comic Book Soldiers – back to the forest

Work in progress … Minutemen from the 1960s 1970s Lucky Products USA

My thoughts recently have been about redcoats and simple Featherstone rules like Close Wars, about painting what I own that I have bought in the past and put away for future occasions (though who would have envisaged our Lockdown situations?)

My scratch / scrap Napoleonics and Tricorne figures in 15mm had no Forest Indian opponents and I had no great wish to buy even more 15mm figures during the Lockdown. Instead I looked through my hoard for some odd-looking plastic flat Indian and Redcoat figures that I had bought for Close Wars and put away unpainted for a rainy day.

US comic book artist Russ Heath’s illustration c. 1961 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russ_Heath

On the painting table this week but not finished are a box of Revolutionary War Lucky Products Comic Book Soldiers from the USA in the 1960s/70s. I was intrigued by these crude 30mm plastic flat figures in their rare appearance on U.K. eBay, so bought them quite cheaply. I have not seen any ‘this side of the Pond’ recently.

Eventually I tracked down what they were, thanks to Doug Shand’s website.

http://dougssoldiers.blogspot.com/2015/09/lucky-toys-204-revolutionary-war-set.html

Doug sets out pictures and comments on each of the flat figures, as well as the later smaller rounded figures, along with some superb old adverts which tell you how many figures there should be and what the poses are meant to be.

Lucky Toys comic book ad from Doug Shand’s website

This Boy and Girl are very happy with their $1.98 toys! 99 cents each?

http://dougssoldiers.blogspot.com/2015/09/lucky-toys-204-revolutionary-war-set.html

Many children were apparently disappointed with what 2D flat figures they eventually received. https://web.archive.org/web/20061225135945/http://home.att.net/~1.elliott/comicbooktoysoldiersintro.html

This website interview with comic book artist the late Russ Heath claimed “Surprisingly, Russ never actually saw any of the Toy Soldiers themselves! However, he knew they were Flats and he certainly heard about them. He says “No, I never saw them [the Toy Soldiers.] You know it’s funny, I got letters too that they forwarded to me from the company and everybody was bitching, they said ‘they’re not three dimensional, they’re only in relief [2D Flats] and it was really a rotten thing to do to the kids’. (laughs) Perhaps in his own humorous defense, Russ says “I tried to make, especially with the Revolutionary Soldiers Ad, I tried to make them look somewhat stiff and like the soldiers [Flats] would look.”

What I liked about these plastic flat figures was their curious cartoon or 18th Century print appearance, rather like these Revolutionary War ones in 1775. To both Doug and myself, the look as if these were satirical prints designed by Rowlandson or Gillray. The figures also really do look curiously like these American prints by Amos Doolittle.

Prints on Wikipedia or you can buy your own copy at https://fineartamerica.com/shop/prints/amos+doolittle

These plastic flats capture these figures well – was this intentional?

So this Pinterest haul and web search, along with several Ladybird classics such as Soldiers and The Last of The Mohicans, gave me an idea a little of how I want these figures to look.

These Redcoats, unfinished in red and white, have a curious football Subbuteo team look.
Minutemen in their everyday hunting clothes – an early form of mufti camouflage?
Ladybird Children’s Classics Last of the Mohicans, 1983 – illustrations by Frank Humphris
Mohawks – brown with a touch of copper or bronze paint mixed in as fairly generic forest Indians

These redcoats are not specific but generic redcoats like my 15mm Coastguard Excisemen of previous posts. The rigorous uniform research I have done these include Ladybird book of Soldiers here:

Two interesting pages showing the bling of Redcoat recruiting and the homespun American troops

Grenadiers and white coated French – Ladybird book of Soldiers 1975, illustrations by Frank Humphris

I did look in Preben Kannik’s Military Unicorns of The World (sorry, Uniforms) and other Blandford books but wanted to keep these Redcoat / Tricorne era figures loose and generic.

I don’t expect to find any Lucky ‘Flat’ Revolutionary War figures easily and cheaply anytime soon in the UK. So I will make use of what I have and in time paint a small detachment of these figures as white coated French Infantry, along with some gun crews and the few Hesseans or redcoat Grenadiers. The cavalry are a little bit on the small side.

There are too many of some poses. Spare officers could make some gun crew. There are probably enough spare drummers and fifers to make up a small military band for some fun.

This gives me a range of small skirmish units for Close Wars in the forest.

I also liked these generic Redcoat / tricorne soldiers endpapers by Peter Spier in his Crash Bang Boom! Picture book (c.1973)

Not sure how much detail of lace or buttons etc I will manage with these 30mm flat figures or how to get that 18th Century Print look. They certainly won’t be the exquisitely painted flats I see online as these plastic flats will be roughing and tumbling on the games table and hopefully out in the garden. They arrived playworn, with engrained mud on some bases so I am glad they have already had a previous play life.

Close Wars usually requires a cluttered forest terrain. Throw in some stylised or stylish trees like the interesting card ones from Bold Frontiers of Australia or the ones on the painting table which are simple paint your own Made of Wood ones, a present bought for me from a local craft shop at Christmas.

Undercoated wooden craft shop forest trees WIP

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/close-little-wars-featherstones-simplest-rules/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9 / 10 May 2020