Monday, June 6, 2011

54mm or so Toy Soldiers Project

I stumbled over a coffee can in the closet that was full of what I'd call 54mm toy soldier figures for the Civil War. I had completely forgotten that I had these. I think I found them at a grocery store in the toys section, right next to the cowboys and Indians, dinosaurs, farm animals and green army men. It may be that I bought two bags of them and poured them in this can before forgetting all about it.

Technically they are not even all exactly the same scale, some come out around 40-some millimeters and others over fifty, but they look okay together. They are meant to be toys, not prize-winning sculpts, but they are not half bad.

I guess I wasn't taking them seriously for wargaming, or I'd have at least remembered that I had some. These may be from two years ago.

But on the other hand there are some blogs out there talking about figures like these for some good-looking games, and for more than just the Civil War. Revolution, Alamo, Wild West, etc also are done. WW2 of course.

Also my best old wargaming buddy moved away to California quite a while back. He told me he has been playing Civil War lately with a fireman out there with 54mm figures. This would be in the Napa or Sonoma Valley area north of San Francisco. If anyone knows them, and sees this, please jump in. If there was a blog for them it would be great to see, but my friend doesn't much know about things like that, so he definitely doesn't have a blog, or even barely know what one is for that matter.

This friend unfortunately barely understands computers, except as necessary,  so he hasn't been around yet, but may show up sometime. Anyway I just figured out computers a few years ago, when I had to. He just hasn't had to yet.

His army was 20mm Thomas figures from K and L, a classic type from the 1950's era, Civil War of course, and he kept them like jewelry in padded boxes and tissue paper. Never would consider putting them on bases. They are individuals only. He would have 20 figures per regiment, with two figures per company.

I am not sure yet how they are doing the 54mm because now there are two minds involved and not just one, but I do know he thinks they are too big and they have to play outside on the ground in order to have enough room, because they make the table seem too small.

But now that I see I do have some of those after all, I think I may start collecting more of them.

Now they may seem 'silly' at first, after all they are meant for five-year-old kids, but they are really not that bad. The guns elevate, and will hook on to the trailer hitch on the limbers.  There just aren't enough horses, but that could be remedied.

So far there are 18 foot and two horsemen per side, plus four cannon, four limbers, and just four horses for the mounted generals. Each side has two color bearers with paper flags. The horses are the same type from the cowboys and Indians bags, so I think I could get more.

Since I have just been painting up 600 figures for the Civil War in 1/72 scale, it would be very easy to just switch gears and try painting up some of these huge two-inch tall figures. I saw that another store in town carries figures like this, so now I think I have another new project going


  1. They sound fine for a skirmish game, trouble is you'll need a few building to go with them, more emptying of the wallet needed!

  2. If they are based, it looks like four would fit a 3 inch base, so you could play Volley and Bayonet with that straight up. Or 3 1/2 inch for some of them.

    Then four--or eight in two ranks--would be a brigade, which averaged about maybe 1600 men. That's either 200 or 400 to a figure, and the rules are designed for 200 a point anyway.

    So you act like you have them at 1:200 but can actually use more figs, so for example the 6mm guys always say they get a better look 'en masse' with maybe sixteen across the same size base. But the rules still play like it is 200 men per point, regardless of what you glued to the base.

    Over on the Vintage Wargaming blog, in the archives (See Blogroll on tabakskollegiummekelnborg) you can find the label for Robert Louis Stevenson, (author of 'Treasure Island' and Long John Silver with his Pirates among other things), and find a big article about his wargaming before HG Wells did Little Wars.

    He was basing his on the Civil War, and had four to a regiment, and if you read the article you'll see he thought a lot about the campaign and logistics. He also corresponded with his opponents in between and wrote newspaper articles for it. It's really a good article, and I am still thinking about it 2 or 3 months after reading it.

    So unbased, yes they would be good for skirmish, but they could be more than that too.

    What I have in mind right now is to go further than the Robert Louis Stevenson game to do a Shiloh game at 1 figure to 660 men, so the whole 100,000 for both sides, both days, only needs 150 or so figures. That's about 1 per regiment, at that fight the regiments were bigger than after that fight, to understate it.

    That could sort of correspond to Volley and Bayonet, but I do not have that book so I will just write my own, or base it off the Charlie Wesencraft ideas mentioned in January or so on the other blog.

    Each bag of the Imex ones includes a thick card building to 1/72 and Paul from the Bods has some good building ideas. You'd only need a full-size building if it was a 1:1 skirmish, if it was 1:660 in 1/72 then the ground scale is 1 cm equals 220 yards, so the buildings from Monopoly would actually be too big then wouldn't they, if the whole town was only an inch or inch and a half long.

    Of course with these big monsters buildings like that would look like footballs. So maybe I will switch back to 2mm or the new 3mm after all. Never mind.

  3. Sounds interesting especially the bigger scale and eventually pictures.

  4. Plus I think they are big enough to finally paint those googly eyeballs like everybody else does!

    Anyway Shiloh has a church and a couple cabins but not much buildings, that one's mostly woods, and for other battles maybe 1:500 or 400 would work better, for this same system. It's just that they were stronger units early on before the bloodletting, so I have them cranked up another 165, x 4 = 660.