The War of 1812 Magazine
Issue 1: January 2006
Reviews: Books, Film, Collectables and Ephemera
Modeller's Loft Napoleonic Series: Line Infantry Regiment: Royal Scots
£30 UK/$70.00 Cdn
Every year, about November, the wife asks me what I would like for Christmas and my stock reply is that a case of malt whisky would not only be desirable but positively therapeutic. In that, however, I am eternally disappointed and usually end up with socks and the latest bestseller on a Napoleonic subject which I read over the holiday season, all the while making loud and vociferous complaints concerning the author's knowledge, intelligence, depth of research, ability to use the language and poor choice of pictures. This year, tired of such croaking (which tends to dampen the spirits of the festive season) and with the connivance of a friend who is knowledgeable about these things, she opted for something completely different -- she gave me a 1/6 scale figurine of a soldier of the 1st Foot, c. 1809.
One of the fastest growing hobbies among military enthusiasts, these figurines derive from the G.I. Joe action figures which first appeared in the 1960s. They bear as much resemblance, however, to those old toys as a quality military miniature does to the plastic soldiers of my youth and figurine manufacturers compete in bringing out ever more detailed products with hundreds being on the market, ranging in subject from the ancient world to the present day. These figurines are most definitely not toys, they are incredibly detailed little works of art and my Christmas present being my first introduction to this new hobby, I took great interest in it.
The 1st Battalion of the 1st Foot played a prominent role in the War of 1812, being present at the storming of Fort Niagara in December 1813 and fighting at the battles of Chippawa, Lundy's Lane and Fort Erie in the following summer. Although the knapsack of the figurine is marked to the 3rd Battalion, a little judicious work with black ink and a fine hand with white ink will transfer him from the 3rd to the 1st Battalion and thus he makes a fitting addition to the house of an historian of that conflict.
The Modellers Loft figurine of an enlisted man of the 1st Foot stands just under 12 inches high without his shako. He is uniformed as a member of the grenadier company with a white plume in his shako and wings on his coatee. The coatee, which is manufactured of a soft suede-like material, is a minor work of art with correct lace, buttons, wings and collar. The shoulder straps come complete with a velcro patch so that they may be opened to permit the figure's belts to be passed underneath and I noted that the arm seams are correct, sewn down the front as they should be. The shako is plastic, covered with felt and the plate is also correct being a regimental, not the universal, pattern as the 1st Foot was a royal regiment and allowed this privilege. The figure has white cotton pants and comes complete with black gaiters that fasten properly over the brown boots. Chevrons may be added to make the rank up to that of sergeant and, if that higher rank is desired, the manufacturer has thoughtfully provided a sash and a miniature halberd with wooden shaft and a metal head. Finally, a removable stock is provided, if desired.
The figure is armed with a tiny but accurate India Pattern musket complete with adjustable shoulder strap, a moveable lock and a removeable little metal ramrod. The bayonet is of metal and locks on the muzzle of the musket in exactly the same way as the original but, if that is not desired, it fits tightly into its scabbard. Finally, a small pricker and brush to clean the priming is included, with a little strap that fastens onto either the coatee or one of the belts.
Next comes the equipment. A miniature Trotter valise knapsack which opens like the original, complete with rolled blanket (made of grey wool) on top, and all straps and belts (with miniature buckles) is the main accessory. The cartridge box is very close to the original pattern and the flap opens as does that of the haversack of buff canvas material. The barrel canteen, with miniature and working stopper and chain is plastic, in Board of Ordnance grey-blue, and correctly marked. The belt plate is accurately marked to the 1st Foot and the belts fit comfortably and correctly to the figure although they require considerable adjustment and weight (a few coins) to hang correctly. A word to the wise -- the miniature belts and their tiny buckles require nimble feminine fingers to adjust properly, and are very fragile and easily broken.
I have one minor criticism. I think the collar of the coatee should be somewhat higher but it is clear that the manufacturer followed the plates in Stuart Reid and Graham Turner's excellent book, British Redcoat (2): 1793-1815, which portray the uniforms and equipment of a soldier of the 1st Foot in detail. Frankly, the detail is so exact that, when this little man is completely dressed and equipped, it is as if one of the plates from that book stepped off its pages and onto your table.
This figurine was my introduction to the hobby and I have to admit I am hooked and this will undoubtedly solve the wife's Christmas present problem for the foreseeable future. Of course, once he was completed, I was immediately informed that my private of the 1st Foot was "too military" to occupy a place of honour in the lounge where he belongs and he has been relegated to an outpost. Worse still, he immediately fixed his bayonet and wentt for her cat, that cunning, sneaking, complacent, self-satisfied, spoiled and fat little beast that is the bane of my existence. Severe disciplinary action resulted.
Reviewed by: Donald E. Graves††
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