Saturday, June 26, 2010

americans on the march...

The SpanAm game I' m running next February could have as many as 12 or 15 players. I normally run skirmish games for that many players since it's too time consuming and expensive to create complete armies for both sides. Even with inexpensive 54mm figures the time it takes to paint everything is considerable.

Still, I want to have enough figures on the table for each player to command 12 or 15 figures plus an officer. So I need roughly 150 SpanAm figures and more than that would be better. Since I don't have much choice in manufacturers here, I ordered four of the 50 figure BMC Rough Rider sets--25 Spaniards and 25 Americans. I already had 20 BMC Spanish and a box of AiP Rough Riders. So, excluding artillery, Gatling guns and of course the dynamite gun, I should have enough figures.

The AiP figures are good. They, like most AiP figures do not have a lot of fine detail. But they are well sculpted and consistent in their realistic anatomy and posing. Even their Krag-Jorgensen rifles can be identified. The only real complaint I have with the AiP figures are the conspicuous mold lines. Since they're cast in soft plastic, these lines are almost impossible to remove. It's a pity.

There's a nice variety of poses in an AiP box of 20 figures., Though, naturally, one of the figures represents TR and another is a standard bearer. For my purposes these two figures are less helpful since they are quite individualistic. Even so, they're good conversion material.

The BMC SpanAm figures are better than most other BMC offerings. In fact, some of them are, dare I say it, actually good. The bagged sets include Spaniards (or Mexicans), Rough Riders and Buffalo Soldiers. The Spaniards are OK, but nothing special. The Rough Riders are better, though a bit stiff and two dimensional. However, the Teddy Roosevelt figure is surprisingly fun. There's a fair amount of wastage, though. Both reclining Spaniards and Buffalo Soldiers are too frequent for my tastes. I may convert them to casualty figures if I have time.

I really appreciate the Buffalo Soldiers. These are probably the best BMC figures I've seen. The troopers are in realistic poses, and realistically proportioned. In fact, racial characteristics are distinguishable in the faces and hair. Whoever sculpted these for BMC did a good job. Cearly the Spaniards and Rough Riders were done by someone else.

One advantage BMC does have over most other 54mm plastic figures is that they are cast in a harder plastic. It is possible to carve and, if you're careful, file these figures. They feel like PVC. Though, I'm not sure if they are.

The only disappointment in the Buffalo Soldiers is the figure of Black Jack Pershing. He's stiff and ungainly. But of all the American SpanAm figures I've got so far, he's the only one wearing a frock coat. Everybody else, BMC and AiP is in shirt sleeves.

The figures paint up fairly quickly. Three weeks into the project and I've got 20 Spaniards and 18 Americans painted. It's a start...


  1. i think the worst plastic figures are actually italeri bmc are better

  2. I have just started this set and am going to do a diorama of the San Juan Hill battle. Thanks for all of the color tips. I am in the Rough Riders here in Tampa and knew the color scheme, but I needed help with how to paint the Spaniards. Can't do the pinstripes so the light blue will do.

    1. I Anon I. Mouse...

      I, too, tried to do the pinstripes and simply couldn't pull it off. Here's a site with photos of reenactors in rayadillo. I think light blue is the most realistic at any scale less than GI Joe size.