Sunday, 20 October 2013

Vive la différence!

Between project tasks I've been slowly assembling some of my 1/32 Black Hat metal French Infantry of the Line figures. They are a nice change of pace from the intense concentration I've been doing with my sculpting project.

The other good thing about this French side project is that it isn't a long term project as I don't intend these figure to be used as a core of some French inspired FLW army. They are a stand-alone set I'm just doing for some fun. (I do have a metal 'Horizon Blue' FLW in mind, but this will be based on the rather smaller '54mm' figures of Dorset and Irregular miniatures. This project is a long term idea and is just in the 'collecting phase' at the moment.)

Any way - Vive la différence!

I do really like the Black Hat '54mm' range - though they are of the larger end of the 54mm spectrum (what I call 1/32 to help differentiate them). They wouldn't be compatible with vintage Britains toy soldiers, for example.

One other thing about the Black Hat range is that it is rather limited. They have a selection of these marching infantrymen and officers, but aside from their artillery team figures they so not have a great variety in poses and supporting characters. So, if you want to build an army based on the Black Hat figures you would have to be prepared to do a fair amount of conversion in order to be able to portray the many types of troops you need.

Anyhoo, it seems this weekend's theme is trying something different as while visiting York yesterday I picked up a little book that is rather off-piste for me.

The paperback reference book is by a company called G.I. and is in the vein of Osprey's reference publications. Called 'Fix Bayonets: U.S.Infantry from the American Civil War to the Surrender of Japan' it's an illustrated history of American uniforms which encompasses the time period that most interests me - 1890-1910 (though the book, in total, covers a period from 1865-1946).

I have never really been bitten by the American Civil War bug and American military history as a whole is a bit of a yawn to me, BUT the one era I do find of interest is my target era when America looked more externally and dallied with what can be described as a 'colonial' state of mind. From the Spanish-American War to the Boxer Rebellion the United States seemed to fall in-line with the other great powers and this was also true of their uniforms.

Although the US Army retained a distinctively American style to their dress, but at least in their 1881-1900 dress uniforms they assimilated a distinctly European influence which perhaps suggested a dalliance with the idea of competing on a global stage before they once again returned to their inward looking politics prior to the First World War.

Circa 1899 - this lovely colour plate from the G.I. book shows a good
selection of US rank and officer dress and campaign uniforms.
Source: G.I. Books - see links below.

Of course the above idea is only my own opinion, but from the point of view of an exponent of Funny Little Wars it seems to me that this short window of time would be the ideal time on which to base a Army Red/White/Blue.

The book itself does not have the series of specially illustrated colour plates that the Osprey reference books have but rather has a small selection of period colour lithographs and photographs at the beginning of the book. The rest of the publication is a chronographic record of the uniforms of the US Army by means of original monochrome photography.

Officers of the 17th US Infantry c. 1884 - note the almost Teutonic look
of the officer bottom left!
Source: G.I. Books - see links below.

Commentary, such as there is, is restricted to the short captions which accompany the photographs. I was left with a feeling that I wanted to know more and so, ironically, might look into whether Osprey do a similar reference book!

The G.I. publication is more of a complimentary item if you are researching the subject and the period, and would - I think - be a very useful companion volume to something like an Osprey 'Men at Arms' book.

Still, for just £5 (second hand from Barbican Books) it is a very entertaining - and educational - booklet. I was unaware of just what the United States was 'up to' during my favoured 1890-1910 period of time. The collection of photographs are excellent and I might even be tempted to seek out the relevant G.I. cavalry volume which covers the same period.

Relevant links:

> Black Hat Miniatures (UK) - 54mm toy soldiers range

> Greenhill Books (for G.I. Books in UK)

> Stackpole Books (for G.I. Books in USA)

> Barbican Bookshop York - a lovely little treasure trove of second-hand books.

1 comment:

  1. I know the barbican bookshop well as I always make a point of going when in York.Over the years I have got some really good purchases there.I love all the nooks and crannies full of books.I was last there a couple of summers ago and picked up some Osprey bargains.
    An interesting book you bought there.I do hope to see more of the french side of things as it develops...
    Before the heady days of internet shopping for books( too easy and too tempting) there was the thrill of the chase for books.Now I am lazy too often.I do hope to go back to this shop soonish.