Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Rogers' Rangers and the French Indian War

Rogers' Rangers by Ronald Embleton

A year or two ago I bought from someone at Guildford all of Conquest Miniatures superb French and Indian War figures, although new releases for this range seem to have, sadly, dried up. I am very pleased to see, therefore, that a new company called Galloping Major Wargames is looking to do the French and Indian War in depth. I don't have any of the GMW figures yet so can't compare them to Conquest but they look pretty good whilst perhaps not reaching Conquest's standard (which really are superb). All I want from a firm doing this period are Indians, regulars and irregulars but no one out there has achieved this yet in an acceptable (to me) style.

It's interesting to note that my interest in the period originated from the same two influences as noted on the Galloping Major website.

Firstly, the BBC series the Last of the Mohicans (1971) which is now out on DVD and was shown Sauturday evenings.

More fake tan than Girls Aloud!

Reviews tend to comment that the sets and battles are rather poor and that the Indians are all played by British actors in make-up. Well, that is because that there really aren't that many Native Americans in Britain! Given that there are a lot more Native Americans in America then Hollywood was even more guilty in continually using white people to play Indians (for example, the otherwise excellent The Mountain Men (1980) with Charlton Heston and Brian Keith).

Philip Madoc: as scary as a Dalek!

The two things I remember about the show were Philip Madoc's brooding Magua the Huron: one of the great villains of 1970s British TV (up there with Anthony Valentine's Major Horst Mohn in Colditz (1972)) and the title music; which, nearly forty years later I can still sing and always comes into my head if I am walking in forests in Canada!

The other influence was the Look and Learn magazine series Rogers' Rangers which ran in 1970 and had wonderful art by Ronald Embleton. This 15 part picture series was on the back of the magazine and was beautifully illustrated with wonderfully evocative renditions of the North American wilderness and gorgeously composed action scenes.

The third influence, which the Galloping Major site didn't mention was seeing the excellent Spencer Tracy film North West Passage (1940) on colour TV for the first time back in about 1970. Sadly, the latter is not available on DVD (and the book is out of print too) so I am very glad I managed to tape it off the TV a few years ago. In fact, the film's full title was North West Passage Book 1: Rogers Rangers but the sequel based on the second part of Kenneth Roberts 1937 novel was never made. Largely, I suspect, this was becuase the tone of the latter part of the book becomes increasingly critcal of Britain as Rogers, as a loyalist, and his friends disagree on the way the colony is run.

Recently I bought some model spruce trees and it has got me thinking about painting some FIW figures again. Maybe now could be the time to complete my half finished Conquest figure!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

What's going on..

Cavalryman from Essex's army

I'm being distracted by many things at present; most specifically Colonials and some Warhammer for my little boy. However, I started work on a small group of Renegade ECW cavalryman at the weekend. I have a unit of cuirassiers painted but need some units of "regular" cavalry for my Parliamentarian force as I now have two units of infantry finished. I have also got an artillery piece which I am just filing and trimming so hope to post something in the next few weeks...