This posting from my On Parade! series, in which I’m slowly reviewing every figure in my wargaming collection, features my small Victorian Science Fiction French Foreign Legion force.
Have you ever started a club project in a rush of enthusiasm, only to peter out a few weeks later with only some dribs and drabs of painted forces completed? Well, this force is one of those.
The idea had been to build up a French force to do battle in a Victorian Science Fiction campaign against Colonel O’Truth’s British and Scott’s Prussians/Zendarians.
I couldn’t find a range of 28mm late-19th century French who conveyed that particular Gallic look I was after. So I settled on the French Foreign Legionaries in Foundry’s range of Western figures. While they didn’t quite capture the exact look either, they were so character-filled in other ways that I couldn’t resist them.
One thing I really liked about these figures was their comic-book style. They are nice and hefty figures, with wonderfully chunky features and exaggerated expressions. I know some wargamers look down on such non-anatomically correct figures – but I think they have a charm of their own.
For some VSF mechanical weirdness with which to arm my legionnaires, I bought a box of toys made by Bandai in Japan, based on the anime movie Steamboy. Although they were all differing scales, and not designed for 28mm figures, I thought that I could convert them to fit.
For example, the above armed steam tractor is in fact scaled for about 15mm figures. But as demonstrated by temporarily placing a 28mm figure behind it, it could possibly work as a smaller vehicle. As there is no room for a 28mm crew behind the gun shield at the front, I planned to convert the cannon into a gatling gun, connected to the driver’s position by guitar string conduits with which he could fire remotely.
Here’s a rather weird contraption to say the least. At the front is a peculiar bogie with road/rail wheels surmounted by the driver’s chair, behind which is a robot-like vertical boiler with arms. A raked horizontal boiler leads to the stoker’s cab perched just in front of the huge single driving wheel.
Again, it’s miles too small for 28mm (probably more about 10mm in this case). But with some work it could change from being a large road train to a much smaller sort of train-car-motorcycle thingumabob, with the driver sitting in the cab at the rear.
How long these models have been sitting ‘on the shelf’ can be gauged by the cobwebs and dust they are still covered in!
This walker is pretty good just as. I think in the movie it is actually a kind of diving suit. But here it could be a menacing armoured war-machine.
But how this tin-can could ever keep its balance in battle on those tiny trotters, I don’t know! It’s just asking for its legs to be lassoed and pulled over!
But in the end, as I’ve said, the project petered out, and here are the only figures I ended up painting for it. However, they are still very nice and characterful figures in wonderfully flamboyant uniforms, and so I rather like this little force. Maybe one day I’ll add its VSF equipment.
But in the meantime it is perfectly suitable for the period these figures were actually made for: the ill-fated ‘Maximilian Adventure’ to place a Hapsburg emperor on the Mexican throne during the 1860s, the scene of one of the Foreign Legion’s finest hours—the last stand at Camarone. I just need some Mexicans …
Don’t forget to visit my other On Parade! postings, in which I’m gradually doing inspection parades of every army in my wargaming collection.