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25mm Yanks and Rebs


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Revision Log
18 December 1999converted to Miva
7 October 1999page redesigned
24 October 1997added illustration
6 July 1997page first published

8,207 hits since 4 Jan 2000
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Lance Runolfsson of Blood Axe Miniatures is a very helpful kind of a guy. He asked me:

"Is there anything I can do for you?"

I replied:

"I'm thinking about doing a Workbench
Project involving 25mm ACW figures
- have you got samples you can spare?"

And next thing I knew, a large box arrived, marked

Chicken Corn Dogs
Batter Wrapped Chicken Frankfurter on a Stick

The Box

Eagerly I opened the package, to find within not the tantalyzing corn dogs, but rather a weighty number of Blood Axe figures. Figures, I should add, which weren't marked in any way, nor did Lance keep any record of what he sent me, which should make this article unusually interesting to write...


Photo courtesy of Blood Axe Miniatures

When dealing with the Civil War, it often doesn't make a lot of sense to talk about Union vs. Confederate figures, as both sides dressed somewhat alike, the Confederates often wore captured Union clothing, and nearly everyone felt free to wear what they pleased rather than what was "regulation." Blood Axe feels the same way, and doesn't break down their ACW catalog listings by side of the war.

I'm going to organize this survey, however, by looking at infantry first, then cavalry. And within each group, I'll organize figures by headgear style.


Infantry with Broad-Brimmed Hats

These are wide-brimmed, banded, round-topped hats of a sort that you don't see much anymore. Similar in shape to the prototypical "Mexican sombrero," but smaller in size and of different material.

  • AC-4 Running, Broad-Brimmed Hat
  • AC-6 Loading, Broad-Brimmed Hat
  • AC-8 Firing, Broad-Brimmed Hat
  • AC-10 Receiving, Broad-Brimmed Hat
  • AC-12 Drummer, Broad-Brimmed Hat
  • AC-14 Officer, Broad-Brimmed Hat
  • AC-16 Standard, Broad-Brimmed Hat
  • AC-34 Infantry, Advancing, Broad-Brimmed Hat

Those are the possible identities of the figures I'm about to describe:

Soldier Walking
Might be AC-34, I'd guess. Fellow is inclined forward as if about to take a step, holding his rifle in both hands with the barrel pointed up at a 45 degree angle. Bayonet attached. Looks like a butt-length belted jacket, baggy pants, footgear, "rectangular" pouch hung at rear over shoulder. We spotted three facial variants - clean-shaven with mouth open, bearded with mouth open, and bearded with mouth shut.

One figure has flash all around, but which trimmed easily. Most of our sample figures had large nubs on the right elbow, which needed to be carved away.

The pose strikes me as an unnatural one - both legs leaning forward, standing on toes - but it looks good on the tabletop.

Soldier Jogging
Probably AC-4. Figure hustling somewhere, with one leg off the ground and the other leg just stepping off. Rifle held at about 80 degrees, in one hand. Butt-length, buttoned, belted jacket. Baggy pants, footgear, "rectangular" pouch hung at rear over shoulder. Two facial variations - clean-shaven and bearded.

We had to trim some nobs off (usually, end of rifle and bayonet), and clean a few seams, but nothing major. The raised foot is connected to the base by a piece of ground, which would be difficult to trim away if you desired to do so.

It's an interesting touch that the clean-shaven fellow is gasping, but the "bearded old veteran" is having no problems. The pose again looks good on the tabletop, though you could argue about the naturalness of it. The knees are a bit indistinct.

Soldier Loading
Has to be AC-6. Fellow is standing over his rifle, weapon butt on the ground, left hand holding the barrel, right hand over the barrel as if doing something (pushing ramrod in?). Butt-length belted jacket, baggy pants, footgear, "rectangular" pouch at rear, blanket roll looped over shoulder. Two facial variations - bearded, and moustached.

Our samples were very clean, only one nob at the back of the hat.

The bearded fellow is very amusing, looking around with an air of "putting up with it" while loading his gun. I like the pose very much.

Drummer
Must be AC-12. Fellow beating with two sticks on a drum, and looks like he's about to take a step forward. Butt-length, belted, buttoned jacket. Baggy pants, footgear, wide shoulder strap for drum. Clean-shaven.

We cleaned nubs on bottom of drum, back of hat, right elbow - nothing a sharp knife couldn't handle. Our sample had a seam across the face, hard to remove, but hardly noticeable. Slight seam on back of right leg.

The pose captures the right impression, though purists will note that one hand is actually resting on the drum head. He also looks like he's about to speak, which seems odd for a drummer.


Infantry with Kepis

Kepis are those odd hats you usually associate with the American Civil War - a cap, sloping toward the front, with a round front panel.

  • AC-3 Running, Kepi
  • AC-5 Loading, Kepi
  • AC-7 Firing, Kepi
  • AC-9 Receiving, Kepi
  • AC-11 Drummer, Kepi
  • AC-13 Officer, Kepi
  • AC-15 Standard, Kepi
  • AC-17 Marching, Kepi
  • AC-18 Negro Soldier, Waving Kepi
  • AC-33 Infantry, Advancing, Kepi

Those are the possible identities of the figures I'm about to describe:

Soldier Walking
Might be AC-13, I'd guess. Same body as Soldier Walking with Broad-Brimmed Hat. We spotted only one face - fellow with moustache and square-cut beard.

No major problems. One figure had a minor seam in the middle of his kepi, hard to reach.

Nice face, looks like a tough, grizzled veteran.

Soldier Marching
Probably AC-17. Figure walking or marching, holding rifle butt with right hand, weapon at about a 70 degree angle. Butt-length belted jacket, baggy pants, footgear, "rectangular" pouch at rear, blanket roll looped over shoulder, two small containers (canteens?) on waistbelt, scabbard (for bayonet?) on left hip. Collar-length hair, short beard.

We had to trim some nobs off the gun and right elbow. Some samples had seams on the right leg.

This figure has a very nice pose, very erect, rather imposing when it strides onto the battlefield.

Soldier Loading
Has to be AC-5. Same body as Loading with Broad-Brimmed Hat. Two faces, both with moustaches and sideburns, but one has a pointed beard and the other has a clean-shaven beard.

Minor seam across kepi, and on back of right leg. One of our figures has a miscast gun (incomplete center), and is unsalvageable.

Soldier Firing
Likely to be AC-7. Fellow with legs braced, right elbow out, gun barrel slightly elevated, and he looks ready to fire. Butt-length, belted jacket. Baggy pants, footgear, "rectangular" pouch on shoulder strap. Short beard.

Minor flash between legs, on back of right leg, at top of pouch, on all samples; one also had flash down the middle of the face. Nobs on left elbow, bottom of rifle. None of this was hard to clean up. Visible seams on kepi, right shoulder. Two of the bases were slightly warped.

Transition from jacket to pants is difficult to see. Cheeks are chiseled a bit harshly. Very nice face, with jaw open just a bit as people sometimes do when concentrating on something (such as combat). The pose is very dynamic.

Soldier with Sword
Might be AC-13? Fellow with mouth open as if yelling, pointing sword at the sky. Butt-length, belted, buttoned jacket. Baggy pants, footgear, scabbard for sword. Clean-shaven, with sideburns.

Nob on end of sword and sword hilt. Minor seams on right arm and left leg.

This is a nice figure to have, though I'll admit to liking the concept a bit more than the actual figure. The sword is thicker than I'd like, but the good news is that it won't snap off any time soon. :-)

Soldier Yelling
Might be AC-13? Fellow with mouth open as if yelling, hand resting on what might be a pistol holster. Standing. Butt-length, belted, buttoned jacket. Baggy pants, footgear, something on belt under his right hand. Clean-shaven, with sideburns.

Sample had pits in head, just below the butt, and in back below the jacket belt. There's a bit of metal between the body and right arm which probably shouldn't be there, but it hard to see and hard to clean up. Seam on kepi.

The pose is a bit stiff.

Soldier with Poseable Arm
Might be AC-13? Same as figure above, except has sword scabbard instead of pistol holster, and has shoulder pin for attachment of separate right arm. Right arm is straight, and holds pointing sword. One variant has triple row of buttons on jacket. Two facial variants: bearded and not bearded.

Right arm has nobs on end and hilt, and has visible seam on arm. Arm attaches tightly to body; one of our samples fit snugly, but the other needed some work to sit properly against the body.

This is a nice figure to have, though I'll admit to liking the concept a bit more than the actual figure. The sword is thicker than I'd like, but the good news is that it won't snap off any time soon. :-)

Soldier With Standard
Should be AC-15. Come in two pieces: the soldier, and the standard (pole with forked flag). Butt-length, buttoned, belted jacket. Baggy pants, footgear, sword scabbard on left hip. Collar-length hair, no beard. Standard slips between hands, with butt resting on base. Figure is walking.

Seam barely visible on back of right leg. Mouth of our sample had excess metal, and needed extensive clean-up.

I'm not expert, but that doesn't look like the right way to hold the standard. That's a nitpick, as the figure gives a fine impression overall.

Negro Soldier Waving Kepi
Probably AC-18. Figure carries rifle by barrel in right hand, waves kepi with left hand. Butt-length, buttoned, belted jacket. Baggy pants, footgear, large pouch with strap over shoulder. Walking pose. Hair has texture which could be curly or kinky hair.

Nubs on hat need trimming. Hat has no head hole.

Other Soldier Waving Kepi
Identical to the above, except is holding rifle by the butt, and has different head (straight hair, beard).


Horses

Photo courtesy of Blood Axe Miniatures

AC-1 19th Century Horse

There are four variations of this figure:

  • Running Horse, Drooping Tail. Running horse, with only one foot (right rear) touching the base. (The ground reaches up to touch all of the others.) Horse appears to be running, or about to leap. Has bridles, reins, saddle blanket, strap to tail.

  • Running Horse, Flying Tail. Same as above, but tail flies straight out behind the horse.

  • Leaping Horse. Same body as above horses, but tail is flying even higher, and front legs are higher off the ground and reaching forward.

  • Flying Horse. Same as horse above, but with slightly longer tail ending in a point, and with neck outstretched. Forelegs are mirror image of previous horse.

Most of the horses have serious flash problems, often thick flash which is difficult to cut away (usually between forelegs or rear legs).

The horses look oddly proportioned to me, but I'm no expert on horse anatomy. It may be that the posing is throwing off my eye. For instance, the "leaping horse" looks way off to me, yet it has the same general proportions as the "running horses," which look fine to me.


Cavalry with Broad-Brimmed Hat

  • AC-26 Cavalryman, Sword, Broad-Brimmed Hat
  • AC-28 Cavalryman, Carbine, Broad-Brimmed Hat
  • AC-30 Cavalryman, Pistol, Broad-Brimmed Hat

And the figures I have are:

Cavalryman with Poseable Arm
Depending on the arm, this can be any of the above. Rider has left hand in lap, while right shoulder ends in a pin for attachment of right arm piece. Looks like a butt-length, buttoned, belted jacket. Baggy pants, footgear, sword scabbard on left hip, stirrups. Moustache. Two variations: same head, facing different directions.

The "arm with sword" is identical to that described above, for use with the Soldier with Poseable Arm. The "arm with carbine" has the hand grasping the trigger of the carbine. The "arm with pistol" comes in two variations, the difference being the angle at which the gun is held. There is also a fourth option, "arm with bugle" - this is designed to be held at the side, and does not ordinarily pose so that rider can blow the bugle.

Some sample riders had visible seam on right side. Also, minor seams on hat. All arms needed minor clean-up of nubs. Some riders had shoulder pins which needed to be trimmed to length. One of our "arms with carbine" was miscast, resulting in a strange curved-barrel carbine (unsalvageable). Our sample "arm with bugle" was also miscast, with part of the bugle being missing. Two of our sample arms had connection holes which went all the way through the upper arm.

The poseable arms add a lot of reuse to the figures, for a minimal amount of extra effort spent attaching the arm.

Cavalryman with Pistol
Same as above, but all in one-piece. Figure is firing his pistol into the air.

Cavalryman Pointing
Similar to the above, but with double row of buttons on the jacket, longer jacket, boots, shoulder tabs. No weapon. Figure is pointing with hand, as if giving directions or orders. Sample had thick flash on right leg.

Cavalry with Kepis

The cavalry kepis have bills; the infantry kepi don't.

  • AC-24 Cavalryman Lancer, Kepi
  • AC-25 Cavalryman, Sword, Kepi
  • AC-27 Cavalryman, Carbine, Kepi
  • AC-29 Cavalryman, Pistol, Kepi

And the figures I have are:

Cavalryman with Poseable Arm
Same as Cavalryman with Poseable Arm and Broad-Brimmed Hat.
Cavalryman with Carbine
Same as above, except for molded-on arm with carbine, and large saddle pack riding behind rider. There are two variants: Rider with carbine at 70 degrees (held parallel to his head), and with carbine at 45 degrees (this figure also has a square pouch on a shoulder strap).

Mystery Figures

These figures don't match anything in the catalog, as far as I can tell:

Infantryman with Cowboy Hat
Same as Infantry with Kepi, Firing, but wearing a a "cowboy" style hat.

One figure had a warped base (wouldn't matter, if you glue the figure to a stand); another sample had a miscast base (hole - again, wouldn't matter if you attach figure to a stand).

Infantryman with Broad-Brimmed Hat
Same as above, except for having a broad-brimmed hat. Possibly identical to AC-8, but wears a different style of broad-brimmed hat than all the others - no band on the hat.

Sample had seams on both sides, and flash between the legs.

Advancing Infantryman with Flat-Topped Hat
Similar to Soldier Walking, with Broad-Brimmed Hat, but with legs further apart, different style pouch on other hip, blanket roll looped over shoulder, and a broad-brimmed hat which is bandless and not as rounded on top.

Minor seam visible on right arm and hat.

This new pose is more dynamic and realistic - quite an improvement.

Swordsman with Flat-Topped Hat
Wide-brimmed, flat-topped hat (flatter than the hat of the figure above). Figure wears jacket with double row of buttons and shoulder tabs, and unidentified object hanging from belt on left hip. Holds sword in right hand, pointing to the ground at 30 degree angle.

Jacket detail is a bit indistinct. Casting error in hat (small crevice). Flash on right side, easily trimmed. Minor seam visible on hat.

Dramatic pose, looks like he's indicating a deployment.

Pointer with Flat-Topped Hat
Same hat as figure above. This figure has no weapons or equipment, and is simply standing, pointing with his left arm, while holding his right arm back as if about to punch someone.

Minor flash under left arm. Visible seam on same arm.

Rather a curious pose.

Running Soldier with Billed Kepi
Possibly the Dismounted Cavalryman, Advancing, Kepi (AC-31). Soldier is running, posed on one foot, carrying rifle at 45 degree angle with bayonet fixed. Wearing taller, billed kepi.

Nice figure, excellent running pose, very clean.

Marching Soldier with Billed Kepi
Possibly the Dismounted Cavalryman, Advancing, Kepi (AC-31). Similar to the above, but marching instead of running, and has blanket roll looped over shoulder.

Nice figure, excellent running pose, very clean.

Soldier with Plumed Hat
Soldier carrying rifle at 70 degrees, in "trotting" pose, wearing broad-brimmed hat with plume. Has pouch slung over shoulder.

Need to cut away connection between hat and bayonet.

The legs look a bit rubbery, or the pose seems a bit tentative.

Cavalryman with Cowboy Hat
Same as Cavalryman with Kepi and Carbine, except he's wearing a "cowboy" style hat, and is holding his gun out to the side with the barrel pointing downwards. Two of the samples had miscast hats, missing parts of the brim (hardly noticeable).

Cavalryman with Plumed Hat
Rider with broad-brimmed hat with part of the brim folded back, and plume on hat. Sword held at side, pointing downwards. Rider is wearing a longer jacket, with double row of buttons and shoulder tabs. Sword scabbard on left hip. Rider has moustache and goatee beard.

Our sample had a miscast scabbard (middle section missing). Sword is a bit thick.


Summing It All Up

The figures average 30mm from feet to top of headgear. The detail level is relatively low, but the detail present has been sculpted in high relief, making it easy to paint. The sculpting style tends toward thick bodies with rounded features.

The bases are narrow, so you'll want to attach these figures to some kind of stand. You may also need to file the bottoms of many of the bases, so the figures will stand properly. Clean-up is required on these figures, often involving carving off small nubs of metal, or trimming slight flash, but this can usually be done quickly without harming the rest of the model.

Many of these figures successfully catch the essence of what they are supposed to be, chiefly by skillful design and pose. The faces, though simple, are expressive. These figures epitomize the "less is more" school of thought - that you don't necessarily have to have hyper-realistic, high-expensive figures in order to field an army and enjoy a game.

I was a little skeptical of these figures at first. They did require a fair bit of clean-up. However, having looked them over, I think the infantry figures will make a fine army, and I am looking forward to painting them up. I'm not sure if I like the cavalry as much (particularly the horses), but want to see how they look when painted up.