Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Feature Figures Jack Scruby 21st Foot AWI

Like many war-gamers in my age group I started out with plastic Airfix figures and Roco Minitanks. It was all we had and for a long time we would be unaware of war-game figures made in metal.

Perhaps the first clue was when we transitioned into Napoleonic games. We became aware of a line of metal figures called Der Kreigspielers. Our plastic Airfix armies quickly became supplemented by the huge variety of nations represented by Der Kreigspielers.

The discovery of metal war game figures led to a search for others through ads found in various magazines of the time. We suddenly became aware of British manufacturers such as Miniature Figurines (known as Minifigs), Hinchcliffe, Lamming, and Garrison (all 25mm). 

At the time there were not many American manufacturers that covered the range of periods that the British covered. One exception was Jack Scruby. His historical lines came in various scales. 

I was a bit of dabbler in the 1970's. In my AWI army I had Airfix plastics, 1st and 2nd generation Minifigs, Hinchcliffe, Garrison (SYW Prussians for Hessians) and one or two units of Jack Scruby's 25mm AWI.

I personally think that Jack's figures were cutting edge in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s. Reading about him much later showed me he was a pioneer in American wargaming. By the 70's  other companies surpassed Scruby in terms of quality and at least matched Scruby in terms of the wide range of periods\figures available.

My Scruby figures slowly lost their luster when placed next to second generation Minifigs and the other "large" British figures. Although I was a dabbler at the time I did not consider myself a collector. What I mean by that is that I never thought of having a collection just to have a collection. Scruby figures and the plastic Airfix soon became obsolete in my mind and were regulated to a box while I chased the newer ever expanding ranges of better quality figures available.

Eventually and sadly I may add, I sold all my collections and withdrew from the hobby for about 25 years. 

During the dark years as I call them I did try to continue to paint. I reverted to plastics (in ancients) and some metal ACW from Musket Miniatures. I even purchased some excellent 28mm figures from Dixon. I was not on fire but there was a spark of desire to paint and maybe war-game again some day

In 2014 things changed. I reconnected with two friends from the old days who were still gaming. in the case of one of them I recalled a conversation we had back in the early 90's shortly before I dropped out.

We discussed how much the plastic figure market had expanded since our Airfix days and how we both had a desire to return to simpler (and less expensive) days. We considered doing the Battle of Waterloo entirely with plastic figures. 

When we reconnected in 2014 it did not take long to resurrect old dreams. The wide range of plastic figures available spurred a lot of interest in a lot of periods and I re-entered the hobby with gusto.

For me, much of the joy was nostalgic. I realized that while I was not a collector per se back in the day I had become one now. Since our scale was 20-24mm plastics I began to fish around for 20-24mm metal figures to supplement my growing collections.

In the process I discovered HistoriFigs. HistoriFigs is Jack Scruby. The company is located in Baraboo, WI, not all that far from where I live. 

To make a long story short I got the itch to do some AWI Scubys. I ordered enough for a couple of units and they arrived in some of the fastest service I've ever received.

I recently finished one of the units. They are painted in what I would call the old minimalist style of toy metal soldiers. What I mean by that is there is little shading. The figures do not lend themselves to that style so I thought to paint them in the old style which meant solid colors with multiple coats\shades to give them a classical toy soldier look. 

Below are the pictures I took featuring my Scruby AWI unit. They are painted as the 21st Foot, a unit that participated in the Saratoga Campaign of 1777. 

I made one concession to what's available now. The flag bearer figure came with a a very thick flag pole and even thicker metal flag. Back in the day you painted your own flags and Jack Scruby apparently wanted to make sure you had a great unfurled thick surface to do your work!

I cut off the pole and flag and drilled a hole for brass. I then ordered flags from a little company in Great Britain called Maverick Models. Maverick will scale his flags to whatever dimension you desire and he is economical. I highly recommend Maverick for flags.

The unit was produced for the  Rebels and Patriots rule set. It is a large unit at 18 figures.

So, here are my Scruby's painted in the old style by an old guy!

I like the classic advancing pose with bayonets out and meaning business!

Yes, that is one grenadier in the rear rank!

The fence is from the Imex sets of accessories.

The cabin on the left is a Pegasus "Russian" hut but with a North American roof. Conversion by my friend Jim.

Simple figures with the old toy soldier look. I love um!

3d printed "cabin" but I like it as chicken coop. The chickens are old Airfix. I managed to get a old box of their farm animals on eBay that were not expensive.

Maverick Model flags for the 21st Foot AWI


Jonathan Freitag said...

These "classic" figures have a certain sense of charm, I think. Good to see you still fielding these figures.

Bruce Roeder said...

I like what you said about charm. I think that's it. I remember getting metal figures for the first time and just being blown away by the fact there was such a thing! No longer was I limited to Airfix and had instead new worlds to explore. It's been fun bringing some of these units new life! Thanks for the comment Jonathan.

Hal Thinglum said...

I greatly enjoyed your pictures and accompanying dialogue about your 20mm. They look very impressive and I agree re your "Old School" thoughts. Thanks for sharing. Hal

Raymond Jackson said...

I played with MARX 54mm Medieval and Modern figures until 1958. The Summer of 58 I read about Jack Scruby in Mechanix Illustrated. I then bought his 30mms. I still have them and Airfix figures and Roco Minitanks which I bought in 1962.

Bruce Roeder said...

Wow Raymond, very cool. I never had any Marx figures for some reason-just the old green "Army Men." I do remember getting Roco Minitanks and Airfix figures at the local dime store when I was about 10 in 1963. My originals ended up with a younger cousin sometime in the 70s. I have since rebuilt a good part of the collection. I think my first unit of Scruby's were 20 or 25mm hoplites. I was amazed that someone made metal wargame figures in the same scale as Airfix! Thanks for the comments, much appreciated.

Jon S said...

I've just found your blog and I'm really grateful to see some painted Scruby figures. Fantastic little chaps.

Bruce Roeder said...

Thanks Jon S. My involvement with the hobby dates back to the early 70's when metal figures were rare (in the US anyway). I'm always searching for old school figures like Scruby or even Minifigs to scratch a nostalgia itch. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.