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I'm quite interested in the various Mexican Revolutions, and the many wars and bandit movements of Central and South America.
The South American War of the Triple Alliance and the Pacific War rival the American Civil War in scale and saw the use of the most colorful uniforms seen since the age of Napoleon. The Chaco War of the 1930s featured the first use of tanks in warfare in the Western Hemisphere. There are also Maximillian's Adventure in Mexico and the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920, which has been the subject of countless classic movies about Villa and Zapata. A lesser known, but just as interesting, bandit movement involved the Cangaceiros of Brazil, who dressed like a combination of pirate and bandito and operated right up until the early 1940s in the backlands of Brazil. Argentina had a full-scale Cavalry vs. horseback Indians war on the Pampas. There are also the many Latin American wars of independence of the early 19th century.
I find it suprising that so little attention has been paid to Latin America in the miniatures field. Imex had planned to do sets of Pancho Villa's guerrillas and General Pershing's troops before they stopped producing figures. When Redbox first started production, I believe they had planned to do sets of Brazilian Cangaceiros and Volantes (the police "flying squads" that pursued them.) A few years ago, Pancho Villa's troops came in first place in a fan poll done by Italeri to select their next sets.
Nothing ever came of any of these plans. If we want to play out Latin American battles, we have to improvise with figures from other eras, Napoleonics, ACW, Zulu Wars, WW1... But I don't think there is a single 1/72 figure out there with a sombrero.:white_frowning_face:
I couldn't agree more! I would love to see some or all of the suggestions above, especially Pancho Villa and the Chaco War. This is definitely a gap in the hobby. I would also add in Mexican soldiers vs Apaches. I think Strelets style would work well with a Western theme. Their US Cavalry Set 1 is still my all time favourite of all the US cavalry sets.
I would love to see Apaches and Mexicans from Strelets. The closest equivalent I have found to Mexican Cavalry from the 1860s-1900 is the Crimean War Strelets French African Chasseurs, sadly out of production for many years. As for Apaches, we have only the drab Waterloo 1815 set and the comic-bookish Atlantic set, which I actually prefer to the Waterloo set.
If you don't mind pretending Lee Enfields and Martini-Henrys are Mausers and Springfields, Mexican Revolution figures can be improvised with Hat and Airfix WW1 early British, Boer and Zulu War British infantry, Frontier Light Horse and Natal Native contingent. The Airfix Royal Horse Artillery makes a good Mexican Federal Artillery set, if you don't look closely at the cannons. Strelets Dismounted Australian Camel Corps also has a very appropriate look for Mexican Revolution battles. You can use the old Airfix WW1 US Infantry and the officer figures wearing campaign hats from the Strelets Early WW1 Americans for Pershing's troops. Various cowboy sets and Strelets Boers can provide some revolutionaries and American mercenaries. As for Mexicans in their traditional garb, you either have to look for 20mm metal figures or be very handy with small quantities of green stuff and add your own sombreros to cowboys.
As for other Latin American conflicts, I think with some imagination, you could make WW1 Russians in peaked caps work for Chaco War Bolivians. Paraguayans with their floppy "Gilligan" style headgear are far more difficult to find equivalents for.
I've been reading a lot about the Brazilian Cangaceiros and watching some Cangaceiro movies on Youtube. I can't understand a word of Portuguese and the Youtube auto-translate doesn't help, but man, those guys were brutal! Those movies make Spaghetti Westerns look like Hopalong Cassidy. Too bad Redbox never went ahead with their Cangaceiro plan, because I would love to stage a raid on a desert town with some 1/72 Cangaceiros right now. There's no set I can think of that comes anywhere near the unique "Blackbeard Meets Pancho Villa" look of the Cangaceiros. I guess if you are really talented with an Exacto knife, you could do hat-swaps with early Napoleonic French bicornes onto some WW1 era figures with bolt-action rifles.
My mistake. It was actually Lucky Toys, not Redbox, that planned to make a Cangaceiro set under the name of Lampiao, one of the most notorious Cangaceiros.
Indeed, it would be a good change of pace. The 1/72 scale in general has always been highly Euro- and Anglo-centric due to its origins, which is reflected in the topic distribution of what has been produced for the hobby.
Out of the approximately 675 plastic (non-resin) 1/72 sets that are out there today for eras before 1789 AD (I don't keep stats on post-French Revolution eras), 532 (78.81%) feature a European culture (this is even when counting sets such as IMEX's Pilgrims and the AWI Second Continental Congressional forces as 'non-European,' despite their rather obvious European ancestry and continued influences). This is in contrast to 11 for all Chinese eras, 5 for India, 3 for Mesoamerica, and a grand total of 1 for pre-Napoleonic South American cultures (Caesar's Inca Warriors. Nice set, I recommend the men of Tawantinsuyu, Chinchaysuyu, and Chimor). Entire regions such as southeast Asia remain completely unrepresented in eras prior to the 20th Century, despite having fascinating costumes and histories. As you stated many of these trends continue into post-1789 eras.
So yes, I entirely agree that it would be nice to see topics such as Pancho Villa covered. But it is not surprising that it has been ignored in the 1/72 up to this point because so little of non-European history has been touched on in general throughout the hobby. It is one of the reasons Revell's Aztec Warriors set was SUCH a good set for its time, really expanded the hobby to an interesting topic with clothing that was absolutely fascinating to research and paint.
I echo many of the comments in this thread! I am currently working on various troops for the Banana Wars. The Nicaraguan, Costa Rican, Domenican and Haitian rebels will be a motley mix of strelets boers, union/confederate figures, Airfix and Revell cowboys, Redbox gangsters, and matchbox Airfix WW2 Australians, (need some Thompson mgs). Cut away most of the webbing and ammo pouches and the Airfix Aussies start fitting the part. The scale variances I can overlook because photos show many rebels were underage, and small in size. As for the Marines, Airfix WW1 Americans mixed with strelets early war WW2 Americans and WW2 New Zealand troops will give me plenty to work with. The New Zealand lemon squeezer looks just like Montana hats in old photos, there was a large range in hat types. Lots of head swaps to work with with the strelets sets. I also bought a strelets set of WW2 US Navy to work on a naval landing party circa 1920s(think sand pebbles or wind and lion). The strelets early war WW2 Americans will serve here too. The Redbox gangsters and police can also fill in for a group mercenaries working for United Fruit and protecting their corporate interests, lots of knife action to give them more of a tropical look. I’m debating adding the strelets dismounted WW1 Australians here also. A huge project! Of course the weaponry isn’t entirely accurate but what other choice without figures produced for this period. Cheers!
Would be great to see the campaigns of Simon Bolivar, Francisco de Miranda and San Martin
among others covered in 1/72 plastic. As pointed out our hobby is very much Anglo/European/ North American centred but that reflects the buying market to a large extent. Would sets covering Latin America or other parts of the World such as South East Asia find enough buyers to make it viable for manufacturers to produce such sets ? Or we have to wait for a manufacturer from these regions to make such sets as Caesar/Miniknight are making Chinese
We've had some pretty obscure periods covered in 1/72 already. The Great Northern War, for example. Before Strelets produced their sets, I don't believe I had ever even heard of that conflict.
I can't imagine a Mexican Revolution series being poor sellers. There are dozens and dozens of extremely well-known films out there and virtually everyone knows the name of Pancho Villa. I can't find the link anymore, but within the last 5 years, Italeri had a contest to pick their next sets and the winner was Pancho Villa.
It's funny to me how many people seem to have an extremely regional interest as far as history goes. Coming from Canada originally, sure I would like to see a Riel Rebellion series or figures for the Beaver Wars, but there are plenty of other conflicts from all around the world that interest me more.
As many other conflicts have been covered and the traditional big sellers like WW2 and Napoleonics are being filled out beyond anyone's dreams, the list of conflicts and troops left to be done in 1/72 shrinks with every set. Latin American history is a huge, untapped resource for new figures. Sure some companies are happy to produce 25 different sets of WW2 German infantry, but something new would be very welcome.
If any company ever takes the initiative to delve into Latin American wars, I think it would be Strelets, who have never hesitated to bring us figures from little-known historical periods.
I agree with you in the sense that there are still many eras and wars to be covered, but ultimately manufacturers have to go with what they think will sell better, and as mentioned above it is a very euro centric hobby. That being said a War of Triple Alliance range would be cool at some point. It’s probably one of the most bizarre and pointless wars in all of history, but the units and uniforms are in it are very interesting. I’m not quite sure any of these wars came close to rivaling the size of the Civil War. At its height the Union Army alone had over a million men employed at once, whereas the Paraguayan military at its height had just 60 thousand. I definitely agree though, Latin American history is extremely overlooked, and even though this still involves the US, a range on the Mexican American war would be awesome at some point in the future.
It is great so many lovers of our hobby are yearning for sets relating to Latin American campaigns. It has always been puzzling for me how no sets exist re Maximillian Mexican adventure, Villa, Mexican revolutions, Mexican peasants and bandits with sombreros, Comanches, Amercan Expeditionary forces in Mexico. I'm sure the expectation for these sets is so big it will be a huge success.
I've been waiting for 1/72 Mexican Revolution sets since I saw "Villa Rides" on TV at the age of 10! I really cannot understand the reluctance to produce figures!
I don't understand the reluctance either - meanwhile for further filmic inspiration type "Battle of Torreon" on Youtube - wow!
Imex made a set of Mexican War US infantry, but unfortunately, it was done by their later sculptor who specialized in poor research and stiff, disproportionate poses. It's also in terrible, fragile and brittle plastic. They never made an opponent set. I guess they assumed people could use their Alamo Mexican range (also by the same sculptor and probably even worse).
I heartily agree - the nearest I can think of for Latino subjects is some probably very hard to find troops for the Spanish-American War of 1898.
I asked Strelets a while back if they would consider doing Villistas, but at that time it didn't figure in their plans.
I have a substantial number of metal Jacklex figures (which are superb) from that firm's Punitive Expedition range (much of which is eminently suitable for the Mexican Revolution), and have considered trying to add plastic figures to it, or even conversions, but when you consider the splendid job Strelets has done with idiosyncratic figures like Bashi-Bazouks and Ukrainians it's a shame they do not do a few sets of Mexicans for 1910-20,
Many WW1 figures from various plastic ranges are usable or convertible for troops in peaked caps and I have a contingent of Jacklex 1904 Japanese cavalry for use as early-war Federale cavalry (they have the right shako, and a paint job makes them Mexican) ... but it needs more: dinamateros (dynamite bombardiers, who were often small boys), soldaderos women fighters, peasants with machetes, Villista cavalry - etc.
The other periods you mention are also interesting - Jacklex has a new Mexican range for the Maximilian period (including Belgians!) which could be put to many different uses - but I'd argue the Mexrev would sell well. Models2U does an Alamo accessories pack which includes a satisfyingly large selection of plastic cactii ...but we need some more vaqueros to bring it to life.
Jacklex looks like a great line! I'm definitely going to look into ordering some. I hope postage to the USA is not prohibitively expensive. Thank you, Roy, for telling us about this company.
I think Villa and Pershing would be two or more great sets.
The Gran Chaco War would be a good one also.
I belong to a number of Spanish language Facebook groups about toy soldiers and they are very popular in Central and South America. It should be a huge untapped market there, and making the kinds of troops that reflect their history would help.
Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog
Owner Mark Lambert is a very nice chap, who acquired the vintage Jacklex range from original founder Mr Alexander (who retired aged 82 and is still wargaming at 90-plus) and immediately set about adding to the various ranges.
The figs are immaculately cast and come packed in boxes full of sawdust to avoid any chafing. The figures are perfectly compatible with plastic 20's; eg I'm using dismounted ACW cavalrymen to go with mounted plastic ACW cavalry - whose ranks now also include some of the metal mounted figures.
Best of luck with your project!
Models2U does an Alamo accessories