Thursday, 3 February 2011

10mm Colonial French: Pendraken's French Foreign Legion

A look now at the building blocks of the new 10mm project, namely the French Foreign Legion figures from Pendraken. These are somewhat enigmatically sold in packs of ten of each figure pose, rather than the thirty or so of their standard packs - economies of scale, I s'pose, given the likely demand for these 'niche' minis.

They can be found amongst the InterWar ranges, and come out at a fraction more expensive than the majority of figures, at 11p as opposed to 10.8p each. (Taking into account the recent price rise.)

The size, heft, and definition of sculpt are in synch with the rest of Pendraken's output, and in general are some pleasing troops to look at; above, from the right, we see the FFL4 Officer, then the FFL2 and FFL3.

The officer figure's pose is either a nice active one, or rather quirky, depending on your point of view - I'm a little undecided - certainly, his revolver/pistol is a little stubby and under-defined, but on the other hand his Patrol Dress jacket is spot on. The standing and kneeling/firing figures are both also good, although there is a little scruffiness in the sculpt to the front - that said, the weapons are well proportioned (lacking only bayonets-hard to do in this scale), and the accoutrements, water bottles etc are easily visible.
These are obviously optimised for a later period than the one I will be working on, but luckily the uniform is still representative enough of a wide range of Era - any differences should be hidden at this small scale.

These line figures are supported by a pack containing three Hotchkiss machine guns (FFL5) - definitely outside of my time frame, but also some nice sculpts, with separate loader kneeling to one side:

The Foreign Legion had deployed a number of marks of similar machine gun in North Africa from as early as 1907, including Puteaux and St. Etienne - I'm not sure yet if I can squint my way past the obvious differences from the model depicted here - I'm also erring on the side of giving the Moroccans a reasonable chance at taking on the French firing line - I think MGs would be getting a bit WWI for my tastes.....

The next, and arguably the best figure from the FFL range is the FFL1 advancing pose - we're into full-on Beau Geste territory here, with great proportions and detail - bayonets fixed as we see below next to the officer for scale:

An illustration of how good a sculpt this is, is the characteristic French knapsack equipment, which to modern eyes seems ludicrously impractical - a wobbly tower of blankets, mess kit and impedimentia that is often a feature of contemporary photos and illustrations; just how you were supposed to march in the heat with it, let alone fight wearing it, I don't know, but it is faithfully reproduced here - even down to the two tent poles that made up part of each section's bivouac tent:

Finally, we have a look at the first of the kidnaps or captures from amongst Pendraken's other ranges, that will fill in the gaps and enable the deployment of forces that will suit the 1905 to 1914 timeframe.
In 1881, Colonel de Negrier had experimented with Legion 'Mounted Companies' to provide tactical flexibility - Legionnaires mounted on mules could catch up with faster moving raiders, and also support quicker-moving cavalry without being outpaced. These light groups rapidly became the norm in the desert expanses of Algeria and Morocco, with one mule provided for two men - this meant one man was always ready to go into action, and only one man in eight was needed as a horse holder.
Pendraken has recently introduced a range for the South American Pacific Wars of 1879 onwards; this includes a nifty mini mounted on a mule wearing kepi and havelock, SAP12, as we see below:

This should be just the ticket for mule mounted Legionnaires, and extend the reach of the Colonial French force quite considerably - not so much 'March or Die' as mules to the rescue.....
So then, these are the starting point in terms of figures, and will hopefully be hitting the work bench soon for some test stands to be done. In coming posts, I'll be looking at Cavalry, Artillery, naval troops, and of course those all important Moroccan types, so stay tuned!

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