Care Bears Go To War II - Order of Battle18 Jan 2017 0
Last week we looked at a nifty little set of American Civil War (ACW) rules for recreating that conflict using magical little Teddy bears who like to reenact the so called “recent Unpleasantness between North and South.” But rules are but half the equation for a good tabletop game; the other, of course, being the figures themselves. This is the topic of today’s lecture, a look at the marvellous little Teddies, all decked out parade ground pretty in Union and Confederate attire. Here the focus is on realism, and before anyone says a word, remember the Warhammer 40K guys who have six months’ worth of terse online conversation over the ballistic characteristics of a weapon – the Stormbolter – that doesn’t even exist. So take a vacation from normal for a sec, and roll with it.
As of this writing the Teddy figures, all designed and made in Australia by Mike Broadbent with Slave2Gaming, count 27 different packs of miniatures for the discerning collector. This includes an option for the buyer to purchase different figures as a unique set. In general the figures are pretty generic, but in a good way. In other words, the little cubs are packaged with the same casting and pose. The figures themselves seem to be primarily differentiated as to whether they are wearing the French style kepi that was the official headgear of both armies, and the very American slouch hat favored by many units on both sides, not just Johnny Reb. And while each blister pack boasts the same pose within, there are a variety of poses to choose from so you can easily mix or match to get a more ragged look as opposed to the European style serried ranks of bayonets look (which I actually prefer by the way). Infantry packs have four figures per with poses available being marching, aiming and walking, again in either kepi or slouch hat. Cavalry is also four per, with swords at the ready, or swords forward, all on hobby horses of course. Command packs are three per, mounted or on foot, with drummer/bugler, officer and standard bearer. Artillery sections include four figures, plus one generic field piece in the style one might imagine if kids put it together themselves. There is also a universal general officer set with includes the great man himself on a rocking horse, along with two aides de camp on hobbies.
The figures are actually a large and bulky 18 mm and run at $5.00 AUD per pack, except for artillery which is $10.00 AUD a set. Checking with my banker in Zurich this morning, it seems that one Australian dollar is about 75 cents USD, so the packs are $ 3.75 and $ 7.50 USD respectively, so pricing is pretty good for Australian imports. There is also an option of a regimental set of 10 packs for $ 45.00 AUD or an entire army with 10 regimental sets for $450.00 AUD. Obviously postage from Australia is not likely to be cheap, but the discount will help and otherwise it is what it is.
Here’s where the accuracy factor comes in, and as odd as it might seem, Mike B did quite a nice job here. No, you are not going to find the individual hair . . . er, I mean fur . . . follicle type of sculpting that graced the now defunct Boyd’s Bears Bearstone ACW collectible line. These figures are more the heavy sculpting type with raised edges and deep impressions that Old Glory and figure lines are noted for. In some ways this makes them a little more difficult to paint, but they if you are into shading or edging, your finished product will look a lot more impressive than with smoother sculpts such as Minifigs. I was also impressed by the fact that all the infantry seems to have a complete selection of kit slung at the rear of the soldier, to include canteen and haversack, no doubt with honey roasted hardtack inside.
And I have just got to mention the field pieces. OK, they aren’t an exact duplicate of a 12 pdr Napoleon gun howitzer or a 3 inch Rodman rifle, but they do have one nifty design attribute that I absolutely love. The cannon seems to be some sort of breech loader and molded as if the gun has been fired and the shell casing is being ejected from the rear. Accuracy or not, what an absolutely marvelous design decision that was. I have LOTS of artillery from LOTS or eras and I have never seen that before. I know, because before I wrote this article, I checked. Wow! Other figure producers please take note the next time your sculptor sits down with his tools. This by itself is well worth the proverbial price of admission.
Nevertheless, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out one shortfall, though this is obviously a personal preference on my part. Where are the Zouaves? I mean seriously, Union blue and butternut is not exactly the most spectacular of uniforms, but that’s where the Zouaves save the day. Sure, the cubbies will now have to wear trousers, but a light blue shell jacket, red pantaloons and fez with tassel, heck you can’t get any better in my book. I can forget about the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry and their lances, because that was just one silly (and short lived) unit, and even not having Paddington Bear as a British military observer, but it’s just not the Civil War without Zouaves!
After two articles, I’m really kinda fond of these little guys. The quality of the product is quite high and appropriate to the use for which they were intended. It also serves a unique niche in a niche hobby. Read my previous article for my initial thoughts, but to push the envelope further, and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, there are some other positives. Imagine the marriages saved as many wives even today see wargaming as some sort of Satanic plot. Getting the spouses involved was never easy as phalanxes and panzers are not a usual part of their interest library. But gaming with Teddy bears on hobby horses, especially the pink faced ones, may well be a deal maker.
But there is a serious side to the Teddies. Right now we live in a world where most know very little about the past, especially Americans. To make matters worse, what they do know comes from Hollywood History, that disreputable collection of information presented by TV and cinema, dumbed down to make it understandable to audiences. Thus in Mel Gibson’s The Patriot, Royal Artillery gunners wear red although their uniform had been dark blue for decades. Likewise everyone knows that every Roman soldier that ever marched did so with a red uniform, sectional armor and a rectangular shield with the thunderbolt design, especially the legion in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate. Except there were none in Palestine, only auxiliaries in leather, very likely with off white clothing and oval shields certainly not sporting thunderbolts, a symbol reserved for the Praetorian Guard in Rome. Introducing youngsters to the hobby with Teddy bears is not only fun, but confers an opportunity to talk about what really happened, not what Hollywood promotes. Now that’s a legacy to be proud of.
Would I buy a set? Likely not, but not because of the Teddy bears. I like a lot of color in my gaming and the ACW has always seemed a bit drab to me. But not to fear, because we have Cuddlius! What might you ask is Cuddlius? Well evidently this Teddy bear line was a bit more extensive in the past and went beyond the ACW. Before it was dropped as a product by Eureka Miniatures, one could dabble in all sorts of periods of history, to include Ancient Rome. Here one could take the role of Tribune Fuzzius Maximus and lead the – VERY colorful – Legions of Cuddlius Caesar to victory! The ACW Teddies are a new 18mm product, but I do perceive room to grow. And trust me, I will paint the shields right.