Taking the Plunge on 1:600 Ironclads

My recent experiences with BEER AND PRETZELS IRONCLADS (by Buck Surdu) at HISTORICON 2012 made me hanker to paint up a few ironclads of my own.  I’ve wanted to do this before, but usual roadblocks of affordability and my inept painting skills applied. The best ironclad producer out there, bar none, is my friend Toby Barrett at Thoroughbred Miniatures. Toby’s ships look like little pewter jewels and have tons of detailing. They come at a price, though. My next favorite (and a very close second in detail and quality) is Bay Area Yards out in California. This appears to be a one or two man band, making a wide variety of super-detailed craft at a very decent price. I recently discovered a distant third in terms of quality, but at a very attractive price– the 1:600 scale resin cast Ironclads produced by Peter Pig  aka “Range 7” or Hammerin’ Iron. I bought several of them while I was at HISTORICON, and it did not make a serious dent in the wallet. I also had a few Thoroughbred and Bay Area ironclads laying around, so I decided, what the heck, let’s take the plunge this weekend.

Selma and Forest Rose
CSS SELMA (foreground) and USS FOREST ROSE, a tinclad (background)

Ironclads are attractive as a historical period for miniatures for many reasons. They are not wildly difficult to assemble and paint. The unit density is pretty small, usually one to one. Ironclads rarely fought ironclads in the Civil War so you can pretty much make up whatever scenario suits you, as long as it involves a river or a coastline, and a handful of ships from either side.  Thus, my initial investment wasn’t as huge as I thought it might be.

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Ships built so far:

Ship Type Manufacturer
USS New Ironsides Broadside Ironclad Peter Pig
USS Onandaga Double Turret Monitor Peter Pig
USS Cairo Casemate River  Ironclad Peter Pig
USS Choctaw Casemate River Ironclad (large) Peter Pig
CSS Tuscaloosa Casemate Ironclad Peter Pig
USS Passaic Turret Monitor Thoroughbred
CSS Albemarle Casemate Ironclad Peter Pig
CSS Neuse Casemate Ironclad Thoroughbred
Armed Tug 1 (either side) Unarmored Steam Boat Bay Area Yards
Armed Tug 2 (either side) Unarmored Steam Boat Bay Area Yards
USS Forest Rose Armored Paddlewheel Steamer Bay Area Yards
CSS Selma Armed Paddlewheel Ram Peter Pig
CSS General Sumpter Armed Paddlewheel Steamer Peter Pig
CSS Planter Paddlewheel Gunboat Peter Pig
Torpedo Boats (either side) Unarmored Launch w/. Torpedo Peter Pig

I plan on getting more of them.  The war was won on the rivers with the humble converted civilian riverboat, not purpose built Casemate or Monitor, and I want more representation of converted civilian stock in my fleet– tinclads, cottonclads, and wooden boats.  I’d also like to get a small fleet of Ellet rams, too.

There are a plethora of miniatures rules for this period. I am partial to HAMMERIN’ IRON (Peter Pig) and BEER AND PRETZELS IRONCLADS (Jodie Press/LMW). If I want to be more detailed, I’ll use Hammerin’ Iron, if I want to run a game at a convention, I’ll go with BAPI.  I’ll post more pictures once I get the masts, flagstaffs, and yes, even some rigging on these models.


  1. I took the plunge when I was in Atlanta, and amassed quite a set. I then adapted the old Yaquinto boardgame Ironclad to miniatures as that is what got me interested in the first place. Since moving to Virginia, I have run them from time to time in our group. I picked up Sail and Steam, which is pretty much Ironclads with data charts you can print for each ship and use like battletech record sheets.

    I have a bunch of the Thoroughbred minis as that was all that was available in Atlanta at the store at which I gamed. Played Sail Steam with BAY at Cold Wars and it is basically Ironclads (I wish they would have turned the players loose to play as we pretty much had the game down after a couple of turns and could have gotten further in the game if they would have just helped rather than run the game, but that is another topic). BAY makes a bunch of ships Toby does not. I have not seen the Peter Pig ships in 1/600.

    I have also noted, since jumping into 6mm, that there are 1/300 ironclads available and they look spectacular as well. Plus they are cheaper! If I was not so heavily invested in 1/600 I would switch over.

  2. The 1/300 would be pretty close to 6mm, which lets you add them into the land battles like Shiloh.

    Before I left Atlanta there were a couple of us working on doing the Battle of New Orleans, but I got transferred before we got too far. That would be fun in 1/300 (and cheaper!). We were working on it in 1/600. I did a bunch of ships by just moving the features around on the gunboats and adding or deleting guns. It is amazing how much variety you can get out of them.
    I still prefer the naval side of the Civil War to the land battles.

  3. That makes two of us– in fact the older I get the more I play naval games in general.

    By 1/300, are you maybe referencing 1:1200? Because the only manufacturer I know of that makes true 6mm 1:300 ironclads is Irregular, and they only do a couple.

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