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.
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:
|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.