A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sappers & Miners

I’ve been having another good rummage in the spares boxes, to see what I should be doing when the ECW calms down a bit. I found the plastic box labeled Sappers & Engineers, and this reminded me of some holes in my Peninsular OOB. [I’ve already sounded out a few friends on this topic already, so if this post looks familiar you must be one of these friends…]

For the French, I have a natty little provisional unit of infantry sapeurs, who are a mixture of Falcata and Kennington, and some interesting little companies of fellows in full siege gear, with cuirasses and helmets and wheelbarrows and all sorts. This latter group is a mixture of LW and Strelets plastics, very kindly painted and donated by Clive when he came up here to try out my siege game a couple of years ago. You will notice that my engineering figures are individually based, and based on a handsome shade of two-tone mud, which seemed a good idea at the time.

[I had a look, and found Clive's excellent slideshow of that siege play test here - really enjoyed the nostalgia trip. Recommended.] 

I also have a team of pontonniers, from the mysterious Finescale Factory (also given to me by Clive), but I have never got around to assembling and painting them yet – I will, though…

The British are not in good shape, in comparison. I have a number of half naked labourers in plastic, who started life as British sailors, and I have collected enough infantry pioneers to make a unit similar to the French sappers, though they need painting and finishing. My original plan was to use the Minifigs S-Range BN55s for the pioneers, but that is such a weedy figure that, though I have enough, I have decided instead to use the later, intermediate-range Minifig, who is appropriately burly and rather more pleasing.

That’s it. I have no diggers or tunnellers or anything for the Brits. No-one, as far as I know, makes suitable RSM figures in 1/72 or 20mm scale. Old John has suggested a uniformed British infantryman without weapons which he can supply, which could be converted to carry picks, axes, shovels etc, and I have some packs of HO model railway workmen’s tools which could provide a barrow, so that is very interesting, but proper RSM chaps in short-tail jackets and silly hats would be a real find. I’m surprised that there is nothing of the sort available in plastic.

Anyone been down this road before? Are there 20mm engineering figures for a different period which would fit the bill, or which could be converted?

I know that the current Minifigs range includes a nice little working party of British engineers, but they are well out of scale, and I understand the S-Range never had an equivalent set.

Not a problem, but an interesting little itch that needs scratching. I am also reminded that I really must dust off the siege game and have another bash at it.


  1. Revell Confederate Engineers spring to mind, check out Plastic Soldier Review for pic of set, thinking just head swops might solve your engineering problem

    1. Thanks for this, John - interesting. This is my second attempt to respond to this comment - the first response evaporated...

      Never seen this set before. The boys with suspenders/braces are anachronistic - these were invented 1830 (I hope you are taking notes). The ones with short jacket are possible - head swap would have to be big enough to include a standing-up collar. Headgear? - don't know of anything that looks like RSM cap, but forage caps might be a possibility.

      Very interesting.

  2. The HaT Napoleonic British command set has a pioneer figure included in the set. He even has a choice of headgear: bearskin or shako.


    1. Cher Monsieur Rosbif - I've never seen this set either, though I knew it existed. The pioneer is nice, but I have Minifigs pioneers - it's the Sappers & Miners (Artificers?) I'm short of.

      Thanks - cheers - MSF