Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Armies in Plastic: Berdan's Sharpshooters

Sharpshooters?...what sharpshooters?
I don't see anybody.

And that's just what they want you to see!

Here, emerging from the forest are those sultans of stealth, those mirages of marksmanship, the green ghosts of Gettysburg...Armies in Plastic's Berdan's Sharpshooters.

Firing from the edge of the treeline these crack shots of the Army of the Potomac use the shadows as an ally while they selectively target Confederate battery commanders.

This captain directs fire while the private applies a well-drawn bead.

Barely visible in the forest shadows, additional men move to their skirmish positions.

Hey, how'd that happen?  Like magic they've come to life for us!  From 54mm to life size.  Actually, this is a member of the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters reenactment group that visits Antietam National Battlefield (link here) each year to provide programs on Civil War Technology (video here).  Tricked out in their hunter's green frock coats, these Sharps rifle-armed eagle eye'd soldiers were the crem de le crem of the Union infantry.

Argument is active as to whether the green uniforms were an early attempt at camouflage or simply maintaining the Jaeger tradition of clothing riflemen in green.  The blackened buttons, however, cause me to lean toward the camouflage camp in this discussion.

As usual, Armies in Plastic  does a fine job of delivering the goods in 54mm.  Although a little chunky and only medium on the detail, these figures are robust and attractive.

Compared to these highly detailed figures, also robust and semi-attractive.

Like all Armies in Plastic soldiers, these are attractively packaged.  AIP, for a mid-range (price-wise) company, has some outstanding box art and packaging.  Twenty figures in eight poses come tumbling out of the box ready for action.

Here is our captain, calling out the shots.  His enormous index finger will make targeting particularly easy.  This is typical of AIP neither the pose nor the anatomy is particularly remarkable, the casting is, however, durable and robust, that is to say, "easy to hose off".

For outdoor play, I prefer AIP for exactly those reasons.

Our standing shooter, is a particularly nice pose with good animation, simple sculpting, and nice anatomy.  And dig that long scope.

The breach-loading three-band Sharps rifle allowed these guys to get off seven shots in the time it took a man with a muzzle-loader to fire three.  That's mobility and firepower!

Sighting through his scope, I pity the fool munching hardtack downrange.

In the detail that the AIP sculptors did turn their attention to, they really got things right, as evidenced by this hair-on cowhide backpack, typical gear for the well appointed sharpshooter.

Compares nicely with our reenactor, who, I'm sure compares equally nicely with the real thing.

Kneeling shooting guy sans scope opted for the more convenient blanket roll.

Kneeling guy with scope, shelled out the extra greenbacks for that quite expensive cowhide number as well as his privately purchased telescopic scope.

Both of them in action.  I'm sure that the guy on the right will be instantly ready to swap rifles should his comrade meet an untimely end.

Advancing guy is...advancing.

Running advancing guy is putting a "hurry up" on the order.

A third advancing guy may want to consider fixing that bayonet.

Prone shooter guy delivers both a high rate of fire as well as a very small target. Perhaps this is the origin of the expression "keeping a low profile".

Breech loaders, as opposed to muzzle loaders are quite easy to load from this position.  

See what I mean?

The three advancing guys provide a nice range of urgency, as well as some very nice, though minimalist, sculpting.

AIP seems justifiably proud of their products as evidenced in the very nicely done imprint on the base of each soldier.

Overall, I give Armies in Plastic a "B" in overall product.  That's a pretty good grade.  What they lack in detail they make up in durability, again for garden gamers, that's a very important consideration.  

See you on the first with reinforcements.

Soldier on!