Monday, January 30, 2012

Bonus pics of the fort

Noted newspaper correspondent/art-teest Alfred Waud sketches the drowsy action as General Grant and General Burnside drop by an early evening campfire to chat with the troops.

 A typical day inside the fort

 "Sour Mash" the cat

A sore-boned cavalryman, just back from a two-day patrol, carries his saddle while a civilian leads his mount inside the fort's front gates, beside which a pair of 54 Massachusetts infantrymen stand sentry duty. (Dang it all, I wish A Call to Arms would have done more 'action' poses, generally speaking; with the 54th Mass. set, we were presented with the usual four poses - only two of which could be construed as "fighting" men - the standing firing guy and the running with bayoneted musket guy. Likewise with CTA's Maryland Militia figures: two loading figures for God's sake, out of the four total figures! Kneeling firing figures would have been lovely. I believe the company's War of 1812/Napoleonic British foot guards were even lamer, with a couple of (yellow cream-ish????!!!!) figures lethargically poking about with their muskets in nearly identical poses and a third figure engaged in something similarly un-martial. If memory serves, this set had NO firing poses - a plastic war crime of which the company's "Iron Brigade" set is also guilty. Unacceptable!) Why am I ranting like this about A Call to Arms? I have no good answer.

Initially mistaken for half-grown boys with slab-like, bearded feet, a pair of hobbits stumble out of the Great North Woods, babbling about "orcs" and "a numberless army of awful, smelly brutes" just behind them. A cavalry sergeant skins his .45 revolver and orders the two to drop their blades. Clearly, toy genres have collided at Supersize Fort Apache.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Assorted facts and photos

Normally fortified by a Civil War diet of wormy hard bread and salt junk, the garrison is keen on fresh meat of any kind. Consequently, Supersize Fort Apache boasts one of the largest herds of swine west of the Mississippi. (Kepis off to the commissary!) Civilians tend to the oblivious brutes, several of which are humanely dispatched, spitted and slow-roasted over a bed of hardwood coals every month. Fort sutler Jean Toquard - background, in yellow hunting shirt (a.k.a. "rifle dress") - watches as his common law wife, Rachel, slops the hogs. Toquard's small, log shop is slightly behind, to the viewer's left. Troops buy assorted sundries there, such as canned milk, tinned lobster and dried fruits - but positively no spirits of any kind can be sold inside the fort itself.

A garden supplies additional variety to the troops' diet. During a recent morale-boosting visit, President Lincoln kept fort gardener Hortense Schleibler company as she tended to the corn, turnips and cabbage.

The commanding general's personal residence

The BMC "Meade's Headquarters" house is a surprisingly fine-looking bit of 54 mm architecture, particularly since it came from BMC - which is to toy soldier sculpting what Dr. Frankenstein was to plastic surgery. But I've always liked Meade's Gettysburg war room, with the exception of the original crude plastic chimney top. I solved that problem by printing off some brick wallpaper and then cutting them to fit a styrofoam frame that I chopped out of a computer packing frame. Here is the result.

With its dramatically upgraded heating system, the building now serves as the personal residence for Supersize Fort Apache's commanding general, an alternating slot now held by a fellow child of Illinois, General Ulysses S. Grant. Of an evening, Grant and his staff often sit around the fire to reflect on their day's labors - the desperate fights with pirates and vikings, lack of marry-able women, Custer's latest fit of narcissism, etc. And the fire always soothes them.