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Monday, June 2, 2014

Bolt Action - Foreign Legion Miniatures Review: French Army Project, Part Two

Hey guys, Bryan here with a guide to the miniatures I used for my French Foreign Legion units. As I mentioned in the first installment of my army project series these tough fighting rogues will be making up half of my French Colonial army, so I needed some suitable miniatures. Understandably there are a few companies out there making miniatures of this famous fighting force. Here is a quick guide to whats around. and how to convert those Bolt Action units not currently available

First, you need to choose which campaign you want to represent. The Foreign Legion had three distinct uniform looks and equipment types during WW2. First, the 1940 Allied campaign in Norway, sees them equipped for arctic warfare. These are currently available from a company called Gorgon Studios. Second, and most widely known, is the Legion's many campaigns in the deserts of North and East Africa as well as the Syria from 1940-43. This is what I want to represent, and this guide is all about that. The last is the Italian campaign from 43-45, but by this time the Legionnaires are fully equipped by Uncle Sam and apart form the odd Kepi Blanc they look identical to US GI's.

Artizan Designs

For the 'classic' Legion in the desert, look no further than Artizan Designs. This is my first time ordering from and painting up miniatures from these guys. Typically their miniatures are 'Heroic' scale of 28mm, so they don't mix well with, say, Perry Miniatures 'true' 25mm style. If you prefer this 25mm scale then you can get FFL from Wargames Foundry and Askari Miniatures. What I like about Artizan is it does mix well with Warlord Games ranges. Artizan Designs price point seems to be fairly standard for metal ranges these days at 5.6 pound per 4 pack. Although this is expensive compared to plastic ranges out there, I prefer the 'chunky' sculpting style of metal figs. They are easy to use washes on and highlight, plus the fact there is no assembly time means I can get armies done quicker.

The website was very easy to use and has good pics of all the miniatures, so you can check out what you want to order. Postage wasn't much to Australia coming from the UK, but do expect to wait for up to a month for your order to arrive. I had one figure missing in my order, but their customer service sent out a replacement once I let them know by email, this was really fast and arrived in a week.

Artizan has two ranges of Foreign Legion so make sure you go to the Second World War section specifically, and not the 19th Century Colonial one. Here you will find they have five different packs available, three packs of riflemen, an LMG pack and a command pack. The riflemen have twelve poses all up and are in two variant uniforms. There are four poses of guys in British shorts and 'Battle Dress' tunics, these represent Free French forces equipped by the Allies. The other eight are in trousers and puttees, traditional French Colonial equipment. The LMG pack contains three of them and one further riflemen in this style.  I decided to mix these all together, regardless of uniform style, as I want maximum variety in posses.

The command pack contains two Officers with pistols and two NCO's with rifles. These will cover your basic infantry squads and command no problem. One thing you will notice is the lack of SMG's in the range. To fix this I ordered a pack of ten Thompson SMG's from The Assault Group in their weapon pack section. I used these to do weapon swaps on my Officers and also to equip one guy per squad for extra close range violence. (Well said. - J) There were not many suitable riflemen poses to cut up to do this with, so I searched a little more and discovered gold, as pictured below.

Thrilling Tales

While having a search around Artizan Designs I stumbled upon a 'Pulp' range of 1930's heroes and villains called 'Thrilling tales'. Hidden in this fantastic range are actually five or so Legionnaire sculpts that are perfect for your army. There is a high ranking officer who looks really badass with an eye patch and missing an arm - I am sure he didn't get these injuries in a skateboarding accident. Next up is a Doctor, perfect for a medic. Then there are three other Legionnaires, one with a rifle, one with a pistol and even one with an SMG! The rifleman has a really flamboyant look, so I added a scope to his weapon and he is now my platoon sniper. The pistol armed fella gave me an easy sculpt to do a weapon swap for an SMG with, so I grabbed a few of him to mix in with the actual SMG armed model. Overall I give the Artizan Designs French Foreign Legion range 8 out of 10 'last stands'. They lose 2 points because of a lack of support weapons, but the miniatures they have are the best on the market.

A sniper team converted using Legionnaires from the 'Thrilling tales' range
and an FAO made from a Warlord Games Japanese one.

Support weapons

The Artizan Designs range doesn't have any heavy weapons in it, so I came up with these solutions. These may seem complicated, but bear with me as the actual conversion work is dead easy. For Anti-tank rifles and Medium Mortars use the Warlord Games Belgian ones. The uniforms are very similar to the French and the heads are separate, which is perfect for converting them over to Foreign Legion. A great place to pick up packs of various French heads is Gripping Beast Miniatures, search for their WWI in the east range and there you will find French head packs. These are invaluable to you for all the conversions you may want. The heads wearing the 'Kepi' hats are for your Legion units and I'll be using the Senegalese heads for any heavy weapons I want for them. You can see the result of one of these head swaps below with my Anti-tank rifle team. I'll be making one for my Senegalese platoon in the same way. Using these separate heads I also made a simple conversion for an FAO using a Warlord Games Japanese one, I think the uniform is similar enough.

A Foreign Legion Boyes anti-tank rifle team made from the Warlord Games Belgian version 

with heads from Gripping Beasts French head sprues.

I hope this guide was helpful for those of you wanting to field some Foreign Legion units. In a future article I'll have some conversion guides for Artillery and Armoured units for them. Next time I'll be covering the Senegalese Colonial troops and offering a guide to painting them.

Got any questions on how to model a Foreign Legion force for Bolt Action? Head over to the forum and ask away!

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