25MM/28MM PIRATE RAID

For more than 30 years I have focused my miniatures’ attention on 15mm military subjects, but about seven years ago 25mm/28mm pirates caught my attention and wouldn’t let go.  During those intervening seven years I have collected figures, buildings and ships for a pirate collection, and in October 2011 I began painting.  This was a double first for me in that I was doing 25mm/28mm figures rather than 15s, and I was using water-based paints rather than the oil-based paints I had used for three decades.   By October 2011, when I began work, I had lost track of exactly how many figures I had gathered for my pirate collection but I guessed it would be about 300 to 350 figures divided into four groups: pirates, government forces, civilians, and cannibals.  I completed this project on June 12, 2012 having painted between 650 and 700 figures in the above four categories plus five ships, a wharf with fortifications, a town of twelve buildings (maybe more; I should count), a kraken sea monster plus sinking ship, and a sea serpent.  Over time they will be displayed on this website in three different galleries.  The first gallery is the pirate raid.  In the future that gallery will be followed by a cannibal/treasure-island gallery and finally a gallery that focuses on dangers from the sea and will include the kraken, sea serpent, sharks, and those ships I haven’t finished yet (there are others).

The Pirate Raid Gallery represents a pirate attack on the fictional Caribbean port of San Cristobal on the fictional Caribbean island of Lagrimas de Dios.  San Cristobal was originally a Spanish colony but at the time of the raid it belonged to England.  The gallery opens on a peaceful day in San Cristobal.  The townsfolk are going about their daily lives.  In the harbor are two government ships, Seraphim and Walrus.  They are preparing to leave on a pirate-hunting cruise.   Once the government ships have sailed off, the raid portion of the gallery begins as two pirate ships, Calliope and Hispaniola, attack San Cristobal.

The town is composed of a stone wharf that is approximately four feet in length anchored on each end by stone fortifications.  I made the wharf and fortifications from Duplos and covered them with JTT plastic (for the stone) and Evergreen plastic (for the wood decking).  I use Legos and Duplos a lot in my building because they offer both strength and good, dependable angles.  The rock formations in front of the fortifications and to the side of one of them are makeovers of broken/lost toys I bought cheap at the swap meet.  The town includes six Miniature Building Authority buildings from their Spanish Main range.  About all I did with them was a quick drybrush of Vallejo Beige to give them more of a cream color than the color they were originally painted.  That also allowed me to tidy up the Miniature Building Authority paint job which in some cases was a little messier than I like.  The stable from Miniature Building Authority comes in three versions (all the same except the roofs).  I bought the shingled roof version and built a tile roof for it using JTT plastic.  I did that because I thought the tile roof would be an easy thing to make and having the version with the shingled roof would allow me to use the building in a variety of other layouts.  Oddly enough the stable walls were already painted in a beige color and required no additional work by me.  Three other buildings are by Old Glory.  They are the church, the two-story cantina, and another two story structure.  The flat roof building with the courtyard and clay oven is by JR Miniatures.  I’m not sure who made my blacksmith shop.  I bought it as a broken/incomplete item at Brookhurst Hobbies.  There was no box or tag associated with it, but it was exactly what I was looking for and repair work on it was relatively simple.  The streets are drybrushed JTT plastic.  The palm trees are toys I picked up over the last six or seven years at the swap meet for about 25 cents each.  They painted up well.  I probably bought and painted about 70 two-tree bases over the years.  The gallows is by Fenryll.  The well and mill are by Architects of War.  I think they are beautiful pieces.  I’m not sure who made the fountain, but I think it is Hovels.  Three of the market stalls are by Miniature Building Authority (repainted) and one is by Fenryll.  Some of the tavern furniture is by Old Glory and Mega Minis, but most of it is scratch built by me from Evergreen plastic. The two carriages are by Blue Moon.  The four-wheeled wagon and sedan chair are by Foundry.  The tumbrel is by Perry. The man carried in the hammock is by Trent.  Any solid-wheel carts you see are scratch build by me from Evergreen plastic.  Most of the pigs are by Architects of War.  The chickens are by Berkshire Valley Inc./O scale.  I don’t know the manufacture of the ducks/O scale.  I got them on the cheap table are Arnie’s Trains.  There are lots of barrels, bags and boxes from Architects of War, Pegasus Hobbies, Hovels, and “unknown.”  

All of the ships used in this gallery are broken/discarded toys I picked up at the swap meet and repaired and reworked to meet the needs of my 25mm/28mm figures.  Actually they were wonderful finds, and I like them as much or better than any of the ships actually made for 25mm/28mm gaming.  Of the five ships, four are Disney toys made in conjunction with the release of the different Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  Three of the ships were versions of the Black Pearl.  One of them (my Hispaniola) was marketed with the release of the third movie.  That ship required the least repair and modification.  It was a radio-controlled toy with a rocker bottom to make it look like it was rocking on the sea.  When the bottom was removed/unscrewed, it was a perfect waterline.  Other than painting it and adding a name ribbon, the only changes I made to it were modification of the helm rail and addition of the anchors and cat heads.  

I have two other Black Pearls marketed with the release of either the first or second film (not sure which).  They were also radio-controlled toys but have a different look from the ship marketed with the third movie.  These two ships (my Calliope and Walrus) required much more work than the Hispaniola.  I had to cut the bottom off each to make those ships waterline.  The masts were broken or missing and had to be scratch built.  I added a cabin area around the main mast on both and added the wall facing and door areas seen at the stern of the ships.  I also added most of the cannon barrels seen projecting from below decks.  There are three sets of steps on each of those ships that were oddly shaped so I extended each of them to look more realistic.  I also added a hatch cover to both ships and added their anchors and cat heads.  I made the sails out of Evergreen plastic, Milliput (yellow gray) and floral wire.  The largest ship is from Disney’s fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie and is supposed to be Queen Anne’s Revenge (my Seraphim).  I got her at the swap meet for $10.  She’s a big ship (about 31” from the tip of the bowsprit to the stern) and required a lot of work: new masts, new sails, raised the deck half an inch, added a new front to the main cabin plus doors and lamps, new rail around the helm, new hatch cover, new anchors and cat heads, new stern lamp, new bow lamps, new figurehead, and new bowsprit.  In addition, a great deal of work needed to be done on the hull which had a lot of fun kids stuff sticking out that had to be cut off and patched up.  

Honestly, I had a great time repairing and painting all four of these ships and when you consider that the largest cost me $10, one cost me $8, one cost me $5 and one cost me $3, they were wonderful bargains.  Add to that another $50 in materials.  That is still a good deal for 4 ships.  The fifth ship is a Playmobil toy that I got at the swap meet a couple months ago for $1.  When I bought it was just an empty hull, no deck, no cabin, no mast, no anchor, but it looked like it could be the perfect merchant sloop and for $1 it was certainly worth buying.  I made the deck, cat-head, bowsprit and mast out of Everygreen plastic.  One of the sails is out of Evergreen plastic, Milliput, and floral wire, and the cabin is made of Legos covered in Evergreen plastic.  The other sail, the anchor, and the hatch cover are odd pieces I picked up at the swap meet for a few cents.  Actually that plastic sail I found at the swap meet and used on this ship (Saucy) was my inspiration source for all the sails I made from Milliput.  None of my ships have attached helms.  This allows me to add the type of helm (with or without a helmsman) that I want in terms of what the ship is doing.  My daughter made all the name ribbons for the ships from Sculpy, which is clay that can be baked in the oven, and it comes out like plastic.  She did a great job.  She also made all the decals with the names for the ships.  She’s actually quite an artist.

This is getting quite long so I’ll keep the piece about the figures as brief as I can.  Most of my pirates are Old Glory 25s.  But my collection does include 10 packs of Foundry pirates.  In addition to the Old Glory and Foundry pirates, I have a few Dixon and  Reaper  pirates.  The captured pirate in the barrel standing in the town square is a modification of a Foundry Civil War figure.  I have over 200 civilians.  A huge percentage of those are Foundry, but they also include Perry, West Wind, Blue Moon, Outpost, Reaper, Front Rank, Fenryll (big but beautiful figures) and Eureka.  Some of my favorites are from Eureka and include the wheelwright, bakers, blade sharpeners, musicians, and seated aristocrats.  The government forces are almost entirely Old Glory with the exception one pack of Foundry/a boarding party and the figures in the government longboats, which are London War Room.  In total, I have four longboats with crews.  Three of those boats are Old Glory and one is Britannia.  The Britannia and one of the Old Glory longboats are crewed by London War Room figures while the other two Old Glory longboats have their Old Glory pirate crews.  I surrounded all the longboats with Milliput bases to give some protection to the oars. 

The only other figures I have done for this collection don’t appear in this gallery.  They are my cannibals.  They are all painted and, with the exception of one Foundry pack (DA10/Women and Children) modified to be members of the cannibal tribe, all of the cannibals are Old Glory.  At a later date, I may modify a couple of the Eureka female African prisoners to be members of the cannibal tribe as well.   I have three of the Old Glory cannibal canoes as well, but that’s for a future gallery.

The ground cover is one of the old indoor-outdoor carpets I use with all my layouts.  The water is made from 2 ft.x 4 ft. clear plastic sheets intended as covering for ceiling lighting.  I bought it at the hardware store and sprayed it with different shades of blue canned spray painted/quick and simple if not artistic.  Frankly, by the time I got around to doing the water, I was getting pretty tired.  I’d been at this project eight months.  As always my daughter took the pictures.  Hope you like what you see.  I really came to love this collection, but I guess I could say that about all of them.

25mm/28mm Pirate Raid Gallery