Friday, July 19, 2013


TCL's new blacksmith shop is a tour-de-force; using only their lego-simple laser-cut design system, even I can produce a decent model.
Here are some random snapshots that give you a fair idea how the whole thing goes together:

The rear wall with the forge front, sides, and top layed out in front of it. On the table are the three pieces that constitute the hood over the forge and the assembled anvil.

A chimney plate on the back wall; don't put it on until after the interior forge assembly is completed.
The front, including the parts for the trim, doors, and windows. A with the Dance Hall, the trim must go on in the arrangement picutred; in other words, they can't overlap in a different order.

And that's all there is to it. I had watching it take shape and was impressed by how cleverly it was designed to go together. As always, you can direct your questions to me and I will be glad to help any way I can.

All the best,


TCL has just released this magnificent Dance Hall. It comes with a bar, a bandstand, and tables which can be left in (making it a large saloon with a stage where one might see a can-can burlesque) or taken out (making it an actual dance hall where the musicians occupy the stage and dancers fill the floor).

Kits like these are not too difficult to build, but since they don't come with instructions, one can occasionally get stumped. I've taken these photos to serve as a guide:

Basic assembly; note the new floor texture TCL has added. Be sure the plain side of the walls face inward.

Bandstand; the bottom part has no texture.

Table assembly.

Front with trim; it's very important to arrange the trim strips as shown, as they only work overlapping in one way.

The assembled front.

Basic layout of the bar.
A suggested starting point for assembly.
The supported beneath the counter.
After this step, add shelves.
Voila! I'll have a Johnny Walker Black, neat... On second thought, better make that a double.
So there you go! An Old West dance hall; just add a Knuckleduster piano player, some Knuckleduster can-can girls, the Knuckleduster saloon figure set (do you see a pattern here?) . . .

Till next time,

Monday, July 1, 2013


The uniforms of the War of 1812 are varied and endlessly fascinating. One of the most unusual uniforms was worn by the Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry at the battle of the Thames in 1813.

This cavalry unit, which also included men from the area where the River Raisin massacre took place, was trained to fight mounted or dismounted in the wilderness, and were armed with a rifle, hatchet, and long knife.

During the battle of the Thames, Harrison used them to overrun the British 41st foot deployed in the woods on the American right. He commented that nobody could gallop through wooded terrain like American backwoodsmen, and the result of the charge, one of only two cavalry charges undertaken in the War of 1812, was a complete route of one of Britain's most heavily-engaged and well-regarded regiments in North America.

I finally painted a unit of these figures in their distinctive black hunting shirts with red fringe. Their gear was, in reality, probably black, but I chose buckskin belts to stand out against the black shirts, reasoning that it would not be uncommon to find natural colors of leather in use among troops such as these.

They are armed with the Model 1804 Harper's Ferry Rifle, the official rifled longarm of the US Army during the war. It was a half-stock weapon with no sling. I've thrown in a dragoon pistol, since they were ubiquitous among mounted troops of all types during the Napoleonic era.

"Ok you, hand over that bugle . . ."
  (I really need to glue the flag on one of these days!)

The command figures include a bugler and standard-bearer, and in a separate pack is their leader, Richard Mentor Johnson. I posed this figure to be reminiscent of an illustration depicting his supposed duel with Tecumseh, whose death many credited him after the battle (a fact trotted out when he ran for Congress after the war); after I painted my sample, I learned that his white horse was not the sentimental hyperbole I had supposed, and that he in fact rode a white horse into battle!

Forrest Harris