South American wargames 15mm miniature review

What's new here?

This site reviews the figures currently available for wargaming in pre-Columbian South America. I have focused on 15mm. I will concentrate on historical figures first, and may add suitable fantasy figures later.

Manufacturers:

Comparisons


Essex

Incas:

CodeDescription
INC1Elite inf.: halberd
INC2Elite inf.: sling
INC3Elite inf.: spear
INC4Elite inf.: mace
INC5Elite inf.: sword
INC6Quechua slinger
INC7Quechua maceman
INC8Quechua spearman
INC9Quechua clubman
INC10Tribesman: bolas
INC11Tribesman: atl atl
INC12Tribesman: club
INC13Tribesman: sling
INC14Amazonian archers
INC15Command pack: 3 Elite inf. standard bearers, 3 officers
INC16Command pack: 3 Quechua standard bearers, 3 officers
XINC1Two dog handlers with 8 dogs

General comments: These figures are ~16 mm from the feet to the top of the head. Most of the poses are very animated, but there is only one pose in each code (excepting command packs). Luckily, Essex gives a variety of weapons for each type, so that units can have a mixed look. The command packs have some problems. The standards are probably too big (European sized), and some of the "officers" are dressed in what looks like Aztec Eagle and Jaguar Knight suits. However, at least with the standards being this size you can see some detail, and I have read in Brundage's Lords of Cuzco of a ritual dance with warriors in hawk and puma suits. This range lacks the pillco rampa (litter) and huaca (mummies) of the other ranges, but does have the war dogs. This range is one of the last of the Mike's Models ranges still produced by Essex. Essex have informed me that they have no plans to re-model this range in the near future.


Minifigs

Inca army:

CodeDescription
321XCuzco regiment, halberd
322XCuzco regiment, spear. One pose, helmet, running holding spear and shield. Spear is feathered down the whole of the shaft.
323XCuzco regiment, mace
324XChinchaysu light spearman
325XQuecha (sic) warrior, sling. Standing, swinging sling and holding shield.
326XCoastal warrior, sword, shield. He is dressed in a simple tunic, running with chonta-wood sword raised above his head. Simple round wooden shield. Very useful figure.
327XForest archer. This figure is in tunic and carries an Inca shield, so would only be suitable for an Inca auxiliary
328XColla warriors, bolas
329XInca infantry command. Three figures. One with helmet, shield and feathered spear held high with small banner at the top. Another with helmet and holding mace and shield in right hand and blowing conch shell, and the last pose a noble with helmet, shield and halberd.
330XLitter. Pillco rampa, four bearers, panaca mummy and Sapa Inca letting fly with the sling.

General comments: These figures come directly out of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala's Nuevacoronica y buen gobierno . The litter is a gem, looking exactly like the pillco rampa illustrated by Poma. Unfortunately there is only ONE litter in the pack, so you have to decide whether to use it for the pillco rampa or for the huaca! The figures are ~17 mm from foot to the top of the head and more bulky, and will not mix easily with Essex or especially Naismith. Unfortunately there is only one pose in each pack, and the range is not large. While it would be possible to have some variation in your Cuzco regiments, there is only one pose for your Quechua hordes or mobs. However the range does have useful figures such as the coastal warriors that can be easily converted. The standard bearer has the small banner as illustrated by Poma.


Naismith

Inca:

CodeDescription
A41Inca command pack
A42Warrior advancing - halberd
A43Elite warrior, spear and shield
A44Warrior - spear and shield
A45Warrior - sling and shield
A46Colla warrior with bolas and shield
A47Ecuadorian (sic) warrior - sword and shield
A48Warrior throwing javelin with shield
A49Archer
E7Inca war dog group
E8Inca religious group
E9Inca on litter with bearers

General comments: These figures are true 15 mm, measuring 15 mm from their feet to the top of the head. They could be successfully mixed with the Essex Inca, but would probably look too small next to the Minifigs miniatures and would not mix at all with the Falcon Inca range. The major problem with the Naismith range is that some of the poses are very static. The standard bearer has a banner half-way between Essex and Minifigs. The feathers on the helmets of the elite warriors are much longer, spikier and "feathery" than those from Essex or Minifigs. E8 "Inca religious group" is particularly good, being a well sculpted panaca mummy on a litter borne by two men. However you will have to bend the poles of the litter substancially to get it to fit on the bearers. You may want to replace them with new poles made out of wire.


Grumpy

Tupi:

CodeDescription
TUPI1Chieftains. One pose. Holding club and shield, feather cloak.
TUPI2Archers. Three poses. Two shooting, one of which has a club by his side. The other pose is holding bow and arrow in left hand and brandishing a club in the right hand.
TUPI3Clubmen. Three poses. Two have club and shield, while the third is holding his club two handed "at ready".
TUPI4Arquebusiers.

General comments: These figures are about 16 mm from the feet to the top of the head. They all wear a feather head-dress that adds 2 mm or so of height. They are slightly smaller than the Minifigs Amazonian, but would not mix since they look so different. They are similar in size to the Essex Amazonian, but again they look very different, the feather head-dress, clothes and clubs of the Grumpy figures being quite distinctive. The club looks remarkably like a cricket bat! The range looks similar to the first Tupi warrior illustrated in Heath's book (see the Foundry article), however from the other illustrations in the book it is clear that this is only one of a number of clothing styles found among the Tupi. Tony Barr from East Riding Miniatures says that the Gladiator Tupi range would mix well with the Grumpy figures (see below). East Riding Miniatures in the UK also carries Grumpy and has an illustrated catalogue. Tony has very kindly allowed me to mirror these images on my site. I purchased my figures from Eureka in Melbourne.


Gladiator

Tupi:

CodeDescription
TUP1Anthony Knivet (a lost Englishman) plus Tupi chieftains.
TUP2Tupi archers.
TUP3Tupi with two handed war club.
TUPI4Tupi with firearms.

General comments: I have not seen these figures. Tony Barr from East Riding Miniatures says that the Gladiator Tupi are slightly thinner than the Grumpy Tupi, but should mix well. The catalogue says that each of the packs has 3 variants. Also that these were designed by a different designer to the AZ codes. They wear the same distinctive feather head-dress as the Grumpy figures, however the war club is more like that illustrated in Heath's book (see the Foundry article). The link takes you to the Gladiator catalogue page with these figures. Gladiator also has a painting guide here, which also has a picture with some of the range.


Falcon Figures

Tupi (or Amazonian):

CodeDescription
AMI17Chieftains
AMI18Archers firing
AMI19Archers loading
AMI20Clubmen fighting
AMI21Clubmen charging
AMI22Skirmishers with javelin
AMI23Females
AMI24Skirmishers with arquebus
AMI25Artillery (leather gun and crew)

General comments: These are very large figures, almost 20 mm in height and would not mix with the other ranges. They look very much like a number of the Tupi warriors illustrated in Ian Heath's book (see the Foundry article), lacking the distinct feather head-dress that adorns both the Grumpy and Gladiator Tupi. Instead they have large, individual feathers attached to arms and other parts of the body. This range would also be appropriate to represent the many other tribes that inhabited the Amazonian jungles. There are some very dynamic poses and each code usually has two variants. With the feathers and the variety of poses, they would look spectacular en masse. Falcon Figures currently does not have a site and the link takes you to the Quartermaster in Canada, which has a Falcon catalogue with some scans of these figures. The link above goes to the Armies of South America part of that catalogue. A wit on the DBM Yahoo list said it was a sign of the times that you can't purchase a decent model of a certain late-Roman Imperial Auxilia, but there exists 3 seperate ranges of Brazilian canibal!

Inca:

CodeDescription
AMI26Command - General/Noble, standard bearer (3 of each). The noble is standing holding a spear and pointing. The standard bearer is standing holding the standard up in front. Both have helmets with feathers, the nobles being larger. Standard bearer has quilted armour.
AMI27Elite orejone - spear, shield and quilted armour. Very passive pose with figure walking forward with spear upright in right hand, shield in left.
AMI28Elite orejone - mace, shield and quilted armour. Similar to AMI27 except mace is held over right shoulder.
AMI29Warrior - spear and shield. More active pose with warrior brandishing spear in right hand. Good sculpting with many little details of clothing.
AMI30Warrior - two handed chonta (sword). Warrior standing with chonta held in both hands over his head.
AMI31Skirmisher - sling and shield. A more passive pose with figure holding sling in right hand. The sling is well defined.

General comments: These figures are very large and measure about 18 mm from the feet to the top of the head, towering over 20 mm with feathers and helmets. They are well sculpted with crisp details and are true to the costumes and weapons used by the Inca. I found the sculpting of the faces odd at first, with the eyes being deep pits into the skull, but I believe this detail and the deep creases in the clothing would take a washing technique very well. The standards are small squares attached to the tops of spears. While they do not look like those from Poma's drawings, they seem to be what Terence Wise describes on p27 of his book "The Conquistadores" (Osprey MAA101, see my article above). A slight criticism is that the hair of the orejones is too long as the Inca went in for short back and sides. These figures would only just mix with the Minifigs range, and would look like giants next to Essex or Naismith figures. This range lacks the pillco rampa, however the Minifigs litter would mix very well with this range. One figure missing is that of an "orejone" with a sling. The link above takes you to the Armies of South America part of the Falcon catalogue at the Quartermaster site.

Andean highland tribes:

CodeDescription
AMI34Chanca - long spear and shield. Figure has a static pose, standing holding a very long spear upright in right hand and a small round shield in the left.
AMI35Chanca - mace and shield
AMI36Warrior - spear and shield
AMI37Warrior - swinging chonta (sword)
AMI38Warrior - sling. Figure has a very dynamic pose with both arms outstretched, preparing to loose a slingstone. It is very nicely sculpted.
Note: The last 3 above are generic types and can be used in any army

General comments: See the comments of the Inca range for general appearance. I have only seen AMI34 and 38. The link takes you to the Armies of South America part of the Falcon catalogue at the Quartermaster site. I would think that AMI 36-38 would make good hordes/mobs, and would mix nicely with AMI 29-31.

Chimu empire:

CodeDescription
AMI43Command - General/Noble with mace, standard bearers (3 of each). The general is standing, pointing in tunic and cotton armour. He has a helmet with a distinctive crest and is holding a club. The standard bearer is walking forward with tunic and helmet with a long spear held high. On top of the spear is a small, crescent moon device.
AMI44Chimu noble, macana (mace), shield and helmet. This figure is in a dynamic pose with club in one hand over his head and round shield in the other. He is in tunic with half cotton armour (front only) and has a helmet with the same crest as the general.
AMI45Warrior - spear, shield and helmet. This figure is in a static pose, standing holding a long spear in his right hand and a round shield in his left. He is in a tunic with a simple helmet.
AMI46Warrior - two handed mace and helmet. This figure is in a dynamic pose with club raised in both hands over his right shoulder, ready to strike. He is in a tunic with a simple helmet.
AMI47Warrior - sling and shield
AMI48Warrior - javelins, shield and helmet

General comments: See my comments on the Inca range for general appearance. Overall these are nice figures, the range being possibly marred by the static pose of AMI45 which I feel would look very much out of place mixed with the others, although I have not seen AMI47 or 48. The most serious criticism of this range is that they do not look like the drawing of a Chimu warrior found in Ian Heath's book (Foundry). However, this drawing is heavily based on Moche ceramics. Given the centuries between these two cultures, it is unlikely that they would dress exactly the same. Unlike the Moche, I have found very little on the Chimu to base any informed criticism. I would like to see some other figures in this range, in particular a more dynamic spearman and a noble or warrior with atl-atl. The link takes you to the Armies of South America part of the Falcon catalogue at the Quartermaster site.


Figures and ranges I would like to see

  • Jaguar god: Feline headed humanoid in pre-Columbian dress/weapons. ~28 mm or larger.
  • Naked Amazonian archers. Most ranges are not naked. (BREAK: EUREKA MAKE THESE NOW!!!)
  • Naked Amazonian blowpipe men: Grumpy has a Malay blowpipe man that could be modified, but it has a breachclout.
  • Pre-Columbian goblins: Goblin/Orcs in feathers with flint/obsidian weapons. People would buy these just because they would be so cool!!!!
  • Pre-Columbian Undead: Same as above, but skeletons.
  • Llamas: With packs and unladen. (BREAK: BEND SINISTER MAKE THESE NOW!!!!)

  • What's new?

    28/05/2004 31/10/2000 23/09/2000 28/07/2000

    Please e-mail me at with any comments

    John Garvey
    Began: 28/07/00
    Last Revised: 28/05/04

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