Airfix 54mm American Soldier 1775 Figure Conversion

Lexington, Massachusetts. April 1775.


"To be, or not to be, that is the question."



The close of 1774 found the British commander in chief of North America in a quandary.

With the colonials spoiling for a fight and a small force at hand, he had no wish to stir up a wasps nest. To make matters worse, General Gage was missing a few cannons and other warmongery 'lifted' by the American militia. What to do? Let things cool down or nip it in the bud?

He then went through the process of brooding, discussing and arguing the point, until finaly coming to a typical Anglo-Saxon decision … to reassess the whole matter.

The following April he was coerced into a 'spring' of his own after receiving a message from Lord Dartmouth. The Secretary of State 'authorised stronger action', which even today is a feat per se as regards the English parliament.

An expedition of some 700 men under the command of Lt Col Smith marched north west out of

Boston in the early hours of the 19th. Their mission was to recover brass cannons and munitions in the town of Concord, some 16 miles distant.

In the vanguard was a small ad hoc force commanded by Major Pitcairn of the British Marines. At just over halfway around 5 o'clock, they came upon a certain Captain Parker and his small band of militia - demonstrating on the town green of Lexington.

What happend next all depends on what you believe ...



The Figure:

Normally I like to gather all the information I can for a project before I begin. Alas, for this job, there were so many gray areas that I found MYSELF in a quandary wether to go or not. Research is vital to me, it's that that tells the story. On the other hand, too much info (especially of the conflicting sort) can leave you trussed up in inertia. With one Brexit rotting in front of itself I felt that I didn't need another in my life.

Thus, I decided to grab the bull by the horns and chop down the Airfix American into a stocky British Light Infantryman. These hand-picked men (aka. 'Light Bobs') were the fittest of

the army - specializing in flanking actions, skirmishing and irregular warfare.

However, on closer inspection mine is not a soldier but a Marine of the Royal Navy - a Jack Tar as it were. I could find no detail on the rear of the jacket and there is some doubt if they were actually cut so short at this early time. Someone on the internet pondered over the fact that the cap could have been a simple beret like affair. A great help was Don Troiani, who pointed out that British Marines (they didn't become 'Royal' until 1802) had red ochre or black muskets.

I've modeled him in a slightly cocky after-action pose. For, after firing the first salvo, many of the redcoats (against orders) broke ranks and gave chase to the fleeing militia with fixed bayonets.

No small wonder after years of provocation from the rebel colonials.


Apart from my first glitch with the neck, I quite enjoyed the work of converting this figure. Although I must admit I'm being drawn more and more into the world of complete figure sculpting. Period prints depict the redcoats (4th and 10th foot only) firing first in broad daylight. A letter of the time indicates that it was all over before the sun rose and before the arrival of Pitcairn. Films and reenactments draw emphasis on a clear morning incident with line infantry (hat men) and grenadiers - I reckon on the Green itself they were all from the various light companies. There is also some doubt if the Marines were there at all. I say they were because of the presence of their commanding officer (Marine hat-men and grenadiers making up part of the later relief force).

I think one of the most important aspects in modelmaking is not being afraid to make mistakes. As long as you learn from and admit to them.This is especially true when you feel beforehand that some things you depict may not have been as they actually were. For history sake, it's equally important to make this clear to the viewer. At the end of the day it's better to do something than nothing at all.


The skirmish on that morning was very onesided. Eight milita dead and ten wounded for one slightly wounded Brit sergeant. Who started it all? Who fired that first shot that was heard around the world? Who can say - that was a mystery even way back then. Fact is, the noise didn't last long on Lexington Green, but it's echo heralded eight years of bitter fighting and the birth of a new nation.

So what or who to be(lie)ve? Truth may very well be the first casualty of war, but sometimes it just becomes lost in it's fog or forgotten through the mists of time.

That's it then for my Jack 'o' the Green, maybe you'd like to believe in him ... I know I want to.



Airfix 54mm American Soldier 1775

Figure Conversion / Building Stages:

Airfix 54mm American Soldier 1775 Figure Conversion Building Stages


Stage 1:


With all this 'green-stuff' flying around I need a new colour to 'figure-out', not to mention a change of service 😉

Airfix 54mm American Soldier 1775 Figure Conversion Building Stages
Airfix 54mm American Soldier 1775 Figure Conversion Building Stages




Stage 2:


Before I start on the figure I'd like to say a few words about planning in general.

Wether you have a large dio or a single figure as here, I find that it's vital to research the matter to exhaustion beforehand. By exhaustion I mean to the point where you can find no more info about the uniforms/incident, it's only then that you can start work with a clear conscience. If you don't take on this work you may well find yourself caught up in new facts during your build, and then it becomes all 'umming and ahhing' and chopping and changing.


Mentioning chopping and changing ...

Airfix 54mm American Soldier 1775 Figure Conversion Building Stages
Airfix 54mm American Soldier 1775 Figure Conversion Building Stages

This Airfix job is 54mm high and as I'm aiming for a rather stocky figure, I've reduced him to 52mm.

Right then, time to put a bit of meat on him ...




Stage 3:


I've built the figure up ...


... and given it a grey spray which helps to identify problem zones:

I'm not too happy with the breeches and neck areas at the moment so I think I'd better get them right first before the 'finery' work.




Stage 4:


T'was kindly pointed out to me that the head was turned too far to the left. This coupled with the fact that it was also too high for a squat figure made me reconsider and readjust.

The rear right collar could be reduced a bit and some more 'beef' added to the legs, but for now this is what my 'brick outhouse' looks like.

Before and after from above:

Airfix 54mm American Soldier 1775 Figure Conversion Building Stages
Airfix 54mm American Soldier 1775 Figure Conversion Building Stages




Stage 5:


The story so far ... I wasn't happy about the collar so I reformed it and took some bulk off the left arm. Having reached a point where I could do no more, I decided to get him primed and get on with the painting:


Base coat for flesh, jacket and kit:




Stage 6:


The hard shadowing on the jacket will be reduced gradually, but for now I'm leaving this as it is. With white acrylic I've built up the cap emblem, diluting the stuff with 20% water for the small clothes and crossbelts. White is a sensitive colour for me, so I've adopted an attitude of less is more. For example,the slight off-white shadowing that you may see at this stage, is nothing more than the Tamiya primer. Keeping the 'lanes clean' with red and white is always a bit tricky … you don't want him to end up a 'pinko' 😉

From here on in it's nerve work as there's still some detail to be fixed and painted. One slip and I really will be seeing red - in more ways than one.




Stage 7:


A few more details and another 'Round the Horn' …

… before completion.



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