Tall Hat, Blackfoot Chief 1830 -
the latest bust from UK based manufacturer I & E Miniatures.
By Stephen Jamison
I & E Miniatures was set up by Ian & Eileen Burton to produce models by modellers for modellers. Their wide range of subjects and their commissioning of some of the hobby's very best sculptors to produce the master figure is very commendable and one worthy of success. This kit is no exception; Native American busts remain very popular with a wide range available from a long list of manufacturers, but I & E have given it a little twist by producing such an unusual and interesting subject and great challenge to the painter.
The sculpting in this case was by the acclaimed Mike Good, and is of the highest quality. The casting is by Ray Lamb of Poste Militaire and maintains the exceptional standards that company has established for itself in terms of fit, fineness of detail and sheer excellence. If the kit has one failure it is the paint guide, it is assumed that the modeller will have or can access references of their own. The paint guide is virtually non-existent and certainly the assumption on reference material will be correct in most cases but probably not all. Some more detail would have been nice and I personally would have liked some historical notes on the individual, but this omission does not detract from the bust at all.
On opening the box I was like an alcoholic opening a whiskey bottle my hands shook in anticipation.
The kit is cast in four resin parts; upper body and head, right arm, top hat and the busts stand; with white metal parts for the hat brim, the eagle feather and eagle claw decoration on the top hat and about 40 scalplocks to be attached to the right arm. Assembly is easy and the fit of parts superb, although the right arm should be left off until the torso and face are painted.
Chief Tall Hat is in late middle age and is posed thoughtfully stroking his chin. The face begs the best paint job you can give it, the fineness of the detail on the aged skin is exceptional. The buckskin shirt has beadwork on shoulders and down the arm and a large (early) square quillwork decorated panel in the middle of the chest. Any illustrated book on Native Americans will contain examples of beadwork/quillwork but experiment and have fun.
One area that may cause problems to some modellers is the fixing of the scalplocks. The instructions correctly suggest that the locating holes be drilled out for better security of the parts and this is true, but I firstly drilled the holes a little too tight for the parts to fit easily and broke a couple in the process, so I re-drilled them only this time they were slightly too large and wouldn't stay in! Carefully select your drill size - I didn't and gave myself more trouble than necessary. I found attaching the scalplocks was best done by starting at the wrist and working back to the shoulder otherwise it is too difficult to fit each part in turn. It is otherwise a straightforward construction job.
I&E have produced a real winner. I look forward to seeing what other modellers, with much more talent than I, do with this fine kit. I really enjoyed painting it, and I honestly believe my skill level improved as a result of painting this piece. The lack of a comprehensive painting guide will cause some modellers concern, but equally may lead to through research and spark a new interest in the subject/period.
The kit is available direct for I & E Miniatures priced £35, a list of worldwide stockists can also be found at their web site.
I wholeheartedly recommend this kit to anyone wanting an unusual and challenging subject to paint. Well done I & E!