Bachground to the subject
The so-called Mountain Men were trappers, hunters and generally explorers who headed out past the American frontier starting in the early days of the United States. Much of their prey was beaver used for its pelt in the fashion industry for hats. These independent men copied the practical styles of the indigenous people, commonly wearing moccasins and buckskins. They were popularized to the general public in the mid-1950ís with the release of Disneyís Davy Crockett movie and subsequent television series. Just about every boy of my generation had to have a coonskin cap to emulate our hero. Despite this interpretation, Crockett would have been considered only marginally part of this movement. The most famous of these men was Kit Carson. (Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides is an excellent biography of this fascinating man.) By the 1850ís the mountain men were passing into history with the decline in the beaver populations and the decline in desire for beaver hats.
One Big Figure
La Meridiana has added to the stock of mountain men with their release of kit FR54-18, sculped by Pongsatorn Kanthaboon. Listed as a 54mm figure, he measures nearly 70mm (photo B) from the bottom of his feet to the top of his hat. This size is pretty typical; of the Meridiana figures Iíve painted and would only be a problem in attempting to mix their figures with those of other companies. Even the largish Pegasos are dwarfed by these giants! That said, all the components in the box are scaled to the larger size.
The kit comes well packed in the usual Meridiana box with a single photo of the painted figure on the front. Inside, one finds a single sided painting guide/history in Italian. This included several photos showing the assembly of the delicate two part beaver trap. The parts are sandwiched between two pieces of spongy foam. In my example, the musket was slightly bent and took a bit of careful bending to bring it back to true.
The figure (photos C and D) is cast from head to foot as one piece. He what appears to be a Hudson Bay capote, a long woolen coat with a hood. It is held closed with a sash. He also wears an animal skin hat, most likely a fox, though the box art lacks the white chest. The fox head is the weakest part of the sculpting in the kit, however, careful painting may improve the look. (photo E) Under very close examination, I found two very light mold lines on the skirt of the coat. Light sanding eliminated these is less than a minute.
The two arm pieces (photo F) are cast separately, the right including the hand. The right hand has a bit of mold line running from the wrist along the index finger across the middle finger to the ring finger nail but this should be easy to sand off. The left hand is cast with the musket. I could find no mold lines on the left arm and only a minor one at the bottom of the right. Test fitting, the left arm seems to fit nice and tight. The right arm may be a bit loose. There may need to be some filling at the shoulder to get a tight fit. This is problematic given the pose, since the chest area will need to be painted before arms are attached.
The musket features a nicely sculpted flintlock mechanism. (photo G)
Other parts (photo H) include feathers for the side of the hat, bead roll, haversack and powder horn. Of these, only the powder horn has any mold line and this will need some filing to get tight. Except for the feathers, none of these parts are seen in the box art. Their locations are pretty much intuitive and there are indications in the main body where they go.
Also included are a beaver and the two-part trap that caught it. (photo I and J) The trap has a mold line along the middle. This may be a challenge since it is relatively thin. Of course, neither it nor the beaver are integral to the figure. IN fact, neither is visible in the box art. The beaver has a tiny amount of flash which will clean up in seconds. The simple base has smooth spots indicating where the trap, beaver, rifle butt and feet will go. (photo K)
This figure will definitely need to be pinned through the base to the plinth on which he will be displayed since he is top heavy and there are only light indentations where his feet attach to the base.
My conclusion is that this is a very nice kit, requiring minimal clean up and having generally good fit. He is interestingly posed, offering the painter a good deal of creativity in paint, since he is not in uniform.
Thanks to El Greco Miniatures for the sample.