Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Desert Vichy (Part 2): Senegalese Tirailleurs Review

Since I have been casting French Artillery I have often been asked where to find French crew, and because I do this fairly well I also get asked where to buy other hard to find French troops. Senegalese Tirailleurs are an excellent unit in Bolt Action, one of a tiny number of Regular units with the Tough Fighters Special rule. They were one of the better regarded French colonial troops, with their trademark Coupe-Coupe machete and Fez.

Their are no models for them, at least not for WW2. When hunting for French models remember that the uniform changes very little between the World Wars, just paint them Khaki green instead of horizon blue. The ones below come from Gripping Beast's Woodbine Design range.

Senegalese Section Pack 

Gripping Beast do a rage 10 man section packs, generic WWI French bodies in campaign dress with separate head options. In addition to the Senegalese heads I selected they have six other options, many of which are relatively suitable for WWII. I had to cut down the rather chunky bases on the Senegalese for them to fit on the 20mm bases I use .
 Senegalese with Coupe-coupe

To add a bit more character to units they also do packs containing four one-piece Senegalese, one pack with rifles and sheathed coupe-coupe, the other pack has them waiving their blades. Half are wearing campaign greatcoats, half in garrison dress.

 Range Comparison

There is a bit of a scale difference within the gripping beasts range. The one piece models are somewhat chubbier than their two-piece counterparts. Not enough to make a difference from more than a foot distance, but noticeable close up.
Warlord Games - Gripping Beast - Perry Miniatures

Warlord's French look surprisingly slight in this image. In general the three ranges are close enough in scale to serve in the same army, although I would hesitate in placing them in the same unit. The webbing on the French troops appears to change between the wars, packs remain in the mainly the same places with significant stylistic differences, the cut of the coat is practically identical.

Overall the Gripping Beast Tirailleurs fill and important place in any French player's army. The models had  minimal flash which was easily removed, the two-part models fitted together nicely with a secure join. The thick, wide and chunky integral base is a minor nuisance given the overall quality.

My Score 4/5

For the sake of completeness I must add that there is another company that does two part WWI French in the same vein, The Forgotten & Glorious Company of Art, regrettably their Senegalese are somewhat caricatured (British understatement - Incredibly Racist).

~ Bob


  1. You should be ashamed to say we are rascists !! Your words angered me so much !!

    We tried to render the better possible the different facial features of this proud fighters and we were praised for that: now our figures are displayed in WW1 french museum in Meaux near Paris and french Ministre de la Défense was amazed by our work just as french Tirailleurs Sénégalais veterans.

    Look at woodbine figures: they do not look like Africans at all: so who is rascist ? Someone who depicts things as they are or someone who make African looking like European ?Making Gurkas measuring 6 foot tall ?

    The lack of knowledge is the beginning of rascism and it is too present in wargaming.

    Your words are not those of a Gentleman and you should remove them.

    1. I am sorry to have angered you, but with respect I do find your depiction of Senegalese faces to be overly caricatured. This may be a cultural difference between what constitutes an acceptable level of caricaturization, French and British attitudes are deeply divergent on this issue.

      That being said such judgements are entirely in the eye of the beholder, and I encourage anyone considering buying Senegalese troops to compare the work of Woodbine Designs and The Forgotten & Glorious Company of Art and make their own decision.

  2. Thanks for the review, very useful. I must say that I find the Woodbine figures great but the heads do not look Negroid. F&G are much better! In fact one of them is a dead ringer for Djimon Hounsou (sp?) aka the black chap in Gladiator! Then again, suitability is in the eye of the individual!