General Heth in matte toy soldier style

the Baron

Ich bin ja, Herr, in Deiner Macht
May 12, 2009
Hi, all! I've been busy lately, and I wanted to share some of what I've been working on.

Here is one of my recent projects, my first commission! A friend in the Treefrog forum sent me a casting and asked me to paint it as Confederate General Heth (“heeth”) as depicted in the movie “Gettysburg”. In the movie, he wears a distinctive uniform, which looks almost black.

The casting itself was made by King-White in Hong Kong, and sold through Reeves International. It represents a Union officer, and some modification was required.

Here is a picture of the original casting, primed but otherwise unmodified:


There are two major details that have to be changed. First, his hat has too high a crown; it’s almost a stovepipe hat. In the movie, Heth wears a black slouch campaign hat with a lower crown, creased fore and aft. Second, Heth wore a moustache but was otherwise clean-shaven. This figure is cast with a beard.

Here is a picture of the casting from behind:


He also has shoulder straps, which must be removed.

More in the next post...
In this post, I’ll show the minor surgery I had to conduct, to prepare the casting for the subject.

First, I filed the badge off the front of the hat, filed the crown lower, and added the crease:


and from the back:


King-White figures were a curious mix of both wonderfully done and poorly executed details. This figure, for example, has a well-detailed face, but the boots and gauntlets are really chunky. When painted, though, they’re not without their charm, and I collect them with zeal. They’re the stylistic granddaddies of today’s King & Country and Frontline figures, and are sometimes called the original “Chinese style” toy soldiers.

The next modification was the beard, and I hesitated before removing any material, especially since the figure wasn’t mine. If I messed it up, I’d have felt really bad. But I had the inspiration to mark the areas to remove, with a Sharpie:


and from the left side:


This made it easier to see what I needed to remove, and to track my progress.

Here is the General, after a shave:


His moustache is preserved, and his chin line is distinct. Here is a shot from the left side:


I was pleased with the result (and relieved!).

More to come...
The next problem was a lack of references. While I’m not unfamiliar with the history of the Civil War, and I taught a course in US History, including a lecture on the war, I don’t collect it, and I don’t have any references. I eventually rented “Gettysburg” and watched it over and over. My patron described the uniform as black, but it is actually a very dark gray. Not only does General Heth wear the uniform, but so does General Hood, and another general whose name escapes me. So now, I had a visual color reference.

I did remember, then, that I do have, “The American Soldier”, by Philip Katcher. It is an anthology of Osprey volumes on American uniforms, from the Revolution up through Vietnam, and it does include a nice section on the Civil War. As it turns out, the uniform shown in “Gettysburg” was an interpretation of the standard general’s uniform specified by the Confederate regulations. There is an illustration in the book that shows this uniform, though the color is a little lighter, and more of a dark blue-gray than the charcoal shown in the movie. But that was my commission, and in any case, the Osprey reference would provide the smaller details, like lace, braid, etc.

So here is another figure that I used in this project, as a test bed for the colors and techniques, before applying them to General Heth:


I settled on Tamiya’s NATO Black, which is really more of a dark charcoal gray, and matched the movie’s depiction almost perfectly.

So, here is General Heth, with the main uniform details and his face completed:


Frock coat and trousers are NATO Black, hat and boots are Flat Black, sash is Flat Yellow, all by Tamiya; other colors are Model Master Flat White, Testor’s Gloss Copper and Gunze-Sangyo Gold, for brass buttons and gold braid.

from the left side:


from the right:


and from the back:


More to follow...
While I was working on General Heth, I finished the test figure:


This casting is by Ted Deddens of TedToy, and it was given out a couple of years ago as the premium for renewing subscriptions to “Toy Soldier & Model Figure” magazine. I think it’s supposed to represent Stonewall Jackson. Here are some more views of this figure:




This picture illustrates a problem that I must often deal with in stage lighting, by the way-the brim of his cap causes a shade on his eyes, for the light source above the subject’s head. As we say in my theater, nobody thinks about the light guy...
Here is the finished General Heth:


His hat cords were painted in, and the base was given a traditional toy soldier treatment, with plain green.

The last bit of detail was to add the Austrian knot on his sleeves. The casting did not have this detail, since it represents a Union officer, and the Union didn’t use that style of lace. So I had to free-hand it:



In “Gettysburg”, Heth had gold lace, so that’s what I painted here. But from the Osprey anthology, it looks like there were variations, such as the white lace and piping on the figure of Jackson. I know that there was variation among Confederate generals’ uniforms, from styles such as a military frock, to sack coats cut much like civilian coats, to shell jackets or coatees among cavalry officers.

I used a matte lacquer (DullCote) between the various steps, too. Some of the paints I used, especially the metallics, are gloss, but also, I wanted to seal each pass, to prevent damage when handling.

One final pic-this is a shot of my General Heth, next to another copy of the same casting in its original paint job as it came from King-White’s factory:


I wanted to give you an idea of what the original figure looked like, and also, the style that King-White established.

This was a fun project for me. It was my first serious attempt to paint figures in the modern matte toy soldier style, and it was also the first time anyone asked me to paint something for him. I hope you enjoy seeing this brief SBS as much as I enjoy sharing it with you all!
Well done. The face work really came in to it's own when you painted it. Nice job on the sleeves lace. As usual a great post!
Great work, congrats on landing the commission job.

Nice to read all the info as always.

Chas ;)
Thanks, guys! My buddies tease me that they'll have me painting connoisseur style yet ;) (but I'm not quite ready to give up being a little oldt Tschermann toy maker yet)

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