Buffalo Soldiers

Submitted by Al LaFleche


The term “Buffalo Soldiers” refers to the segregated regiments of the US Army raised after the Civil War. They were the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the24th and 25th Infantry. They were employed in the west during the Indian wars from 1866 to the 1890’s. They were active in the Spanish American War, fighting with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in Cuba. While there were “colored” units in WW I and WW II, the cavalry units were not involved in combat though the Infantry saw action in the Pacific.

The subject of this review is Minuteman Models 1/10 bust of a Buffalo Soldier. It was sculpted by Ken Farrar and the box art painted by Dan Capuano. The kit is in a sturdy cardboard box with a single 8 ˝ X 11 reference sheet.

It consists of four parts: Hat, head, torso and plinth. It is molded in creamy white resin. The main parts have a pour plug which will need to be removed. As seen in the accompanying pictures, the hat’s is at the right side of the brim, the head’s at the crown or the head and the torso on the bottom. My plinth has big air bubble and the casting is quite rough. That matters not to me, since I pose my busts on nice bases from professional woodworkers.

The hat has a light seam under the back of the brim and along the base of the turned up front. There are seams on both arms which run from the bottom to the shoulder seam of the shirt, then vanish. The head is almost perfectly cast except for a seam on the very back of the neck. Clean up on these parts should only involve a bit of sand paper or files and a couple minutes.

The hat has the emblem of Company B, 10th Cavalry which included the crossed swords. It appears to be a non regulation issue item, which leaves the painter room for creativity. The torso also wears a bandana which could be any color or pattern of the 1880’s.The torso is clad in Model 1882 blouse which should be dark blue with yellow trim on the collar and to tops of the pockets. There is a pair of suspenders which could be black or off white cotton. The carbine sling is cast across the figure with the buckle to the front, allowing a bit of brass on the figure. Close up pictures show a small bubble at the tip of the bandana.

The face is sculpted with subdued African features. There is no excessively flared nose or overly large lips. This will not be seen as a racist, minstrel show caricature by any means. The hair at the back of the head is cast in a closely cropped manner suggesting tightly curled locks. The face is adorned with a modest moustache and a bit of chin beard. Of particular note is the excellent musculature on the right rear neck.

The folds and creases on the shirt look to be very well done.

The only flaw seems to be unevenly sculpted eyes.

Assembly will be obvious and simple. Dry fitting the head into the collar shows just about perfect fit. Even before cleaning off the pour plugs, the hat looks like it will fit very well on top of the head.

The kit has a very reasonable price of $30 and is available from the manufacturer or any of the usual figure dealers we frequent.