Wooden Wars: Wooden Soldier Project Part 1

Ideas, inspirations, and Pat.Pending
It all started when I was playing “siege of the fortress” with my son, using our Nerf(TM) cannon.  The soon to be demolished star fort, made of ABC blocks, was was thinly garrisoned by a dozen wooden civil war "flats" soldiers I bought at a museum store in Gettysburg years ago. After a couple of well placed volleys, it was apparent that we needed more troops, so I went on a search for more wood soldiers. To my amazement I couldn't find anything that fit the bill which wasn’t an antique. There was a company that made great French Foreign Legion figures a decade or so back, but they are no longer around, and folks who have them horde them, and rightly so!

Undaunted, and rather excited about the prospect, I dusted off my inner child and decided to make my own! (This by the way is pretty much how every Flagship Games! game and model was created).  A year  later with lots of R&D, challenges and fun, my Wooden Wars project is PATENT PENDING.  I am super excited to start sharing my experiences, soldiers and rules with you! This is the first in a series of designer diaries of my Wooden Soldier Project for Wooden Wars.
Mat board mock up. Lots of revs of this type were invaluable.
Figuring out pieces, pondering sprue layouts.

Another mock up which much later became a foot officer.

Specs: When art meets science
When I start to work on a project such as this, I need a check list of what goals I want to achieve - what I want the end "thing" to be.  These specifications are my metrics, or my spaghetti on the wall, for my models.  This really keeps you honest, and I encourage it!
·        Models have to be structurally sound and durable, ie: they need to take a beating when tossed around.
·         Good sized for visibility and because kids will be handling them (and yes, my poor eyes can’t see "small" to paint any more).
·       Easy to assemble. No real fiddly pieces, easy to glue together with basic wood glue.
·         Look good on their own.  Even if not painted, should read great as a wooden soldier or horse or cannon, etc.
·         Lots of customization. I don’t want just “Flats”, these guys have to be 3d models with lots of conversion capabilities, with the possibility for detail on all sides.
·         Production ready.  I can’t hand make armies, so have to design with a plan for production.  Laser cutting has been on my mind for these, so that is the goal.

My drawing board; a small desk that fits onto my painting table.

The Drawing board:
Which kind wooden soldiers should I make first was a no-brainer, as my first and eternal love is the Napoleonic period.  Next considerations were: How detailed?  What style? How historically accurate?  After doing a ton of research, I kept returning to contemporary drawings from the period. I realized how very stylized and wonderful the uniforms, horses, faces etc. really were, and the details given were very readable.  I had found my “note”.  Special shout-outs to Mr. M. Siggins, Esq. who provided me with some great resource material in the way of photographs of a window display he came across, and to F. Avener for selling me a 1966 edition of Military drawings and paintings in the Royal Collection Vol. 1 at a club swap meet.  Just goes to show you that inspiration comes from the darndest places!

Drawings like this were a huge source of inspiration.

After many design drafts, using lots of tracing paper and paper mock ups, I got the scale and a look that I wanted; an “Iconic” Napoleonic uniform that reads well, and can be used for a myriad of real or pretend nationalities.   I handmade a few of these guys first out of card stock, iterating over and over for scale, base size, stability for game play (more on that later) and aesthetics, then made version out of basswood using a jewelers saw and hand painted detail lines. After about a two months, I had my primus figure!
Primus wooden soldier. My first wood version.

3 quarter view. Layers to get both detail and depth were important from the start.

That guy lead eventually to this guy. These are some of the first prototype laser cut and etched pieces of my wooden soldiers. From the base of his feet to the top of his shako he stands 82mm. From bottom of base to top of plume 100mm. 

Front view. I used miniatures paint and some ink to paint the fig.

Rear details. In this older version the turn-back lines were not quite right.

Built-out examples using different pieces on the same model.
 Next update I'll talk more about laser cutting, and cavalry.


  1. Looks awesome! I'm glad to see these getting the light of day. So what's the next step?

  2. Fantastic write-up and a fascinating insight into the amount of effort going into this project! Can't wait to see more.

  3. Great recap of your creative process Mssr. Foss! I've shared some of the prototypes with the locals and everyone is impressed. I think you may have a winner on your hands here... You know Karly and I are wishing you all the success in the world!

    Cheers mate!

    - Rod

  4. Thank you for your kind words. I'm quite excited about Wooden wars- and your feedback really keeps me more so!

    Rodney- (editor note- Rod is my partner from Flagship games)glad you like the prototypes, Looking forward to your feedback on assembly and painting!