I'll start off my list of conversion ideas and musings with Malayan Aborigines:
Some look quite oriental, whilst others look a lot more Polynesian/Mellanesian. For the purposes of gaming clarity, the non-oriental look will make the figures easier to identify on the table, and give the force a more characterful feel.
Scheltrum do have a range of Borneo locals (who are the closest to Malaya in terms of ranges available) in the Dyaks in Kyaks range, but the figures look a bit crude and I'm not sure on the comparative size of the figures...
The next possibilities are the Pulp Figures 'Mellanesian tribesmen'
They are quite 'cartoon savages' in appearance, but compared to some of the pictures from places such as Papua New Guinea, then they don't look so bad. I can see that I'd have to work on the weaponry and shields, plumbing for Blow-pipes and spears, but they are a possibility; especially given the pack of 'Westernised' versions I'll show later.
Brigade do a set of 'Pacific Islanders' which could also be suitable
They all wear loin clothes, and have a similar look to the pulp figures islanders. Again, the weapons might need some work, but are a slightly less hollywood possibility. They also have some 'Westernised' fighters, although I forgot to upload any pictures....
The only other possibility I can think of would be to go for a more 'Dyak'/Indian look
Whilst the Brittania range has a couple of westernised Dyak/Iban scouts, for a more tribal look the closest I've come up with are the Brigade Caribbean head hunter cannibals (Javaro? tribesmen from south america). They've got blow-pipes (although, too short) and a couple of other weapons... but I'm not sure if they are the look I'm really after.
More thinking required, and I'll carry on looking at the Osprey illustrations and try to draw inspiration. I have a sneaking suspicion it might be a case of converting the Pulp figures; although I'm sure somewhere I've seen some other tribesmen (not pygmies) in loincloths and with blow-pipes. Maybe they were conversions?
Based of these and the Osprey illustration, I'm currently leaning towards conversions of Foundry Darkest Africa Uniform askari, converting their fezzes into floppy 'boonies' (or removing them altogether), along with doing a bit of work on the muskets to make them look more like shotguns. The negroid faces would also work better with the likes of the Pulp aborigines... speaking of which, the pulp 'provisional fighters' would probably make an appearance as less uniformed members of this force, although I'd be inclined not to bother changing their weapons across. It'll be a case of waiting with an eye on eBay for the Askari I think, as I've sold mine, and don't really want to pay full Foundry prices for something which I may only get a game or two out of...
Along a similar line, although with a more 'civilised' look are Malayan home guard & the Armed workers some rubber planters put together as a crude defence force...
I'm not too sure about figures for these chaps (and chapesses) - I've got the pulp figures students militia in floppy hats to use as rubber tappers, and a stray Kuala Lumpur detective (Based on the 'minute man in Malaya' picture, although I am beginning to think he might actually be a special policeman), but I'm not sure what else to use. Possibly some more assorted Chinese with rifles, and looking at the ladies in the bottom picture maybe some more 'military' types...
I've still been thinking of adding more variety to my CTs, in addition to the Pulp Chinese I've already got on the model desk. Currently the challenge is getting the uniforms 'about' right (as in the top 2 photos) rather than having some 'suspects' in civvy gear like in the bottom one (who is being treated by a member of a Malayan Police Jungle squad)
My other idea was along similar lines, and involved converting the Warlord SHS Japs with a modified GB/Woodbine Kepi head, but I do wonder if these will be a bit too skinny in comparison.
The Malayan Police are still posing a problem too - I may think about using Askari for them too, but I feel they look a bit too 'neat' for that, and the only other figures in semi suitable attire would be the Foundry Chindits, with heads swops and less webbing...
Western Officers might be easier - I'm hoping that one of the North Africa ranges out there has a chap in officers cap and shorts, to get this sort of feel
And the only other police contingent that I'd really be after would be the 'Jungle squads', who wore a fairly military set of fatigues
As they are quite equipment light, and being predominantly malay will be of slight statrue, I was thinking that some of the commando miniatures Borneo troops, and use the oppertunity presented by seperate weapons to use TAG kit to a) emphasise the diminutive stature of the troops and b) back date them slightly through the use of Stens & SMLEs
The more I look at civillians, the more aware I become of the range of outfits worn by the 3 main 'native' races (Malays, Chinese & Indian Tamils) - so I think a mix of vietnam civillians, Pulp figures chinese and maybe a few Afghan/indians should work well.
The final note is on some of the improvised armoured vehicles which were used - most of this will probably have to be plastic-card conversions of Dinky or Corgi vehicles of about the right scale I think, but no real plans on any of them yet...
|Up armoured planters car|
|Malayan Police armoured car|
|British army 'armoured' dodge|
During the early stages of the war, the brits used Brengun carriers, so I was thinking of using the Warlord Brengun carrier, with some of the boonie heads from MoFo/GB. The only problem is that they have cammo netting on, which will be a bit of a faff to cut off, but still, it's probably easier than me trying to sculpt some...!