BUM have already made a general set of figures for Roger’s Rangers (see review here), so we will not be introducing that unit again here. Instead we will concentrate on the central theme of this set, the whaleboat. At the time of the French-Indian War North America was still very much a wilderness, inhabited by scattered communities of natives and a small but growing number of European colonists in the East. Communication was difficult, and with much of the fighting taking place in heavily forested areas, rivers and lakes were much the easiest means of getting around - by skating when frozen over, and by boat when the weather was warmer. Initially both sides used the bateaux that were the normal craft in peacetime, but these large, broad and shallow draft vessels were very hard to handle (having no keel), so the British brought in whaleboats, which were smaller but had a keel and bow and were much easier to control. For the many expeditions undertaken by the rangers such whaleboats were much used, and their use was one of the many skills expected of them.
The whaleboat in this set is made of a robust resin and is a really nice model. At around 125 mm in length (9 metres) it is a good size, and it is a waterline model, meaning the keel and hull below the water is missing so it sits easily on the table top. The craft comes as one piece, with everything including the benches together, so there is no assembly. The figures fit inside well, although the positioning of the rearmost rowlock makes it difficult to line the oar up with the oarsman. The model looks to be perfectly typical of this kind of craft, so this is a cracking little model. Please note that for space reasons both the boat and the pier are shown smaller than actual size compared with the figures.
The other major resin piece in this set is the pier. Naturally something of this nature would be required for boat traffic, and with its relatively simple construction we found this model to be very believable. The pier is a generous 173 mm in length, and includes a number of items of cargo which are part of the model and not separate. As with the whaleboat the model is robust, and suitably irregular, suggesting a functional device with no attempt to make it pretty, which is surely quite accurate.
The figures in this set are four oarsmen, a standing figure holding the tiller and another manning the swivel gun. All are much the same as the figures in the general rangers set already reviewed, so our comments there apply equally here. All are in a rather too smart uniform, which is not wrong in itself but does not reflect the more ramshackle appearance such men normally presented. In this case extra kit for the expedition may well be stowed on board, so the lack of packs etc. is not a problem, but we would still have liked to see some winter clothing, even though the very act of using a boat tells us that the waterway in question is not frozen over. The rowers are very stiff and do not give the impression of pulling on the oars, but the poses of the man steering and the gunner are quite good if uninspiring. The tiller itself fits the man's hands quite well, but be warned the very fragile material used to make the men means it is easy to break off hands etc. Sculpting is not great, but there is no flash anywhere.
The separate oars are made in a nice resilient plastic so do not snap unless abused. They are a good length and fit both the hands and the rowlocks fairly well. The separate mast, with sail wrapped round it, is a nice little extra, but the swivel gun, while quite a nice model and accurate, is made of the same soft material as the figures, so needs careful handling.
This is an unusual subject for a set, but such craft were an essential tool of the rangers and anyone looking to recreate many of the ranger actions will have need of whaleboats such as this. The boat and pier are excellent, while the accessories are useful, but the figures suffer from the same drawbacks as the other rangers figures in this range. Nonetheless a very pleasing little scene can be made with the parts in this box, so there is much that is positive here.