Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Interview with Bill the man behind Cracker Line and Plank Road.

Following on from my last three interviews with some of the people behind the companies and manufacturers who bring us the wonderful miniatures we game and collect here is the next in line.This time we travel over the Atlantic Ocean to speak to Bill from Cracker Line to talk all things American Civil War.

Hello Bill thanks for offering your time to answer some questions for Grand Scale wargaming.

Okay first things first, why, when and where did Cracker Line and Plank Road ACW Miniatures come into being? 
I started Cracker Line almost as an after-thought. I had contacted Bob Soutar at the recommendation of Simon Bargery, owner of Redline 10mm Napoleonic Miniatures. I admired the style of the 10mm Russian infantry in Great Coats. I wanted to have figures in Great Coats sculpted for my upcoming Chattanooga Campaign, which I was bringing to Historicon. The caveat was, they had to be for the Western Theatre and wearing mostly slouch hats. When I received the figures, I was astounded by the detail and the quality of the castings. Griffin Moulds out of the UK does some fine work. My figures came out of the bag ready to paint. I was convinced other people would want to buy these little gems. I had already formed Good Ground, LLC a few years earlier to sell bases and terrain. Now I was ready to start a line of my own. In January of this year I finalized the purchase of Starfort Miniatures from Rod Langton. I originally designed my figures to be compatible with Starfort. They are now Plank Road Miniatures, my answer to those gaming in the Eastern Theatre. I will expand these lines and bring the mould qualities up to the same standards as Cracker Line.

What do think makes a good 10mm ACW miniature?
 My idea of a good 10mm ACW figure is one with a large variety of realistic poses. I studied the art of Don Troiani, Keith Rocco, Dale Gallon and John Paul Strain to develop the poses for my figures. I think my sculptor, Bob Soutar, has successfully given my figures the visual appeal of this fine art work. The poses are active, but not comic in appearance. They look American. One of my customers has said they slouch, they look tired, in short, they look like Civil War soldiers, not well-drilled Europeans in American uniforms. I thought that hit the nail on the head. In fact, his name is William Jones and he is quoted on the home page of my website. I also feel it is important to match the size and girth of other lines so that the figures may be mixed, giving the gamer and almost infinite variety of poses. It never made sense to me to make the figures too large or too small to match other manufacturers. I own figures from many lines, and I wanted my own lines to fit well with them. I think I have accomplished this as well.

Can you say what ranges and products are next and what's the future for Cracker Line and Plank Road ACW Miniatures?
Cracker Line will do cavalry and Wilder’s Mounted Rifles next. Up next for Plank Road is the Iron Brigade. I will also be altering some of the Plank Road figures and adding poses to the current line to bring them in line with my philosophy. 

With rules solely for 10mm Ancients and Medieval gaming a little thin on the ground is this the same for those who wish to game the ACW period, and what rule sets would you recommend? 
Actually, there are a lot of choices for the Civil War gamer. I, however, love Fire & Fury in both its Brigade and Regimental iterations. In fact, Rich Hasenauer and I are old pards and I have worked with him on many of the scenarios out there today. My regimental and brigade packs were designed with Fire & Fury in mind. 

For anyone interested in starting out along the ACW gaming road what size and what make up of army would you recommend?
It makes sense to start with the regimental sized actions. Doing parts of battles, like the Wheat Field instead of Gettysburg or Starkweather’s stand at Peryville rather than the whole engagement. One can ignore cavalry at first, as it plays only a marginal role in most Civil War battles. Start with infantry and artillery. You can’t go wrong. Most of the manufacturers also have starter packs. My own are called Army Starter Packs, which have one US, one CS Brigade Packs and one artillery battery pack.  

With time spent being involved with Cracker Line and Plank Road ACW Miniatures do you have any of have time to play war games and do you play any other periods apart from ACW?
I do run games as a GM and often push lead with my own club, SMG (South Florida Miniatures Gamers). I have interest in most of the horse and musket periods starting with the French & Indian Wars and AWI all the way up through 1865. I also love WWI, WWII land, air and naval. I have lost count of the number of scales and figures I have. I don’t know any more. The good thing is, neither does my lovely spouse.  

For anybody who hasn't seen your miniatures or products can you give us the web details and links where these could be found? 
Visit my site at and you will see a wide variety of pictures of the figures, battlefields, bases and other accoutrement including my exclusive line of flags from Old Gunny. I now have all the Chickamauga flags in 10mm and will soon be adding Gettysburg. Between the two, there are literally a few hundred options, well researched by Tim Harrop, the Old Gunny himself. A nice thing about Tim, he takes no profit from this as all proceeds are donated to the Museum of the Confederacy. 

Once again thank you Bill for taking time out and answering my questions for Grand Scale Wargaming.
You're most welcome and thanks for the opportunity to talk about Good Ground,LLC.

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