At first glance, the IMEX Prairie Schooner looks similar to the classic Conestoga Wagon, except that it is smaller, and it does not have the curved ship-like bottom which gave the Schooner its name. The IMEX wagon is similar in dimensions to Marmaduke’s Road Wagon which measured 4.0 × 1.2 m, and which had a cargo capacity of 0.45 tons. Vehicles of this size typically had a team of 6-10 pairs of oxen.
Overland travel and freight traffic across the American prairies inspired a variety of wagon designs, of which the Conestoga Wagon is probably the most famous, and Henry Sager’s Windwagon the most unusual vehicle. Windwagens sailed the Smoky Hill Route to Denver, and some of them reportedly travelled 80 kilometres per day, passing hundreds of drawn wagons on the way.
- Prairie Schooner, 16 parts
- Type: Covered Wagon
- Length: 3.89 m
- Width: 2.23 m
- Height: 2.98 m
- Cargo Bay: 3.13 × 1.10 m
- Cargo Capacity: 0.5 t
- Team: 1 Pair of Oxen
- Chuck Wagon, 15 parts
Good choice of subject, this covered wagon may be used as a civilian transport or military supply vehicle.
The sculptor is obviously the same who created the exquisite American Civil War soldiers for Accurate Figures, which were also distributed by Revell. Sadly, there are very few civilian types on the market which would supplement this excellent range. IMEX has announced American Pioneer figures, and these should go well with the covered wagon.
Illustrated assembly instructions are easy to follow, except that the wagon body is shown in a mirrored position. The completed model will have the small stowage box on the right-hand side, not on the left as shown in the instructions. Only in this position will the wagon body align with the chassis, otherwise the chassis protrudes 4.5 mm at the rear of the vehicle. In this new position, the stowage box is off center, and it will conflict with the rear wheel. One way to fix this is to cut a new notch and move the stowage box forward by 4 mm.
The vertical supports of the wagon body, bolt heads on wheel rims, and the large canvas tilt provide just enough detail to make this an interesting model for miniatures painters. The military version of the wagon may have regimental or army quarter master designations stencilled on the tilt, and these will add interest in the model.
The wheels are superb, with fine detail on the rims, and with unusually slender spokes. IMEX would do well to issue these wheels in a separate accessory set which would allow modellers to upgrade other vehicles they may have in their collection.
The tilt calls for staining and drybrushing to bring out the weathered look one would expect to see after a few months of campaigning.
If the vehicle is painted as a Union army transport, the civilian drivers may have to be replaced by a uniformed limber rider from one of the available artillery sets, otherwise they may be painted as Confederate soldiers.
The pair of oxen supplied for the prairie schooner are much nicer than the horses which go with the chuck wagon in this kit. At 15 mm, they scale out to only 10.3 hands, and one pair of them would not be able to pull the loaded wagon for long. Additional HO scale oxen are about the same size, and they will be readily available at model railroad shops. The oxen may be used as farm animals if they are replaced by military draft horses.
The yoke used to harness the oxen is an interesting feature of this kit, and it has been modelled more accurately than the horse harness used on the other wagon in the kit.
Cast in medium brown plastic with grey plastic wheels, ready for play.
Good casting quality, but there is noticeable flash on drivers and oxen.
Driver, animals, and vehicle canopy sculpted by Bill Farmer.
Wagon model designed by Ted Tear.
Not a snap-together toy, the wagon parts need to be glued, pinned, or soldered to prevent the vehicle from falling apart constantly. It is best to treat this as a regular model kit, and put it together permanently. Considering the modelling work that will be put into the kit, it would have been nice if reins and draw bars had been included to super-detail it.
The oxen have no bases, and they will be difficult to attach to a diorama or wargame base without sinking their hoofs into the glue. Collectors who do not mount their troops in dioramas probably prefer horses without plastic bases, because the relative height between the wagon and the draft animals would be distorted otherwise. In this particular case, the additional height of the base would have made the puny animals appear a little bigger.
It would have been a nice touch to add wood grain to the planking on the wagon body.
- US and Confederate Supply Wagon, 1861–1865
- Civilian Covered Wagon, 1850s–1900s
Wargamers are notoriously short of supply vehicles, and they are well advised to invest a portion of their personal defense budget in IMEX wagons. There really aren’t enough civilian miniatures on the market to complement this range yet, and it is likely that many of the wagons will end up in the Confederate or Union army. The simple box type construction is typical of military vehicles, and minor conversion work will make these wagons suitable for other armies of the period.
IMEX Miniatures sample from Toy Soldier HQ