Whilst on the train this morning I took the opportunity to reread Little Wars by H.G.Wells via my Sony E book reader. It is a vastly entertaining read and whilst for my part I have no desire to clamber about on the lawn in a straw boater using 'firing' artillery (where is my soul? I hear you ask); I would defy any war games enthusiast, whatever their choice of period, not to be suitably inspired.
My own aspirations in respect of using larger scale figures for gaming with is a much more modest affair than the efforts of H.G. Wells and his contemporaries and are centred around the use of grid based rule systems and representative forces. Essentially I see what I want to tackle as being like DBA only using bigger figures. Allow me to expand on this. A typical DBA sized army ranges from 24 to 48 figures and is formed of 12 bases. Using larger figures, individually based and on a grid means that in effect the grid square or hex becomes the base. A DBA close order infantry base usually has 4 figures 'on it' so a 4" Hexon tile could have four 54mm figures 'in it'. Of course movement trays could easily be used - the 3" brigade squares used in Volley and Bayonet being a case in point. Cavalry is a little trickier in that it would be very difficult to fit more than a couple of mounted figures in a 4" hex although this would depend on the pose of the model. Artillery is easy enough as a gun and a few crew figures take up a hex quite tidily. As an example one of the representative forces I am considering requires a maximum of 48 infantry, 10 mounted figures, 3 guns and crews and a C in C. the Infantry is in 3 'units', each of 16 figures which includes an officer and a musician for decorative effect. This would give 12 'elements' or sub-units each of 4 figures - which is exactly how Battle Cry by Hasbro tackled this. The individual figures could also be used for skirmish games if required as well.
Terrain I envisage as being largely stylised and not strictly to scale and I am not unduly worried about this as I already have a number of simple but effective ideas for the same. A dozen trees and some home made building 'shells' would suffice and of course additional scenario specific terrain could be built as required.
I envisage using a 13 x 9 Hexon tiles playing area so with the entire army described above (which is not intended to be used all at once anyway!) would happily serve for the purpose.
The first 'army' would in fact be even smaller - 24 foot, 5 mounted and a gun and crew being a good example and which is also the size of an 'army' for use with the Volley Fire grid based game; formerly available from Irregular Miniatures.
From a cost and convenience perspective I am actively considering the use of 54mm plastic figures - primarily those produced by Armies in Plastic as the range is fairly extensive and the style of the figures is relatively basic which will suit my intended painting style far more readily.
I want to paint the figures in an 'old toy soldier' style which will mean basic flat colours and lashings of gloss varnish. This is why I am currently experimenting on painting techniques with a bag of very cheap (and crude) 54mm plastic modern infantry acquired from a local pound shop (49 figures for £1 which is great value in anybodies language!). If I can get the painting technique to work and to look right then the project is far more practical especially given my sloth-like painting speed of anything remotely organic.
It may not be H.G.Wells in body but possibly in spirit!