Wednesday 2 November 2011

The Scale of the Problem and the Problem of the Scale....Part 2

I have spent a trying though rewarding few days pondering the question of scale for my late 19th century 'imagi-nation' project but think I have now narrowed it down to two main contenders - each of which has its own set of challenges!

I am not going to use 42mm for definite. The cost is a big factor for sure but also the fact that the only range I would consider - Irregular Miniatures - is quite variable in the quality of the detail. Simply put, I can cope with 'old toy soldier' levels of detail or 'normal' levels of detail but not both at the same time or in the same army! It is a personal thing and is no reflection on the models per se; they look quite splendid when painted but are not for me. Similarly, the 'home cast' option is not one I have any inclination to pursue as it would be fraught with domestic harmony issues!

54mm are still under consideration but are falling away for a number of reasons. The main one is the table footprint as some of the models available are cast in fairly dramatic poses and take up a reasonable amount of space. Visually they would look fine but in a confined gaming space would tend towards the cartoon look. The use of a grid would mitigate this slightly but it would still look odd unless you used larger hexes/squares. My thanks to Ross Mac for pointing this out - I experimented with the cheap 54mm plastic moderns I own on my Hexon terrain and he is absolutely right about the 'look' - the figures looked way too large for the playing area, consisting as it does of 4" hexes.

This leaves the 28mm Perry plastics or 30mm Spencer Smiths. Each range has its own merits for my particular use and so ultimately the choice will come down to which 'look' I am happiest with. Having said that, the decision is by no means a straightforward one.

The Perry plastics have the advantage of being detailed and well supported with additional material not currently available in plastic - artillery, personalities etc. They also lend themselves to conversion very readily and the plastic is a medium I am very happy working with. I would be concerned with the level of detail on the models given my modest painting ability but, and it is a fairly substantial but, if the Army Painter 'dip' lives up to its reputation (and I have no reason to think otherwise) this should not present a major difficulty.

The Spencer Smiths are a different story all together. The plastic versions of yesteryear have long gone but the figures are now available in metal and are very attractively priced. They are crying out for an 'old toy soldier' style paint job and the range available is pretty good. I am referring to the original figures and not some of the later add ons as these tend to be not only more detailed but also more expensive. They would be simple to paint and could be converted as required easily enough (although not as easily as when they were plastic!). Taking the ACW range as the basis for my plan then the kepi wearing types would be ideal for the 'Russian' element of my project. The Turks would be a little more problematic as I would need to fashion lots of fezzes. I reckon that taking a hat wearing Confederate and filing off the brim and squaring the crown should just about do it. I have ordered a few samples to see how this will work out so hopefully will be in a position to make my final decision fairly soon.

The ironies continue though - a Charge! based organisation using Spencer Smith figures only some 35 years later!

Better late than never I suppose….;-)


Ross Mac said...

I haven't seen the SS Zouave, is he wearing a turban?

Before you make a final decision, I strongly recommend that you get some samples of Scruby 30mm from Mike at Historifigs. They will be slightly more expensive than SS when overseas postage is added etc but they should still be quite cheap compared to most modern figures. Their level of detail should be a good match for SS and they have Zouaves in fez in their ACW range, as well as Egyptians etc in their Colonial range.

(I confess though that I like working with plastic as well)

As for Charge! I've had a copy since 73 and dabbled then but have only really started playing over the last 5 years and have been blown away by how much better it plays than anything else I've played. Fats, dramatic and it seems to get people making more reasonable/realistic decisions based on military principles rather than trying to get the best out of exploiting clever mechanisms. Pity it plays best with an opponent or I'd use it for my 1840's games.

David Crook said...

Hi Ross,

Thanks for heads up re the Scruby kit - certainly handy for some extras.

The SS Zouave seems to have a turban and Peter the proprietor of Spencer Smith will try and get an enlargement on the site. Currently if you click on the thumbnail you get a very nice picture of a Jacklex British Colonial limber and team! I have ordered a couple to see what they are like as I have in mind using them for Bashi Bazouks or such like.

I couldn't agree more about Charge! as a game - and for very the reasons you mention!

All the best,