Wednesday, 10 December 2008
I have fallen behind in posting photos of the units I painted in October for the Long Island game, largely because of work but also a lack of decent photos! So whilst I had hoped to maintain chronological integrity in my postings, I am leaping forward to November, leaving behind for later use three lots of pics of AWI stuff I painted in October. After the Long Island game I decided to see how many Perry Napoleonic French, both plastic and metal, I could paint in a month. The result was "34", a little down on what I might reasonably have expected, but enough for just over a battalion's worth. I chose the 72nd Ligne (of Campi's brigade) because I have always been drawn to the Quatre Bras orbat and I wanted battalions that in 1:20 ratio equated to 24 figures (I can't face units of 36 figures, plus skirmishers). So here they are, the second battalion of the 72nd Ligne.
This battalion is a mix of plastic and metal figures. The plastic figures require minimal assembly; in most cases, i.e. for all the attack march poses, you just need to affix the backpack/cartridge case - you need to ensure that you choose the correct ones for figures wearing greatcoats and the flank companies (the former don't require the rolled-up greatcoat, whilst the latter need the short sword). The drummer, officer and skirmishers need more work. The only figure I had difficulty with was the firing voltiguer - it's difficult to get him to fire level, and instead looks as if he's shooting at something in the sky (or a mounted officer?). You can then do head swaps - there are plenty of spare heads with different headgear, battered shakos, "enthusiastic" expressions etc. These include the collars are very easy to affix to the figures, although again you have to ensure that you don't put a greatcoated head on a habit-veste figure etc (I'm sure there is a difference - the greatcoat collars are larger, and this can be seen on the spare heads). The generic nature of the backpack items leads to a couple of anomolies. All the cartridge cases have a pokalem attached - which makes no sense if you use the heads that are wearing pokalems. The cartridge cases do not have any company distinctions, but you can paint those on.
As for the sculpting, there is a slight loss of definition along the sides and the detail is not as crisp as with metals (as you'd expect). I had an undercoat disaster on my first batch of figures, in which I oversprayed and the paint erased much of the detail. But even with the loss of detail suffered as a result I was still pleased with how the figures looked. Occasionally I had to guess where a cross belt should have gone, but generally these figures paint up very well. The faces, in particular, are very well sculpted. The metal figures are pretty easy to spot once you notice the things they have that plastics don't! The mud effect on the trousers was applied largely with pastels, which have the advantage of "running" when varnish is applied, so resulting in quite a pleasing effect.
Aside from the fact that the metal figures have far larger bayonets and are a bit thinner across the front, the only significant uniform difference between the metals and the plastics is that the former have "2nd/3rd battalion" disc pompons on their shakos whilst the latter have "1st battalion" solid pompons. This is my main quandary - do you just paint everything in a solid colour and forget about the battalion distinctions? I suspect that's easier, although you could of course use the plastics for first battalions and metals for other battalions.
But all in all, these are lovely figures. They paint like a dream, cost about 35 pence each and have just the right amount of detail. The speed with which you can paint them means that units can be built up double-quick, which, frankly, is what counts most when building up Napoleon's armies . So why buy anything else? And as for the all-important question of whether I preferred painting the plastic Frenchies to the metal ones.....it's no contest - I preferred the plastics, and I never thought I'd ever say that. The second battalion is progressing nicely, with half completed now. Any readers who despair that I have been seduced by the Dark Side of Naps may like to know that the 9th Foot, in its Saratoga uniform, is well under way as well...
28 figures. Painted November 2008. Flag by GMB.