Monday, 13 September 2010

Plastic fantastic

I had intended to move onto some more Carlist Wars figures, but having made inroads into my plastic infantry pile I thought it only right to open one of the cavalry boxes that I picked up at Salute in April. I painted up two cuirassiers to see how they'd look, then started on 4 I have 8 being based and I'm hoping to have the 7th Cuirassiers finished by the end of the month (16 figures).

The new and forthcoming Napoleonic releases from Perry Miniatures and Warlord Games have prompted a lot of "plastics talk" of late. In some quarters this had led to a polarisation of opinion and some unecessary aggravation - I had a rather unpleasant encounter with a loon on TMP a couple of weeks ago. I also used to be sceptical about plastic figures, and it is certainly true that for some people (myself included, initially) plastics seem a retrograde step back from the use of "grown-up" metal figures. Others seem to be rather defensive about either their own (much-loved and patiently-amassed) existing collections or particular metal ranges. But looking around the hobby it seems pretty clear for many people hard plastics are becoming the figures of choice for Napoleonic rank-and-file, as recent demo games at shows seem to suggest. My own view is that the Perry plastic French infantry are some of the finest 25mm figures available for the period. It's not just cost - these figures are life-like and easy to paint, in my view easily eclipsing many metal equivalents. They are not to all tastes and I accept that - those brought up with the Gilder-esque school may well think that realistically-posed figures "lack animation". But that's progress for you...

And so to Perry Miniatures' plastic cuirassiers. Having been accused by some of being a "Perry this, Perry that fan-boy", I shall try to give an honest opinion of these figures. The horses come in two halves and so you can create several different poses, although the joins are not always exact and you may well need some putty to fill them in. Presumably as a result of the moulding process, some of the horses have plastic ridges between the ears - you can of course carve this out but it's quite fiddly to do so without breaking off the ears (I stopped bothering after almost doing exactly that). It has been noted that the horses look a bit small compared to the riders. Then again, they are bigger than some of the other Perry metal figures - see the photo of a cuirassier behind General Campi below - and match the metal cuirassiers well. The riders are nicely sculpted, with a choice of "swords shouldered" or "swords at charge". Their carbines and scabbards are separate and attaching them to the figures is probably the most difficult part of the entire process (you have to use super-glue). Also, the painting sheet doesn't really help in showing you how to attach the carbine - it advises to attach it to the horse furniture rather than the trooper, but the only illustration of this on a real figure is very dark and it's hard to see how this works. I had to examine the metal figures, but their carbines are suspended rather differently.

I've found that my preferred way of painting these figures is to paint the trooper and horse separately (as I would normally do) and glue them together afterwards. I painted my first 2 figures fully-assembled and I found it a nightmare to reach all parts of the figures. Another painting problem is that mould-lines run straight down the middle of a couple of the troopers' heads, which results in a lack of definition and makes they hard to paint (and I haven't yet made up my mind whether to paint the eyes or leave them in shadow; I've tried both and am not satisfied with either). A further gripe is the plastic "unit bases" - you get a mix of 1-, 2- and 3-figure bases which make it pretty much impossible to base an entire box either on Warhammer-esque individual bases or on larger-scale unit bases - I've based this 16-figure unit by empl0ying the four 3-figure bases and the two 2-figure bases, but I can see how the bases supplied won't work for everyone.

In summary, I have found these figures tricky to put together and paint, but I'm hoping they will look good en masse. The cost is certainly an important factor in going plastic for Napoleonic cavalry, and I suspect the problems identified above will largely disappear with practice, once I work out how to deal with them. Also below is a wip shot of the 61st Ligne's first battalion, well on the way to completion. Once the cuirassiers are finished it's back to the AWI!


Greg Sapara said...


Your assessment of the Perry plastics line is spot on!

I've recently delved into my collected-and-unopened piles of Perry Napoleonics, and have had a field day painting them up. I find them quite superior to the Victrix line (although I've got a few of them as well), mostly due to the minimal assembly required. I also find the Victrix rifles a bit troubling, being so slender. I'm hoping my spray of clear polyurethane will stiffen them up a bit.

The only quibble I have with the Perry plastics is that they are a bit slender compared to the metal companion figures. I've noticed this especially with the Rifles command compared to the plastic riflemen. Not enough to exclude them from the gaming table mind you, but a noticeable difference nonetheless.


Anonymous said...


How does farmhouse of Mont St Jean sound like for you? I'll do the tall gateway, farmhouse and some walling.
Cheers Paul

guy said...

I bought a couple of packs of these at Colours and 2 packs of the metal figures including a v dynamic pack of 3 cavalrymen hit by cannister. They are however taking me ages to put together. Henry's article in Battlegames a few months back on putting together one of the ACW boxes has been a help. They are big figures. I have a regiment of Front Rank as well and they seem to be of roughly the same size.


Mericánach said...


The cuirassiers look fantastic. Certainly your best mounted figures to date.

ColCampbell50 said...


Wonderful paint job on the cuirassiers!


Docsmith said...

Lovely job as usual Giles - betcha can't stop at two or three... or a dozen etc etc - they are so damn nice to paint! That said, I agree with your comments on putting them together and the shortcomings of the figures themselves (there - I've said it! And they accused me of being an apologist for Perrys!)

I found the ankles on some of the horse very slender, so if not handled carefully, can bend or if you are particularly clumsy like me - snap off entirely!

One thing - making up the plastics I now always use Revell model glue - its way more efficient than the usual superglue, which should be reserved for metals. The other thing that bothered me was the cartridge boxes. I cut several off and positioned them on the belt in the middle of the back - which was the same one used for the musket with a metal clip located near the waist on the right hand side.

If you liked the cuirassier - wait till you do some hussars!


airhead said...

Great looking paint jobs, looking forward to see the finished unit.

All the best


Anonymous said...

Lovely brushwork Giles,


Peeler said...

Well, an excellent & informative write up and cracking painting to boot, thanks & much enjoyed.

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Outstanding work Giles!


AJ (Allan) Wright said...

I would say you're definitely a Perry fan-boy. That said I don't think there's any reason to apologize for being one. The Perry brothers not only make an excellent product, but they're also friends of yours.

I don't think the horses look small at all, not at least compared to some of the crimes that 15mm figure companies commit in that regard.

You've painted these up very nicely. They look great.

legatus hedlius said...

Great stuff. Cuirassiers are my favourite historical troop type ever! You might even encourage me to finish my one part painted metal figure and move on to my unopened box of plastics!