Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why I use Plastic Figures...

"My name is Allen and I am a gamer of plastics..." there, I've said it! Yes, I'm one of the heathens out there. My entire SYW collection is in various plastics. The great Lagerburg and Slobbovian Army is composed of 9 line BN's, 3 grenadier BN's, 4 light BN's, one sapper platoon; 2 Dragoon RGT's, one of Horse Grenadiers one of Kurassiers, two of Hussars, one of Light Dragoons, and one of Uhlans; and eight field batteries, with two extra 24-pound siege guns and two howitzers in the artillery park. To accomplish this, I decided to utilize as many figues per box as possible, so I sat down and did some figuring. The numbers for, say, Revell Prussian infantry crunched out like this. In each box, then costing about $7.50 USD, you get:

loading, 8
marching, 5
st. firing, 8
kneeling, 8
grenadiers @ charge bayonets, 5
gren's @ run, back leg raised, 4
gren's @ run, front leg raised, 4
LT, 1
SGT, 2
Ensign, 1
drummer, 1
CO on horse, 1

Thus, if I wanted 48-figure line/grenadier battalions and 24-figure light/militia/engineer BN's, I would usually need six boxes of Revell figures. So, with 6 boxes, I got:
3 line BN's (firing, kneeling, loading),
1 grenadier BN (combining the running ones),
1 fusilier/Jager BN (the grenadiers at Chg. bayonets) and
a Light/Militia/Engineer BN (the marching hatmen).
I would allot one LT, two SGT's, one ENS, a drummer and a COL to each unit:

Average cost, about $7.50 USD per unit. Cavalry was a bit more, requiring two boxes per RGT of 24 sabres, plus officers. Average cost, about $15/unit. Artillery, depending on whose I used, was about a box per battery. I relaxed my authenticy needs a bit with regards to cavalry and artillery, as I am going the "fictitional nation-state" route in my gaming. This opens up the availability of using Napoleonic hussars (some SYW units had busbies anyway, true?), Italeri AWI light dragoons, some perhaps with RHA-supplied Tarletons, and a smattering of others, all this in keeping with my personal requirement for frugality. Now admittedly it was true that I was buying Revell Prussians when they were still pretty easy to get. Now only the Austrian infantry are priced reasonably at Tower Hobbies, at about $7.50 USD/box. To obtain specific SYW heavy cav, I resorted to "Frankenstein-ing" other figures, like SYW dragoons with head swaps (left-over grenadiers) to make Horse Grenadiers:

or Zvezda Napoleonic Saxon cuirassiers, with the heads previously removed from the Revell SYW dragoons:

I even modified unused dragoons, firing carbines from the saddle, to make extra staff officers (see my photo of the horse grenadiers, the CO is thus converted).The artillery is a mix of Revell Austrian artillerymen, ESCI AWI British infantrymen, and a few Napoleonic RHA (the Brigadier did that too once, as I recall from a certain book). All in all, I have kept the overall costs down to within reason.


Bluebear Jeff said...

All of my armies are metal . . . but if I'd known how nice so many of the plastics are, I might very well have gone that way.

And, yes, there were busby-wearing hussars in the SYW. My fictional army is loosely based on that of Hanover. They had one hussar unit, but it had two very different uniforms. Early war it was green with a tarleton; then for the later war, they were red & white with busby.

So, go ahead and use those hussars.

-- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein

Auston said...

I like your armies. Very well done.

MurdocK said...

The Catholic armies tended to have more contact with the fur merchants, thus the reason for the fur busbies and the fur grenadier helmets.

The costs of the plastics, should also take into account the time and extra materials used to get the paint to stick and not 'flake-off' the minis. While at least one layer of base coat is needed on metal minis, in my experience only one layer is needed to base coat them, and only one layer to 'seal' in the paint from chipping.

While I have read many tales of the multiple layerings needed to get the paint to 'stick' to the minis (usually involving glue or future floor polish) then again layers (plural) to keep the paint from chipping or flaking off due to the flexibility of the plastic.

I tried the plastics once, did not like the process and have not looked back.

Cost wise, I have found that assembling an army in metal from your own moulds is the cheapest...especially when you start making your own moulds.

Grand-duke Douglas of Noverre said...

Long live Plastics!
Nice to see, am still deciding which figures to use for my own set up.
Have various old Airfix Washingtons army, The paint has stayed on those for 30 years so sucks boo to our metal -loving colleagues.
The new Zvesda Northern War troops look nice and paint up well, but no cavalry in the offing..
So little time, so much to paint.