Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Study in Plastics

 Well its about time we talk about plastic miniatures here at "Plastic Legions" while its somewhat of an oxymoron as most of my miniatures are metal, and I generally dont care for plastic miniatures. However the blogs origins are really in the Games Workshop hobby, so back in 2006-2007 when I was putting together 10 Space Marines in different poses and that was the greatest thing since sliced bread. "Plastic Legions" seemed like a great idealistic hobby goal. However, gigantic Fantasy and Ancients armies later, with 40K never being anything more than a "hobby speedbump" for me. Plastic just never seemed to be the ideal medium in any category, except price. (exception Games Workshop).

Plastics have come along way in the last 6 years. With GW having the monopoly on what was the standard in plastics. I really enjoyed my time with the Plastics in WFB's Empire Models of 6th and 7th edition's. I wasnt until the historical plastics wave started to hit ( Wargames Factory, Warlord Games) did I realize how inferior these models where to what GW was producing. There use was in a slightly different context, mass "stand based" ancients armies versus GW's aesthetic that each model is it own unique piece in your larger army, While that showed clearly in GW's products, other manufactures on the Historical side chose to offer the perception of different posing options and weapons however many pieces were just not versatile enough to be worth the bother of multi parts for any reason other than making them fit on a sprue.

Well plastics have gotten a whole lot better.  While the Perry Brothers excellent War of Roses "Infantry" and "Mercenaries" kits have been around for a couple years now. I finally just into them as I sought to develop a Human army that could double as both a Historical and a Fantasy Army, The Perry's fit the bill nicely for me. Given the 100 years War and subsequent The War of the Roses are two of my favorite Historical periods, It feels like home for me. Not mention the Swiss and German armies of this period are the direct inspiration of Warhammer's Empire.

 The biggest peeve I have with plastic models is the illusion of  sprues and sprues of fiddly bits in order to provide some sort of individuality to individual models. It's one thing with Space Marines but totally another when you need 100 rank and file troopers that historically pretty much kitted out the same. While I like to make all my models as  different as much as I can there comes a point somewhere when you realize its taking you 30 mins to clean, build, accessorize, and base a single plastic figure and you have 100's to do, and then paint that the "FUN"  just crashes off the road. Give me a a nice selection of metal sculpts I can clean and base are 4 or 5 times the speed anytime. I am thankful to say the Perry figs are pretty easy to assemble.. the Pikemen of the kit are the easiest the Crossbow or Handgun options are much more fiddly but nothing compared to WFB's current Vampire Count Skeleton box, the thing that killed my VC army and any passion I had left for plastics until now.

 I currently am working on all three available boxes Perry has to offer from this period supplement by its great a identically scaled metal figures from the range...when this army will see the light of day, I can say but I am working on it I will need a few more boxes of both the Infantry and Mercenaries, if I want to be able to field a full army for either "Hail Caesar" or "Kings of War".

While its no secret that the Perry Brothers are pretty much my favorite Miniature sculptors. Dare I say that Victrix (know for its Napoleonic era figures, recently releasing a large line of Ancient Greek Figures) has out done them? While a sculpts beauty in is the eye of the beholder, its clear this Victrix
models were created to be plastic models, they are probably computer generated sculpts and not hand sculpts like the Perry's but the exaggerated lines and details make these models the best thing I have seen in plastic since GW's best stuff. I am very impressed by this kit and it was final deciding factor in going ahead with the Army versus proxying Gauls with my Saxons in our next "Hail Caesar" campaign. (Which is coming up in September).  I been struggling with going Spartan for my Antiquity army for some time, but the costs of a entire Spartan/ Greek army from someone like Gorgon Studios, was a daunting investment. These Victrix Models allow me to get my Spartan fix
with some supplemental models from Gorgon at a fraction of the cost and they look great too.

The Victrix Spartans are a bit more "Fiddly" then I had hoped and assembling close to 100 of them is a challenge well see how it goes. But the club and some other local people we know have started a hobby challenge for the second half the summer and my goal is to get these guys built for Sept's campaign. The only con of this kit is that the round molded bases of these figs are a bit thick. thick enough that gluing to a square base and piling sand up around could look weird, so I working on creative basing solutions for these..thats for another post.

 Both the Perry and Victrix plastic kits get a big thumbs up from me. I have boxes and boxes of plastic Historicals kits from Warlord Games and Wargames Factory that have never seen the light of day because, I just don't like the figures enough to go thru the work of actually building them. Both these kits I do, and that just about as good a review I can give.

 I'll sign off for now with more shots of my ready to be painted first sprue of Victrix Spartans. All the Victrix pic are models assembled from one sprue, there are 6 sprues in a box., there a couple extra heads and additions to mix these guys up a bit  providing enough variety given the amount of bits it includes. The only draw back is there isnt a supreme "leonidas" type solo model in the box, that would have pushed it over the top but there are plenty of  other options out there.(again Gorgon.)

 In an unrelated note, I having a difficulty creating Historical type banners from scratch, ( not painting them but creating the banners themselves) I have tried  Green Stuff,  Foil and Paper and am not happy with any of the results..if anyone has good tips of tutorial for historical scratch banners..I'd really appreciate it.


Scottswargaming said...

I concur with many of the points you raise... It's taken me a long time to 'happily' convert to plastic figures, from metal... They have two redeeming features - generally lower cost, and ease of conversion.

Lower cost does generally mean those large 'BP' and 'HC' armies are possibly now in 28mm...

...but they do require a fair bit of prep work which as you say is time consuming, more so than a standard metal figure I am sure...

"You pays your money you takes your choice!"...

Purplesounds said...

I've been looking at the Mercenaries box for a while to fill out some generic Lotr humans for scinarios and such. Do they fit into the scale of Lotr models?

Beithir said...


Just a quick comment on banners - have you tried calico? One of the guys at our club is using calico banners for his 1690 Williamites to great effect, so perhaps it might be the solution you're looking for?

Check them out on his blog http://geez-spot.blogspot.co.uk/

John@Plastic.Legions said...

@ matt- They scale up right in the LotR range..while there slightly larger than say the Minas Tirith solider and eleven plastics..they are dead on with things like the metal Fiefdoms Men at Arms, Axeman or Clansmen, they're make great additions to a fiefdoms army.

@ Beithir- your friends banners look great!, however I can't find "what" exactly "calico banners" are...I found that a company called "studio calico" makes scrapbooking paper? any tips are appreciated..thanks!

Beithir said...

Sorry John, my bad for not explaining properly!

Calico is the material. It's basically a textile/fabric made from unbleached cotton. Just cut the banner from the cloth and then paint straight onto it.

I don't know about across the pond, but here in the UK you can pick it up for a couple of quid per square metre from any sort of upholstery/fabric shop. Pretty cheap, and as you saw, it looks great.

Beithir said...

Sorry John, my bad for not explaining properly!

Calico is the material. It's basically a textile/fabric made from unbleached cotton. Just cut the banner from the cloth and then paint straight onto it.

I don't know about across the pond, but here in the UK you can pick it up for a couple of quid per square metre from any sort of upholstery/fabric shop. Pretty cheap, and as you saw, it looks great.

Conspyre said...

I haven't done it in forever, but I can vouch for fabric banners. If you want to get the kind of dynamic movement that you frequently see out of sculpted banners, you can also soak the thing in white glue and let it dry to a particular shape. Potentially time-consuming, but a solid effect. I have read some sculpting articles about using "lead foil" for similar effects, but I haven't the foggiest idea where to get it- might be a European thing, given that I saw it in a book from Spain.

Adam said...

There is a quick and dirty guide here for cloth banner making:

I am generally pretty cack-handed when it comes to this sort of thing but even I have been converted.


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