Monday, May 27, 2013

Prussian Infantry of 1848 - 28mm Flats

Here's another set of old Heinrichsen flats, #3099, originally issued in 1853.  As can be seen in the above photo, they are quite diminutive.  Nominally 28mm, they measure 25mm from the feet to the eyes.  The quality of these antique designs never ceases to amaze me, could have been newly issued by a flats editor last year and no one could say they're crude or overly toylike.

The set contains 21 figures, an officer and 20 infantrymen in 4 poses of 5 figures each. That is, the two seen below and two other figures firing and loading. I got two sets so as to match identical figures in each rank which will make for two battalions when completed.  The small size of the figures makes the work go quickly even when painting them with reasonable care. Painted in acrylics.

There's a couple of enticing ways I can go with these 28-30mm figures. First, borrowing shamelessly from John Bertolini's "Great European War of 1850" concept, I could eventually make three armies, French, Austrian and Prussian (or German Confederation).  Old school rules like Featherstone's seem right for this.  Secondly, something circa 1900 with a Funny Little Wars flavor is another possibility.  Although shooting down my figures with a spring gun is off limits, no doubt less violent artillery rules could be substituted.   

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More 40mm Semi-Flats

In his World Encyclopedia of Model Soldiers, John G. Garratt had this to say about semi-flat toy soldiers, "They are neither one thing nor the other, and have no qualities to recommend them."  Mr. Garratt's snooty dismissal may well apply to some bastard offspring of flats and rounds, but not all. This French Dragoon is the latest addition to the Scad Franco-Prussian War molds and it's a good one.  Casting is easy and the base wider and more stable than most of the Scads. All figures here painted in acrylics as usual.

I also got two smallish sets of 40mm Spenkuch French and Prussians from Berliner Zinfiguren.  The French are probably just what John Garratt had in mind, mediocre stuff and not worth showing here. I had in mind to use the command figures for the Scad line infantryman but they don't match well at all, either stylistically or in scale.

These Prussians are clearly superior to the French.  They are 42mm from feet to the eyes, with some undeniable toy soldier appeal.

The good news is they seem to be currently in production. The bad news: Berliner Zinnfiguren charging collectors 36 Euros per set of 10 slim castings.  While Berliner Zinnfiguren taking possession of the Spenkuch molds was obviously a preferable outcome to the whole legacy getting lost, locked away in a museum or sold off to private collectors, I have to take issue with some of their pricing decisions.

So for Prussian infantry (and artillery), short of pirating the BZ Prussians I am pretty well stuck at the moment.  I'd like to stick with flats or semi-flats for this project, as opposed to mixing with Schildkrot, Irregular or STS.  Keeping an eye out for the 45mm Schneider replica molds may be my best bet.  In the meantime, full speed ahead with the 30mm.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chasseurs à Cheval - 40mm Flats

Here's a couple figures from a set I've had on the back burner for a while now, Heinrichsen # 4107 -Jäger zu PferdThis set matches chronologically with the French infantry I have shown in previous posts, first issued in 1860.  The castings are relatively new, re-issued in 2011. As can be seen, they are also executed in somewhat toylike style. 10 figures come with the set, officer, standard bearer, 2 buglers and 6 of the troopers shown here.

Why did I wait so long to paint them ?  Among other things,  because of the size. Nominally 40mm, they're actually quite a bit smaller.  Shown here sandwiched between a Carl 30mm flat and a Prince August 40mm semi-flat (modified Russian horse grenadier

I decided "glass half full" thinking would allow me to make use of them rather than "glass half empty", they don't work with anything else.  To my eyes, they're close enough to 30mm to include with a 30mm project, especially if I base them on thinner wood than the true 30mm figures.

I think because these old flats sets generally come with 10 cavalry or 18 to 20 infantry, it's convenient that it can also be the unit size for the 30mm project. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Scad Casting Molds: 40mm Semi-Flats

The Scad casting molds which I purchased recently on German eBay have arrived.  I really don't know much about the history of this company or when they ceased production. Most of the molds I got were used and the one new one was packaged as Zinnbrigade, although most will probably associate Zinnbrigade with the more popular Schildkröt.  The Scads covered Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian War subjects on about a 60/40 ratio.  Here is a listing:

The casting went fairly well. The molds are rubber, a little harder than Prince August. They seem pretty well designed with quite a few air channels on one side. The molten metal pour is from the bottom, resulting in the excess material attached to the base as can be seen in the photo at the top of the post.  Hacksaw at the ready then.  The other problem I had to a lesser or greater degree was incomplete casting to the extremities. This was particularly problematic with the French infantryman's rifle.  I ended up cutting extra channels from the base to the weapon to get it to cast fully.  The foot figures are comparable in size with Prince August (just a tad larger), the cavalry scaled a bit smaller.

Now let's take a look at that figure, mold # 112 Französischer Infanterist, stürmend:

It's good, the pose is an active and useful one for massed infantry formations. The real flaw with this guy is the spindly chassepot rifle and bayonet. Props to Scad for getting the proportions right, but from a practical standpoint I foresee a lot of breakage risk with the figure unless you're casting with the best quality model metal.  He is represented here reflecting most illustrations of French line infantry, but you have to wonder about the effectiveness of going into battle encumbered with bulky overcoats and full packs festooned with camping gear. 

Here's # 113 - Französischer Jäger zu Fuß, stehend schießend:

The Chasseur a pied's firing pose has some utitility but not so much as #112. Probably could use them as skirmishers for #112 with the line infantry paint scheme.

On to some cavalry, # 212 - Preußischer Dragoner:

A nice trotting pose with the horse's legs cleverly strengthened by dust clouds, rather in the style of pure flats.  And just how flat are these guys ? Pretty flat:

Why didn't the Scads really take hold with hobbyists and wargamers ?   Hard to say, really. The thinness may not appeal to everyone and the narrow bases as cast may be another detractor as they have to be re-based to avoid the dreaded domino effect.

Another thing is the selection. Holger Eriksson was great at offering effective poses and the command figures to match.  With Scad it seemed more a case of: one of these, one of those. Nothing you could make a complete unit of without resorting to conversions. And a few of the designs aren't so useful, such as the Prussian line infantry posed giving an overhand bayonet stroke.  Why do sculptors do things like that ?   They're pretty decent figures but I think ultimately they lack the charm of Holger Eriksson's Karoliners.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Battle of Wissembourg, 1870 - Heinrichsen 40mm

Here's another 40mm set from Heinricshen, # 4906: Schlacht von Weißenburg, depicting the opening battle of the Franco-Prussian war with Crown Prince Frederick's corps rudely kicking in the door to Alsace.  They represent a departure from Heinrichsen's rich selection of flats: the difference being the figures are not flat but semi-flat or semi-round, halbrund or demi ronde bosse as you prefer. They date to 1893, re-issued in the late 90's. What we have here is a 57 piece set, I suppose the 19th Century equivalent of a Marx playset.  Of course, not all of the castings are figures: besides soldiers singly and in groups, a number of castings feature scenic items or vegetation, as well as explosions and battlefield debris.

Unusually so far as Franco-Prussian war figures go, there's not a spiked helmet in sight.  The Prussians in this case are Bavarians, vs. French colonial troops.  Also, there seems to be about four distinctive sculpting styles in play here. First, the group castings are consistent in style with each other and fully 40mm. The Bavarians are distinctly smaller and on the flat side, very close to actual flats in style but in bolder relief. Then we have the more toylike Turcos, a bit larger and rounder than the Bavarians, finally most of their French command figures are very close to fully round. I suppose that back in their era, these figures were mixed and matched into different sets depicting battles of 1870-1871. 

Without further preamble, let's take a closer look. First, the reverse of the group figure shown at the top of the post.

Here we have some Tirailleurs Algériens.  I enjoyed painting their colorful uniforms. The damaged pillar in the backdrop comes with the set.

And some Bavarians.

And thankfully, the Scad molds have arrived.  Suffice it to say for now, they did not disappoint.  I will report soon on how the casting and painting is going with these.