Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Top Tens: Miniature ranges

Over at AKI's Too Much Lead blog, I read this interesting post about his top ten figure ranges. I love stuff like this, partly from a nostalgic point of view, partly because it informs me of ranges I never knew about (or had forgotten), and partly because it's great to see what wide and varied tastes we all have.

Pop over and have a read of AKI's choices, and then head back here to have a read of mine. I was sorely tempted to include some of my old plastic figures, but I think they might get a separate thread all to themselves at some point.

I'm not trying to claim that these are the greatest models known to humanity, or that you must agree with my choices - on the contrary, they're a very subjective choice and I'd like other people to come up with their own top tens to share too. Have a crack!

So anyway, here we go: my top ten miniature ranges, in no particular order (I can choose a top ten but ranking them would lead to madness):

Pop that chap somebody!

Ral Partha 25mm colonials

Tiny and delicate by today's standards, there's something about this 1983 range which screams 'toy soldier' and 'realistic miniature' at the same time. The horses are very well sculpted (can't say that about toooo many ranges, eh?), and the slight woodenness of sculpts lends a real Victorian feel to the range, as does the limited number of poses. Despite the limited poses, the range of uniforms and theatres on offer is pretty good, and a few new figures were added to the range a couple of years back.

Ral Partha 25mm 1200AD
Everything I've just said about the colonials, but 700 years earlier. Does anyone know if these are still available to buy new? I'd love to raise a couple of Lion Rampant retinues using them. I'm also fond of the Landsknechts as they were some of the first metal models I owned.

There's pretty: my paintwork is
considerably enhanced by LBMS
Gripping Beast 28mm Welsh
Some of the sculpting is a bit heavy duty, but it was very exciting to see this range develop as I was helping out the talented Jones & Morris combo with their WAB Age of Arthur book (my help mostly consisted of getting high profile leaders killed in rash skirmishes). Gripping Beast were revamping their ranges to launch alongside the book, and for the first time, I saw figures that had some of the characteristics I'd wanted in my Dark Ages Britons/Welsh for many a year: ponies rather than horses, trews and bare feet for some (full trousers or naked legs didn't always look right to me), big tashes, torcs around necks, and all backed up with some superb LBMS shield transfers. Finally, my Welsh looked like I wanted them to look. (And I still consistently lose games of Saga with them.)

Citadel 25mm Runequest boxes
I promise I'm not just stuck in the early 1980s! However, I lusted after these models after seeing them advertised in my Dad's Military Modelling magazines. The combination of unusual (Runequest/Glorantha) creatures, plus a variety of humans in broadly Hellenstic and Celtic armour created visions of a superb fantasy world, so much more exciting to me than orcs, goblins, and other things painted green. I now own the majority of these, buy am a bit worried about painting them - what if I CAN'T do them justice?!?

My GHQ Crusaders - technically they're Is,
but I can live with them as IIs or IIIs at this size!
GHQ 1/285 WW2 micro armour
I told you I'm not stuck in the early 1980s. I started out with 1/300 Heroics & Ros micro armour, building up a hodge podge of British and German AFVs, and then some Cold War British and Soviets. Marginally put off by late 1980s rules - Combined Arms and Challenger spring to mind - I returned to micro armour with Blitzkrieg Commander and GHQ AFVs. I was blown away but the detail on them, and even more so when I saw the additional detail that a diluted wash of paint brought out. The infantry are curiously disappointing but the AFVs are amazing. These days I just fight tank battles with them, conveniently leaving the spindly infantry out of the picture. As a footnote, the quality is match only by the price within the UK!

Citadel Feudals, painted for me by
Glenbrook Games
Citadel 28mm Feudals
Now sold by Foundry. A beautiful collection of C13th knights with fantastic helmet decorations and some cracking poses. These ooze character, despite the fully enclosed faces and head-to-toe mail armour. Perhaps it was because back in the day Citadel used to individually name each model? Whatever the reason, these featured in my Lion Rampant rulebook, and I'm pleased to have finally acquired all of the range, a mere pipe dream when I first saw them in White Dwarf (not that I smoked a pipe).

Front Rank 28mm late seventeenth century
I don't usually much go in for brightly coloured uniforms, but there's something about the post ECW period, where floppy hats and pikes are still in vogue, that appeals to me. There are a surprising number of ranges for this slightly untrodden period just before the Wars of Spanish Succession, but Front Rank's bold and large style looks great, and the cavalry - especially - benefits from weightier castings. There's a nice variety of different heads etc to keep things interesting. I used to own a lot more of their WSS range, but this is my Pike & Shot of choice these days.

A few Copplestones that have suffered
under my brush.
Copplestone 15mm Barbarica
I'm surprised that I don't have more 15/18mm ranges in my top ten, but only Copplestone has made it. The level of detail and poses, plus the fine eye for caveman-cum-fantasy weaponry and clothing makes this a top fantasy range. I like the unusual elements such as a war chief on a bear, beserkers (who also become bears), snow trolls, and the Gog and Magog giants. I've seen some test castings for the Romans, which I hope will come out one day, but for now, I must content myself with building a variety of armies from the available range. Great horses too!

Perry 28mm Agincourt plastic English
The newest figures on my list. I like the Perry's metal Agincourt range, but there's something about the plastic archers and men-at-arms that really appeals to me. Although I sometimes find it a right old pain in the bumhole, I usually enjoy the therapeutic experience of sticking the plastic multi-part models together. There's just enough choice here to keep things interesting, and the appeal of raising a Lion Rampant retinue from just one box of models is veeeeeery useful indeed. Lovely sculpting, and I somehow find that the Perry's models look better in plastic than metal - though I have no idea why!

Photo from Musketeer's website.
Musketeer 28mm Late Romans
I suppose these should now be called Footsore Late Romans. I've collected a lot of Late Romans and Post-Romans over the years, always on the quest for the perfect miniatures. I thought I'd found them in the Foundry range, but it never expanded to give me the variety I wanted. Only when Musketeer/Footsore put out this range did I really find what I wanted - unarmoured infantry with helmets and cloaks, slightly dishevelled uniforms, great horses, and a nice mixture of cavalry. I'm slowly rebuilding my 28mm Arthurians using these - and the range includes the best 'Arthur' figure I've seen, again surpassing the excellent Foundry model.

So those are mine, let's be hearing about yours!