Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Roman Scale Comparisons - "40mm"

First, apologies to my fellow bloggers for lack of reciprocal blog comments of late.  I got laid off from my job last week, my company eliminated Northern California R&D production.  And a rather unexpected short-term effect is in play here.  That is, I find myself spending less time on the Internet, not more.  Now today when I logged into the Reading List to catch up on things, Google thinks I no longer have a Reading List.  Probably a short term glitch, I'll try it again later.

So far as the layoff goes, disappointing. I had hoped to continue with the company until retirement at 66, now dropped off a few years short of the finish line but ultimately not surprised to become another casualty of cost cutting measures.  I don't blame the company, sign of the times and I did get a good package which will buy time to find something else and relocate.  For now, it's a tantalizing foretaste of retirement, with more time to paint and ride the bikes (road and mountain), as well as support my wife through the exhausting travails of chemotherapy.  Of course, I'll need to be a lot tighter with the figure and book purchases, no doubt a good thing. And atone for 25 years of undisciplined hobby clutter with eBay selling, something I dislike but no longer have the excuse of insufficient time to manage it, and of course the extra cash will come in handy.

On to the infantry:

From left to right:
* Helen of Toy, comic book ad flats
* Kinder Surprise
* Spenkuch, 35mm flats
* Heinrichsen, 40mm flats
* Irregular
* Elastolin
* Ideal, home cast semi-flats
* Ideal (other side of the mold from the limbo dance pose guy)

The comic book Romans don't fare well posed next to the traditional flats but at the very least the archers and oddball slingers will come in handy. On the other end of the spectrum we have Ideal.  The figure on the right just looks oversized relative to the rest, but the variance between figures could possibly be mitigated by means of thicker and thinner basing as the case may be.

And cavalry:

From left to right:
* Comic book flat
* Heinrichsen
* Spenkuch
* Elastolin

Clearly the undersized comic book cavalry won't do.  It's interesting that the scales of Spenkuch and Heinrichsen reverse with the cavalry, but they are stylistically compatible so long as kept in their own formations.

So far as maintaining a consistent aesthetic goes, it will be in the flat and semi-flat style. Meaning Irregular and Elastolin (despite their undeniable appeal) are out, although it remains to be seen whether flat ballista/scorpion crews could ever be found in 40mm.  The Spenkuch figures don't show to advantage here as unpainted castings but they are superb, to my eyes the best thing Spenkuch ever did.  I'm painting some now, so should have a post up soon about them.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ideal Home Cast Romans

I was intrigued when I saw this mold pop up on the Berliner Zinnfiguren Flea Market. Ancient Romans in the 1900 era romantic style, could not resist the temptation. Actually there were two molds up at the same time, this resin copy and the other of metal. I opted for resin at half the price.

I don't know much about Ideal except that it was one of a number of German companies selling casting molds to hobbyists ca.1900. As you can see, the design is rather a novel one with four figures crammed into one compact triangular mold. Looks like the idea was to pour the lead into the semi-circular pockets at the two angles and let it run down into the figure cavities. I tried this at first but found it easier to drop directly into the figure cavities, scraping the excess metal from the bases with a chisel before it cooled, thus saving myself a lot of tedious filing later on.   

How do they look painted ?  Let's take a look at the first two figures.

Old-fashioned, of course. The guy on the left is problematic on account of his spear seldom casting fully. I also think he'll look better fully armored in old-school leather instead of painting on the lorica segmentata.  The soldier on the right also casts with the leather pteruges hanging from the waist, but rather lightly engraved so I tried filing them off and just painting the tunic in full. Strange that they have no scabbards for the gladius.  These two figures are somewhat the largest, measuring ~ 40mm from the bottom of the feet to the eyes.

And the other two legionaries. 

Oddly posed, no doubt a function of making all the soldiers fit into one mold.  You'd think that the standing figure could as well have been sculpted leaning forward in a more aggressive posture, but such was the decision of the designer.  Despite the quirkiness, I like him the best of the four figures. The squatting guy is less useful, but I think he'll do okay in the first rank, filling in the ranks to the rear with the standing figure (which measures ~ 36mm from feet to eyes).

I'm pleased with this mold.  Except for the spear problems the rest cast reliably.   The figures may not impress when viewed singly, but I think that ranged in their cohorts, they'll look good.  And, they're easy to paint.  I wonder if Ideal ever produced any other complimentary Ancients and if so, do these other molds ever come to light ?   One of those tantalizing facets of collecting I suppose, something else could turn up next week, then again maybe never.

In a subsequent post, I will photograph some of these various 35-45mm Romans posed together for scale comparison purposes.  In this same shipment I got a set each of Spenkuch flat Roman infantry and cavalry, very appealing figures and they match up quite well with the Heinrichsens.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Prince August Mold - Brave Tin Soldier


In response to inquiries about the Prince August "Brave Tin Soldier" mold, hopefully today's post will provide some insight about this figure. I've also been curious about how it might work out with a 40mm project.  When I asked Prince August about it, Michael said it was "around 40mm" but cautioned me that it was a representation of a toy soldier, not a real soldier.
I think he passes muster pretty well as an adequate miniature. The scale is going to be where people have a problem with him.
"Son, you'd better shape up if you hope to graduate from this academy."
Here he is posed next to a Zinnbrigade officer. Yes, on the smallish side - 35mm from the bottom of the shoes to the eyes.  Rather on the cusp of being useful for a 40mm project but not quite.  Too bad because he casts nicely, a simple figure with a deep drop so they're all good after the first cold cast.
Not so good with the ballerina, the base generally doesn't cast completely, although I think this could easily be solved by cutting a bigger channel for the metal flow.   Unlike the soldier, she's a definite semi-flat, as I wish the soldier had been as well. Likely she's of no value to you warlike guys, not much use to me either although sooner or later I'll paint a few for our granddaughters.
A couple more shots showing the appealing simplicity of the figure.  As cast, he does list slightly to the left, something a little bending or filing of the base can take care of.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Biedermeier Imagi-Nations Redux - 40mm

Where to begin yet another abrupt change of direction.  Following Castles of Tin must be akin to tailing a drunk driver: tire tracks across a lawn here, there a mailbox run over, further down the road a parked car sideswiped.  After finishing the Prussian battatalion, thought I'd reward myself with a change of pace. I'd been tempted off and on to give those plastic Napoleonic Russians a go, readers may remember these:

What to paint them as ?  It struck me that except for the Cossacks, the other three groups could easily make do for other European armies, aside from the Russians.  Such as Prussia for example. Now it occurred to me that I had a book of uniform plates depicting the Prussian army of 1830. This one, and one of the better quality color printing jobs ever done by Dover.

What struck me leafing through this neglected treasure again was how little the Prussian army had changed in appearance since 1815.  So, I had some cavalry to work with.  The cuirass is painted on.

Quite stylized of course, but not half bad.  Now if I can only find more, I can easily paint a unit of Cuirassiers, Dragoons and Hussars in the Prussian style. And, I already have a Creartec Prussian infantry mold which produces these two different figures.

Decent, although the French are more elegant. Going forward, I can see that I need to file the seam at the top of the gaiters to make the full trouser look more convincing.  The semi-flat Creartec are certainly the stylistic successors to Schneider with these Napoleonic figures.  Judging from photos, their 7YW Prussians appear more conventional although I don't own any of those molds. 

Here's the original map, and a world still waiting to be populated with troops. The Prussians will do nicely for the Grolschken Reich.

Waiting in the wings, some Createc French become Celticans and the Prince August Brave Tin Soldier drafted for war.