Friday, February 20, 2009

ACW revisited part 2...

DC [click here for his blog] gets the kudos I mentioned was up from grabs in my last post, for accurately identifying that the little metal men at the bottom of the post were from Jaclex [click here] .... well done that man.....

Lots of comments from you fine folks so rather than write a long response I thought I'd make it into a post as they raised some interesting points...

Metals or plastics???

Grimsby Mariner [click here] recommended the Perry plastics for the project and I'd be the first to agree there's some truth in what he suggested; they're cheap, a quality product, and indeed a lot of people (including Grimsby himself who I consider no mean slouch when it comes to selecting figures) like the Perry's, but (heads for the bunker...) I don't....

I've looked at them in the flesh (plastic?) and tried to like them but can't.... that's them just above, if you click on it you'll get the usual bigger view...

There's two entirely personal reasons that I can't like them:

  1. I think the infantry all look like they have a case of piles - if you look in the picture check how many of them have bended knee's - all those straight legs make for a very static looking bunch of people, not at all what I imagine the ACW to have been like... (I think the cavalry however are very, very, nice...)
  2. They're plastic...... I know, I know, I can mount them on washers to give them some heft, or I can mount them on metal bases to do the same, etc. etc. but at the end of it they’re still plastic…..

I think my antipathy to plastic comes from my defining wargame experiences…. When I was a spotty callow youth I wargamed with Airfix plastics and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.. if it’s not too grandiose a statement, the experience was life changing - I have now pursued the hobby for 30+ years as a result of the enjoyment I had at the time. Something as defining as that however, can have other side effects as well, I still scratch build scenery on occasion (who does that much any more!), I write my own rules occasionally (usually just before going out and buying a commercial set!) but that early hobby experience taught me that metal figures are something to *aspire* to…

Now that I am (reasonably) well employed I can buy what I always aspired to when I looked in the magazines and books of the day… and that was metal figures. So I have to say that if I was going to buy Perry I’d probably buy the metal one’s before I bought any plastic… I guess that psychologically, I’ve “done” plastics, got the t-shirt (considerably smaller than my current one's) and moved on....

Figure Choice - new style or old style:

...and then John [click here] opened a veritable can of worms by raising the horrible “o” word - opinion, this time over new or old style figures....

Over many many years, I've seen more wargamers in on-line news groups & Yahoo groups get "excited" about the design and make of our little metal men than possibly any other thing.... I've no idea why these people get so worked up about what is basically a perfect stranger expressing an opinion, but nonetheless it happens again and again...

I suspect that personal opinion is such a hideously ephemeral thing that no-one is ever going to be able to persuade someone else that their choice is the right one….. but I'll start by answering the general question John posed first - which would I prefer Perry Plastic or Spencer Smith plastic?? Well, I think it's a great question, and I've added it as one of a number of polls on the side, but if I’m to be brutally honest, it would be “neither, thanks”…

If you said which do you prefer, Perry plastic or Spencer Smith’s in metal - then I’d have a harder time of it, as I’ll be entirely honest and say that I did look at the Spencer Smith’s and was *almost* convinced that they were the one’s for me until I saw the cavalry, which were just a step too far… (see following)
..the step too farI suspect that in certain circles this would be considered heresy, but that same wargaming experience I talked about above didn't just stay in the 70's, I've seen and liked the likes of Foundry, Front Rank, Redoubt etc. and the SSM's are a little too plain.... i'm not a good painter and I need a few raised surfaces so that I know where the brush has to stop...

Slightly separately John also mentioned a range I'd never heard of before - Wodensfeld - this blog [click here] makes interesting reading on the range, and also some other slightly better known one's...

Bluebear Jeff [click here] raises an interesting thought, and Jeff - the figures are exquisite - look at these guys, not a straight leg among them..!

.. but the scale is too big - if I go 20 or 25mm I can re-use my American Revolution scenery, so I had a look at the 25mm Sash and Sabre instead, and I'll admit I'm slightly torn...

...over here I can get them through Old Glory UK, they're not expensive, but on the other hand they're not very old school either... decisions, decisions....

Then I also discovered Newline [click here] which up until now I'd only know because of their Fantasy stuff, but they have a pretty big 20mm and 25mm historical range - I like the 20mm ACW range over the 25mm - here's an example:

So... bottom line, the search goes on and thanks for all the comments chaps. Current research to date:


  1. I am no use at all in helping to make a decision. I can see something of merit in every single range you have shown! I would be very tempted by Renegade if they have the ACW in their new bargain lines at 50p a figure.

    However I already have two ACW armies. The first based for Fire and Fury is of 20mm metal. Figures from Newline, Kennington and (my favourites but not currently available) Qualitycast of Flitwick. I shall continue to add to these especially since I now know John Cunningham, one of the great 20mm collecters and rescuers of old lines. An honourable mention alsofor the THREE Strelets cammand boxes for the period in pastic. Absolutely essential for F&F rules.

    The second is Spencer Smith and SAE in metal and plastic. Limited to a few hundred in order to refight Platville


  2. Have you looked at the Sgnts' Mess 20mils? I don't think they have cavalry yet but the infantry are very nice.

    Good luck with the new project.

  3. Steve,

    I suggest you cut out some "unit bases" in cardstock for both 20mm and 25mm troops and they place them with your AWI terrain . . . see if that helps you decide upon which scale you'd like to use.

    Oh, and don't use a single regiment . . . but use cutouts for a brigade at least.

    -- Jeff

  4. You might also want to consider Connoisseur 25s..? In style they sit somewhere between old school and the modern monkeys. Not cheap though...sadly..

    Oh, and did i mention Tradition are the cheapest 25s at 68p each...did i mention Tradition...8-)

    Actually, scratch that - Warrior must be the cheapest 25s, and are actually pretty good.

    Good luck with your decision...

  5. Warrior, I had cometely forgotten them. They have some good figures tucked away among some shall we say less good. They have had loads of different designers over the last 40 years.But the ACW and Romans are actually very nice.

    And 30p a figure!

    You could have 80 infantry, 10 cavalry, a gun and crew a side.

    Both sides including postage for seventy five quid.

    That certainly gets my vote.


  6. Steve - there are some great photos of Newline ACW on Matt's "Waterloo to Mons" blog (click on his "The War between the States" label hidden away at the bottom of the page).


  7. Aggghhh... stop it guys! :o)))

    Stryker - you first - had a look at Matt's figures and they are indeed exquisite... not Newline though, Kennington (available from SHQ in the UK) ...sigh - another one to add to the list of possibles

    DC - I did have a look at the Tradition's honest.. ;o) ...but you and John got me very interested in the Warrior figures as I have some of their 15's present in my WSS collection - the 25's are very very nice...

    50p per foot/£1 per horse... yikes - I'm going to need to buy some samples and soon...

  8. Steve,
    Sorry one more to add to the pot - Elite Miniatures, £3 for 4 figures in a pack. Size wise they mix well with Hincliffe and have similar character.
    Hinchliffe would allow you to recreate the Gilder years. Just look back through Miniature Wargames with Duncan as editor to see what I mean.

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  10. Tumbling Dice do 1/72nd SCALE C1861AMERICAN CIVIAL WAR RANGE. UNION, CONFEDERATE.Infantry packs contain 8 assorted poses. Command packs contain two sets of 4 figures. Starter packs are good value £14 for 32 figures inluding Command. I have just got these & will put castings on my blog & paint a few up. A gun limber, team and 2 guns plus a crew £14 & lots of metal! They go with my Revell plastics & are between new & old school in design with seperate heads and they are METAL!.

  11. And just to add to the confusion - for 25s i'd also look at the Garrison range. They are on the large side for older 25s so may well match the Warrior figures. The Zouaves are particulrly nice, and 50p each when bought in bulk.

  12. One step at a time chaps, one step at a time.... :o)

    Garrison figures checked at lunchtime (and liked)....

    Warrior samples ordered today....

    Be assured this will run and run...!