|Fife & Drum Continentals, painted in November 2011. Click pix to enlarge the view.|
Well the polls are closed and the final tally indicates that Fife & Drum Miniatures is the winner of The Miniature Page's ("TMP") vote for the Best Historical Miniatures Range of 2011". I want to thank everyone for their support and their votes which made the win possible.
I also want to thank the very talented Richard Ansell for sculpting the range and making it all possible in the first place. A few years ago, Richard really went out on a limb and went against the conventional wisdom in the hobby by sculpting figures with realistic and life like proportions, as opposed to "heroic" figures with "strong faces" and oversized hands that could crush a lump of coal into a diamond. I first saw Richard's handiwork in his range of Napoleonic Austrians that he designed for The Assault Group ("TAG"), now owned by Alban Miniatures. Then he started making Napoleonic British and French light infantry under the Alban brand and this led to the start of the exquisite Minden Miniatures range, the brain child of Frank Hammond and Richard.
|Minden Miniatures SYW Prussians painted as IR1 von Winterfeldt Regiment, with GMB Designs flags. This was my first painted Minden Miniatures regiment done in January 2010. What's not to like about these figures?|
That was kind of the "light bulb moment" for me, i.e. seeing the introduction of the Minden range. It hit me in two different ways: First, someone was making wargame figures that looked like real people and they were done in a scale (1/56) rather than some arbitrary size of 25mm to 28mm. Second, up until then, it never occurred to me that someone with no sculpting talent (that would be me) could actually start an historical miniatures range by teaming with a sculptor. I had assumed that most figure ranges were developed and owned by the actual sculptors. Apparently not.
As Frank Hammond's Minden range began to grow and capture the fancy of wargamers all over the world, I felt that finally someone was creating the kind of realistic looking figures that evoked the style of the 30mm Stadden SYW figures or Steve Hezzlewood's Pax Britannia/RSM figure ranges or Tom Meier's sculpts of practically anything.
I wanted to support the efforts of others to bring this style of figure sculpting back into the mainstream of the hobby. So I went all-in for Minden Miniatures. Over the next several years, I built up a pair of Austrian and Prussian armies, entirely Minden, and then decided that I would sell off all of my other SYW figures and start anew with the Minden range. These are simply the best figures that I have ever seen.
|Minden Miniatures Prussian artillery battery fires a salute in honor of the Fife & Drum selection as Best Historical Figure Range of 2011.|
I wanted the wargaming world to see what a complete army of figures, done entirely in 1/56 scale, would look like. My hope was that as more and more people saw these figures, a sort of Emperor's New Clothes Dynamic would occur and they would begin to look at their figure collections a bit differently. They would demand that the market provide them with realistic looking figures. Well, one can at least hope, but when one embarks on a crusade, one might as well hold nothing back.
Then in 2010, my nephew Alex and I began to discuss starting our own figure range - one that would be designed by Richard Ansell. Since the SYW and Napoleonics were already spoken for, with regard to Richard's commissions, the next best arena in the 18th Century tricorn era was the American Revolution, or the AWI as it is commonly referred to the wargame vernacular. I used to own AWI armies, but I had sold them off around 2005 as I very rarely gamed with them anymore.
I remember being entranced by the collection of John Ray, who sculpts his own AWI figures, and who focuses entirely on the 1776 to 1783 period with his collection. I knew that eventually I would want to dip my toes back into the waters of the AWI after seeing what John was doing.
So in the Spring of 2010, all of these variables began to coalesce around me and with a little nudge from several people, we approached Richard Ansell with our idea to have him create a range of AWI figures. Once he said "yes", then things began to really take off as we introduced first the British Light Infantry and the Brigade of Guards in early 2011. These were quickly followed by American Militia, Continentals, British centre company and grenadier company figures. In 2012 we added the artillery crews, artillery equipment and Continentals in hunting shirts.
My objective is to provide a comprehensive range of figures for the AWI period. I decided to start with the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777 and its follow on retreat from Philadelphia in 1778. I chose this period because it features some of the larger battles during the war: Brandywine Creek, Germantown and Monmouth, as well as some smaller actions such as Paoli, Cooches' Bridge and the Delaware Forts. So the campaign offers a little bit of something for everyone. I also like the fact that the Continental Army is starting to round into fighting shape so that it can eventually stand up, face to face, with the British Army and hold its own in a battle. Finally, I liked the appearance of the British uniforms that had been adapted for campaigning in North American and thought that this would help differentiate the Fife & Drum range from other AWI figure ranges.
Finally, it is my commitment to provide all of the basic combat arms (infantry, cavalry and artillery) for both sides so that anyone can start gaming this period and have all of the basic figures that one would need to build a collection. Along the way, we have added or will be adding ancillary figures that have been overlooked by other ranges, such as the British Brigade of Guards uniforms and others.
We will leave no stone unturned at Fife & Drum.