Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Size of the Brown Bess

British SYW re-enactors at Quebec.

There is an interesting discussion going on over on the Steve Dean Forum about the size of the muskets used in our Fife & Drum Miniatures range. Some think that the muskets are too long, while others recognize that they are sculpted to an exact 1/56 scale and thus the size and length are correct.  Click on the link below to follow the debate:

Steve Dean Forum

Richard Ansell provided me with a copy of this picture of some British re-enactors holding their Brown Bess muskets, noting that the musket butt is grounded. Now, look at where the muzzle opening of the musket is relative to the height of the individuals. Then look at the pictures of the latest Fife & Drum Continentals and compare the musket sizes with the real thing in the picture above. Get your ruler out or take a sheet of paper and mark off the length of the poor lad about to meet his maker. Then measure that same distance from the base of the officer to his head and you will see that the musket would reach to about his nose. Just like the re-enactor on the right in the picture above.

Fife & Drum Miniatures: American Continentals in hunting shirts.
Richard provides the following background information on the scale of the figures:

The muskets (originally for the Minden range) are based on the Long Land Pattern Musket (1590mm long from stock to muzzle) and the French Model 1728 Musket (1575mm). They are scaled down to 1/56th so 28mm long. The average height at this time was around 5’6” (1676mm) at 1/56th that is 30mm tall. The figures are 30mm tall to the top of the head give or take a mm for a bit of variety.

I think that what it comes down to is the fact that wargamers are not accustomed to seeing their miniatures made in "scale" (in our case, the scale is 1/56); but rather, they are used to seeing 28mm figures. 28mm is not a scale, it is a "size" or "height". There is big difference. The 28mm figures tend to have certain features exaggerated, such as hands, ankles, swords and muskets to avoid figure breakage. So we are accustomed to seeing chunky sized muskets and swords to the point that when we see the weapon done in a scale, rather than size, the weapon appears longer or thinner. The eye has been fooled.

The Fife & Drum Miniatures range of AWI figures was established for the purpose of demonstrating what a complete range of realistic-looking figures, done in scale rather than size, could look like. While at a basic level I am doing this enterprise for my own use and gratification, it is also my hope that the range will inspire others to join me on my crusade to nudge the wargame industry away from cartoonish, chunky figures and move towards realistic looking figures. We are fortunate to have such a talented sculptor as Richard Ansell to execute the ideas and turn them into some of the most creative figures that I have ever seen. Frank Hammond blazed the trail for us all when he commissioned Richard to design the Minden Miniatures line of SYW figures. As Frank expanded his range, I began to see the possibilities of the 1/56 scale miniatures. I hope to see the Alban Miniatures range of Napoleonic figures grow and thrive. More recently, a new company, Crann Tara (spelling?) Miniatures was launched to offer a range of Jacobite Rebellion (the Forty Five) in the same scale.

And of course, Fife & Drum Miniatures are done in scale and they are cast by one of the best casting companies in the world, Griffin Designs. Griffin casts are clean, crisp and strong based on the metal used and have no discernible mould lines. They don't break at the ankles or wrists or on the musket itself. They also don't have those annoying venting spiders still attached to them or metal flash. You know, you don't have to put up with mediocre castings (this refers to the quality of the casting, not the quality of the sculpted figure), and you certainly get superior quality when you buy a Fife & Drum or Minden miniature.

We have come a long way over the past two years, slowly adding new figures to the range at a measured pace. First it was the basic infantry, then the artillery crew and artillery equipment; and cavalry, personality figures are also on the horizon. I want to offer the basics that you need in order to build armies with Fife & Drum figures. Once, the basics are added to the range, I will go back and fill in secondary poses or figure types, adding the obscure troop type here and there along the way.

I am proud of what we have accomplished so far and I remain thoroughly excited about the new figures that will be added in the future. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Continentals Greens for Fife & Drum

Continental Mounted Officer in hunting shirt. New standing horse also shown.

Firing line command figures.

Continental firing line.

Continentals in hunting shirts, marching.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Dreaded Amusette

AE-5 "Amusette and 2 crew" (set of 3 items)

The Amusette is basically a 1-pound "wall gun" that could probably knock an elephant down. The wood mantle on wheels was often deployed, in theory, on either side of a 3-pound artillery piece as a form of protection for the artillery crew. Hessian jagers also used the wall gun, but since it was part of the Royal Artillery ordinance, I decided to crew the set with British artillerymen instead of jagers.

The mantle is already in production, but I was waiting to start sales until the crew figures were available. The two greens are off on their merry way to the caster and so I anticipate that the amusette set will be available by the end of November 2012.

These are definitely going to be a lot of fun.

The stock code is "AE-5" and will sell for $8.00 per set (2 figures and 1 wheeled mantle). While I'm not overly keen on the idea of "pre-orders", if you are interested in a set or two, then let me know and I will start up a list of buyers. No money required until the figures actually ship.

A front view of the crew figures.

71st Highlanders - Kings Mountain Miniatures

New King's Mountain Miniatures - 71st Highlanders painted as the 42nd Highland Regt.

Comparison of King's Mountain figures (3 on the left) with some Fife & Drum Guards (2 on the right)

I have painted a few samples of the new AWI Highlanders that Bill Nevin has commissioned for his own use. The figures are designed to be compatible with Perry Miniatures AWI, but as you can see in the second picture, above, that they look fairly close to my Fife & Drum figures in overall size. The King's Mountain figures are a little bit taller and their heads are bigger. I painted one Perry Hessian Jager and he is noticeably heftier and taller than the King's Mountain figures. I don't know if this is a fair comparison, based on only one Perry figure. It might be that their jagers are bigger than their British line figures. I don't know. I do think that all three ranges should work well together on the same table, as long as you don't mix the ranges into the other's units.

Since I won't get around to adding Highlanders for some time yet, I plan to use Bill's figures to create a regiment of the 42nd Black Watch Highlanders in my own AWI army.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

AWI Battle Fought

2nd Maryland Regiment marches down the sunken road. Fife & Drum Miniatures, GMB Designs flag, and all terrain by Herb Gundt. click to enlarge.

I have been busy designing and play testing a scenario for the American War of Independence that I plan to use as a convention game in the future. I had originally set up the table prior to the July 4th holiday this year (2012) with the intention of fighting the battle on Independence Day 2012. Events seemed to conspire against me and so I did not get around to fighting this game out until September 2012. I have since replayed it two more times, so now I feel like I am finally getting the kinks and bugs out of the scenario and it is nearly ready to roll onto the convention scene in 2013.

I do not want to give away much detail about the scenario just now, as it will appear in the next issue of Battlegames magazine (issue no. 32, I believe).  So you will have to buy a copy of Battlegames No. 32 to get all of the pictures and scenario details.

The scenario is  a "defense in depth" situation with the defenders (the Americans) initially outnumbered by the attackers (the British redcoats). The game is played along the vertical axis of the table, which narrows the frontage for the defenders, making it a little more difficult to turn their flank. The attackers enjoy an initial advantage of 9 battalions to 4 battalions for the American side. However, the Americans have off-table reinforcements that arrive at various points during the game. At the same time, the Americans must also load up their supply wagons at the supply depot, and move the wagons off the table to keep them out of the hands of the British.

The British are about to overwhelm the American line. The dice represent the number of casualties that a unit has during the game. I did not want to use white plastic rings for these pictures.

During each play test of the scenario, the wagons barely made it away or were barely captured on the last turn, so I think that the timing of events works out just right.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

AWI Pictures

American Artillery battery in action. French 4-pdr (red) and Swedish 4-pdr (grey). Fife & Drum Miniatures

Here a few pictures that I took from my recent solo AWI game. I had set the game up on July 4th of this year and only got around to playing it a couple of weekends ago. I am writing up an article about the scenario for one of the wargame magazines, so I want to keep things under wraps just a little bit. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures from the game.

The 3rd Pennsylvania Regt defends the fence line against the attacking British 55th Regt.

The British attack closes in for the kill. Militia and the 1st Pennsylvania buy time for the second line of Continentals to arrive on the field.