Monday, January 28, 2013

Crusader Miniatures Review: British 28mm SYW

Crusader Miniatures RFH003 British Grenadiers SYW
Crusader Miniatures

A relatively new range of miniatures sculpted by Mark Sims and disturbed through Nick Eyre’s Northstar Miniatures, Crusader Miniatures recently expanded the range of British infantry with the newly included grenadier pack (Code RFH003). Together with codes RFH001-2, these figures represent the best quality 28mm figures available for wargaming in the Seven Years War.

Product Availability, Sales and Service
Almost the only limitation in this range is just that – the limitations on castings to date. This range of British infantry come in a marching or standing shoulder-arms order only, for command, line and grenadiers. Presently in order to represent grenadier officers or NCOs with any real distinction requires figure conversion for anyone wishing to field larger battalion models with greater company definition.

Nick Eyre’s efficiency in sales and despatch is second to none and his website is well engineered making ordering and receipt a breeze. Nick is also an involved merchant, advertising regularly on forums such as TMP and also e-mails updates to the ranges he stocks together with a newsletter and through publication of Kevin Dallimore’s on-line ‘Northstar magazine’. In fact, whilst having purchased the line fusiliers and command packs previously it was my assumed necessity and intention to make my own grenadiers to accompany my Crusader battalion. Nick’s advertising meant that I was able to purchase the grenadiers almost immediately they were released – a great relief.

They are also competitively priced at GBP9.60 for a pack of eight figures (codes RFH001 & 3) and GBP5.40 for RFH002 (command) giving as unit price of 1.2 and 1.35 respectively; Messer’s Sims and Eyre proving yet again that quality is affordable.

CODE RFH0003 Grenadiers
Coming in the poses for standing shoulder-arms, the packs of eight (8) figures are sculpted a various attitudes with arms and heads at various positions and angles. This is very much in keeping with a trend championed by the Perry’s and one of which I heartily approve. The range of figure packs available does remain in its infancy – the same three packs are available in different nationalities including a much needed French grenadier pack. The proportions are very life-like and very much in the ‘modern’ camp of realism as opposed to traditional toy soldier style or the curious caricatures of the competing Foundry range. Good sculptors being in the demand that they are and with their own various interests, it remains to be seen whether Crusader Miniatures Seven Years War range attempts to become comprehensive with advancing poses, firing lines and the like. If it were to do so, I imagine they would form the nucleus of all Seven Years War miniature armies from that time forward.

Accuracy
Starting from the head down, Crusader Miniatures offers a well proportioned mitre cap with good broad front flap and head band for detailing. The face of the mitre is the more common smooth face leaving the detailing for the painter or a decal should anyone treat us to one in the future. The faces are identical throughout and have a set, determined demeanour and are very humanistic – unlike the doll-faced visage of the Front Rank figurines. The detailing of the uniform is superb with small but pronounced buttons on lace and gaiters to aid the painter. Whilst the mitre is piped as one would expect, the lace is not cast on cuff lining or coat other than the lapels. There is a lace line on the waistcoat.

As far as is possible, as I have come to expect, the uniform jacket as of a generic type with a short lapel, turn-backs and common cuff – not overly suited for regiments such as 35th foot with the fishbone lace. Any pocket design is obscured on these figures by the soldier’s equipment – standard cartridge box on the right hip and hide haversack on the left. The grenadiers are also sculpted with, curiously, what is presumably the 1742 or 1751 pattern hanger or infantry sword. I say curiously due to the habit and preference of grenadier’s to adopt basket hilted variety and a lack of regulation governing swords at his time in the British army. The muskets are plain with the slings detailed but not the receivers. It is the bayonets; however, which are to be admired. Beautifully proportioned requiring little filing but responding well to touching up, they are about as good looking as bayonets get – other manufacturers erring on a casting overly thick or too flimsy to last. The castings being of white metal, only the Elite Miniatures range with their pewter content compares to my mind.
Casting

The crispness of these figures was only to be expected given the recent release with rubber residue evident on two of eighty or so figures (all codes) which I purchased. Flash is evident in the normal locations: where the hanger meets the coat-tails; at the casting join on the under-side of the tricorns at the hair line (only some) but is in significant evidence about the hanger grip and hilt. For best results, I recommend hand-drilling through the guard and finishing off with a fine bladed scalpel which, whilst time consuming certainly provided for a well defined result. Whilst some hangers guards were incompletely cast, I was satisfied with them as a whole and those with a gap, were closed off easily enough. I also would stress that the handles and hilts are cast away from the body of the figures, enabling such attention to render a clean and fully developed representation which is often otherwise the case with other manufacturers.

British Infantry Sergeant (RFH002) decapitated for grenadier conversion
Conversion
I have made two conversions for my Crusader Miniatures figures which I am using for the single largest battalion in the field at Quebec – the 48th foot. As such, my battalion model with have ten grenadiers including an officer and sergeant for the company, positioned either end of the line. In order to make my NCO and officer, I have taken spare figures from the second line command pack I purchased and set about swapping heads. Consequently, my sergeant will be fusil armed but gesturing, requiring a spare grenadier head and additional cartridge (‘belly’) box (green stuff) where the line sergeant’s belt buckle is cast. The officer similarly required a new head and will be spontoon armed.

Converted Sergeant (left) and Officer (right) from RFH002

The necks are well defined on these figured without being goose-like and I was easily able to snip the heads off using my Stanley wire cutters. A little light filing afterwards and I was ready to drill the receiving holes in the head and body of the figures with my hand-drill – being sure to drill toward the back of the intended join where the spine would be. A drop of Selleys Araldite and the pins are set into the body of the figures first, then the heads glued on afterwards when the steel wire pins are trimmed to the right length.

2 comments:

  1. great review because the pictures on the northstar website do the figures no justice I have some of their French and was suprised how good they were in the "flesh" compared to the web picture.
    Peace James

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