Tuesday, 18 August 2009

More New Plastics!

Saw a news item on Plastic Soldier Review here about a new set from Mars, Polish "Mercenary" Haiduks that looks quite interesting. These do not appear to be direct copies of the Strelets or Zvezda Russian Streltski, but new sculpts of actual Polish infantry! Quite useful for our friends fighting in the Eastern Theater.

While visiting Mars web site (not all the links work), I also discovered that they have produced a set of TYW "Arquebusiers" which actually includes pikemen and command as well, and also doesn't appear to be a direct copy. Now, for those not familiar with Mars or their history, this probably bears a bit of an explanation. Several years ago now, they began offering direct copies of the old Revell-Germany TYW range. The arrived in plain wrappers, were cast on rounded sprues like a centrifugal cast product, and the detail left a bit to be desired. Will McNally can speak to the quality, as I passed-on to him several sets of their Swedish Cavalry, some of which he's painted. Many of us assumed these were pirated castings, as we couldn't imagine Revell going along with the quality or the "low profile" maintained by the company.

Now however, they are offering almost the entire Revell-Germany TYW range (they split the huge artillery set into two sets, same with the Swedish Cavalry) as well as the Spanish Conquistadors and some other Revell-Germany product. They have been reviewed on PSR and are even credited as copies there, much like Hät's copies of the older Airfix sets. They are properly boxed with suitable artwork (some from the film "The Deluge"), advertised openly and everything. So, either the folks at Mars have a very large set of "cajones" as we say here in Tejas, or they have worked out a licensing arrangement with Revell-Germany.

Assuming everything is on the up-and-up (and I feel it is if PSR is reviewing them), this is a great deal for those interested in the early years of our Good King's reign (you knew I had to tie him in somewhere, now didn't you?). We must remember that Louis XIV's actual "birthright" as King began in 1643, within days of the victory at Rocroi, although under a regency of Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin until his ascension in 1661.

We tend to focus on the "Sun King" era on this site, post 1672, and with good reason. However, we could just as easily use these Mars figures, mixed with Zvezda's recent "Austrian Infantry" and any old Revell sets we can find, to model the later period of the TYW around Rocroi; the period of the Frondé in the 1650's leading up to the 2nd battle of the Dunes at Dunkirk (where we could add in "A Call To Arms" ECW figures for the British on both sides and a few Conquistadors to the Spanish Tercio's); to the French expedition to the Turkish Wars and the battle of St. Gotthard in 1664, since several makers produce Ottoman's and their allies/clients. When all is said and done, if you're into a bit of plastic, it's a pretty good time to look into some of these periods. Since "formal" uniforms (as opposed to whatever the Colonel paid for) really didn't arrive until the Dutch Wars, one could paint a single French army (a few extra standards as some of these did change), and then bits of British, Irish, Scots, Swedes, Imperialists, Spanish, Walloons and what-have-you and have some pretty fair battles.

And here's a tip, if you want to add a little variety to your Cuirassier's and model some of the "German" or Eastern Imperialist units, pick up some of the Orion or Zvezda Winged Hussars, fill the holes in their back with a bit of Milliput or Green Stuff, and you have some fierce looking Eastern Cuirassier's!

If I didn't already own all the figures to do this in 15mm (and don't have the time to finish painting them), I would seriously consider it. For a nominal investment, one could produce some very colorful units and fun battles.


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