There is an on-going thread on TMP right now started by Tony Reidy of Wargames Factory that should be of interest to our readers. As many may already know, through WF's "Liberty & Union League" special request subscription process (similar to Eureka's 100 and 300 Clubs), there was already a "generic" WSS infantryman and cavalryman open to subscription. Well, the subscriptions filled up so quickly that Tony has had to "adjust" the numbers twice already to allow more people to subscribe (something to do with their site programming). Based in part on this rapid response from the gaming community, Tony's interest was piqued enough to start doing a bit of research himself on the period, and the result is that we will now get an actual "range" of figures for the period in brilliant hard styrene plastic (like the old Airfix and Historex kits), in 1/56th scale (or 28mm if you prefer).
Their current plans for the infantry are as follows: 3 figures to the sprue and 12 sprues to the box, for a 36-figure battalion. One figure will be a one-piece casting, as pictured above from WF's Forum and previewed by Tony; one will be as above but with separate head allowing some slight pose variation with turned heads; and the final figure will be a "kit", a pair of legs and four separate torso's depicting an officer, an ensign, a sergeant and a drummer, all with appropriate lace and sashes where required. There will also be separate arms and equipment for the last "multi-part" figure, allowing some individual animation for the supernumeraries. Tony is actively seeking feedback from potential customer's to finalize this sprue and take it to production by early Summer. Then he can move on to the cavalry, which will have a similar theme to it's sprue makeup.
These figures are not being "hard sculpted" in GreenStuff as many of us are used to. They are being "virtually sculpted" using a state-of-the-art computer modelling program which will then transfer data to the CNC cutters that make the steel injection molds required for styrene. Several changes that have been suggested were implemented by Tony's designer overnight, literally! I have samples of their Vikings, Saxons and Numidians and the process works brilliantly!
Several of us are actively trying to convince Tony to do separate headgear as opposed to complete heads with headgear, as this will allow for the most flexibility. He already plans to offer options for hatmen, grenadier's mitre and bearskin, and a fusilier's cap. He also plans to either offer pikes or (if I can convince him) just pike heads so that you can use your own rods, wire or whatever for the actual pike. The torso's of the ensign and the sergeant are generic enough that they would do double-duty as pikemen. If we can convince him to go the separate headgear route, then he does have an interest in providing a round floppy hat as well, making these useful for most armies back into the late 17th century as well. Good stuff indeed!!
Here's an interesting bit: In addition to the thread on TMP, I have exchanged personal correspondence with Tony and have provided him with several references and Late 17th Century pieces of artwork to assist him, at his request! It seems that when Tony's own interest level began to rise, and he attempted several Yahoo searches using various search terms relating to Late 17th Century uniforms and equipment, our blog always came up in at least the top 10, if not the top 5! Hence, his contact with me with the request, and the offer to help provide some sources for him to consider.
I would like to hear from our faithful reader's out there; what think you?
I already know some of the potential objections: They don't look like Stadden's, Willie's, Ericksson's or Frank Hammond's "Minden's", they are a bit chunkier than those. Why are they so static and boring looking, where are the lads running about waving their arms all "willy-nilly"? Why only three basic poses, and really all just variations of one pose, where are the figures for the Firing Line, the Bayonet Charge? Well, in part this is because of their title, "Generic WSS Infantry", and in part, it seems to be what most people think of when they picture the massed early battalions of the late 17th and early 18th Century's. The chunkiness, I don't know, although they are not as hefty as many of their competitors in this regard.
I will be closely following further developments in this design process and will report when there is significant news. Overall, I'm excited, this could get me to do something other than 15/18mm for a change! And if their recent Vikings, Saxons and Numidians are any guide, they will be very, very affordable, never a bad thing.