Saturday, 23 October 2010

Mars Swings For The Fence Again!

Well, PSR just announced that Mars has several new offerings, all four for the Thirty Years War. The first of these with any photo's on the Mars site looks like it could have been quite promising, and may find some use in your Army, but falls a bit short of the big base hit that it could have been.

French Infantry and Guard, #72039, pretty much depicts what the name suggests, except the "Guard" appear to be dismounted Mousquetaires du Roi (at least by the paint job shown on the box). Now, I'll grant you, French musketeers in cassock don't have to be the famous Guard units of the King and Cardinal, but they depict these in four poses, two functional musketeers (although with musket rests, which had pretty much fallen out of favor in France) and two that appear to be dueling with sword (probably useful to the skirmish gamer, but not of much value in a battle line). The other two musketeers shown are quite functional poses without rests and much more useful.

And, for once, a plastics maker has gotten the ratio of muskets to pikes correct for the period, although the pikemen shown are all in morion with back & breast and tassets, no lighter, rear-rank troops or helmet options. Then there are the obligatory "silly" poses one has come to expect from so many plastic sets; the first figure in the top row would appear to be a pikeman without his pike, sword drawn and trying to block a blow with his fist (or complaining of a headache perhaps?), and the second figure in the top row has his musket over his head by both hands (wading a stream perhaps?). The Command figures appear fairly useful, a decent Officer pose and standard bearer (although the flag is, as usual, too small). Both "true" pikeman figures are in nice aggressive poses and appear fairly well-modeled, if a bit over-armored.

And now the bad news (you knew it would be there, it is Mars after all), typical of their recent sets, there will be 4 each of the 12 offered poses. While there are enough pike and shot for a good 1:2 ratio 24-man unit, you will also have 8 "duelists", 4 officers and 4 standards, 4 of the bugger with his fist to his head, and even worse, 4 of the musketeer "wading the stream" to either chuck in the spares box or trade away (although the musketeer with his musket overhead might make a decent casualty figure with a bit of cutting). And where is the drummer, you might ask? Well, not in this set. I guess this will be a good opportunity for all of those extra drummers you got with either the Imperialists or the Swedes, eh?

Unfortunately, since this is Mars' own preview, the actual cast figures that you can buy will probably not look as good as the panted test shots on the box, at least not if Mars' recent history is anything to go by. So much potential, so little fulfillment, seems to be Mars' mantra doesn't it?

By the way, the other three releases are:

72036 - Swedish Heavy Cavalry
72037 - Imperial Mounted Arquebusiers
72038 - Imperial Siege Artillery

Of these, the box art for the Mounted Arquebusiers has some promise, with 6 poses and only two of each, for 12 total figures. The Swedish Heavy Cavalry might have some promise, or they might be bad copies of the old Revell figures yet again, no detail available yet.


PS - Please forgive the American Baseball references, but last night I got to see the Texas Rangers win the American League pennant and advance to the World Series of Baseball, and strike out the locally-despised Alex Rodriguez (a former Ranger who cost us millions) on the last pitch. High times in Texas!


Bluebear Jeff said...


And tonight I got to watch my beloved but long-suffering San Francisco Giants beat the "sure thing" Phillies to get into the series opposite your Rangers.

Gee, all of those Eastern sports writers who were so positive that their "Dream Series" pitting the Phillies and Yankees was inevitable somehow seem to have missed the fact that the Western Divisions of both leagues have some pretty good teams.

-- Jeff

Raia said...

I have recently bought all of "older" TYW Mars sets, and I can say only one this:

Mars produces the worst models ever !
Poor positions, small numbers, high price.

Don't buy it!

Better is Call of Arms series, and the best is Zvezda with their "Austrian Musketeers and Pikemen"

Corporal_Trim said...

Another great review, Bill. You were generous, one of the two pikemen appears to me to look like he's posed to hurl a log in the Scottish Highland games. ;-)

Oh, and I have to side with Bluebear Jeff on the upcoming Series. I too am a Giants fan.

Sir William the Aged said...


Yes, I was perhaps a bit generous, if only because this is the first time a maker has actually done "correct" French (even put a couple of figures in the fringed culottes). The pikes I don't worry much about because I think most gamers will change these to wire pikes and the basic pose is functional for a rear rank.

My frustration with all of the soft plastic makers (including Zvezda, whose products I generally like), is that to them these will always be seen first as "toys". because of this, we rarely get proper ratios of pike to shot, we continue to get "silly" poses that probably look great to a 9-year old kid, and proper command is always hit-or-miss.

I think you also have to "blame" PSR to some extent, because they include "number of poses" in the scoring criteria and offer "points" for the most poses offered. To me, at least, this encourages the "silliness" somewhat. I like HäT's policy of using only a few basic poses and giving you enough for basic squadrons and battalions, but then you have to wait for them to design the command and buy it separately in most cases. Zvezda are good at either using different sprues to vary the content or mini-sprues for the command, but they still include the "silly" poses, and usually the wrong number of figures for proper gaming bases or pike/shot ratios (or bill/bow depending on the period).

(Go Rangers, if only for Nolan Ryan!)