Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Switching "Horses" in Mid-Stream?

I know this is always a danger to a gamer, especially when you've spent the last two months acquiring EVERY out-of-production Revell SYW set that you can find (and I did acquire several!). However, I have just purchased a new set that I have absolutely fallen in love with. These would be the new set from Russia's Zvezda of Swedish Infantry of Charles the Great for the Great Northern War. They also do some excellent Russians that can be seen on Will McNally's Blog-site. These "Swedes" did not get a favorable review on PSR's site, not because of their quality or style, but because they are not correctly modelled to depict what they are supposed to be - Swedes of the 1709 to 1720 period. (The PSR reviewer also didn't care for the more "static" poses of these or the Russians, however, I find them perfect for the OSW style of gaming.) I have to agree with PSR about the accuracy, but that's exactly why I fell in love with them.
What Zvezda have managed to produce is a set of figures that work well for virtually any European army from 1720 to 1757, and beyond in some cases. This is the somewhat looser fitting coat without lapels, although these are easy enough to paint on if desired, large turnbacks, longer coatee's, and fuller tricorne's. They would be just as suitable, properly painted of course, for Marlborough's campaigns as they would for the French at Fontenoy or Wolfe at Quebec. The mix of poses and the quantities of each figure are also well thought out. For my own purposes, I do wish they would have given us only 6 of the marching figure and added 3 more Grenadiers. Then 6 boxes would have produced 6 nice 40 figure battalions, including a complete battalion of converged Grenadiers. As it is though, 12 boxes will produce 12 very nice battalions, including the aforementioned Converged Grenadiers.
This is one of the rarer cases where the cost/benefit ratio really does work out quite well for the plastic gamer. 12 Boxes of figures at roughly $7 USD each equals $84 USD, equals 12 Battalions of 40 figures each, making the cost per figure 17 and 1/2 cents each, with a few spare figures for conversions thrown in. Size-wise, they work out quite well also, being slightly (1 to 2mm) shorter than Revell Austrian and Prussian Musketeers and 1 to 2mm taller than the newer Italeri or A Call To Arms AWI French and British).
Some of you may question the pikeman? Well, it would certainly be correct to field a company of pikes in the early part of the GNW or Marlborough's campaigns (even the British used them at Namur), but for later use, these will make excellent standard bearer's. I am one of those traditionalists who like to depict both the Regimental colors and the Colonel's color with my battalions; flags are pretty. While this figure may lack some historical validity as a Swedish pikeman with his pistol in his belt and drawn saber, cut that silly cartridge box off the front of the belt and add an appropriate sash using "green stuff" epoxy, putty, or even tube acrylic paint built-up in several coats, and you have a splendidly fierce looking Ensign to defend your colors.

I have now decided to use these figures to depict my Irish and Scots Brigades in the Army of M'Uedail. My Italians and Germans will still be Revell Austrians and Prussians. Unfortunately, Zvezda hasn't made the Cavalry to accompany these excellent figures yet, but have indicated that they "plan to", whatever that means in the world of plastic production. However, Strelets does produce GNW Swedish Cavalry that Will McNally has painted to great effect. Its a little too "animated" for my personal tastes, but does look very good "en masse" when painted. Strelets also do appropriate Artillery and Infantry of their own. I don't care for the Infantry, but the Artillery sets are nice, incorporating many individual poses that will make up into very nice looking gun crews.
If I weren't so heavily involved in my Imagi-Nations project right now, and if "proper" Cavalry were available, I would seriously consider using these as the basis for an earlier "Lace Wars" campaign. The Russian set from Zvezda suffered from the same criticism's on PSR, and for the same reason, they are also "generic" Lace Wars figures in tricornes, this time without turnbacks. By combining these two sets, still very much in production and avaialbale at reasonable prices if one shops the net, you could easily field the armies of Marlborough and the Gallant Gentlemen of France and once again ravage the Low Countries and Southern Germany. Or, as the painted example shows (stole this from the Zvezda "Workshop"page), have these fellows fighting with and against Red Indians in the wilds of Canada or the Colonies. In fact, if you combine the Swedish set with some of the "ragged" American sets available in hunting shirts and such, you could do a very nice FIW campaign. Technically, the French should be in just their coatee's, but you can't always have everything.
And as for my now huge collection of Revell SYW and all of my IMEX, Accurate, Revell, Call To Arms, Italeri and other AWI figures? Well, M'Uedail will need opponents, won't they? (Shhh, that's what I told the lovely Saint Katherine the Patient)
Sir William


Bluebear Jeff said...

I've never tried plastic figures, but this set has impressed me before . . . and it is very tempting (as are the Russians). However the lack of mounted troops has been a deterrent.

Perhaps a little time will change my mind.

-- Jeff

andygamer said...

Just last week I bought two boxes of the Swedes and one box of the Russians and was very impressed with their quality, just like you, Bill. (Even down to wanting to use the pikemen as standard-bearers.) Unfortunately, Jeff, they won't go well with our metal true 25mm figures, which is a shame because I had a couple of ideas for their use.

You don't use yours with metal 25s, do you, Bill?