What’s All This Then?
This is the latest set of my now infamous side-by-side comparisons of 15 mm miniatures. These are mounted officers from the American Civil War (ACW) in 15 mm (about 1/100 scale). I pick one figure from each manufacturer of a given type (in this case, officers) then paint them up in identical color schemes. Put ‘em side by side and see what shakes out.
Since I have numerous samples, I also paint up the extras and provide photos of those as well. If they are much different I provide additional comments as well.
The first tough nut to crack was finding a way to put these mounted figures side by side. I admit it may not be a big deal as mounted officers are probably never all that close to each other. But it provides another point of reference for comparing the overall size and compatibility between different manufacturers. Plus, I wanted to paint some more mounted figures - I really need to work on my horses. So for now it will just be three or four per shot (custom shots available - e-mail me with requests if, for example, you’d like to see the Peter Pig in a shot next to the AB).
Who Died and Made You Colonel?
It would certainly be helpful for you to understand what I look for in a miniature. Like most others, I’m pretty particular when I shell out my greenbacks for a bagful of unpainted lead. To that end, please refer to the page I wrote on my Napoleonic site about how I judge a mini. But briefly, I am a stickler for anatomical proportion; dislike grossly oversized details (such as cuffs or straps); prefer lines with variations to each pose; and am pretty immune to price (at the rate I paint, it is not all that material especially compared to my book budget).
One critical fact to note: I am not a gamer (yet), so my figures live in acrylic display cases, not on grass mat! I don’t even coat them in a clear flat final over spray.
The Line Up. Number 3 step forward please:
Here are the side by side group shots, with some summary comments. Unless called out on the specific pages, I had no issues with manufacturing quality with any of the figures. Any flash was minimal and easily removed; mold lines are minor if present at all; figures arrived in fine shape.
Click on the manufacturers name to see a detailed review of each figure.
AB: In the Napoleonics lines, AB are my ruling champs. But here in the much simpler ACW, I have to give the nod to Battle Honors (officer page coming soon). The sculpts are just as good, but a lot cheaper. That said, these are very nice figures - the horses are especially good.
Battle Honors: Coming soon. The figures are here, I just have to paint them for round 2!
Essex: The Essex line is remarkably consistent. I’m not a big fan, but they’re very well made, have a great range, and are reasonably cheap. The anatomy is distinctly gnomish and the detail overstated.
Historifigs: Much thinner and gaunter than almost all of the other lines. The horses need work, especially the heads. I find their figures fairly simple, at times even a bit crude.
Irregular: This is a really bad figure - lumpy, heavy and hard to paint. No wonder the line needs to be reworked. This officer is a single piece casting.
Lancashire: The horse is not great, but not exactly Alpo either. The officer is plain and simple (in a good way). The Lancashire officers are single piece castings.
Minifigs: First of all, I love this horse. Reminds me of an Italian sculpture. The detail here is nice and low key, and the pose is classic. If the faces were better, this would contend for my top spot.
Musket: This poor mount has seen one campaign too many and is ready for the glue factory. The rider is pretty nice with good detail and a pretty good face.
Pioneer: I think the rider’s torso is too tall, and his limbs look glued on. The horse is passable.
Peter Pig: One of the smallest ranges in the line up, I find I like them quite well. While they tend to be highly stylized (lots of deep creases in clothing for example) I think they strike a nice balance between “dramatic” for the gaming table and “realistic” for the purist.
Warrior: Good horses, and good riders. The detail is kept somewhat minimal which makes for easy painting. Dig those epaulettes!
The Confederate Colors: I picked a lot of the same colors as I used for the infantry. Jackets are Model Master Neutral Gray highlighted with Ceramcoat Dolphin Gray. Pants are Vallejo Sky Gray over Model Master Dark Gull Gray. Skin tones are base coated in Vallejo Light Brown then highlighted with Coat d’Arms Suntanned Flesh. The hats are Ceramcoat Dark Brown highlighted with Ceramcoat Honey Brown. The horses were base coated in Howard Hues Roan, washed with Games Workshop Chestnut Ink, then highlighted with the (lightened and thinned) roan again. (Note: In the flesh, the horses are much less glossy - the harsh flash reflects more off the sheen from the ink.)
The Union Colors: All the blue was base coated with Americana Admiral Blue. The jacket was highlighted with Andrea Basic Blue, the pants with Andrea Baltic Blue (in the photos they look pretty much the same - the difference between the colors is very small). The skin tones were again Vallejo Light Brown highlighted with Coat d’Arms Suntanned Flesh. Yellow sashes were based in Polly S CP Yellow then highlighted with Model Master Insignia Yellow. Horses were base coated Colour Party Brunswick Black, washed with ink and touched up with Ceramcoat Charcoal.