Which Figures?

I see the ECW as the complete antithesis of Napoleonic gaming. I have thousands of Napoleonic figures, old school 15mm Naismith and Heritage, all in the same pose, neatly turned out in matching parade ground uniforms. That's how it should be, that is how I imagine lines of uniform troops shooting bravely at one another (maybe not in their Sunday best, the Funcken's have a lot to answer for with their Napoleonic uniforms books.)

The ECW, however, is a completely different kettle of fish. Random uniforms, a mix of reds in a single red coated regiment, different hats, their own trousers (as opposed to standard issue). So a wide range of figures, poses, tweaked to give a ‘group of individuals’ look that I wanted.

Pikes: pikes are a big issue. Have a look on fleabay, search ‘ECW infantry’ to see some beautifully painted miniatures (and some not so beautiful ones too) armed with what looks like over cooked spaghetti. Separate pikes, most definitely a must have. Vertical pikes too, anything else looks good but is a bugger to store.

Range: I like my figures to all have a unified ‘look’, so by preference I would rather buy from one manufacturer. And a comprehensive range, goes on the requirements list. Also be careful selecting figures, many older ranges are questionable in their accuracy - musketeers in morions are still available.

Size: now I’m not the tallest person in the world, 5’10” on a good day with the wind behind me. That means 5’10” to the top of my head, not 5’10” to my eye level. Being a fan of 15mm figures I’d like figures that closely measure up to 15mm, not 18mm to their eyes.

Size matters: l to r Eureka, Matchlock, PP - all '15mm'

A very useful comparison of 15mm ECW figures from Steelfist Miniatures ECW Kickstarter campaign

So which figures met those requirements? Google provided me with a link to madaxeman which gives a really handy side by side comparison. PP offering caught my eye so I headed over to their site. Open hands for separate pikes available,  a number of poses per pack (and ability to customise further with head swaps), true 15mm sizing  – I could have a winner. Little more research required...

Just needed some suitable wire pikes... Donnington Miniatures to the rescue! Donnington's pikes (pack EQ10) come with a leaf spear point at one end (pretty lethal); I decided I would use them. Bit nervous about how they would come out, thinking I could always cut the spear points off if I didn't like them. Only when painted up could I tell if they would work: I really like them, think they work well. I've cut the pikes down to 52mm, which is marginally longer than the three times the height of a man which seems to be the consensus of how long a pike was. Initially this was so I could cut the spear point off if I didn't like it, but now I feel that the slightly exaggerated pikes give the feel I wanted. Update: the supply of seperate wire spears/pikes dried up for a wee while, thankfully available again but the new pikes are copper coloured with much larger leaf points (an extra job filing leaves to a better shape - grrr).

Postscript: new figure ranges come on the market all the time. As much as I like my PP figures there are some significant holes in the range: no pikemen with tassets, or unarmoured pike; just two packs of 'generals'; no limbers or baggage; Irish and Scots poorly represented; plus the quality and charm of some of the newer figures is, in my opinion, much lower than the figures that they replaced. Mounted figures are being replaced with one piece castings which reduces the number of poses you can create (3 rider poses and 3 horse poses giving 9 combinations, as opposed to the one piece casts which give just three options), and some have unsightly infill underneath arms. Don't get me wrong there are still some stunning figures coming out of the company, I really like them (their older figures in particular), I just think their crown is slipping.

If I was starting this project now I'd certainly be looking at the Steel Fist range, which have a level of detail not seen in some 28mm sized figures.  Steel Fist boldly claim that they plan on creating the most complete ECW 15mm range available, early days admittedly, but their figures so far are absolutely exquisite. 

Blue Moon (whose measuring skills equate 15mm as 18mm) have the most complete, accurate, range currently available. Excellent sculpts. The advantage of Blue Moon means that it would be easier to dip into other manufacturer's ranges, as there does seem to be more ranges available in 'large 15mm'.

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