Which Figures?

My original Which Figures posts have grown exponentially, so much so that I decided to revise the information.

For the full picture see:-

Which Figures? - the original post, where I ruminate about what I want from figures, and what led me to choose Peter Pig (this post)

Which Figures? What is Available - the state of play with current 'ECW' 15mm figure ranges; a continually updating look at what figures are available, and what is included/missing from ranges Coming Soon

Which Figures? Part 2a: Size Matters: Foot - I take a look at what is available in 15/18mm and show side by side comparisons Coming Soon

Which Figures? Part 2b: True 15mm/Epic Compatibility: Foot - a more in depth look at smaller 15mm compatibility

Which Figures? Part 3a: Size Matters: Horses - I take a look at what is available in 15/18mm and show side by side comparisons 

Which Figures? Part 3b: True 15mm/Epic Compatibility: Horse- a more in depth look at smaller 15mm compatibility

What I wanted from my figures:
Uniformity of 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 Funckens 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. Plus I had a few other questions that needed addressing.

Pikes are a thorny 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.

If you want to know how long your pikes should be, what colour you should paint them, and what options you have for separate pikes (and where to source them from) see here.

Swords need to be robust enough to survive use - this inevitably becomes a bit of a compromise with 'scale' and practicality. Whilst I'd rather not be in the position to have replace broken swords, it is possible. Steel Fist style delicate swords can be replaced by Rexel no 56 26/6 or no 16 24/6; whilst  more robust swords, such as Peter Pig, are best replaced by Arrow JT21 1/4" 6mm #214.

I like my figures to all have a unified ‘look’, so by preference I would rather buy from one manufacturer; so, a comprehensive range, goes on the requirements list. Also be careful selecting figures, many older (and some  brand new) ranges are questionable in their accuracy - musketeers in helmets are still available.

Many ranges describe themselves as 15mm. But what is 15mm? You'd think that a 15mm sized figure would be 15mm from sole of foot to top of head. You'd be wrong. It can mean that. It can also mean 15mm from sole of foot to eye line, and it can also mean 18mm to eyeline, or 18mm to top of head. Some manufacturers do describe their figures as 18mm, some don't, even though they are. Confused? You should be.

Size matters: l to r Eureka, Matchlock, PP - all allegedly '15mm', squares are 10mm.

It is worth checking out the madaxeman site as there are a number of handy side by side comparison pictures from different angles of painted figures. Madaxeman's images of Peter Pig's Scots lowlanders sold the range to me: still some of my favourite figures.

Those of you who are ungodly and worship at the temple of 28mm will find this thread on LAF very useful.

Mixing and Matching
Unfortunately, as already mentioned, the term '15mm' is a very loose definition of figure size. I look on at forum threads discussing 28mm figures and their inter-range compatibility with very jealous eyes. A complete range of figures (according to my definition) does not exist, and I doubt it ever will. Which is why I would love to be able to mix and match from different manufacturers. For those of you who prefer your 15mm as 'true 15mm' the two Which Figures: Size Matters posts will take an in depth look at what works well together.

A pile of Peter Pig figures awaiting paint

When I chose which figures to buy, Peter Pig had a very clear advantage, and my choice was quite a simple one. But since I bought my first figures, new ranges have become available, and I feel that Peter Pig's crown has slipped due to the direction that they are taking their range in. That choice is no longer quite so clear cut anymore.

Peter Pig have started replacing their mounted figures with one piece castings; which, leaving aside the issue of unsightly infill underneath pistol arms and flat appearance of the new figures, reduces the number of figure variants available (new packs may have two, or three poses; older packs had two riders, and three horse poses giving six unique combinations even before you get into headswapping). 

Secondly, newer figures are beginning to suffer from scale creep. Figures are now slimmer, flatter and, increasingly getting taller. The new personality figures and ensigns are a good 2mm taller than the one piece mounted dragoons, who are marginally taller than the two piece cavalry.

Since I started out Blue Moon, Eureka, Steel Fist and Warlord have entered the market. (Plus of course the dire offerings from  Alternative Armies.)

Blue Moon have lots of the ephemera that I really want in my collection, such a shame they are 18mm (21mm to top of head) and tower over my PP figures. All they really need are packs of compatible heads, to facilitate head swapping.

I have reviewed Steel Fist at length in other posts: their figures are beautifully sculpted but swords, muskets, and scabbards are much too delicate for my liking and require replacing - fine if you are replacing just a handful, but several hundred? No thanks.

Lurkio's preview of their headless figures really pique my interest, most of the work of creating unique figures is done for you. I shall watch with interest.

If price was the driving factor then Warlord Epic would figure highly. However, the poor quality of the cavalry sprue, exorbitant price of the command packs, and the 'stepped out of an illustration in Haythornthwaite' inaccuracies would mean that I would have to look at other manufacturers for a considerable portion of my army.

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  1. I really like your Peter Pig figures, although if I was starting again today, I think Steel Fist would be my first (and probably my only) "pick". I did think you were a tad harsh on the current Minifigs range (let's call them the 3rd Generation, the 1st being the strips introduced in the mid-1970s). If you include the TYW/European packs, there is pretty much every troop type available and the command and artillery packs contain some absolute gems of the sculptor's art - the sergeant with halberd swigging from a bottle in the TYW Mercenaries command pack, automatically springs to mind. The real downside is the pose given to the pikemen of marching about, in some cases even running, with their pikes raised high, virtually guaranteeing bending AND breakages.

    However, I have spent the past 20 years accumulating literally thousands of 2nd Generation Minifigs (the first individual figures that replaced the original "strips" in the late 70s, but were replaced by the current range less than a decade later - why? nobody knows.....). Again, by carefully mixing and matching the ECW and TYW packs, it is possible to replicate almost any desired troop type from the three kingdoms. OK, pike and shot in woollen "beanies" are missing, ditto those in montero(e)s, and they are not top notch in terms of historical accuracy - this was a time of Royalist foot all in plumed hats and Roundhead foot all in lobster pots after all (though I have cunningly converted the latter to montero(e)s) - but the poses were much more "useable" and anatomically realistic than the current range, especially the walking horses. Each to his own, I suppose! I shall try to send you some photos of my FoG:R armies - once I have painted/repainted them using your excellent series of guides, of course!!!

    1. Thanks for your kind words. I agree that I would probably give Steel Fist range a long hard look if I was starting anew. PP have some great figures but their crown has very definitely slipped due to the remodeling of the mounted figures.
      Agreed there are a few gems tucked away in the Minifigs ranges. Very nice sculpts all round but I do think that they are showing their age now. Blue Moon and Steel Fist are undoubtedly the two ranges that everyone else has to beat.


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