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. Plus I had a few other questions that needed addressing.

Pikes
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.

But where to source suitable wire pikes?  March '22 Update: Supply of wire pikes/spears has been slightly erratic over the past few years. I originally bought 100mm pikes, pack EQ10, from Donnington. Since then Donnington's packs of pikes have changed  a number of times. EQ10 are no longer available: however, they do offer two packs of 50mm length pikes - available in leaf and pin points (EQ8 & 9). For those of you who desire longer, exaggerated pikes (like myself): Arcane Scenery provide 100mm leaf point (just shy of 1mm diameter) in packs of 20 or 40. They also have thinner pikes (approx 0.5mm diameter × 50mm) listed which would seem to be an even better fit for 15mm and 10mm figures.  Find them here (search for 'spears') or on eBay.

I've cut my 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 them, the slightly exaggerated pikes give the feel I wanted. 

Blue Moon and Northstar Miniatures also sell packs of wire pikes. Warrior and Steelfist both provide pikes with their open handed pikemen figures: Warrior's are cast soft metal, Steelfist's are plastic. 

If having lethally sharp pikes on your figures doesn't float your boat, an alternative is to use plastic bristles from broom heads: see the excellent post at the Dux Homunculorum blog.

Range
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 ranges are questionable in their accuracy - musketeers in helmets are still available.

Size
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 '15mm', squares are 10mm.


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

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

For my own take on the comparability of the smaller 15mm ranges see Which Figures Part 2: Size Matters

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

The state of play with current 'ECW' 15mm figure ranges
There is also an element of crossover of ranges into 30YW ranges with some manufacturers, so have a look at other ranges. 

Please note: I have probably been hardest on those figure ranges that are 'complete', but still continue to be updated. Legacy ranges are those older ranges still in production , but with no likelihood of new figures being added to the existing range.


A very extensive range of 18mm figures, that are marketed as 15mm. Extensive variety of armoured and unarmoured pikemen, with separate pikes. Musketeers come without rests, but can be converted with pack of musket rests. Baggage train covered by other era wagons, with ECW drivers and drovers. 
Interesting packs: musket rests, engineers, siege mortar, civilians, and a large camp set. 
Main omissions: frame gun, limbers, Irish and highlanders.

Limited range of large 15mm/small 18mm figures. Good variety of pike, in armour/unarmoured (open hand). Musketeers do not have rests. 
Interesting packs: limbers, generic baggage and camp items available. Also some packs of loose generic weapons in their 'new era equipment' range.
Main omissions: Scots, Irish, musketeers with rest, limited number of artillery piece designs (just the 1), dragoons.

Extensive ECW/30YW of larger 15mm (neither true 15mm nor 18mm) figures. Large variety of musketeers and pikemen. Cast pikes and flags. 
Interesting packs: large range of generic carts, coach, limbers with horses and oxen, galloper gun. 
Main omissions: Irish.

Range of larger 18mm figures. Foot figures appear very broad in comparison to other similarly sized figures, not noticeable when used by themselves. Armoured and unarmoured pike available open handed; limited range of musketeers, no rests. Scots lowlanders, and personalities recently added to the range. 
Interesting packs: harquebusiers on foot, petard. 
Main omissions: dragoons, musketeers with rests, baggage, limbers, civilians, Irish, highlanders.

A Polish company manufacturing figures for the 30YW, specifically the Eastern European element. They have shared some pictures of their ECW masters, as they have an ECW rulebook in the pipeline. No details of release, they are believed to be on the 'backburner'. Larger 15mm figures, but not 18mm.
Interesting packs: figures throwing caltrops (from existing range, not forthcoming ECW range)

Perhaps best described as another legacy range of 15mm figures. Size varies considerably, some figures true 15mm, others nearer 20mm. Extensive variations of pike (open hand) and musket. Two ranges 'ECW' and '30YW/ECW'.
Interesting packs: frame gun, limbers, camp followers, some highlanders and English officers have separate weapons. 
Main omissions: baggage, Irish. July '22 update - the range has been unavailable for a wee while, as the company relocates under new management. It is set to return, but somewhat worryingly the ECW and 30YW ranges have disappeared from the website.

A legacy range recently resurrected. Normal 15mm (as in not true 15mm, nor 18mm). Limited range. I know nothing about them, other than I used to own some of their Napoleonics

Khurasan sell two ranges of Civil War figures, their own covering the Irish and Scots, and the Testudo range covering the English armies (and 30YW). Both ranges are 18mm, the Testudo being better fed than the Khurasan figures. Good range of English pikemen (open handed), only one pack of English musketeers suitable (all with rests). 
Interesting packs: probably the most extensive Scots and Irish range currently available
Main omissions: English musketeers without rests, Scots dragoons, Scots frameguns, highlanders with pikes

Large, but no frills, range including armoured and unarmoured pike (cast on pikes); musketeers available with/without rests. Scots Covenanter range.
Interesting packs: none
Main omissions: limbers, baggage, Irish, highlanders, civilians, harquebusiers on foot, engineers, frame gun

Limited range of true 15mm figures. Many of the figures listed as ECW are late C17th early C18th, probably more suited for the Monmouth Rebellion. Pike available open hand. There are currently no figures available to represent Civil War musketeers.
Interesting packs: coach, Scots frame gun and pack horse, generic baggage available.
Main omissions: musketeers, Irish.

Old range of true 15mm figures, but very 'well fed' compared to other true 15mm figures. Figures are sold individually, some codes not always available. Extensive variety of musketeers and pikemen (open handed). 
Interesting packs: whole section of 'characters' including a general in a mule litter, rat catcher, clergy, and a three man surgeon at work vignette.
Main omissions: another legacy range.

Old range of figures that vary in size, some are true 15mm, others suffer from scale creep. One pose per pack. Limited variety of pikemen with cast pikes; musketeers only available with rests, including wearing lobster pot helmets. 
Interesting packs: limbers (2 varieties), civilians, galloper gun. 
Main omissions: a 'legacy' range, lots of omissions by modern standards.

Limited range of 18mm figures. Extensive variety of pikemen (cast on pikes), musketeers available with/without rests. 
Interesting packs: extensive generic baggage train, limbers, armed civilians. 
Main omissions: highlanders, Irish.

Naismith
Legacy range of true 15mm figures: currently out of production. A limited number of packs are available from Keepwargaming. Musketeers with/without rests; pike armoured/unarmoured (cast pikes). Flags also cast. One pose per pack.
Interesting packs: limbers (good luck finding those, I bought up Keepwargaming's entire stock of them!), some Irish. 
Main omissions: considerable.

A pile of Peter Pig figures awaiting paint

An extensive range of true 15mm figures. Large variety of musketeers with and without rests. Pikemen available with cast pikes or open handed, only available in a half armoured state (no tassets). Irish, lowlanders and highlanders are covered (some gaps though). Usually three poses per pack (some packs have two, some four). Pack contents can be altered for a small fee.
Interesting packs: plague doctors, civilians, wide range of separate heads available for conversions, petard and grenadoes, frame gun, preachers, small range of buildings. 
Main omissions: highland pike, limbers, baggage, Scots dragoons, engineers, harquebusiers on foot, unarmoured pike, fully armoured pike, limited number of personalities/generals, lowland pike only available with cast pikes.

A relatively new entry. A new range of true 15mm figures. Extensive varieties of pike (open hand), musketeers, cavalry and now artillery, dragoons and characters. Figures are sold in large packs, with a large number of poses.
Interesting packs: character figures are easily recognisable. 
Main omissions: currently only early First Civil War available, so considerable gaps.

The Gallia legacy range, now sold through Warrior Miniatures. Large 15mm (aka 18mm, and in some cases nearer 20mm). Good range of pike (seperate cast pikes provided) and muskets. Figures are sold individually.
Interesting packs: Female camp follower on foot, preacher with Bible.
Main omissions: Scots, Irish, mounted dragoons. limbers, baggage.

Mixing and Matching
I chose Peter Pig figures, and I have supplemented them with figures from other ranges. Most notably, some of the characters and mounted officers from Matchlock. I have a small number of Magister Militum figures, which are slightly shorter and more slender than the PP figures. I have gone for a baggage train and limbers from Museum and Donnington - horses match up nicely with PP, cart wheels are slightly larger than PP artillery wheels but aren't so noticeable. I have also used some Naismith mounted command (transplanted onto PP horses as the horses weren't quite right) and light limbers (horses and wheels matching PP nicely).

Conclusion
When I chose which figures to buy, PP had a clear advantage. Recently they 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). 

If I was starting this project now, the answer wouldn't be quite so clear cut as it was when I started. As well as PP's crown slipping, Blue Moon and Eureka have entered the market with very comprehensive ranges. Steelfist, albeit early days, look to have great promise.










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Comments

  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!!!

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    Replies
    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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