Which Figures Part 2: Size Matters
This is a follow on to one of my very first posts Which Figures?: if you are thinking about starting an ECW project it might make more sense if you read that post first.
What started out as a comparison of just three brands, has grown somewhat. Please note, that as my armies are predominantly Peter Pig figures- they are the norm from which I compare everything else.
I had a little rummage in my spares box and found that I had the command figures for two new Regiments of Foot. These are a mix of Peter Pig, Naismith and Steel Fist: all often described as 'true 15mm'. So in the interests of 'science', I decided to see how they measured up against one another, and more importantly, could they be used in the same unit?
|Peter Pig, with a Naismith halberdier (front right)|
Please note: this comparison is just for foot figures. Naismith, Peter Pig and Steel Fist horses are so very different, stylistically, that I personally wouldn't mix and match as the difference is too noticeable. I have in the past swapped out Naismith horses so that their riders rode Peter Pig horses.
The Naismith range is out of production but some packs are still available through Keep Wargaming (no relation). They are a mixed bunch, some of the sculpts are questionable to say the least, but there are a few gems in the range, most notably the halberdier and the marching musketeer (one pose per pack). There is a Naismith halberdier, in this batch; a couple of marching musketeers will probably make it into the finished regiments. Hat feathers I'm afraid, but forgivable as they are at least thirty, if not forty years old sculpts.
Much praise has been heaped upon the Steel Fist figures: they look beautiful enlarged upon our computer screens, but what are they like in real life? In comparison to Peter Pig figures the detail is quite shallow: hopefully this will not hinder my 'block paint and wash' technique.
My big disappointment was with the officer with raised sword: his sword was very slender, and broke when I was trying to straighten it when I opened the packet it came in. Not the best first impression. He has had a replacement sword fitted using a staple, and a greenstuff basket guard to help stabilise the new sword. Amongst the small sample of figures from Steel Fist that I have, there is a slight size difference between figure. It is only slight but it is noticeable.
There are a number of figures which are clearly meant as ensigns or halberdiers (there were two separate, loose halberds in the pack) - which is nice as they give a degree of dynamism not normally seen in 15mm figures (not conducive to casting methods in a one piece casting).
Steel Fist have recently reorganised their pike and musket packs, command figures now come in separate packs. In the command pack I purchased there was just one drummer and a fifer. Personally I'd like to see more musicians, or a dedicated pack of musicians. Far too many hat feathers for my taste too; you might like your figures bedecked with hat feathers, I don't.
Steel Fist have recently put a 'sample' figure pack in the listings: costing just a penny (you pay for the postage), the pack includes mounted and foot figures.
For control purposes there are some Peter Pig ensigns, a drummer and an officer (no headswaps). On the subject of headswaps neither the Naismith nor the Steel Fist figures easily lend themselves to headswaps sadly. (In fairness some of the Peter Pig figures aren't the easiest to decapitate either.)
The 'also rans':
Warrior, Minifigs, Essex, Matchlock and Freikorps/QRF are all often described as 'true 15mm'; I think they are labelled as such because they are older ranges, often with 'legacy' ranges. I have included some comparison pictures with figures from other manufacturers, already in my collection.
Warrior are temporarily unavailable. If and when they do become available again, I will add them to this post.
Minifigs, from experience, vary wildly in size even within their ranges. I did have some of their armed peasants but they absolutely towered above my Peter Pig figures, a good head and shoulders taller; I looked through their ECW listings again but didn't see any figures that I wanted - I know that they have a strong fanbase but they really aren't for me. So they are not included here.
Essex: I've bought some Essex figures in the past, and I have featured their C17th gentleman's coach on here. Similar to Minifigs, a good head and shoulders taller than Peter Pig. Personally I think the Essex ECW range to be a little extreme in their poses; stylistically I don't think that they mix with Peter Pig. Again, they are not for me, and not included here.
Museum: not really 15mm, these are 18mm heading towards 20mm. I just happened to have a Museum drover as I have just had a delivery of their carts and limbers. The driver figure looks okay next to Peter Pig in my pictures, somewhat annoyingly he is hunched over slightly so his true height is slightly disguised. Certainly not viable with Steel Fist.
As for Matchlock - a few of their figures already grace my collection. A similar height to PP, but very 'well fed' in comparison. Size, and heft vary wildly amongst the range. They just about work on the same battlefield, but not in the same unit. If the bulk of your army is from Steel Fist, then I don't think these are going to work for you.
|All these figures are from Matchlock, the musketeer on the left is much bigger than the witchfinder on the right|
As with Matchlock, there are already a few Freikorps 15 figures (available from QRF) in my collection. From my experience their size varies wildly, only a handful of the figures that I have bought have made the cut (those that didn't have been recycled). Some of the mounted figures were in excess of 20mm tall. I include a camp follower in the comparison pictures for completeness only. The whole QRF range is currently unavailable - a temporary situation whilst the company moves premises.
|left to right: Peter Pig, Naismith, Freikorps 15, Steel Fist, Matchlock|
|left to right: Steel Fist, Naismith, Peter Pig, Museum, Matchlock, Magister Militum (with pony), Freikorps 15|
Hallmark, available from Magister Militum have an ECW range. Many of the figures appear to have much later dress - they look to be wearing clothes from the late C17th, early C18th. As a result they don't really have many suitable figures in their range; there are a few gems in the range, I really like the dismounted dragoon firing figure. I do own a handful of their Scots horseholders which I have used with pack horses and frame gun horses. Slightly shorter and slighter than Peter Pig, I think they would fit quite nicely with Steel Fist on the same base.
|Hallmark Scots horseholders|
How do they paint up?
I'm no great painter, I'm very much from the school of careful colouring in, then use a heavy wash to disguise mistakes and add shading. Occasionally I will go back and add some highlights.
Peter Pig: I can paint these, figuratively, standing on my head as I've done so many of them. Sculpting style seems very much to favour the average painter; detail is raised, and takes a wash really well.
Naismith: Again I've painted hundreds of Naismith Napoleonic figures, but these seem slightly different style wise. Much more delicate in their sculpting. Nice detail, I enjoyed painting this figure. It took a wash quite well.
|A Steel Fist halberdier in front of Peter Pig musketeers|
Steel Fist: Similar to the Naismith, very delicate in their sculpting style. Enjoyable to paint, nice to have some different poses. My initial concerns as to whether they would take a wash well, seem unfounded.
How do they fare sizewise?
You will often hear the adage, 'same table but not the same unit' used when figure size is discussed. Is this appropriate for these three true 15mm ECW ranges? Inevitably someone will pipe up 'people are different heights'; yes they are, but equipment should be consistently sized regardless of height. A height difference of 2 or 3mm for a true 15mm figure is a 15/20% difference.
|The Peter Pig figures are very shiny metal compared to the other two brands, and this difference was too much of a distraction when compared in a bare metal state.|
Steel Fist and Naismith are almost identical in height. They are a very good match both style and heft too. The Peter Pig figures are marginally taller (some of which can be given to base thickness), and just a little bit chunkier. Weaponry seems comparable sizewise, with the exception of swords. Peter Pig swords are much thicker, and robust, than the Steel Fist swords which appear rapier like in comparison.
As mentioned by Steve (below), there are some pictures of older ranges on his blog here.
But can you mix them in the same unit?
|Naismith halberdier in front of Peter Pig musketeers|
Considering how old the Naismith figure is, I really think it is as good as anything from the much feted Steel Fist range. A shame they are now out of production, and how hit and miss the quality of the rest of the range is.
|A Steel Fist halberdier in front of Peter Pig musketeers|
The three ranges are clearly interchangeable and can work in the same unit. There is a very slight height difference, but if it bothers you that much you could always raise the Steel Fist figures up (their cast bases are very thin in comparison to both the Peter Pig and Naismith figures).
|Command strip left to right: Steel Fist, Steel Fist, Peter Pig, Steel Fist. All other figures Peter Pig|
|Command strip left to right: Peter Pig, Peter Pig, Peter Pig, Steel Fist. All other figures Peter Pig|
Cavalry is a very different question though. I really don't like the newer one piece sculpt cavalry that Peter Pig are moving over to. I understand that it is for production purposes, but the figures appear quite flat (plus loss of numbers of combinations - 3 horse poses, two rider poses now down to just 3 or sometimes 2 poses). I also really dislike painting one piece cavalry figures (YMMV), much preferring to paint two piece cavalry. If I was starting again I'd give the Steel Fist cavalry a really good look as they have a huge number of variants, in comparison to Peter Pig.
Price wise Peter Pig are cheaper (51p per foot, £1.02 per cavalry) than Steel Fist (53p per foot, £1.24 per cavalry) - correct 1st April 2022.
I suppose I am in quite an enviable position, I am really happy with my completed armies; I don't envisage any 'big' expansions, just a few additions here and there. I am more than happy to dip into other ranges such as Steel Fist and Naismith to add some more variety. Now if someone would make some new interesting true 15mm mounted command figures that don't come in ridiculously expensive big bags I'd be really really happy...