Which Figures Part 3: Size Matters - Horses
An update on Which Figures: Size Matters, this time looking at horses.
I have had a few readers complain that my size comparisons have excluded certain manufacturers. Fair comment. I pay for all of the figures, paint, books, rules, scenery shown on this blog (I have received some items gratis for review, if this is the case then I clearly state this in posts). I'm not going to purchase stuff that I know that I am not going to use.
You can find my earlier Which Figures? posts here:
But enough of that, for those of us at the 'true' end of the 15mm spectrum let's look at horses. Again, with the caveat that my benchmark are Peter Pig figures.
15mm figures are not anatomically correct, with perfectly in scale weaponry. They can't be. Figures need to be robust enough to be cast, posted, painted and then used. So as a result, figures are sculpted in slightly strange proportions. Horses are no exception, and I long held the view that the stylistic differences of sculptors would mean that different manufacturer's horses would look noticeably different and somewhat incongruous in the same army. Peter Pig horses' back legs are solid part way down to the hocks (to aid casting and make the figures more robust), which look a little strange on first impression but this 'handling proof' measure is not noticeable once painted and based.
This belief has led me to marry riders, carts and horses from different manufacturers, all with the aim of a common look.
Recently, I ran out of stuff to paint, so I thought I'd try some mounted command figures from Steel Fist.
After much prevarication, I took the plunge, clicked 'buy' and this is one of the posts that have grown from that decision.
I suppose this entry naturally divides into two: draught horses, and cavalry horses.
When it comes to draught horses, I have horses from three manufacturers: Naismith, Essex and Museum Miniatures. Actually, that isn't quite true. I have one Peter Pig draught horse.
The Peter Pig ECW range does not include any baggage or limbers; but, as with all things there are a few suitable items tucked away in some of their other ranges. My plague doctors have enlisted the help of a dead cart from the Wars of the Roses range.
Naismith horses pull my light limbers, Museum's horses pull my heavy limbers and baggage train. I do have some Donnington wagons, but I paired them with Museum horses to help unify the 'look'.
In the past I have been critical of Naismith horses - they can be a bit, well, odd looking. Not the case with their draught horses. I think Mike Naismith compensated his horse sculpts to help the look of the horse when it has its rider on board.
Museum's draught horses have a number of poses which is useful for teams of four. I quite like the sculpts, although I think their tails are a little odd (I understand why they have been sculpted this way - to strengthen the casting).
The Essex horses are the largest, and chunkiest of all of my draught horses - but, as they are draught horses, I think that can be excused. Although they may well be replaced with Museum Miniatures draught horses at some point.
Unfortunately, all my draught horses have been painted so comparison pictures are a little convoluted I'm afraid. Plus of course, paint is a great leveller, hiding both imperfections and size issues (to a point).
|l-r Museum, Essex|
|l-r Naismith Essex|
|l-r Peter Pig, Essex|
|l-r Peter Pig, Museum|
|l-r Naismith, Peter Pig|
|l-r Naismith, Museum|
Portraying a horse in movement must be one of the more difficult 'figures' that a figure sculptor ever has to create. Thankfully pioneering Victorian photographer Eadweard Muybridge famously captured a galloping horse's movement in 16 images. Unfortunately for the figure sculptor, the horse is barely in contact with the ground. As a rock climber I always like to have three points of contact with the rockface, similarly I like my horses to have three points of contact with their base. All this just goes to justify why figure sculptors add bits of vegetation to horse bases which somewhat coincidentally make contact with legs. When it comes to the smaller sizes of figures, horses with just two legs in contact with a base are not viable structurally.
Peter Pig cavalry make up the bulk of my mounted figures. There are two styles of figures in their range: one-piece and two-piece castings. I have long bemoaned the newer one-piece casts (TL:DR I find them harder to paint, and I just think the older two-part figures are much better figures) preferring the two-piece figures. Price rise- February 2023: four figures cost £4.35, or just shy of £1.10 per figure including horse. A special-order pack of 'just horses' (eight horses) costs £5, giving an individual horse cost of £0.62.
The horses come in three poses, some of the newer one-piece horses (all of the figures in pack 24) are, very annoyingly, missing the chest strap for the saddle. Horses, be they one or two piece in construction, are consistent in height. The horses were remodelled and made slightly bigger a few years ago, so you might come across some very old PP horses on eBay which are quite noticeably shorter.
Scattered amongst the thousand or so Peter Pig cavalry figures in my collection are a handful of Matchlock mounted figures. Matchlock foot figures appear a few times in this blog, and cutting a long story short, are mostly a comparable height to Peter Pig figures but are much, much heftier. The same can be said for their riders, but what of their horses?
Matchlock riders and horses are purchased separately. Riders and horses currently costing £0.55 each (November 2022). There are three horses available: horse, great horse, and dragoon horse. Each available in a few different poses. The great horse is designed for cuirassiers, and the dragoon horse is a smaller nag for dragoons and Scots cavalry. A nice touch.
The 'standard' horses are comparable sizewise with PP but the horse illustrated (H1 horse walking) has a slightly hobby-horse appearance in comparison (I think I'll replace it with the better proportioned H5 great horse standing); but the riders are noticeably different. I have paired my Prince Maurice with a PP cuirassier ensign. The helmets are very different in size. My thinking is that once I put a standard on the base the cuirassier's helmet will be a little less visible.
|Matchlock 'Horse-BO' on Matchlock 'horse H1' (I think), with a PP cuirassier ensign|
Naismith cavalry are out of production, but some packs are still available from Keep Wargaming (no relation). November 2022: three identical figures per pack costing £1.60, so about £0.53 per figure including horse.I have a lot of Naismith Napoleonic figures, and some of the horse poses are slightly esoteric to say the least. They look okay painted up, but stylistically are a very poor match for Peter Pig mounts. The ECW horses are considerably better sculpts, but I decided to ditch them and mount the riders on PP horses.
|l-r Naismith, Peter Pig|
the more I look at it, the more the Naismith horse looks like a pantomime horse costume. I think it is the legs...
Steel Fist horses look much more anatomically correct and proportioned and are as a result much more delicate. Unfortunately, this delicate look is to their detriment, from my own experience several horses have not survived passage through the postal system and their riders have had to be remounted upon Peter Pig horses. November 2022: Steel Fist cavalry cost £14.95 for a pack of twelve cavalry which is roughly £1.25 a figure, mounted commander packs are £7.90 for six figures roughly £1.32 a figure.
|l-r Naismith rider on Peter Pig horse, Steel Fist, Peter Pig, Matchlock|
Update: A tale of three cuirassiers.
|Two piece cavalry figures from l-r Essex, Peter Pig. The Essex figure's head looks a little on the large size for his body. If I was using this figure, a Peter Pig headswap might make him more usable.|