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Attacking the lead and plastic mountain

By smacdowall, May 26 2020 06:28PM

The virus lockdown is a great opportunity to make some dent in the lead mountain. Having reduced the pile of unpainted Wars of the Roses miniatures by quite a considerable amount, I now have all the contingents I need to fight both Bosworth and Barnet.

Still staying in the Middle Ages, I am now turning my attention to the not inconsiderable mountain of unpainted lead for the Hundred Years War — more specifically Crécy.

This is only a fraction of the unpainted Hundred Years War miniatures I have amassed over the years.

The project started way back in the early ‘80s when I began to build an English army for Crécy with Essex miniatures — at that time they were the best around.

They inspired me to paint the intricate heraldic devices. It was a labour of love and it did not matter that it took so very long to paint up a few knights with their colourful shields, surcoats and horse caparisons.

Things being as they are, I moved on to other projects long before I had finished the English, let alone paint up any French.

I resurrected the project some 8 years ago and began to paint the French, some of whom can be seen above in my display case. By then the Essex miniatures with their overly large heads were beginning to look a little caricaturesque alongside the much better Front Rank, Wargames Foundry and Crusader miniatures that had come along in the intervening years. So I did my best to use up some of my old Essex figures blending them in with (mostly) Front Rank.

I have hundreds of unpainted Hundred Years War miniatures that have been languishing in boxes — some for nigh on 40 years. But as time has moved on so has the quality of the available miniatures. I find myself wanting to incorporate some of the newer miniatures into my collection — especially the plastic Perry figures.

These beautiful multi-part figures are a joy, both for their flexibility and well-proportioned detail. Although designed for the Agincourt period, this is really only a problem for fully armoured knights as the relatively simple dress of archers and spearmen did not change that radically over the years between Crécy (1346) and Agincourt (1415).

My problem is one of visual compatibility. Essex miniatures have grossly oversized heads and hands, Front Rank a bit less so. Perry plastics are perfectly proportioned with much smaller heads and hands than Front Rank, let alone Essex. After much deliberation I have decided to give it a go — mixing Front Rank and Perry figures to create a contingent of archers for the Black Prince. Although I have quite a few of them in my unpained box, I could not bring myself to include any Essex figures as their heads are far too large compared to Perry.

Will they fit together?

With a couple of the Front rank figures I decided to cut off their hands and bows to replace them with the much slimmer Perry ones. I’m thinking this will help them blend better together. In the photo above the man on the left is a Front Rank original with much larger hand and wider bow. On the left is a Front Rank figure with a Perry hand and bow. Another spare is in the foreground waiting for surgery.

We’ll see how it works…

May 27 2020 12:26PM by Ross Macfarlane

Will they fit? Depends on how much wine has been consumed.... I never liked Front Rank or Essex, despite the detail. Anatomy first! (One of the reasons I went to 15mm for a few decades.

Have you tried a head swap on the really big headed fellows if you want to make some use of them?

It also seems to me that not all knightly types would have had the money to keep up with fashion an more than a few of the lesser, poor men-at-arms might well have ridden to war in their grandfathers harness or parts of it anyway.

Your painting of medieval figures remains superb.

May 27 2020 06:18PM by smacdowall

I agree with your comment on anatomical proportion. My problem of course being the huge amount of big headded fellows in my unpainted box. Seems like such a waste not to use them. So a fet head and hand swaps in order.

I also agree with not all having the latest armour. I have mixed in Agincourt figures in my Wars of the Roses units. My problem with Crécy is I need to go the other direction as all the better figures are from the 1415-29 period which means potentially giving figures armour that had not yet been invented. I will fudge it a bit.

You are too kind about the painting!


Jun 4 2020 06:50PM by Richard Speedman

Simon, I love what you are doing with these wee chaps. I know what you mean about the large heads and hands of the Essex and Front Rank, but they are nice figures and as models you make them look good once painted. The Perry miniatures are exquisite, but the older models mixed in look absolutely fine, and give units a much more varied character than if they were all Perry's.

Jun 10 2020 06:14PM by smacdowall

Thanks Richard. I am really enjoying painting them.

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