Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Napoleonic Conversion possibilities

It's amazing how quickly a new fad can take over.

Last time I posted I had just picked up my first boxes of plastic 28mm Napoleonics at Salute. Now, as I type, I'm about to go and paint another battalion of French light infantry, having amassed in the last month 8 battalions of French Light, 3 of French Line, 2 of French Dragoons... and that's just the French - I also have 4 battalions of British Line, 3 Highland Battalions, and a Battery of Artillery, plus two companies of Riflemen and one company of Brunswick Oels Jagers. I've also moved beyond Sharpe Practice to Black Powder, great game that it is.

Anyway, this being a 40k blog, I thought I'd share with you some of the conversion potential of these excellent plastic models made by three different manufacturers, and how they might slot into the grim darkness of the far future.

First a word about the manufacturers. The three companies that I've bought from are Hat, Perry Miniatures, and Victrix - all of whom have websites where you can check out their stuff (for Hat, google Hat industrie)

The first thing to notice about these models is that they are much closer to true-scale and further from the 40k heroic scale that exaggerates the sizes of hands, limbs, weapons and heads. However, some are more truescale than others.
Perry Miniatures British Line infantry
On balance, my favourites are the Perry miniatures models - aside from being finely detailed they feel sturdy and are easy to assemble whilst also being sufficiently complex to support a wide variety of poses. They also rank up easily. Of course, there is also something familiar about the style, and I guess its hardly surprising that quality models will come from such talented and experienced GW sculptors.

Coming a close second are the Victrix sculpts which are extremely detailed - if anything perhaps moreso than the Perry models. However, the plastic quality doesn't seem to be quite as good - they are significantly more brittle (I broke several bayonets in handling - not so with the Perry sculpts) and there are many more assembly options - some with very fiddly parts which can make assembly a headache. However, the superfluity of parts might suit GW gamers looking for conversion opportunities, so this is also a plus.

Finally there are the Hat models. I have to say I am underwhelmed by their offerings. Of the three manufacturers they are probably the most 'truescale', but this turns out not to be a great thing. Aside from being a bit slighter than the other manufacterers models, the detail is also not as crisp and easily obscured in painting. Also, the plastic quality is TERRIBLE. check out the sample below.

Hat French light infantry

 Their one saving grace is that they are cheap (roughly £10 for a box of 30-odd). They also do some units that other manufacturers don't, which is also a bonus, and they are quick to put together (most models are two-piece man and backpack affairs). If you're looking for conversion bits though, don't bother with these, you won't get any, and they will look diddy-small alongside 40k models.

For a size comparison see below.

Perry on the Left, Hat in the middle, Victrix on the right.
 Victrix and Perry models are fine to mix in the same unit, but the Hat guys are a little to slight for that, although they look ok on the tabletop in their own units alongside the other two manufacterers. The photo above, in my opinion, really makes the Hat model look bad. I thought it was the blue plastic doing it, so I sprayed the hat model with primer and retook it.

This makes it look a lot better somehow, and I'm pleased to say that some of the boxes of Hat models I bought had grey plastic sprues instead. You can see the detail on the Hat model a bit better here. It is there, but as I said before easily obscured in painting. While I'm clearly not a fan of Hat's offerings in comparison to those of Perry and Victrix, I did go ahead and buy about 8 boxes, so I was content enough to want to field several Battalions of Hat models alongside those of other manufacterers.

So how does this all mash-up with 40k? Well I'm a keen guard player, and I like the idea of having a guard army with napoleonic-style uniforms. Perhaps led by a flashy looking Rogue Trader? Sort of like the East India company in space. So can you mix these parts with 40k models?

Well, not easily. The Truescale vs Heroic scale thing screws you at every turn. Arms won't swap without looking stupid, bodyshapes look all wrong, weapons are too large/small, the list goes on. I'll spare you photos of these horrific abortions, but you can see them other places on the internet if your google-fu is good.

Basically there are only two realistic ways of making things work

1) Use these models pretty much as-is, with perhaps some slight and basic conversion work on the weapons to make muskets look more like Lasguns.

2) Stick the heads on your guardsmen. They'll look at bit small, but the huge Cadian shoulderpads will cover that up somewhat.

That's basically your choices right there as far as I see them. If anyone comes up with anything better, be sure to let me know.