Posted by Martin on November 6, 2010
Nope, I’m not going in for cyber-surgery! Rather, this is an update on Warlord Games’ plans to supplement its recent box of plastic 28mm Prussian Landwehr infantry with some metal figures that can be purchased separately. In general, this idea of adding extra figures in metal to bolster plastic sets is a good principle and the intention was flagged by the fact that the box includes three metal command figures already (an officer, a standard bearer and a drummer).
What’s interesting is how this concept is being developed further. The first addition is a second pack of command figures. It also comprises an officer, standard bearer and drummer but they come as two castings rather than three because the standard bearer being supported by the drummer is a combined casting. I applaud the concept of this sculpt and it’s just the sort of thing that would fit in well with my dioramic approach to units. Moreover, it actually comes with a choice of officer variants – one with a shouldered sword or one shouting and pointing with his sword. However, it’s not all good news because I don’t see how these figures fit in with the march-attack poses of the plastic set. They would be a much better fit for a set of firing line figures, so maybe that’s a clue to what Warlord have planned for the future. My other criticism is with the execution of the sculpts – they really don’t cut the mustard. If you think I’m being harsh just take a look at the size of the hands.
The counter-argument to the sculpting problems with the plastics was one of price versus quality but this simply doesn’t apply to these metal figures with the £5 price of this set. In doing metal Prussians, Warlord has entered into direct competition with the gold standard – i.e. Calpe Miniatures. And frankly, they’ve lost hands down. Three Calpe Prussian Landwehr command figures will set you back £3 and the Calpe figures are far better quality in every respect: historical accuracy, sculpting and casting quality.
Nevertheless, healthy competition and variety of choice can only be good news and Warlord aren’t stopping at command figures. They’ve recently unveiled some of the greens for packs of Prussian Landwehr casualty figures and trail-arms figures with separately cast right arms. Once again, the ideas are practical, sound and to be praised. As BfK regulars know, I have a soft spot for casualty figures and trail-arms is a classic Prussian pose. Pricing and pack contents details are yet to be announced but it sounds as though the casualty pack will comprise two falling figures and two prone figures.
Just as my plus points for these figures mirror to ones I noted for the command figures, my criticisms are also in the same vein. In particuar, the falling casualty figure poses look unnatural to me – I’d even go so far as to say that there’s a certain zombie-like stiffness to them. And the hands again… Oh those hands! Taking the Hammer Horror analogy further, they make the figures look like Frankenstein’s monster.
So what do we learn from these Warlord developments? I certainly welcome that there’s more Prussian choice on the market and some of the creative imagination is great – I love the idea behind the casting of a standard bearer supported by a drummer and if there was a Calpe one of the same pose, I’d certainly include it in at least one of my units and I’m sure it would be a commission painting favourite. The other lesson from this is that the Warlord sculpting team has a way to go in quality terms. But I don’t want them to be discouraged. It takes time to get good and we’d never have any quality figures to enjoy if sculptors gave up at the first hurdle. Look at the way the Perrys Napoleonic work has developed over the years from their early Foundry work to the latest plastic French heavy cavalry.