Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Review: Warlord plastic Prussians by Burkhard

Posted by Martin on November 17, 2010

Given that my opinions of the Warloard Games plastic Prussians have bee nrather trenchant, I was delighted to receive an offer of a second opinion. So here’s the latest in our occasional series of gues reviews. All the way from Castrop-Rauxel in Germany, please welcome Burkhard who writes…

Most wargamers are split between those who like plastics and those who like metals. The former argue things like price, detail and the ease of conversions as reasons for buying plastics. The later say they do not like them for the lack of weight and detail or diversity. I think I fall somewhere I between, as long as the minis are good. So I bought myself a box of Warlords new plastic Prussian Landwehr to see how good they are and when they arrived offered Martin to write a review for him. So lets get going.

The contents of the box.

The contents of the box.

Contents of the box
With the Warlord set you get a total of 30 minis. 27 of them are plastic militia and 3 are a metal command (officer, standard and drummer), all in marching poses. The first thing that fell on the table when I opened the box was the bag with the metal command. This contained two surprises. First off you get a sharpened brass rod as a staff for the flag and metal finial with tassels, which are a nice ideas, since most companies either provide nothing or soft pewter staffs. The second surprise was the officer. My box did not contain the officer with the shouldered sword depicted on the box, but rather the one pointing his sword and shouting commands that is available with their metal command pack. I was happy with that, since I like that pose better, but people should be aware, that there seems to be variation in the metal contents.

The metal command figures.

The metal command figures.

The biggest surprise was the plastics though. The 27 men are spread out over 9 sprues, with the same 3 minis each. The first soldier is clean shaved with backpack. The second soldier has a moustache, backpack and bedroll and the third a full beard and backpack. Each sprue also contains two separate swords. I found this very annoying, since out of a box with 30 minis this gives you very little variety and in my opinion a cookie cutter look. Given that most people multibase their minis in fours or sixes, this means you will always have doubles on one base and it will be hard to break that up with different colour of hair or trousers.

Something else to be noted is that the first and third mini have tattered trousers. I see this as artistic license to underline the fact that the Landwehr were not the best equipped. I personally found the 1:2 ratio a big strong though, since I would imagine, that more men knew how to sew and would try to patch those up.

Also included is a 4 page A5 sheet with some photos of painted minis, very basic historic information on the Landwehr, and 11 flags. Since the sheet is printed on heavy and glossy paper one would need to photocopy the flags for use. The flags are nice although the contrast seems a little low for those flags that are gold on white and the shadows on the flags that contain black are so strong that the white writing and designs on them are hard to make out. All in all the sheet makes for a nice addition.

A glossy leaflet is included in the box.

A glossy leaflet is included in the box.

Price (as in Nov. 2010)
As mentioned the Warlord sets contains 30 minis. They retail for £17 (UK), which means a price per minis of 56p (UK). This puts them on the expensive end of plastics (although the 3 metal minis in there blur the equation somewhat). For example the Perry British end up at 42p (UK) and their French even as little as 36p (UK) and those boxes include bases. Victrix sell for 38p (UK) per mini for their older sets and 33p (UK) for their new sets.

But they are still cheaper then metals. If you only compare them to the manufacturers that offer Prussians… Calpe minis are £1 (UK) per mini and Foundry are £1.37 (UK) per mini. So in the end they are more expensive then other plastics but still cheaper than metals.

Detail
I am going to sub-divide this into the metal and the plastic minis.

The metal minis are very crisp and clear in detail. Mould lines are minimal, although both the drummer and standard have one running over the eye socket in the faces, which could prove hard to clean. There are no casting imperfections to be found and only the drummer contains some flash. All in all these are nice energetic poses.

Now on to the plastics. There is no obvious scale creep between them and the metal contents of the box although the heads on the plastics are slightly larger and they look a little better fed. As with any plastics there are no casting imperfections or flash and just the usual light mould lines. The frontal detail is good although not as crisp as with the metals. The cross belts and especially the buttons make a softer transition into the coat. The hands, while the same size as on the metals, are very rounded and lack definition, which makes them look large. The back of the minis has good detail as well, but the definition deteriorates. This is due to the process of plastic castings. Moulds for plastic minis are cut from steel and are therefore not flexible. This means there can either be no cavities on the mini along the moulds pull-axis or you have to go for more parts. Warlord went for single piece castings and therefore the former.

Examples of the plastic figures.

Examples of the plastic figures.

Like any other company that has released historical 25-28mm miniatures for wargaming over the past three years, they had customers complaining about the hassle of assembly and have said that this was the reason for single piece castings. Unfortunately this means there are no recesses between the backpack and the back as well as shoulders, the small items like haversack, cartridge box, tin pot and the rest of the minis or where the muskets meet the bodies. This results in a general lack of definition and definitely impairs the looks of the minis. So to sum these up… the front of the plastics is good, the back is not. The poses themselves do not look too energetic. On all three of them, the feet are still in the space right underneath the mini, giving the impression that they are rather at a slow stroll then a real march. This is also emphasised by the very compact pose of the upper body, with the arms always touching the body.

There was one thing I found funny though. As I mentioned, Warlord decided to go for single piece castings since people found the assembly of multi part plastics too complicated. And they provide a brass rod and finial for the standard. But the upper hand of the standard bearer has no hole and needs to be drilled through. Same applies to the finial which needs to be drilled a little deeper to take the brass rod and a slit on the back of it which needs to be filled. I have serious doubts that people who had problems with the assembly of plastic minis will have the skill or even tools to do either of this.

Compatibility
Size wise these minis are well in league with the 25mm miniatures for the Napoleonic period produced by the other mayor companies. Obviously the real test comes if you want to mix them in one unit or even on one base. When compared to Foundry* they are a little taller, which will be enhanced by the fact that their bases are thicker as well. The heft is similar on both, but the heads on the Foundry minis are slightly larger. The style of sculpting is vastly similar. So one would only need to slip a card under the Foundry minis when basing them together and they would not stand out too much.

They are even closer when compared to Calpe. Both minis and bases have the same height. The Warlords appear a little leaner due to the fact that the Calpe minis have more folds in their coats. In this case the Warlords have slightly bigger heads. Again the style of sculpting is a vastly similar, although the Calpe minis have more detail. In the end you could base these together without trouble.

Conclusion
In the end the box of Warlord Landwehr is a mixed bag for me. The metal minis are really nice and I like those. Unfortunately this is off-set by the plastics. The lack of detail on the backs is definitely dragging their quality down. I can understand the argument that many people do not like a huge assembly process on their minis, but I feel that the one piece castings have taken this one step too far. If you look at the Perry plastic French which are in a march pose as well… those minis are far superior in detail just by being two part (miniature and backpack).

The biggest problem in my opinion is the lack of diversity. Three different poses from a set of 27 plastics is simply too few, especially if you want to use these to beef up numbers cheaply. I feel this is impossible here. The lack of diversity makes them inappropriate to use in numbers unless you want your units to look like you purchased them in the 1980´s when two or three different sculpts per pose was all that a manufacturer could offer you. So I would mix them into marching regiments from other manufacturers, but not in great numbers.

The quality is generally acceptable, but when you take the price into the equation it is a little poor. After all you can get plastic minis that have the quality of metal for almost half the price or metal minis for less then double the price.

So in the end I would say if you want or need to watch your budget, buy a box or two to mix them in a few minis at a time into your metal regiments. Otherwise, just stick with the metal that is already on the market.

*Since I have no Foundry Prussians I compared them with their Russians and Bavarians.

Wow! What an in-depth and well written review, and from somebody for whom English in a second language. Bravo Burkhard and thank you for all the effort you put into this.

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11 Responses to “Review: Warlord plastic Prussians by Burkhard”

  1. Ralph said

    Yes thanks Burkhardt for a very useful review – You have given me the idea to mix these in with my Calpe landwehr Bn’s to vey lightly – probably in the order of one or two per base of six…

    That will also overcome the one aspect of plastics that I don’t like, which is the lightness of the bases on the tabletop – wargaing in Australia I like to have all the doors and windows open so its annoying when a breeze can rearrange one’s brilliant battle winning dispositions!

    Talking about Calpe, some very exciting news over on TMP about Peter working on some French – now that would be wonderful! I should add that I don’t know how accurate this is – might just be mass wishful thinking! It would be great to see Peter’s take on the Marie Louises though…

    http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=213610

    • Burkhard said

      Ralph,

      you are welcome.

      That is about the impression I got from the box as well. 1 mini per 4 mini base or 1 to 2 for a 6 mini base. Anything else would give them too much of a cookie cutter look IMHO.

      It was a bit of a negative surprise when I opened the box. All my Imperial Romans and about 90% of my Celts are from Warlord, too. They have always suffered from a cookie cutter look due to the limited poses, about you could always break it up with the arm and head options on the Romans plus the seperate torsos on the Celts.
      This box is taking it to the extreme, since there are no seperate parts and the poses on the Landwehr are so compact that it makes conversions virtually impossible.

      Cheers,

      Burkhard

  2. Giles said

    Indeed – a very helpful review. Those right hands do look large, and by not including any head variants Warlord really did miss a trick with the plastics. Yes, there are people who complain about the time it takes to put plastics together. But there are plenty of others who don’t have that issue and are happy to trade assembly time for greater variety/options within the figures themselves. Only 3 heads on the same basis pose is very limiting indeed. For me that is the key problem with the box as a set of predominantly plastic figures. The figures themselves are ok, but it’s like going back to the old days of collections containing 100s of the exact same line infantryman figure.

    • Burkhard said

      Honestly… head variants was something I was expecting for a set like this. I mean there is a good amount of space on on the small sprues. And again the Perry French come to mind. While their troopers come with cast on heads, there are enough heads on the sprue and you can simply cut the original heads off and replace them. Good system for those who hate assembly, good system for those who like conversions and diversity.

      Cheers,

      Burkhard

  3. A nice review Burkhard. Thanks.

    The three poses for the rank and file is certainly a surprise for me. A bit of a surprise and a big downer, not that I was ever in the slightest bit tempted by them being a self confessed and spoilt Calpe zealot. I don’t even see the point of adding in the occasional figure into a unit.

    I find the size of the box a bit strange as the 1:20 scale players will often want their landwehr battalions as 32 figure units.

    For some reason Warlord plastics have not inspired me. I sort of see them in the second tier of plastic suppliers along with Wargames Factory. The Perry’s and Victrix I see as first tier plastic manufacturers. Just my view, and not a very substantiated one as I have not as yet bought any plastics and just have a few of the giveaways in magazines etc.

    Salute
    von Peter himself

    • Burkhard said

      von Peter,

      I can only second that view.

      As I said, my Romans are from them as are 90% of my Celts. At first I was thrilled by Warlord hitting the market, since it allowed me to do Imperial Romans relatively cheap… something I had wanted to do for ages. For the Romans it stayed that way, since you can do a lot with the seperate weapons arms and heads. With the Celts that feeling soon went away. I sold a lot of those plastic Celts off again replacing them with their metals or metals from other companies. Being German (with Prussian heritage ;-)) I had always wanted Ancient Germans as well, but when they only released their plastic Celts with a few metal parts to turn them into Germans, I lost the interest. As you said they simply were not inspiring enough. And from a quality point of view… they simply are not as good as metals.

      On the other hand both Victrix and Perry started the same thing, when they released their plastic Nappy sets. And those two never failed to inspire me. So far I have always been able to buy their new plastic sets and be happy with what I bought. Plus they are always en par with any metal release out there.

      Cheers,

      Burkhard

  4. Ioannis said

    This is not a period I collect (Napoleonic), but I am really puzzled by the apparent large size of the hands. I have some metals from the same company that were probably sculpted by the same sculptor. They are ECW Pikemen and their hands are also huge…I am not sure I understand why this cannot be fixed at the sculpting phase! Perhaps Militia and Pikemen were selected among those with large fists???

  5. […] Prussian infantry unit in the form of the 3rd Btln. 13th Silesian Landwehr. Last year I wrote a review of Warlord Games Plastic Prussians for Martin Kellys Befreiungskriege Blog. In it, I mentioned, that I felt these could be mixed with […]

  6. […] the time and write some posts for my blog. Now last year and earlier this year, I wrote a review of Warlords plastic Prussian Landwehr as well the Perry plastic Prussians for Martins Befreiungskriege blog. Both went down well with […]

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