21 September 2001
I first heard of these figures via (now sadly out of business) Kriegspieler magazine. I then stumbled across Mark's web page and the pic of the Union cavalryman immediately caught my eye. Not the rider but the horse- well proportioned, well animated and natural looking. So I immediately e-mailed Mark about buying some samples, as we need both an ACW review and more 25-28 mm reviews. The big surprise is that Mark has only been sculpting for less than two years- the bloke has talent!
Physical Quality. The figures varied between 28.5mm and 29.5mm sole to eye. The metal is of average hardness and easily bends back to shape. Casting is clean with little flash present. The cavalry come in three parts, connected by a strong sprue- body, arm and scabbard. I believe the figures are cast by Mike Broadbent on Mark's behalf.
Pricing: The figures are available in packs. A pack contains 20 ranker figures for $25 US, 3 command for $3.75 US, two guns and 8 crew for $19 US or 5 cavalry (3 command) for $18 US ($10.80 US). The figures are only available via Mark's site. Orders of over $200 US are postage free while other P&P rates are given on Mark's site.
Infantry: I received three figures "advancing/charging" and five "firing line" poses. All are US types, with kepi and sack coat, though they could do double duty as Confederates in small numbers, scattered throughout a unit. The animation on most is very good, only one figure looking a little unusual. Proportions aren't bad either, though the heads seem a little over size. The detailing is something I'd forgotten about with "25's"- nicely thin rifles, buttons, buckles and all manner of bits for those who want to paint it all. Rating 8.0 out of 10.
Cavalry: As mentioned before, the riders come in two or three pieces- main part of the figure, right arm with sabre and a separate saddlebag and sabre scabbard for some. The saddles and blankets are moulded to the rider, allowing a good deal of variation in the horse poses in each unit. The three sample riders I got were all US types, charging with sabre. They were the short jacket and kepi, with a mix of trousers inside, or over, their boots. The Sharps carbine on these figures are superbly detailed, adding to the impression of quality work. Rating 8.5 out of 10.
The horses are gems. Moulded without saddlery or reins, I received three different poses. One is trotting, one cantering and the last galloping. The proportions are very nice, though the backs seem a little short. However the legs, where most sculptors have problems, are very well proportioned. The cannons are straight, they don't have overly large fetlocks like Foundry horses and the necks are a good size. There's a minor quibble with the shape of the heads, lack of mane and muscle definition, but these are the best "25 mm" horses I've seen. Mark told me he'd been visiting riding farms and taking photo's of the subject. It shows. Unusually Mark hasn't moulded the reins, as do all the other manufacturers. They can be added from fuse wire or tape. It has probably helped with cleanly cast heads. Rating 9 out of 10.
I received two gunners in hats and one in kepi as well as beautiful 10lb Parrott rifle. The gunners in hat are suitable for Confederate and Union (Western Theatre) while the one in kepi could fight for either side in any theatre. Once again nicely animated and sculpted. Rating 8 out of 10.
The Parrott rifle came in the usual four pieces- two wheels, carriage and barrel. Unusually the elevation screw is cast with the barrel, allowing it to stand free of the carriage. This gun is better than any I've seen under 54 mm scale. It outdoes the old Hinchcliffe guns for detail. The detail is there, but not oversized as happens with some manufacturers. The only quibble is the uneven spacing of the wheel spokes. They drew my eye immediately but it took some hard looking to see the problem. This is a minor point, though, and the gun is brilliant. Rating 9 out of 10.
Overall: It's hard to believe that Mark has been sculpting for less than two years. He shows a flair that makes me think hopefully of what we'll be seeing in a few more years. These are much better than the 1st Corps and Foundry ACW I've seen and I heartily recommend them. Definitely an enthusiast of the ACW period, it's to be hoped that 20 mm SYW or WSS may attract Mark's interest. ;-)
Mark Fenlon Miniatures
9 Welland Close, Penrith NSW 2750 Australia