May 22, 2002
Rumors were circulating that the release of 25 mm SYW figures was imminent. The unidentified designer was to launch the line in Australia (he exists- I have a phone number! A review to follow. Dal.). So, it is with surprise that I received an e-mail from Mark Sims (formerly with Foundry) about his new 25 mm Crusader Miniatures and SYW offerings, as he’s in Northern Ireland!
Crusader (check their web site) has two historical ranges in the works: The Seven Years War and W.W.II. Mark had the courage to forward some samples to this curmudgeon. He made it clear he’s designing them first-and-foremost, for his own gaming. As I’m concerned about my fellow drought-suffering, 18th Century gamers, this review will focus on the SYW figs. I have included, however, a scan of the W.W.II French and British infantry.
Presently, only two Habsburg figures are available… a Hungarian and German fusilier (both are march attack). They can be ordered in packs of eight, and are priced at a reasonable 7.00 BP per pack. The command figures have been completed and should be available shortly.
The figures measure approximately 28.5 mm from shoe sole-to-eye level. While 28’s, their anatomy is more diminutive than Foundry, or Front Rank. The legs don’t look like tree stumps, and the overall appearance does not have the ‘born-of-two-gnomes’ look. While the torso and head size are larger than the legs, Sims maintains good symmetry.
These figures strike an interesting balance between addressing the likes of Foundry aficionados, while at the same time, addressing the concerns of Foundry detractors… no small feat! The poses aren’t cartoonish, the castings are clean, and the detail is on par with Foundry. All in all, these initial offerings get a "they’re collectible" from moi.
The hands are an improvement over Foundry and Front Rank. While still large, they don’t present the painter with the problem of defining a "claw".
Negatives & Quibbles
The big drawback is the thickness of the muskets and short sword. They mirror the Foundry approach of going beefy to avoid breakage, but it skews an otherwise proportioned look.
Among the more minor quibbles are the eyeballs of the "German" figure, which protrude due to the absence of defined eyelids. On these, you will need to break a cardinal rule and paint pupils! There is also an annoyingly visible mould line down the bridge of his nose. My recommendation would be to take a toothpick with a tiny amount of super glue on its end, fill it in first, and then file it down if necessary.
I found the march attack positions ‘unsure’. While natural looking, you can’t tell whether they’re marching, or straightening ranks.
These figs offer a ray of hope for thirsty SYW gamers. I couldn’t get Mark to commit to release dates, but his goal is to offer a comprehensive line of the armies involved in the real first world war. I asked him whether he plans to design variations of these poses, and the answer was "no". He does plan to offer an assortment of cheering, dying etc., figures, that can be mixed in.
I rate these "8’s" and can commend them to those of you who, like myself, are now at an age where 20 mm and requisite for healthy vision. Certainly, we’ll want to revisit Crusader when the number of figures warrant a more comprehensive review.
Here’s a pic of the W.W.II figures. They appear more truncated than the SYW figs, but this may be due to the length of the overcoats and body positions. Very clean.