20 October 2002
Theofanis and I were discussing what figures were available for the Seven Years War in 20 mm. He sent me this e-mail, with a good breakdown of the figures he's seen. Theofanis has collected plastic figures for many years, and I was surprised both at his depth of knowledge and how many brands existed, that I'd never heard of. With his permission I decided to share it with you, as it may be of interest. Inserts in
green blue are by me. Hans-Karl Weiss has also sent some notes, included at the bottom of this page. Dal
With regards to other plastics companies here are some whose products I have bought over the years apart from Revell, ESCI (now out of business, I believe), Airfix (now mainly produced by HäT) and Italeri and HäT (whose quality by the way, and in my opinion at least, went from generally bad to good and then slumped back down again in its rush to release more kits than all the other companies have in the last 3 years):
Call to Arms: (UK based): They produce among others British Napoleonic infantry, French carabiniers, Zulus and some moderns (the latter are horrible; in our times they don't even qualify as toys). For British Napoleonic infantry Revell is better, for carabiniers Italeri, for Zulus ESCI. Just use them if you want to add some variety in your armies. Plus they are inexplicably expensive when one considers the quality they offer.
Zvezda: (means Star in Russian, Serbo-Croatian and other Slavic languages): In Europe they have an agreement with Italeri to market their products so you may find their stuff under the Italeri label (they are doing the converse in the East i.e. marketing Italeri's stuff under their label). Their Mongols and Russian knights (the first sets they ever released) are frankly mediocre (they are not bad; just not perfect- they look a bit stumpy and the Mongols' horses are rather sad). Their later sets, the Greek hoplites/psiloi, the Persians, Alexander the Great's cavalry are fantastic. I also should mention that each box features a great variety of different poses. They are now about to bring out Romans and Carthaginians and they have also brought out a couple of forts(stone and wooden) and 2 boxes of siege equipment but I do not own those, so I can't really comment.
Orion: I only have their pirates (they also do some moderns-Chechen rebels etc.). Many MANY poses and I have read reviews on the net praising them to high heaven but I did not really like them. The proportions are inconsistent; one gets the impression that figures from different manufacturers have been mixed in. Other than that the detail was a bit fuzzy or maybe I am just a bit spoiled from the better Revell/Italeri sets and AB.
Strelets: A big no no (although once more many poses). First of all they are nearer to 25 mm than 22 mm. Other than that some figures have legs as thick as trunks, others have head double the size of their comrades and the detail is a bit off. In short some figures are acceptable(bar the size) others are pitiful. Whoever sculpted these has huge potential but has yet to subject it to some much needed discipline. These comments are based on their engineers and Polish infantry sets which I have.
Hytty: Their Greek Macedonian infantry that I have is unacceptable; flash-ridden, squashed like figures. However, I have heard from a friend that their newer set of Wellington's staff is much better so I reserve final judgment on them.
You may have noticed I am rather dismissive of most of those 'fringe' companies. The reason is simple; I believe that if I am going to spend my time painting a figure it has to be near perfect. Plus through the years I have seen what great things can be done in plastic and when I see substandard sets I cannot, in good faith, cut them any slack. I reckon that at this time Zvezda is the only one of those companies worth investing time and effort on.
By the way these are some of the best plastics ever released in my opinion (in other words if you find these buy them without a second thought):
30 years war: all their boxes from that period, with the best being the Swedish cavalry (I challenge anyone to point me to better miniatures in any scale/medium).
WW2 German artillery: phenomenal.
Their ACW cavalry is easily the pinnacle of the many good sets Italeri has produced.
The Greek Macedonian cavalry is remarkable indeed and paints magnificently, with a lot of raised detail.
Finally this is one of the best links for plastics I have ever found on the web (it's in German but I don't think that acts as an impediment):
Esci figures are now produced by Italeri and appear under the brand Italeri – but are in fact the old Esci, which is good news there some of the ranges were very nice. The very big draw back of plastic figures are that they are not accurate and way behind the metal wargame figures such as AB, on the other hand – anatomy is much better than the usual gnome wargame style.
Revell is best in accuracy but on the other hand not very good in detail. For sculpting – detail and such like, in my view the best is Italeri, followed by Zvezda and Esci.
A big advantage is also that you can do your own conversions and make your own lines. Whoever wants to have anatomical correct 1 / 72 wargame figures can make them from these existing figures with the help of cutting, gluing and modelling and sculpting with Milli Put, Green Stuff, Magic Sculpt and sheet lead.
Hans - Karl