May 9, 2003
Our focus remains 18th Century and Napoleonic Wars, but occasionally we sortie into other periods. Ian Scott of Hetzerdog Trading Co., was good enough to bring Xyston Figures to my attention and forwarded a selection of samples. (Good enough? So far, he's about the ONLY distributor or manufacturer to submit figs for review, though others have said samples were in the mail!)
Here's one for the DBA boys....
The range is produced by i-Kore (Edinburgh, Scotland) and specifically designed to tie in with DBA (De Bellis Antiquitatis) and DBM (De Bellis Multitudinis) rules sets. They are sold in blister-packs of eight infantry figures, or four mounted ones. The range presently covers the Greek city states, with Persians nearing completion. Eventually the scope will include Romans, Carthaginians, Trojans and Phoenicians.
They also seem to be doing some highly creative things. In checking the helpful web site at www.xyston.com, among the new releases are Greek children, shown below.
The casting quality is very good. The detail is crisp and the metal quality ideal. The figures are strong, yet pliable, allowing for modification without breakage. (One of my pet peeves of late is marginal alloy quality. )
The miniatures measure 16 mm, from the soles-of-their-feet to eye-level. My first reaction was 'I wish I knew what I'm reviewing!', as I haven't studied the armies, or armor, of Hellenic/Hellenistic Greece. But it's hoped the scans will provide sufficient detail for students of the period. (To punch out detail, image figures received a black wash.)
Sizing up Xyston figure quality was much easier. I found them to have just the right amount of animation, neither suffering from the dance fever of Old Glory's, nor the stiffness associated with Minifigs.
Anatomically, they're nicely proportioned. While they have the extra sturdy, compact builds common to most 25-28 mm lines, the legs aren't tree-trunks. I didn't care for the sculptor's sharp 90 degree elbows, however. A high percentage of the figs have arms and legs in a decidedly < > position. This, however, is offset by some creative and natural twists of the torso. I particularly like the musicians and Athenian archers.
Facial expressions vary from being very good to so-so. The Athenian archers are very nice, while I was less than impressed with the Theban hoplites.
The horses are much better than Minifigs or OG's, receiving a thumbs up. While the hind quarters are smallish, and one (not shown) has a very long neck, these are quibbles. (What did you expect?)
(Quoting from the Manufacturer's web page: "Miniatures do not come with cast spears, as we are not fond of the expression "Spaghetti Phalanx". We recommend brass or piano wire cut to the requisite length. Figures that carry spears or pikes have been deliberately designed without over arm or under arm thrusting positions as these designs inevitably caused problems when trying to get your figures into base-to-base contact, and we can't have that. Figures that carry shields have them supplied separately since this facilitates a variety of different poses as well as the option to attach different shields.")
I'd rate the sculpting between 7.0 and 8.0. For quality control (casting, consistency in height and design), I'd give the range an 8.0 - 9.0. A big plus is that i-Kore is a popular company and growing.
Again, the absence of exposure to ancients wargaming leaves me somewhat handicapped on how strong a buy recommendation to give these figures. I'm not familiar with their 15 mm competition. But I'd certainly recommend picking up some packs for evaluation. They felt more like 20 mm offerings than 15's, and warrant a serious look.
The blister packs list for 2.50 GBP and $3.95 respectively. At $0.50 a piece, they're on the high side. But if releases hit the quality level of my favored musicians and archers, I'd go with them. (Remember: I'm a big fan of GHQ 10 mm’s, even though their price IS too high.) And you should note, that on the Hetzerdog's web site, they're offering Xyston figs at a "considerable discount"... worth checking!
A separate review will follow next week of Xyston's 1/600th scale warships.
For more information, contact:
Hetzerdog Trading Co.
166 Russell Road
[DFHM Editor’s Note: These are now also available from Legends-In-Time in the U.S. Tell Skip I said hi!]