How do you really feel about Victrix figures?

Very few things drive me straight up the wall, but my experience with Victrix Napoleonics is absolutely one of them. I persuaded myself to buy them three years ago when I traded off my unpainted pile of Old Glory British Nappos to a friend and used proceeds from the Enfilade bring and buy to purchase four boxes of the Victrix figures-three of center companies, one of flank companies-reasoning that I’d need more OG figures than I had to paint up the British regiments at Bladensburg, and here were these bright, shiny plastics waiting for me to jump in with both feet.

Assembled Victirx figures in various stages of dress or undress.

Assembled Victirx figures in various stages of dress or undress.

Pah!!

There is little question the detail and cost of the Victrix minis makes them attractive. However the negatives are many, and let me just walk you through them.

1. Assembly. It’s at the very least time consuming. Though my friends suggest using your basic adhesive for polystyrene, aka model airplane glue, my very brief experience with this was unsatisfactory. I simply didn’t have time while assembling a dozen or so figures at a time to hold an arm in place for 5-30 minutes until the glue set up. Nope. Strictly CA glue for me, which set up a host of other problems. There is the inevitable Edward Scissorhands factor as small bits occasionally (but not often) stuck to my fingers. The biggest issue I have is the time involved in assembly, and that is significant. Without question , these are fiddly, and needlessly so.  I painted up ten Perry hussars for my American War with Spain project, and they seemed far more sturdy iwth fewer stick ons.

2. Posing. When building units for Sharpe Practice or some other single mounting system, having a wide variety of poses-advancing, firing/loading, march attack works fine. In more traditional rules sets, those that require multi-figure mountings, this is not so great.   There aren’t lots of spare arms or other bits in the boxes, so you’re stuck with the what you have, which means that allowing for a few march attack figures (I believer there are six per box) needs to be your plan, or you need to plan on not using six figures.  Do I really need three drummers per box?  I’m working with 32 figure units, so even though I should have plenty of miniatures, it feels a little tight.

3.  Fragility.  I didn’t even think of this when I bought the figures.  Lots of friends expressed concern about how light they were, they didn’t feel weighty as metal figures do.  Before I leap into the pitfalls of plastic figures, knowing that others won’t handle them as kindly as I will, we need to concede that metal figures aren’t perfect either.  I have plenty of figures with casting problems.  Bayonets that are really Swiss Army knives.  Massive mold marks across faces  Broken bayonets, Figures that break off their bases at the ankles.  Metal figures do have their problems.  However, I’ve never had figures break just from touching them.  I broke a bayonet off while I was painting.  Not able to afford to lose an arm and hence a figure, I quickly glued that baby on, though it is at a strange angle.  While carrying my newly painted unit in from being dullcoated in the garage, I  fumbled one of my painting stands.  As I grabbed I broke one figure’s musket off all the way back to the flintlock.  I now have 31 painted figures instead of 32.  Though these will be mounted on sturdy 40mm square Litko bases, I am concerned how these figures will survive games in which other gamers touch them–specifically at Enfilade where I plan to run my game.  Will their heads pop off?  Arms? Backpacks.  Or will they just be disarmed?  These are legitimate questions

Photo shows my bayonet glue job (center) and busted musket (right.)  These occurred through casual handling.  In fact the bayonet ibreakage occurred during painting.

Photo shows my bayonet glue job (center) and busted musket (right.) These occurred through casual handling. In fact the bayonet ibreakage occurred during painting.

This is just my view of this range.  On the other hand they are nicely proportioned.  They are well cast, with no big molding errors.  I’ve looked at 150+ figures and none were unusable.

Here are a few suggestion to ease your use of Victrix miniatures if you choose to go that route. Your box of Victrix figures is composed of six sprues.  On three of the sprues you’ll find the bodies and backpacks.  On the remaining sprues you’ll find the heads and arms.  Yes, other stuff too, but generally that’s how a box is divided.  I encourage you to get yourself a Plano box with lots of divisions or its rough equivalent and begin separating out arms heads etc. Put the figures in one or two groups.  All the action arms can be in another group.  All the heads.  All the backpacks.  Drums, standards, drum arms together.  Separate the non-action arms-right arms, left arms, support arms (they don’t have hands and glue into a musket arm.)

Do yourself a favor and take the time to assemble all your miniatures together.  It will be time consuming.  It will be a pain in the ass.  You will curse at these tiny little men.  But when they are done, you’ll know what you have, how you want to organize them, and then you can get on with painting them.

This is my effort at organizing my Victrix bits for assembly.

This is my effort at organizing my Victrix bits for assembly.

I didn’t find them difficult to paint them at all.  I mount mine four to a craft stick.

Note: I used white glue to mount them on the sticks and they practically fell off after the glue dried.  That led to my severe musket breakage incident.  I ended up re-gluing them with CA glue, and then they didn’t fall off. I haven’t yet removed them from the sticks which could lead to future difficulties.

I primed them as I do all my figures, with Testors flat white spray enamel, and just painted them with acrylics.  No problems, though some of the detail can be a bit hard to get at, and there is actually more of it than you’d find on a metal figure. When you’re done, coat them as you would normally, and voila, you’re good to go.

I don’t like to trash a product just to trash it, but I can say with certainty the Victrix ranges are not for me.  For those with more patience or a more creative bent toward their modeling, this may just be what the doctor ordered, but once these are finished I’ll stay away.

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9 comments on “How do you really feel about Victrix figures?

  1. Dean says:

    I have fond memories of my initial venture into plastic 28mm Napoleonics with Victrix. That said, I now would go for more static/marching poses for easier ranking up on bases. I do like plastics with interchangeable parts too. Dean

  2. Dale Mickel says:

    Thanks for observations Kevin.

  3. Steve Winter says:

    I had the same reaction to other plastic figures — the time spent assembling them more than wiped out any savings in cost. For a skirmish game, where you can get by with a handful of figures, they’d be fine. I’d never try to do massed units with them.

  4. The bit about the Plano box was very handy. I did get one box each of British and French. The number of part is daunting but I shall endeavor to persevere.

  5. Randall says:

    kgsmyth55 observations and comments are exactly what I’m experiencing. I never realized how much trouble I’d have assembling them. I’ve fumbled around trying to glue just two of the rankers arms and weapons together and am close to giving up. Yes, it’s true I’ve never been much of a modeler but trying to get the different pieces together AND stay together while holding them in place is an exercise in futility. The glue sticks everywhere (especially to my fingers) EXCEPT to where I’m trying to put it.
    Sooooooooo, adios plastic, it’s back to my OG’s and FR’s.

    • kgsmyth55 says:

      I totally get it. It’s been a while since I worked on these figures, and I don’t see going back to Victrix. However I do have my eye on some of the Perry 100 Years War plastics. Hang in their Randall and thanks for reading.

  6. Douglas Crabtree says:

    I take your point that they are fiddly and can be a pain to put together, it depends on your perspective. If you are a wargamer and yo want figures on the table quickly they may not be right for you….go for metals or Warlord. Myself, before getting into figures i made model aeroplanes so figures are a doddle, i dont play wargames (yet) and for me looks are the most important thing and i plan on doing a diorama which Victrix are ideal for. There is no right or wrong in this hobby, that is the beauty of it, you make of it whatever suites your fancy.

    • kgsmyth55 says:

      Douglas, of course your are right. Whatever works for you. But we’re comparing apples and oranges. My challenge wasn’t to paint a handful, or however many you are painting for your diorama, but to fit these miniatures into units comprising hundreds of figures, and cram them onto a 40mm X 40mm base. When I bought the Victrix Napoleonics, they were the only show in plastics-no Warlord, no Perry plastics. My blog is a record of my wargaming experience, both as a gamer and a builder of wargame armies. In this case, my experience was not a positive one, and those who choose to read my blog are entitled to my perspective, even if it differs from theirs. Your experience may be different. I would also add that this blog post is the most read from my site, so somebody is interested.

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