This Christmas my wife and I are trying something a little bit different with our gift-buying, including allowing each of us to buy a gift for ourselves that will be wrapped and put under the tree. I opted for figures. So I put together an order for some British Guards from Fife and Drum Miniatures.
There is something magical about Fife and Drum. I don’t know a ton about them, except they were conceived from the prominent war gaming mind of Jim Purkey of Lake Forest, Il. You may know him as Altefritz on TMP. He’s always offered considerable knowledge of 18th century military matters including the 7 Years War and the American Revolution. I became aware of the Fife and Drum range when he launched a highly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund his range of Hessians for AWI.
Guards light infantry company, including an NCO figure.
I have units from many different manufacturers in my AWI collection, but I chose Fife and Drum for a couple of reasons. First, I know Jim chose to depict his figures in the non-traditional cut down uniforms adopted for the 1777 campaigns for Philadelphia and Saratoga. These and the slouch hats replacing the tricornes work well for the South, 1779-81. Second, I admired his work assembling this range, seemingly from scratch, and I wanted to support his effort.
I need the Guards for Guilford Courthouse and Weitzel’s Mill. Two battalions of 24 figures each was their game strength. I ordered the first battalion. Unlike any other range, Fife and Drum offers flank companies specifically for the Guards. Because these companies were active at places like Weitzel’s Mill, it’s nice to have unique figures with their peaked caps and horsehair crests. Though the Guards are offered in several positions, I chose the firing line. These come with figures priming their muskets, and figures firing. The command figures are a bit problematic with the officer shouldering a musket and the drummer in the Guards range. I had to add the standard bearers from the line infantry.
I really like the detail on these figures. It’s quite good, but not over-done. The simplicity of the uniforms should make them easy to paint. The faces will be hidden by the large hats. Posing is pretty simple, without a variety of head and arm positions. These figures will look very uniform on multiple figure bases, which is quite a nice departure from the Victrix Napoleonics I’ve been working on.
Comparison between Fife and Drum figures and Perry miniatures from the same period. You can see they are about the same height but the Perry figures are beefier.
A comparison of Fife and Drum figures and Front Rank grenadiers. Yep, the Front Rank guys are big. Bill Stewart always called them corn-fed.
If the Fife and Drum range has a flaw, it is in their size. I have figures from Perry, Old Glory, and Front Rank in my collection, and they aren’t going to match well with any of them. It won’t deter me from using them, or ordering a second Guards battalion, but it’s important to acknowledge the difference. The Fife and Drum figures are 28mm tall, but their physiques are pretty slight. Compared to the Perry 23rd Regt. figures in the first comparison photo, they seem fairly small. The second picture compares the F and D guardsmen with the Front Rank grenadiers. We’ve always considered them robust, compared to the other ranges.
I’ll close with a shout out for the customer service I received. I e-mailed Jim on Black Friday about my order. He responded within an hour or so. I sent him my payment that evening, and he had my figures out to me on Saturday. They arrived by US Mail on Wednesday. I live in Washington State, so a pretty painless experience. Shipping was only $4.
Very nice figures and superb service. If you can live with the size differential between manufacturers or if you are entering this period, I would easily recommend this range of miniatures. Cost per figure is $2, about the same as Perry.