The Bladensburg Report: Three down, three to go

The 4th Regiment and the 21st Regiment are both blue-faced line infantry units that served at Bladensburg.

The 4th Regiment and the 21st Regiment are both blue-faced line infantry units that served at Bladensburg.

Today is the official beginning of school, though I’ve spent a lot of time at Emerald Ridge for the past couple of weeks.  It’s been a busy summer, with a month of solid preparation for J-camp and the week of camp itself, plus the time devoted to painting the house, moving furniture for the re-done flooring and all the silliness that goes with that.

Even so, I made lots of time for painting figures.  My goal was to get the big light infantry battalion finished and at least two of the three line battalions at Bladensburg done.  Voila, I have accomplished that. Below are pictures of the 4th and 21st Regiments, each at 32 figures.

The 4th (Kings) Regiment.  Flag is from Warflags.  Staff is a North Star 200mm lance with the cords snatched from the Victrix standard bearer.

The 4th (Kings) Regiment. Flag is from Warflags. Staff is a North Star 200mm lance with the cords snatched from the Victrix standard bearer.

They are the two of four units created with Victrix figures for the battle.  I am working on the third, the 44th Regiment, also with 32 figures.  A smaller unit, a converged light infantry unit will follow.  The lights aren’t assembled yet, which I am sure will take most of an evening to do.

Just a final critique of the Victrix figs, and then I’ll shuddup about them already.  Basing them is not a pleasure.  I tried to arrange them on their little 40mm square piece of heaven so that they’d resemble a firing line, sort of.  Unfortunately, getting the firing figures to shoot sort of directly forward is impossible, so they are all facing about 22 degrees to their right, as though they were firing at a stag running directly across their front.  The bases, on pretty sizable rectangles, often have to be twisted a bit in order to get everyone moving in sort of the same direction.  The whole lot seems pretty disorganized for a well trained unit. Chalk it up to lessons learned.

21st (Royal North British Fusiliers) Regiment.  Had a difficult time with the lighting, which makes it see a bit like the lights of heaven are shining.

21st (Royal North British Fusiliers) Regiment. Had a difficult time with the lighting, which makes it see a bit like the lights of heaven are shining.

So I have two more British units to finish for the battle, and then one remaining unit, an American line infantry unit of 24 figures to complete for the battle.  After that it’s a few British generals and I want to re-do my rocket batteries before taking the winter to playtest a few times.  I’m shooting for no later than Thanksgiving to have the lot finished, perhaps much earlier.

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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.