Sunday, 20 October 2013

Historical or imagistorical?

I was presented with (well, I presented myself with) an interesting dilemma the other day. While I was setting up the table and miniatures for the Battle of Windmill Hill game, I realised that I dislike some of the French Napoleonic figures in my collection. The figures in question are these:

IMG 1484

These are plastic Victrix Napoleonic French figures, painted for me by Mabuhay Miniature Painting Service (hi Fons!). While I'm very happy with the quality of the painting, I don't like the figures themselves (note that this has nothing to do with MMPS, as I chose and bought the figures myself and just had them painted by MMPS). The reason I'm not happy with them is that I find them to be too dynamic for my tastes. When I bought them, I (thought I would) like(d) figures with a large dynamic range that could be posed in many different poses. However I have come to find that I like look of more or less single pose units more than the hodge podge of different poses that these figures offer. These days, I find that I like my units to look more like this (maybe the Classic Wargaming look is growing on me):

IMG 3437

So I decided to replace the brigade of French Victrix figures with one which has units of figures all in the same pose (marching, advancing or charging). But then I hit a snag: the one other manufacturer of plastic Napoleonic French I (then) knew of—Perry Miniatures—does figures for the Waterloo campaign, in the post 1812 uniform, while the rest of my collection is appropriate for the 1809 Danube campaign, so in earlier uniforms. What to do?

The solution to this dilemma is one I already used for my (now already consisting of all of two bases of painted figures) Thirty Years' War collection. Instead of basing my Napoleonic collection on a single campaign and picking units from it to model in miniature, I shall cast my nets wider and just select units from the entire period. If one plays historical battles, one has to substitute the units in them for the units in one's collection anyway (unless you are rich and have *every* unit available), so the leap from fully historical to imagistorical is not so big anyway. The added flexibility in figure selection more than makes up for the (perceived) loss of historical accuracy.

So, next time someone comes to your table, leans close, squints and starts with 'I think you will find that …' you simply answer 'Well spotted, but I think you will find that these units are imagistorical' :).

As a final coda—the best laid plans of mice and men, and definitely of war gamers planning collections, often go awry. In my case, since deciding to replace the Victrix brigade I have found the Warlord Games plastics (which are appropriate for 1809 - the only appreciable difference in fact seems to be the lower edge of the vest, which is rounded pre 1812 and straight post-1812—but I might be wrong there), so that solves one problem. However, after going through my pile of lead in the attic I realised I have 5 battalions of Front Rank Wurttemberg infantry, so the Victrix French brigade will in the end be replaced by Front Rank Wurttemberg infantry. Hmm, given that my other allied infantry is Bavarian, I see a Raupenhelm ('sausage heads') theme developing :).


  1. Replies
    1. I think we more or less have the same "problem" Bart. I'm currently painting a Seleucid guard unit that will do its first service as a Macedonian pike unit in Philip's army against the allied Greeks at Chaeronea.
      The unit was still in the leadpile, so why not?

  2. I totally agree with your take on Victrix figs Bart and that is one of the reasons that I do not stock and sell them. Besides the fact that it is very hard to form decent units with them they are also way too brittle and a pain in the *** to assemble. I stock the Warlord Games French instead, they are much easier and faster to assemble, look more uniform and the muskets don't snap off every time "you look at them". :-)