Saturday, 22 September 2012

Basic Concepts: Sourcing Miniatures

As you can probably guess commissioning miniatures and then having master and production moulds made can be an extremely costly business, the financial risk being all the greater if the miniatures are for something as 'unusual' as 1812: Napoleon on Mars (no matter how cool I think the concept is!).

On top of the cost to Wessex Games there is also the cost to you the gamer. The game is a 'typical' Napoleonic brigade sized one so you will need over one hundred infantry and cavalry a side, plus artillery. In white metal that is a not inconsiderable outlay, especially in 28mm.

Clearly the solution is plastics with 28mm plastic Napoleonic infantry cost 1/3 of their white metal equivalent but until I win the lottery that is not something Wessex Games can think about.

However it occurred to me that we could make white metal conversion pieces for other companies plastic Napoleonic miniatures, namely the mask attached to the backpack re-breather convertor unit by a hose. Victrix and Perry's already make historical variant heads for their plastic miniatures so the concept is already tried and tested. The only potential issue is whether one conversion set will be useable on all manufacturers plastics or whether we will need to do, for example, a French Infantry conversion pack for each of Perry, Victrix and Warlord, all of whom do 28mm plastic French infantry (and who are we to dictate you must use one company over another, you may like the multi-part nature of Victrix of the simple three piece approach of Warlord).

Cavalry are a little more problematical as in the background horses are unable to draw enough oxygen out of the atmosphere through their rebreather units to fulfil their battlefield roles and cavalry are mounted on local fauna (of a currently nebulous Barsoomian inspired type). This will probably necessitate us releasing a suitable metal mount for plastic cavalry to be mounted on but as you will probably only need one regiment this won't be prohibitively expensive.

The only remaining issue will be the Martian sepoys and city-state troops, I'd like them to have an exotic look but somehow retain the cost effectiveness of the plastic/white metal hybrid approach of human troops. Logic dictates looking at the various new sets of plastic Ancients and seeming how easy it would be to produce suitable conversion bits for some of them.

What about 15mm I hear some of you cry? Well yes the rules are designed as much with 15mm in mind as 28mm. My initial feeling regarding miniatures is that given the size it will probably be easy enough to convert white metal figures with some Green Stuff or Liquid Green Stuff to portray the masks and paint backpacks appropriately (to protect them from Martian dust they will have oilskin covers similar to those used on shakoes). I will experiment on finding a simple solution here and the solutions for both 15 and 28mm will be fully detailed with stage by stage photographs in the rule book.

Of course you could just follow the observations of British astronomer William Herschel who said "Mars has a considerable but modest atmosphere, so that its inhabitants probably enjoy a situation in many respects similar to our own", in which case you can just buy your Napoleonic soldiers off the shelf and not worry about converting any... :-)


  1. So Earthlings cannot breath freely, John Carter fashion?
    For 18th - early 19th C. Martian sepoys, Alternative Armies 'Napoleonic' Elves are humanoid enough to pass for Barsoom-type perfectly humanoid Martians (*almost* perfectly, but the intimate differences due to their Monotreme nature are not visible in 28mm) -Bronze Age / Tin Man / Raging Heroes- but with features compatible with (not?)S1889 Parroom Station (Brigade Games) 'less humanoid' ones.
    For the British side, the Dark Elf Light Infantry in quasi-Tarleton helmet is most appropriate, while for the French the Elves of Armorica Carabiniers look quite fitting.

    1. "So Earthlings cannot breath freely, John Carter fashion?" No, otherwise the troops are standard Napoleonics and they don't look SF in anyway.

      The Flintloque figures are not 28mm scale, they are noticeably larger and bulkier, I should know I wrote the first edition of the game! :-)

      Having looked at the Victrix Athenian hoplites they have a certain ERBness about them and may be suitable without shields and with electro-muskets painted a suitable reddy-hued flesh.

  2. Then what about Wargame Factory Amazons for female Martian warriors?

  3. Hi Steve, I've just been made aware of you and this project by a backer on my VSF Kickstarter campaign. How I've come to miss your game is anyone's guess, maybe during one of my absences from TMP or similar! Anyway, it seems that a few of my figures might be just the ticket for these games so come by and take a look:
    Sorry to just post this message here in your comments section, it seemed the quickest way to reach you, sorry for the quasi-sp@m!
    Andrew May