Wednesday, 24 February 2010

6mm Romans: Figure Comparison

The other day, I decided to take advantage of the recent offer from Rapier Miniatures, in order that I could have a look at their figures against the competing ranges of Irregular and Baccus. As you may have seen elsewhere on this Blog, I had taken on a 6mm Early Imperial Romans project with a distinctly 'frugal' twist, and in order to keep costs down, had begun with the cast-together blocks of Legionaries available from Irregular; however, I soon experienced 'mission creep' towards Baccus, and made use of their Command and Artillery figures, so naturally enough, soon reasoned myself into a corner and took advantage of the special offer from Rapier!

I have had no previous experience of their miniatures, but had heard good things about their Ancients Line, and was not disappointed when the jiffy bag arrived, containing 96 Legionaries standing, based in five figure strips, 48 Legionaries throwing Pilum, which were based individually, 6 Command strips with a single Centurion, Signifier and Cornicen on each, and an overall command group of a single mounted Tribune and two standing Legates. Flash was present only in terms of a few ribbons left over from casting, as you will see in the photos here, and a slight nub or two on the base of the strips. The casting and detail was crisp and clear, in line with the quality of Baccus, and all were nicely proportioned.

Let's start off with a look at the Tribune and Legates - nice looking figures with good detailing, especially the breast plates and clothing, (remember all photos here are clickable for a close-up, Macro view), and great character in the faces:

The mounted commander, at a distance, scaled nicely with the offerings from the two other manufacturers - Irregular on the left, Baccus on the right, whilst obviously leaning away from the former's impressionistic bravura in terms of sculpting, toward the realism of the latter:

Up close, the rider is a little slighter in 'Heft' than the Baccus, but if anything, the horse is perhaps more realistically proportioned, although I think there would be no noticeable difference when on the table top, even if mounted on the same base - perhaps only the thickness of the Baccus strip being a factor in terms of height, but again, this is pretty negligible:

Next, let's have a look at the Legionaries themselves; I must state that obviously I have only the cast-together blocks from Irregular, and it may be that their individual figures are slightly larger in terms of individual proportions, whilst the men from Baccus are in reality the single end-placed figure clipped from one of their Command strips, as I did not actually purchase any of their Legionary ones; that aside, hopefully they will give a reasonable comparison:

Immediately, the Irregular Miniatures' chaps come across as the most diminutive, with Baccus being noticeably smaller, perhaps giving a more 'hunkered-down' behind their shields look:

It is important to note that of the three, only Rapier have provided the points of the Pilum, and although this is nice, I found that there was a tendency for these to be fragile and bend during handling, the metal/pewter is good quality, so that they can be bent back into position if disturbed, but of course the more times you do this......

Also interesting is the Rapier strip itself, in that the individual figure sits on its own base, which is then sitting on top of the strip, adding height, which otherwise would probably be a lot nearer to that of Baccus. I suppose this could be filed away, but that would be a thankless task on a whole Legion or two; creative basing would of course even this out:

From behind, in particular, the crispness of the detail on the Rapier mini is evident, although to be fair to the others, the camera focus at extreme Macro, does tend to blur a little at the edges.
The overall proportion of their figures leans toward being an anatomically balanced athletic type, whilst Baccus' men are perhaps, to be kind, a little more well-fed and sedentary in their habits?

To be honest, to my eye, Irregular would look a little too small on the table besides the Rapier, but Baccus would be fine, perhaps just not on the same base.

Next, lets move on to the rather exciting Legionary throwing Pilum.
This is a great little mini, full of animation, the only slight criticism might be the size of the weapon in relation to the figure, but some exaggeration is to be expected at this scale, so that is merely nitpicking.
Please ignore the ribbons of flash in the photo, I left these on for a fair, 'out-of-the-pack' comparison; the Pilum is sturdy, and has no need of this support, and unlike those of the standing Legionary, is less inclined to bend, so will easily be removed for the finished figure.

Seen here against the block from Irregular, the size is actually relatively close, this mini being smaller than his fellows from the same company:

Betwixt a single from Baccus and his fellows:

If anything, this one falls somewhere in between, so has more flexibility in terms of mixing manufacturers on the same base, and also lacks the extra height on the strip of the standing Legionary:

Moving on to the Command strips, these are again animated and detailed sculptings, and whilst showing the athlete vs 'norm' tendency between the two manufacturers, don't look overly large next to Baccus.

I must say that I have deliberately avoided the question of actual figure height in this post, in that I think it rarely gives a true measure of the miniature, and is often not totally helpful in describing a mini. Debates about base to eye, foot to eye, foot to top of head, etc, frequently inflame the Forum pages over at TMP and elsewhere, but from my point of view, it is the 'Heft' or bodily proportions of the figure that is the final arbiter amidst figs of the same ostensible size.

Extra overall height here again comes down to the 'double' base strip, and although from behind, the range from Rapier seems to be definitely leaning toward the Heroic, it certainly wouldn't preclude an appearance on the same table top. The standard and signal instrument are particularly nicely sculpted, with a circular shield for the Signifier.

Looking at the Legate against the Centurion strip, he looks a little more prosperous (less lean and mean) than his subordinates, but perhaps that is a good reflection of real life, anyway!
In any event, it is a super figure, the pointing arm giving good animation and therefore variety to any prospective base, with a nice drawn sword by his side:

Finally, let's see him up against the strip from Baccus; without the extra base part, it would be a good visual match, I think:

Overall, then, some excellent sculpting and attention to detail, that might just be edging it over the output of Baccus, which has always been of a definitively high standard.
I think if you wanted some variety in your forces, then they would march easiest alongside those of Baccus, and a bit of creative basing should iron out any apparent height problems.

The animation of these figures would particularly lend itself to, I feel, depicting those units who are skirmishing, deploying or attacking, rather than just standing in ranks.

I have omitted mentioning the range from Heroics and Ros, firstly, because I don't have any of their Ancients, and also in that I feel they would be clearly different enough in size, detail and heft to warrant being characterised as different figures; I suppose in a way reminiscent of the 1/285th versus 1/300th Scale Micro Armour debate, I wouldn't ordinarily consider placing them against these other minis on the same table top, anyway.

So.....was my profligate; "it's a bargain, though", train of thought rewarded?
Certainly, it was a good offer, and even more certainly the figures did not disappoint, the only worry being the apparent fragility of the standing Legionary Pilum; I think if they do take a place alongside the other bases for this project, then it may be as elites or character figures, or certainly as attacking groups, to take advantage of those lovely little Pilum throwers....


  1. One point to remember is that Baccus are resculpting their Ancients Ranges, and judging from the recent ones I have seen 'in the flesh' these are a considerable improvement. My bet would be that Rapier are currently setting the bar, but that Baccus will overtake them when the resculpts are done...

  2. Hi Doug, thanks for the comment, I think that's a very good point - the recent post on TMP announcing the re-sculpted Punic Wars range from Baccus had some eye-poppingly detailed minis pictured, so I'm sure there is much 6mm goodness on the way!

  3. I was alway in love of Irregular Miniatures 6mm range :)

  4. Absolutely, Fjodin, I agree, some sculpts that are full of character and charm - also, unlike other manufacturers, where each figure is exactly the same, Irregular work in small differences on every stand; a different shield here, different hat there - makes them so much more fun!