Well, as a self-confessed small scale fanatic, I suppose it wasn't going to be long before I got my hands on some of the new kids on the under 6mm block, in the shape of the latest 1/600th American Civil War range from Oddzial Osmy. Now ACW was a possible candidate for a future project using 2mm figures, but having seen the preview photos on TMP and elsewhere, I couldn't resist buying a few packs to see just how these would shape up against the old favourites, and so I thought I'd give a run-down of my impressions, and also how they compare to existing ranges in the 1/900th to 1/600th area.
First off, I got my order via Fighting 15s here in the UK, who have an excellent website with some great illustrative photos of the various minis, and must be given special mention in that Ian Marsh over there was extremely helpful after a Post Office mix-up led to my package being returned to the Isle of Wight - he sent it back on its way lickety split after an emergency phone call - so top marks for service to them!
The minis from Marcin at Oddzial might be familiar to the growing group of gamers that are using his WWII and Modern ranges, but were new to me outside of what I had seen on Web; they arrived in the ubiquitous ziploc baggies attached to some clearly labelled branded cards, and immediately impressed with their overall proportions and clarity of sculpting in spite of their miniscule size. Below we see a representative group in their 'fresh-out-of-the-packet' state:
(All photos on this Blog should be clickable for an enlarged, Macro view)
The first thing to note is that whilst there was a total absence of flash, there were venting remnants from the casting process as you see above. These were easy enough to remove using some small sharp scissors, however I must say that as these minis are made with some very high quality metal/pewter, they are very hard - so I mean sharp scissors or snips! For filing away any small nubs of these vent left-overs where present on the base, a good needle file was also a help.
As you can see, the cannon pack, which contains thirty guns, one smoothbore, one rifled on each of fifteen strips, also require cutting to separate, although an integral groove makes this much easier.
So just how big are these little guys? Well, that's something I hope to illustrate throughout this post - although it's important to note the background squares on the cutting mat are 1cm by 1cm, here's a quick reference with a stand of the 1/600th infantry up against a strip of SYW grenadiers by Heroics & Ros; ostensibly 6mm, although better described as arguably closest to 1/300th in scale:
Each 3mm strip from Oddzial is a smidgeon under 20mm wide by 3mm in depth; the figure height including base I would say is 5mm, not including any protuberances such as the rifle muzzles or flags; the standard bearer measures for instance just under 8mm from bottom of base to top of flag.
Given this size, the sculpting quality on display here is second-to-none, the figures have decent human proportions, and the weapons, heads and headgear are not over-exaggerated or ugly, which can sometimes be an issue in smaller scale minis.
Below, on the left, the front view of an infantry strip, and to the right the reverse of same; you will immediately spot blanket rolls, canteens and ammunition pouches:
Overall, given the somewhat scruffy nature of field uniforms during the ACW, I applaud the decision to mix both soft hats and kepis amidst the strip, however this might not be to everyone's taste - at least it is true to say that such consideration to detail in minis so small shows great credit to their sculptor/designer.
The overall rear of an infantry strip once more:
and then the rear of the command strip which includes two standard bearers, an officer with sword, and a drummer - who, by the way, is the only figure which is wearing a backpack:
I'm trying not to trip myself up with too many superlatives here, in that the very nature of painting and using such small scale miniatures might be anathema to some, whilst I am something of a fan of them to begin with, but objectively, these are great creations given their relative size.
So just how do they compare to similarly scaled figures, particularly when seen up against the long existing 2mm or around 1/900th ones, and more importantly, the two perhaps less well known ranges that are ostensibly 1/600th in scale.
Both Peter Pig and Tumbling Dice in the UK offer some infantry or ground troops to complement their respective ACW Naval and multi-period Aircraft collections, although as I have discussed in previous posts on this Blog, the scaling is rather individual to each manufacturer:
Below we can see the new 3mm ACW cannon on the left, next to a 2mm gun from Irregular Miniatures, and on the right, the artillery group from Peter Pig's range 7 which is advertised as 1/600th - (that's a UK penny in the pic for scale):
I should say that the Peter Pig piece has had a light ink wash just to improve the definition in the photos; I think the artillery from the two 1/600th manufacturers would sit pretty well alongside one another - the integral figures on the Peter Pig mini are definitely shorter and less well defined than the new Oddzial ones, but the thicker base part would offset this to some extent.
An illustration of the artillery crew strip from Oddzial; again, excellent and vivid sculpting - ramrod, bucket, lever and ball all visible - it is important to point out that if you intend to use all five figures per each gun crew, then with 15 strips per pack, they will of course only match 15 guns, so you'll need an extra pack to accommodate the thirty cannon in the gun pack.
Next a quick look at the skirmisher strip, which again does not disappoint in terms of looks, and would give some 1/300th models a run for their money - they come in a lateral strip, with useful grooves between each figure base to allow ease of cutting into individuals; a figure with rifle levelled and one loading his piece both have soft hats, the two firing figures are in kepis - it is true to say that the kneeling firing figure does 'stand' a little tall in comparison to his counterpart, but given their overall size, this is not too detrimental:
Now the command strip, again with a 2mm Irregular mounted group for reference, and then, on the right, another command group from Peter Pig:
The latter piece has a nice animation, but is somewhat scruffy - the size difference with the new 3mm is more pronounced, I think. Oddzial's figures are again mounted so that they may be cut as individuals, and although my photography might not do them full justice, they are a useful trio, and bode well for the sculpted, but not yet in production cavalry figures that I believe are to come soon.
Talking of cavalry, just as a size comparison, let's see them up against the others - at left, a 2mm strip from Irregular, at the rear a cast-together cavalry block from Peter Pig, and at right a cavalry strip of riders in shako from Tumbling Dice - definitely the largest of the bunch:
The infantry proportions are similar, when seen against the other three companies' output as above:
The cast-together block from Peter Pig is clearly smaller than the new figures from Oddzial, and at the rear, somewhat indistinct in my photo, the 'giants' from Tumbling Dice; this impression is reinforced when comparing the skirmish strips/groups of each:
Of course, the figures from Tumbling Dice and Peter Pig were never designed as centrepiece parts of their ranges, but are there to augment their otherwise finely scaled ships and aircraft, whilst the 2mm from Irregular is obviously in a whole league of its own; I think the new 3mm ACW stands apart in both intent and delivery, and probably would bear better comparison against 6mm figures under such criteria - certainly, your intentions and commitment to a scale as a gamer is important here, whether choosing generic stands that represent large formed bodies of troops, or preferring a more detailed look whilst retaining 'Mass' on the table top.
Talking of which, I thought I'd mention one small wrinkle that struck me when ruminating on just how one might base up these figures; for me, the appeal of smaller scale figures is their ability to depict large formations in a more realistic manner, so as an example, I initially thought of employing a 60x30mm base with 6 of Oddzial's strips across its width as maybe a regiment.
What immediately stood out to my eye was the fact that the design of the command strip means that the standard bearers with flags would be off-set to one side - I'm no expert on the drill of the period, but to me, these always look best centred whether in the front or rear ranks - more Hollywood than Historical, perhaps, but just what I'd prefer:
This brings up a slight problem, for when the straightforward solution of cutting the strips to size, and enabling the individual placement of figures comes up, you run into the very hard nature of the metal they are made from - without a groove, these Line strips are little beasts to cut accurately, particularly when trying not to damage the figures either side.
A compromise, then, might start off looking something like this - but I think you have to address the question as to whether this level of surgery is what you want from minis that are supposed to be easier to prepare, paint and field than their larger scale cousins:
I think that slight quandary brings me to my overall impression of these new figures - their excellent detail is both their strength and perhaps their weakness - as a small-scale gamer, I'm not too proud to state that the smaller mini can often be a short-cut to fielding Wargaming units without the 'master-modeller' touch required by the larger scales, and it might be said that the level of individual detail on these will draw one inexorably into the latter approach.
What makes these new little guys most attractive is their quality, but at the same time, might this very quality mean that you would spend as much time on each individual figure as you would prepping and painting a larger, say 6 or 10mm one?
This would somewhat undermine the generic mass approach, but depending on the individual, could be very rewarding - there's no doubt these would look great well painted en masse, but would they be as forgiving of a more 'broad brush' approach that makes 2mm so easy to field?
So, that's ten out of ten for their quality and overall value - currently £3.00 per 120 infantry figures, but a lesser score for me in terms of how they might actually figure as a practical project - I can't help feeling that the level of detailing required to really do them justice would equal that of 6mm, with a slighter table top presence, and am worried that the generic painting approach suitable for mass 2mm blocks would be rather letting them down, or indeed, would show up my cr*ppy painting all the more clearly!
I can't really find it in my heart to be overly critical, in pretty much all respects these are a class act, and I guess if you baulked at the tiny size and lack of detail of 2mm figures, but wanted a way to have a lot of units without the price of 6mm, then these would definitely fit the bill; just can't help feeling that for 6mm adherents, they might be a little too small and slight when deployed.
So, will I be plunging into 3mm ACW on the back of these little beauties, well...I'm still thinking about that one - I've heard that the 3mm scale buildings from the revivified Simply6 will likely be available from Fighting 15s and elsewhere in the future, and have thought that some of the output of Peter Pig's Hammerin' Iron range could also augment what is available, whether scenery, artillery or even shipping....and of course if Oddzial bring out the cavalry figures soon, and hopefully a pack of horse-holders, and some zouaves, and....uh-oh....they might be hard to resist, in spite of my reservations.... hey, I'm as much of a Lead Mountain builder as the next man.... :-).