Monday, 7 May 2012

New 2mm Blocks from Irregular: Painted Examples

Thought I'd share some photos of how the new 2mm Column and Command blocks from Irregular Miniatures paint up, having thrown caution to the wind and had a bit of a painting session over the weekend.

I mention caution and wind only because I decided to paint the various blocks in the guise of Napoleonic units, which up 'til now I had avoided doing, as this era had been pencilled in as a possible future project, and I didn't want to plunge into yet another period before having a go at finishing some of the others!

Anyway, in some way to disprove a point I made in my previous post about the size of the cavalry headgear apparent on the Horse Column figures, I decided to paint them as the Garde Chasseur a Cheval circa 1815, and of course, had therefore to adopt the Infantry in Column as the Old Guard (who else....!)

With the castings themselves being so clean, it was easy to get started, and the new sculpts paint up very well, I think, although I found some of the detail on the Infantry figures a bit hard to realise; I know it was there - a definite suggestion of rifles in hand down the right hand side of the block - but I just couldn't bring it out. I'm sure better painters than me will do a lot better - I just consoled myself by saying that it was down to my mass-block painting technique rather than anything else....

The new Command triangle, as I feared before, is a little light on detail, depicting a huddle of chaps around the flag, and the flags themselves are on the relatively small side, in line with the existing blocks - but for all that, I enjoyed painting them up as they are quite charismatic when done, and are great at marking out the head of the 'Colonne' as you will see in the pics.

I found attempting the renowned bearskins of the Garde, and especially the red and white detail on the high rear of the headgear quite a challenge, repeated blobs of blue when doing the uniform colour, then black, then red, then white ended up looking a bit of a dog's diner up close - but actually at a decent distance give a good account of themselves - certainly a bravura depiction, big on general sweeps, rather than micro-detailing!

The Cavalry on the other hand, were an easier proposition, and responded splendidly to the brush (if I do say so myself), a quick blob of red for the Kolpak busby-bag being quite possible on one side of the heads.

I wasn't going to be painting in every trouser stripe or leopardskin shabraque anyway, so again a broad brush approach of blocking in various colour details, but the minis respond really well to this, with their discernible rider's legs, sabres, sadlecloths and the nicely proportioned horses themselves.

I was so enthused by them, I threw in a Guard Artillery limber to accompany them!

So then, sometime in the late May of 1815, Napoleon's elites do some marching in column near a Chateau called Hougoumont......

Little do they know that within a few days this area will become the scene of l'Empereurs' greatest defeat....

Just to finish up, I also threw paint in the general direction of a couple of the new separate flags, and finding that I had a spare BG34 Inf in 3 ranks block lying around that already had the original integral one filed off, whipped up a quick British Seven Years' War battalion:

Excuse the base, just temporary to illustrate the effect - the flags are obviously nice and visible, but are a little fiddly to handle and attach - I think if you were doing a lot of them it might get a bit frustrating, but then again, at least they can be made to more resemble the real thing, and of course be done in pairs should the need arise, depending on the unit, era and army.

So, final thoughts?

As you can probably tell, I am pretty chuffed with both the new blocks and how they turned out - only one small thing - in order to remain objective - I noticed that on a couple of the blocks supplied, the head of the second rider on the left hand side of the Cavalry block was, shall we say, a little 'under-cast', being noticeably smaller than those around him - a mould issue perhaps?
To be honest, I don't think it would really notice positioned amidst a large unit, but might look like he had met with a nasty accident involving a cannonball if viewed in isolation!

Friday, 4 May 2012

New 2mm Blocks from Irregular: First Look

A first look now at the new 2mm blocks available from Irregular Miniatures - to whit the just produced BG35 to BG38 in the Horse and Musket era range, consisting of a 52 man march column in four files, an eight horse block in column of twos, a foot command group with flag, and finally separate flags that may be attached to flag-less blocks.

These recent innovations by Ian Kay and the gang in part came about via consultations with the wider public on the 2mm Yahoo Group and elsewhere, and reflect, I think, a new found popularity for the tiniest of scale miniatures, and increasing interest in expanding the long-available range of blocks.

The photos in this post are of 'fresh-out-of-the-pack' minis, and I think illustrate that these new blocks are very cleanly defined, sculpted and cast, with none of the hard casting remnants that you sometimes find under some of Irregular's blocks; there is a suggestion of flash here and there, but it is soft and easily filed away.

Of course as a self-declared fan of 1/900th and smaller miniatures, I'm very excited to see these new blocks on the scene, and am looking forward to writing them into my future Orders of Battle requirements, but I'll try to be as objective as possible as I describe my first impressions here.

Miniatures of this size are notoriously difficult to photograph, so I don't think I've fully done them justice, but for what it's worth, all photos should be clickable for a larger, zoomed 'Macro' view.

So let's go through them one by one, starting with the separately cast flags, BG38 - one seen here below propped next to a BG14 Inf in 2 ranks (26 figs) block:

The idea of having individual flags was born out of the common practice amongst gamers of filing off the cast-on flags from various blocks in order to employ them in differing formations and periods, and particularly when depicting formations outside the constraints of the individual blocks by combining multiples on bases - these new flags should give a great deal of flexibility on this score.

These are nicely proportioned as a whole, but are definitely over-sized when compared with the flags that are integrally sculpted with the blocks; this came about from a consensus that the original flags can be hard to paint in a meaningful way, so although they won't please everyone, I think they strike a good balance between practicality and overall scaling; see what you think when compared with a BG33 Inf in 2 ranks (52 figs) block:

Moving on now to the BG37 Command stand including flag; this on an unusual triangular base, that is designed to match with the head of the new marching column:

The sculpt is a group of foot figures clustered around the central flag, and is on the small side, with I think, consequences for the clarity of the figures therein; seen from the side:

and from the front:

I think these are quite charismatic, and have more than a whiff of the famous flag raising by US Marines on Iwo Jima so iconically captured on film, but being small, lack a bit of impact; in any event, however, the triangular shape will definitely be effective in visually delineating the orientation of based units, something that even the most ardent fan of 2mm will admit can be difficult at table-top distances....

Next up we have the BG36 eight man Cavalry Column, which I think is definitely the best of the bunch, great proportions, visible sabres held at the ready and horse blankets/accoutrements at the rear of the riders:

As with all of the new blocks, these have beautiful smooth clean undersides, and are ready to go straight onto the painting table - one slight niggle? - If I was forced into a corner I might say the modest proportions of the headgear - these are more on the kepi-wearing side of things rather than, say, Hussars, but that really is nit-picking at this size of sculpt.

Finally, let's look at the BG35 marching Column, seen here from the side, and moving from right to left; that sounds like an exaggeration, but close examination of these blocks will reveal a quartet of command figures at the head of the column, and the arms and legs of the marching soldiers behind:

These photos really don't represent them as clearly as I would like, and my old eyes are not what they were, but there is definitely a drummer to be seen beating time at the head of these marching men:

Whether I can actually do this kind of detail any justice, of course, remains to be seen, but in line with the surprising level visible amongst the rest of Irregular's 2mm offerings, I am sure there will be much to keep any miniaturist busy, and overall, these new blocks are a very welcome addition to the line as it currently stands.

Overall impressions of these new blocks are entirely positive - yes, I might have preferred a larger command group, perhaps with a mounted figure to the side, but I was very impressed by the clear and characterful sculpting on show - these are no mere afterthoughts, but a a valuable addition to the existing range.

It is my fervent hope that the level of interest we consumers show in buying up these little masterpieces will help to encourage Ian to produce more of the same; there are suggestions that some of the existing blocks might be offered as an option without the cast-on flags, and I know some new 2mm terrain is in the offing, so don't be shy and be sure to spread the word - the more we pester Irregular, the more we are likely to see appear!