Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blood in the forest, a FIW AAR

A little over a week ago I had a great wargaming week-end. It started off with a gentlemen's dinner at Moishes (one of the best steakhouse in Montreal) with John, Nicolas and Kawe (from Westfalia Miniatures). Kawe is back in Montreal, where we met a few years ago, for a little while on business. It was a very nice evening, the wine was fabulous, the coleslaw famous as usual and the steak perfectly cooked. Kawe was nice enough to bring along some examples of his Westfalia Miniatures, including some artillery equipment and a battalion of his new Saxons. Great figures. John got the Saxons as I'm already drowning in Poles! We of course talked wargaming and we plan on having a game in late June.

Then the next day we got to play a FIW game with John, Nico and newcomer Rusti, from Crossover Miniatures, who made the trip from Vermont. Blogs and Forums really are a fantastic resource for meeting new gamers and fellow enthusiasts!

It was a baptism of fire for Rusti's FIW figures, all Galloping Major's and nicely painted. Surprisingly, while they are notoriously bigger than Conquest, it is really not that apparent on the table. We had a fun game, Nico and I taking charge of the British against the French & Indians of John and Rusti. The game was played using This Very Ground and was meant to represent a standard skirmish of the time.

 It started really well for me and Nico, as we assumed a defensive position and repulsed the first few Indian attacks with ease, but it all crumbled towards the end as a desperate charge by the Indians combined with some awful melee dices from poor Nico meant doom for a complete British Regulars company. In the end of the game we basically had the same amount of casualties on each side and we called it a draw, although I think a few more turns would not have been good for the Brits!

A few pictures of the game. Not many. As usual I find it difficult to host, play and take pictures during a game. Another advantage of having a GM...

The original set-up
1st turn
Dastardly Indians advancing through the woods
Provincials advance to stop the Indians from flanking the regulars
The British put their defensive position into place; it almost worked perfectly!
A mix of my Conquest and Rusti's Galloping Major Indians 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Murawski Miniatures; Duchy of Warsaw Line Infantry review

By far my favourite Napoleonic figures to paint, and my favourite arm of any army, is the Line Infantry. In a Napoleonic army, you will have to paint a LOT of these guys, so you better enjoy the look of them or it's going to be a long and arduous road. Me, I'm always excited when painting the first few battalions.

Last week I received the
Polish Line Infantry from Roger, both the Full and Campain dress. I had seen pictures but never the actual product.

After opening the package, the first thing I thought is the pictures don't do them justice. These are really amazing sculpts, Paul Hicks is getting very good at this sculpting thing. I especially like the faces, full of character and all very different from one model to the next, which is something you don't see often; I find that in many ranges all the soldiers have very similar looking faces. 

Examples from Roger's blog
A great thing about the range is the variety. The full dress consists of 6 different models of fusiliers, 3 different grenadiers and voltigeurs, 2 different officers +1 mounted officer, 2 different drummers, one eagle guard and one eagle bearer. The campaign dress are made-up the same way. And there is also an "extra" pack which includes a sappeur and a bareheaded fusilier. For a small range that makes up a lot of possible options. For someone (like me) who intends to mix both the full and campaign dress in the same unit, that means you can make a battalion with almost no duplicates. I like that.

I would say the style of figures is a mix of the Russian/later French Foundry and the Perry; not as stumpy as the old Foundry, but maybe a little more "caricature" than the Perry, and not much in common with the "anatomically correct" Richard Ansell style. Those who know me know I like my figures with slightly exaggerated features, as I find they look much better on the tabletop and are easier to paint, so I can say the sculpting style of the figures suits me well.

Another nice thing is the amount of details on the figures, especially with the campaign dress. They are carrying all kinds of extras you would expect soldiers to carry in campaign. I especially love the fact that the soldiers with fatigue caps have their czapka attached to their backpacks. Of course, I'm sure I'm going to curse when I actually have to paint all those extra details! Below is a pic of some of the details found on the campaign dress figures :

A czapka, a frying pan and an extra pair of shoes

Now I have to talk about the casting. It's nothing short of amazing. I cleaned around 50 figures and there were minimal flash and mold lines (and never in the faces!). I've never cleaned 50 figures in such a small amount of time. This made me very happy. But at the same time a little bit frustrated at all those other manufacturers who send us bad castings that take forever to clean...Anyways.

A comparison shot of a Muraski figure compared to other ranges in my possession is in order :

From left to right : Victrix, Foundry, Murawski, Perry metal, Perry plastic
As you can see they mix well with many of the popular ranges of the day, although the Victrix are noticeably taller than all the other ranges.

Conclusion : Great figures. Really. If you like the Poles of the era, you will not be disappointed.

So they sure pass the eyeball test, will they also pass the painting test? Well we're going to find that out very soon as a 24 figure battalion of these guys is currently on my workbench (well, along with 3 Canaanite chariots).

(Disclaimer : This is an honest review but I do feel I have to mention, for those who don't follow my blog, that Roger, the owner of Muraswki Miniatures, is a good friend of mine and I help him out with the business). 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Murawski Miniatures

While some of you probably already know Murawski Miniatures, the miniature company recently started by my good mate Roger Murrow, of RTB at large fame, I'm sure many don't. The project was originally a private endeavor although Roger was quite willing to sell the figures to those who contacted him. Being of Polish descent, Roger was always fascinated by the Duchy of Warsaw and is working to create a complete range of Poles for the 1807-1813 period using the talents of Mr Paul Hicks.

I was lucky enough to discuss the project with Roger often in the last two years and to see it evolve from concept art to greens and finally the finished metal figures. The reception was so positive that Roger eventually decided to start a company and build a website to sell his range and hopefully to expand it in the future to include other smaller and often ignored states.

In the last year or so Roger sent me a couple of samples and I was very impressed with the sculpt and casting, but unfortunately I was busy with various other projects so I really didn't have the time to paint any of them. A few weeks back I had a good discussion with Roger about where his range was going, future releases, etc. and got quite excited by his ideas. Roger often mentioned to me his lack of enthusiasm and skills on IT related stuff like blogging, forum presences, photo editing, etc. which make up quite a fair bit of a miniatures business advertising nowadays. Which is something I'm not bad at, so it seemed obvious...

I'm very happy to announce a collaboration between myself and Roger. I will take over most of the digital side of Murawski Miniatures so that Rog can concentrate on the rest of the business.
So expect news, updates, early reviews and everything else involving Murawski Miniatures en primeur on this blog, amongst other things. Roger is certainly not in this for the profits, but rather out of enthusiasm for the period, so really all the help I can give him can only benefit me and other Napoleonic 28mm enthusiasts.

This is also the perfect opportunity for me to start a new Napoleonic army, something I've been itching to do for a while now. Yes, a Duchy of Warsaw force! Obviously set in 1809. I'll talk more about this in future posts.

So yesterday a package was waiting for me in my mailbox; the complete range of Murawski Miniatures. Oh goodie! That meant line infantry in both full and campaign dress, Uhlans, skirmishers, mounted officers, generals, AdC's and artillery. A mini-Xmas!

I intend to review the complete range of figures over the coming weeks and months, as I paint them. 

And if you're a fan of the era or just like nice miniatures, go have a look at the new website

Golden age of miniatures, hey?