Tuesday, March 01, 2011

To Scale or Not to

Some ramblings this time.
Like I mentioned in my New Year's Resolution post, this year should see me venturing into new scales. Apart from an early effort with back then all-new Flames of War in 15mm - soon abandoned due to a lack of historical interest - and commission work with 20mm figures, I have no experiences with anything smaller than 28mm miniatures.
Recently I had to realise that my capacities both of time and storage room keep melting down. However, at the same time I felt the urge to play with armies again (after my early beginnings with huge, however awfully painted Warhammer armies).

I came up with two solutions:

First, playing grand scale battles with small sized armies. Impetus became the magic word here: Being able to field as many (or as few) miniatures as you want to stand for your troops is a considerable advantage for someone painting slowly like me. The only problem I have faced so far is the somewhat brittle appearance of such armies in 28mm. I'm totally fine with moving dioramas, though it's hard to avoid overstretching this specific look. Maybe my imagination is too limited, but I have my issues with two or three figures representing a horde of skirmishers.

So there came in, second, playing grand scale battles with small scale miniatures. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for the detailing of 28mm figures. Anyway, I was often put off by the lack of the same detail on smaller miniatures - or at least my inability to paint them properly. Therefore I had to find a compromise: on the one hand finding miniatures that were still appealing to me aesthetically; on the other hand using a scale small enough not to be tempted to paint too many details.

Click to enlarge

The shot above pictures the whole misery. Currently on my desk there are 28mm crossbowmen for my 14th century Impetus army, shown here primarily for scale and to stand in for the approach mentioned first. Next are 15mm knights from Legio Heroica that sparked my interest from first sight. My dear friend Tellus of Sweetwater forums fame was kind enough to send me some samples of Pendraken's 10mm Seven Year's War range. And lastly there are 6mm Landsknecht figures from Irregular.

Having painted these samples, here are some thoughts:

15mm can definitely provide good detail. In fact the miniatures almost look like scaled down 28mm ones - and that's also their main issue. Of course, I could stand away from painting all those tiny bits in order to speed up and building armies that deserve this title. But even if I succeeded, I would know that I could have done it better. Silly me!

6mm didn't really tempt me with these issues, though I was impressed by the level of detail still possible on such tiny figs. However, I found it hard to choose my approach. One has to be quite bold with colours in order to visually 'shape' the miniatures. Only the brightest colour schemes seem to work - at least from a distance, for looking at them closely while painting almost made me break up. For sure, these miniatures are meant to be amassed and they can be painted astonishingly fast. But after all I had little fun.

So then, 10mm. First impressions were quite similar to my 6mm experience. Anyway, after reading this inspiring tutorial and a few brush strokes painting turned out more enjoyably. These miniatures have a lot of individual character and good clear detail, yet reduced to a minimum. I'm still in the process of getting accustomed to the altered painting techniques necessary at this scale.

Thus, so far I'm most pleased with the 'cost-value ratio' of 10mm figures. Surely it depends not the least on the quality of the miniatures themselves. Though I'm now willing to invest a few bucks and see if I can cope with 10mm on the long run. Therefore, Seven Year's War, here I come!

In the meantime, let me know what you think. Or tell me about your experiences with different scales. I'm very interested!

Painted February 2011. Models by Perry Miniatures, Legio Heroica, Pendraken and Irregular Miniatures.

11 comments:

Ray Rousell said...

It's very difficult to choose, but for me 25mm is far too expensive nowadays, 6mm looks good en-masse, but if your going to paint 6mm or 10mm you may as well go the whole hog and buy 15mm, they are easier to paint than 10mm, there are more companies that sell 15mm for you to choose what you want and also wider variety of buildings and terrain for 15mm rather then 10mm. Just my tuppence worth!!

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Hello SG
I understand wanting to try other scales and even do it myself from time to time, but I always find myself happy when I return to 28mm.
Mainly it's less stressful as you can easily see and paint the detail as opposed to the smaller scales and you can see it when it's placed on the table. To be totally honest no matter how well I paint smaller scale miniature it never gives me the same satisfaction as a well painted 28mm. I'm even going to ACW in 28 using RF&F!
I'm doing Impetus sometime as well btw.
Good luck and keep us posted!

Cheers
Christopher

Hetairoi said...

I think 10mm are the best choice for grand scale / detailed enough battles.

Cheers.
Hetairoi

Muskie said...

Wow 10mm. What is Epic GW scale, I always thought that was 6mm. Never got a chance to play that game, no opponents. I don't know if I could get over my analness...

I usually do GW or GW heroic scale figs. I'm doing some 25mm Ral Partha female figs and at first I was like they are so small, but they do paint quicker.

I'm a collector/painter based on time put into the hobby, but I collect armies to play against people, very few models get bought and even less painted just to sit on a shelf.

Good luck with 10mm. Finding a good and deep range is key, but even more so is finding an opponent.

Sire Godefroy said...

Wow, thanks for your interesting input, guys!

Let me answer to some points you've raised.

First, the figure issue: I'm absolutely d'accord that bigger scales are more fun paintingwise. That's why I'll keep buying even the most expensive 28mm (and now 15mm) models. Apart from the painting aspect, I was always fascinated by the sheer sight of massed miniatures on the tabletop. However, my only chance to play in this latter league is to reduce the effort put into painting. From my AWI-experiences I know that's not possible with the detailing of bigger figs. Therefore I tried different scales, and currently I'm most happy with 10mm as a compromise between impressively detailed 15mm and the pure mass effect of 6mm. We'll see how that turns out in the long run.

Second, the terrain issue: Recently I've discovered the extensive range of quality terrain produced by Magister Militum. Added to that, 10mm is comparable to the N-scale for model railways, so there's quite a bit of choice.
Finally, you'll actually need only so many terrain pieces for playing grand tactical battles. Me thinks, a few hills, woods and houses will do.

Third and last, the playing issue: Around here chances to find opponents for a chosen period, scale and ruleset are ill - at least if you're not aiming at the GW/PP-crowd. So you need to get them started in the first place. However, most of them lose their impetus after some time (I'm no exception here). Therefore, if you really want to play a game: Do it all by yourself!
And with a smaller scale my hopes to actually build two opposing armies at a time by myself are high.

Cheers
SG

Consul said...

Those knights look absolutely fantastic!

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

That's a problem I have at my club in that the people there are extremely lazy painters and so it's hard to get periods going other then GW or FOW stuff. Very, very frustrating to say the least. They all have some lame excuse, but I'm not interested as I have a wife, child, house and a job and I still get stuff done. Every project I get people to try I seem to get the lions share of the responsibility which ticks me off. I really wish I had a dedicated painter/hobbyist at my club other then myself.
I well understand your idea of doing both sides, and come to the conclusion I will need to do the same and so pick periods I like more then one side, but just not 10mm. That said, for some reason I don't like wargaming only my miniatures on the table and that causes me some concern.
I wish you luck and you most certainly have my sympathy.

Cheers
Christopher

Sire Godefroy said...

Thanks, Christopher, your support is much appreciated. As well as the effort you keep putting into this hobby and sharing with us via the net. That's first class inspiration at least!
Otherwise it seems we're all lonely stars lost in space - but stars anyway. :D

Cheers
SG

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Thank you and all the same to you SG. :-)

Cheers
Christopher

James Brewerton said...

I have just started a 10mm Sudan War army, and agree the detail is great. I went for them as it is a period my Dad and I like to game but not enough to invest in 28mm figures.
I think I will alway prefer 28mm I must have painted 1000s so far but I started out with 15mm and am loving the 10mm. I think in the end it come down to personal choice and maybe who you play with.
Nice blog BTW will be following from now on (SYW rocks also)
Peace James

Al Maurer said...

Just ran across this blog. Very nice!

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