It has been a while since my last review of a Wargames Factory kit, but recently I was approached by WGF's lovely sales people if I was free to review their latest release - the American War of Independence British Infantry box.
The models in this review were supplied by Wargames Factory. I prefer to point this out when ever I receive review copies just you guys know. I always aim to write my reviews in an honest and unbiased fashion because otherwise there would not be much point to them, right?
I would also like to point out that I'm not an expert on the American War of Independence so if you find any bits I or the models got wrong feel free to correct them in the comments section.
With all of this out of the way, let's dig in!
Box art (I am one of the people who actually put the puzzle together on WGF's website back when this box was being teased) is rather smart looking. Proper artwork of lines of British infantry in tricorns, the style of the art is evocative of the period and visually pleasing in my opinion.
With almost all of the WGF kits I reviewed or worked with so far I liked the general design around the artwork and this one is no exception. There is a stiched leather look to it, a bit like an old messenger bag. The pattern is kept for all sides of the box, giving it a classy appearance. Apart from the artwork and a little picture of an officer model in actual size we get the usual info: 30 figures, 28mm size, 1/56th scale.
On the sides of the box we also got some advertisment for the other three AWI boxes WGF released in very quick succession now - Continental Infantry, Colonial Militia and Woodland Indians. Especially the latter probably are interesting for a variety of periods.
The back of the box gives us some meatier info on the models: FIrst up, a bunch of pictures of the finished miniatures as well as a little bit of sprue. Here's the thing I find really exciting though - the models in the box can not only be built as line infantry but also as grenadiers and light infantry, containing different hat styles and arms.
Very much looking forward to seeing how well this is executed so let's open it up!
The cardboard box is of the usual Wargames Factory sturdiness, the sprues are shrink-wrapped in plastic and the sprues have the usual (and very clever) interlocking bits so they won't rattle around, rub on each other and maybe snap any of the delicate pieces.
In the box we find four hard plastic sprues and a paper sheet with assembly instructions which are very handy to have.
The single parts are colour- and letter/number-coded and all instructions on how to put them together as grenadiers/line infantry/light infantry. The same goes for grenadier/line/light officers or sergeants, drummers or colour bearers.
Now after this quick overview of what we can expect to build from the sprues let's have a closer look at them. One thing of note - there is a warning on the instructions that the first production run of the sprues has some labelling errors and when building the models you should rely on the labelling on the instructions leaflet. Looking at the popularity of this box so far I am sure that this error will soon be dealt with.
Above and below you have the troops sprue. You get two copies of this one in the box. As you can see there are twelve bodies on the sprue. Ten of them are sculpted to wear the long coat, two of them the shorter coats usually worn by light infantry. The poses are identical on five of the bodies, then there are two more which are identical and the short-coated ones also have identical poses. Choices of heads are plentiful: 10 heads with cocked hats (usually worn by line infantry), 8 heads with Bearskins (Grenadiers), 4 heads with round hats and 4 with caps (both usually light infantry headgear).
You also get fourteen pairs of arms with muskets, a bunch of arms without muskets and five extra muskets. The instruction leaflet lets you know what arms are going together and of course that the arms with 'wings' on the shoulders are to be used for light infantry and Grenadiers.
The second kind of sprue in this box is the command sprue:
One of these is to be found in each box. It has bodies for one Sergeant, two colour bearers (identical bodies), a drummer (identical pose as the colour bearers), one body for a line/light or grenadier officer and one pair or legs along with two upper body options, for either line/light or grenadier officers again.
We get two arm pairs for the colour bearers with cast-on flag staffs. As with all parts in this set those are rather delicate so I would advise cutting them off, despite the really nicely done tips, and replace them with metal wire. Then we got the drum and grenadier drummer arms, a set of arms for a light infantry bugle player (toot toot parp parp), eleven swords - quite an impressive number -, some arms with hands pointing and waving (officer stuff) and four hands pointing or holding pistols.
In terms of headgear we get 6 heads with cocked hats, 6 heads with round hats and 7 of each bearskins and caps. We also get four square, 20mm side length, 3mm tall bases. Just like their round bases, Wargames Factory's square bases have straight edges.
The fourth sprue in the box is purely bases of the above kind, enough for each of the models in the box.
The casting quality and detailling on these pieces is impressive and I think that the detailling got even better this time around compared to last year's offerings. Folds in the cloth seem to be a little less sharp and now appear more realistic. The faces look just right in my opinion, long gone are the days of mould lines running across faces. This is a great boon as mould lines are rather prominent on the single pieces, especially on the bodies:
Building the Models
Putting these guys together I realized that there are way less options available than I initially thought. As usual with Wargames Factory sets, there is one particular way you can assemble each figure with minimal possibility to alternating bits. One set of arms always goes along with one kind of body and that's that. One sprue will let you build six line infantry, four grenadiers and two light infantry.
All in all you get seven pairs of arms with wings/epaulettes, for light infantry and grenadiers, and seven pairs of arms for line infantry. Two pairs of arms will always go with the light infantry bodies. Of course nothing stops you from converting a little. Just scrape off the wings to make all the models except for the short-coated ones line infantry. If you are willing to make those models line infantry too I'm sure nobody will murder you for it. Just adding a dab of Green Stuff sculpted right to the line infantry shoulders will let you make the models all grenadiers. Or just paint on all the wings. Just keep in mind that there are only eight grenadier hats on each of the troops sprue with another seven on the command sprue. If you want to make your models all line infantry that's less of a problem in terms of heads. Light infantry - well, it depends on how willing you are to look over the longer coats. That aside, choice of headgears will still be limiting you. Then of course the headgear guidelines are just that and I am aware that there were considerable differences in headgear (and indeed coat length) between locations and units.
One little word on scale: These are proper 28mm figures and they scale really well with what I had at hand for comparison: Perry AWI plastics and Foundry AWI metals. The metal models of course are a little more "chunky" but onced painted they go together with the WGF AWI British really well.
For the first time in a review I took the time and built and painted a whole box worth of the review minis so you can get a better idea what you can make from one pack.
12 Line Infantry plus Sergeant of the 28th Regiment of Foot (North Gloucestershire) with regimental colours:
Four light infantry plus officer of the same regiment:
12 Grenadiers of the 4th Regiment of Foot (King's Own) including officer and the king's colours:
30 figures in total. I have to admit though that on two of the grenadiers I used line infantry arms and the epaulettes on the shoulders I just painted on just to get some more variety in there. As you can see I did not use the bases from the boxed set but instead flat bases I cut from plasticard. The flags used I just printed on an inkjet printer. About the flag poles I replaced the pole on the grenadiers with a metal rod and a banner top from some other box, on the line infantry I kept the cast-on plastic flag pole. If I'm careful enough I'm sure it will be fine.
Painting those fellows sure took a while. As you can see, I went for a very neat 'toy soldiers' look. Proper uniforms alone will make these colonial rebels turn on their heels, what!
Again, this latest kit from Wargames Factory shows an improvement in their craftsmanship. The folds in the clothes look more natural now, faces look very good and rather diverse without taking cartoonish directions. In places the folds are a little weird. Still, these are not very "smooth" surface models, certainly more folds than on other models I think. This basically comes down to personal taste.
The old thing about recent WGF kits is still present: There is next to nothing in the way of variable poses. There are one or two sets of arms for each type of body and that's it. With the officers you can play around a little bit more but in general you can not pose these guys as you wish. That being said, who needs that on AWI models? There are certain poses soldiers would have. If we get well done poses (which we get) instead of stiff and unnatural looking variable poses there is no problem in my opinion. However, a dynamic looking bunch of individual models (for smallest scale skirmishes and the like) you do not get with this box. For that you will have to rely on metal figures. However, for a set that has dedicated light infantry bodies it would have been nice for those to be a little more dynamic.
A reenactment of the American War of Independence at Fort George, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada. (from: militaryhistorynow.com)
Speaking of poses: Whilst building the models I realized that there is a variety of poses in there. Firing, loading, cocking the musket, advancing with bayonet at the ready and a kind of 'standing guard' pose. Dividing these between 30 models makes it impossible to have a full unit of models do the same thing, first line firing, second line loading for example. Instead you get a bunch of guys doing various different things which, for the heyday of line infantry, looks a bit odd. So not only if you want to go for larger units in general but also for "orderly" units you will have to get multiple boxes. Even more if you don't like one or even two of the poses. Me, I am not completely convinced of the "standing guard" pose. Granted, I am not an expert in 18th century military drill so the pose might be absolutely essential.
It would have been nice to have some backpacks as well. I have no idea where they would have fit on the sprues and I am aware that they probably were not worn in proper battles, but it would have been a nice addition. Maybe instead of the extra muskets and sheathed swords. Speaking of which - a partizan for a Sergeant would have been a nice addition as well. You also do not get any flags with the set which is a little bit of a let-down if you compare this to Perry Miniatures or Victrix sets.
These are minor things though. If you are looking for British infantry for the American War of Independence (early/very much 'regulation dress') this is a very safe buy. Especially the fact that this set has options for Grenadiers and light infantry included as well is a huge bonus. Naturally this means certain drawbacks (limited arm options for either, undynamic light infantry poses) but hey, it's plastic British grenadiers and light infantry! If you go with this set you can build basically your whole army from it and this certainly is the idea behind it.
With this set we seem to see a little price increase at USD 25.00. This side of the pond of course the price is a little above that. UK retailers list the box at between GBP 16.00 and 18.00. This brings them almost up to the price of the AWI British plastics from the Perry brothers and a comparison of both AWI British is on my to-do list.
With this set Wargames Factory once more show that the days of them being the company that makes those very affordable plastic models of sometimes questionable quality definitely are of the past. These are high quality sculpts, the poses are natural and varied and looking past a few tiny shortcomings this surely is the most complete infantry set you can get for your AWI British on the market.
I hope that you enjoyed this review, found it interesting, entertaining and so on. If you have any questions, comments or indeed commission enquiries, feel free to let me know via the comments section, the Battle Brush Studios Facebook page or via e-mail.