The front of the box is of the classic Perry Miniatures design. Kind of sombre, with excellent artwork in the centre of attention, displaying a Confederate artillery piece and (cleverly) showing six crewmen standing around it with a lot more people in the background. It basically shows what's in the box, yet it's nice looking.
Building instructions for the guns on the back of the box, along with some painting suggestions for Confederates and Unionists.
This box is packed with plastic goodness. Three double-sprues for guns and limbers, three crewmen sprues and a bunch of bases (three 100mm x 50mm bases, four 50mm x 50mm bases) and of course an info sheet. Let's take a closer look at each of the components one after another.
The gun/limber sprue is the heart of the set. Three thereof in the box, everything you could ask for is in there:
The frame of the gun is eight parts plus the gun's barrel. As you can see each gun comes with four different barrels: the 12-pdr Napoleon, 3-inch Ordnance, 10-pdr Parrot and 12-pdr howitzer.
The limber doesn't come with a driver or horses. It would have been a really cool addition to the box but there probably just wouldn't have been enough space in the standard boxes and apart from that pretty much right after the release of this set the Perrys announced horses and crew sitting on the limber if you want your artillery to be on the move. Another thing on the sprue: The obligatory artillery bucket.
Each of the three crew sprues comes with six models on it.
The bodies are one cast, the arms and hats (alongw ith a smallish pouch, almost looks like a portmonnaie) are seperate. Six slouch hats, twelve kepis, eight pairs of arms and an additional trialspike for aiming the gun.
The bases are a little more along the measurements I like.
Three times 100mm x 50mm, four times 50mm x 50mm. None of the 'weird' 55mm or 45mm measurements in sight as with most other Perry boxes. Nice for me as I base my ACW stuff on 40mm and 50mm square bases. The bases are flats, as always (about 2mm in height).
Now for the info sheet. I call it that because it goes far beyond am assembly guide:
The front page actually has a whole gun drill for ACW artillery as depicted by the figures in the boxed set. I like this a lot. Not only does it give us a quick insight into the workings of artillery in that period but it also explains what exactly each of the arm pairs is made for and that there's a purpose behind each of the poses.
The other side lists the different barrels again (including the material they're made of which is handy to people who aren't as familiar with the period), gives some further info on details on the gun and such, an assembly instruction for the limber along with offering suggestions on how to model it and lists each of the poses again along with big, clear pictures. Excellent.
Now let's get these fellas off the sprues and some glue on them!
Putting together the guns and limbers is as straightforward as can be. Mould lines are present and have to be removed (always bit of an annoyance with spoked wheels) but that's to be expected with plastic minis. The casting is of the usual quality even though there are some rough spots on the limber axles.
Unless you're dead set on building very specific guns I suggest not gluing the barrels in place. The fact that it makes painting them easier, they can be attached lateron by use of pinning or magnets so you can switch between games.
There are one or two fiddlier parts on the cannons but everything fits into place nicely. The wheels are a little loose-fitting so watch out that you get them on straight.
Of course you can also model the guns limbered and add the seated crew and horse set from the Perrys website.
By now I have seen the Unionists version of these in real life. Really fun models.
Putting together the crewmen takes little more planning. Thanks to the info sheet a lot of poses and their purposes are explained and specific steps in the gunnery drill can be recreated. I thought it was more interesting and probably more accurate to model the crews of the single guns doing different things with one gun being adjusted, the second one being loaded and the crew of the third one doing some adjustment whilst waiting for another shell to be brought up from the limber.
The parts all fit nicely. You may want to tape the halves of the gun frames together while the glue cures though, just to be sure. The gun barrels are flat in the front so I suggest drilling them out. It takes maybe ten minutes including smoothing it out and all and it adds just so much to the look of the models.
I'm not a fan of seperate basing for artillery crewmen, especially as I put that much effort into posing them all so that they depict a certain part of the drill so one big base for the gun and crew is what I'm going for.
As you can see, the 50mm bases are too narrow to put the gun and two crewmen adjusting the wheels onto it which is a pity. I decided to add a 10mm wide strip of plasticard to the side and voilá, the base fits. Base sizes aren't that much of a concern with artillery anyway and it would be a shame having to reduce the crew and therefore vignette character of the pieces.
Some of you may prefer to have the crew based on single bases and possibly putting the gun on no base at all or a much smaller one. I prefer to go with the larger bases simply because they are easier to handle and the models just lend themselves to the vignette-like look so well.
While I was at adding little bits I proceeded to magnetize all the gun barrels so I could change them to fit the scenario. Usually not that much of a concern either but if the kit gives me a choice to do so I won't pass up on the convenience of being able to switch guns.
The kit also gives us the choice of having the limber's ammunition box to be modelled open. It's a bit of a shame that there are no interior details for that so based on some internet research I added a plasticard panel in the left side and a bunch of shells (made of plasticard and green stuff)in the right. It just adds a nice amount of detail and as wargamers we all are a supersticious bunch and modelling visibly empty ammunition boxes is just asking the dice gods for trouble.
And finally, here we got the full battery painted and based:
Following the theme of my brigade, they are a Louisiana battery, the Washington Artillery of New Orleans.
As you can see, some of the men still got their original blue trousers with red (colour of the artillery) stripes. I also modelled a higher ratio of kepis, some of them in red, after reading that some time in the mid war the men of the regiment got to buy new kepis, with red ones costing a bit more than regular grey ones.
For any American Civil War gamer (who likes 28mm scale models at least), this set fills a big gap in terms of plastics. Of course the set is a lot more affordable than their metal counter parts but not only that, it also is an amazing effort in terms of modelling possibilities. The quality of the sculpts is tip top.
Sure, assembly of the models takes much longer than with their metal versions, which is a thing you have to be prepared for when working with plastic kits. Apart from that, having horses, seated crew and caissons added (especially the latter will be sorely missed by some) would have been nice to have but in this case the box either would have had to be twice the size or have just one gun with all this additional stuff which, if we are honest, is not the top priority for many gamers. I am very happy with what the box has in terms of content and I can not stress the usefulness of the info sheet enough.
Big thumbs up to the Perrys on this one. If you were 'ho-hum' about their Civil War infantry boxed set and have not had a look at their plastic kits since then you definately should take a second look now.
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.