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Montag, 9. November 2015

Review: Late Napoleonic Line Infantry, Perry Miniatures vs. Warlord Games




Today I will compare two kits which couldn't be more similar. Both of them are (predominantly) plastic kits, both covering exactly the same topic: later Napoleonic French line infantry, 1812-1815. 

It has been a while since my last comparative review. The first one, in which I took a closelook at Black Tree Design's metal and Warlord Games' plastic WW2Soviet infantry, went over really well and I hope that this article will be as positively received. I have got a box of each here and assembled and painted a good portion of models from each box. Neither box was sent to me for free, I bought them both.




Usually I would review one of the boxes after another and then compare them. In this case the two sets cover exactly the same topic, so I review them in a simultaneous fashion and by category.


The Boxes



The front artwork on both boxes is very attractive. The Perrys as usual employed Peter Dennis for the artwork, who also did the artwork on the Warlord Games box. What can I say - he's the man. Both are quite different in motif, but I like both and both artworks very well depict what to expect of the box contents. It is noteworthy though that Warlord's box shows only line grenadiers whilst of course the box is mostly line fusiliers.


We see the usual thin cardboard being used. Neither of the boxes are shrink-wrapped. As far as initial info on the box goes Warlord's box contains 36 plastic and metal figures, the Perrys box contains 42 plastic figures.


The back of the Perrys Miniatures box has pretty clear info on the contents of the box. “...The figures in this box represent a complete battalion of French Line Infantry in the typical attacking pose of the period, ...” including a company of grenadiers and Voltigeurs, plus a company worth of Voltigeurs or grenadiers skirmishing. Next to this text we see a colour plate/painting guide. The exact listing of the contents is 42 figures, 2 flags and unit bases. We also see an actual sized picture of a figure


On the back of Warlord's box we see a whole box worth of minis painted and based as well as some officers in actual size. The text blurb on Warlord's box is a bit more 'fluffy' with little actual info unless you really buy this without knowing anything about the Napoleonic Wars. Unlikely.

The contents listed are 30 plastic figures (pointing out the ease of building them), 6 metal 'command' miniatures (Sergeant, Pioneer, drummer, standard bearer, two officers), a 2-page leaflet including flags.

It's interesting how different the info on the back of the box is in terms of text. The Perrys using the battalion organization to describe the contents, Warlord Games list some general background. We can see how the info is aimed at very different audiences: If a newbie reads the Perrys text blurb they might be confused (even though it's really well explained and may even be a very good starting point to getting to know the battalion organization) whilst someone familiar with the matter probably will feel right at home. On the opposing side, if someone who's familiar with the Napoleonic Wars gets the Warlord box in his hands the text will be skimmed, but dismissed for not containing any actual information. Not a single word on grenadiers or Voltigeurs even though they are organic parts of the battalion. Clever thing they add the photo of the whole set of miniatures, as those who have some basic knowledge will recognize that the flank companies are present. So it's all there, Warlord Games – as always – aim to not build up any barriers for new players/collectors.


Box Contents



Leaflets



Warlord's leaflet has a wall of text along with a cropped version of the box artwork. Uninviting as this may look, it's got all the important information on battalion organization and a painting guide. I can not blame anyone for looking up painting guides online rather than reading the text fully though.


There are quite a few flags included in the set. Regimental flags for the 13th, 17th, 19th, 28th, 51st, 54th, 55th and 105th line infantry regiments are included as well as four battalion flags (for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th battalions. Was it likely that there were more than two battalions to a regiment at all?). The flags are printed on pretty thick glossy paper. I don't think that I would make flags out of that kind of paper myself. I preferred Victrix's flags included in the Austrian Line Infantry set I reviewed a while ago.


To me the Perrys' plastic box leaflets are always somewhat of a highlight as they usually have a lot of useful information and colour plates and again they do not disappoint. Other than getting a larger version of the colour plate in the back of the box we get interesting variants on how to paint these figures: As French Light infantry or Swiss infantry in French Service. In addition to that we get some detail shots of bits and pieces for how to paint them, a layout of how to depict the famous French attack column and company colours and two flags (of the 19th and 55th line regiments).

Again, the Perrys seem to cater to people who maybe bring some knowledge to the table and give more detail info and variant info rather than covering the very basics. Warlord Games offer an introduction to the topic along with all the most important info required. Of course this is a lot to take in via one page of leaflet, so the wall of text is a bit unsightly. The Perrys leaflet also has some suggestions for wargaming rules to use: General de Brigade, Shako 2 and the then soon to be released Black Powder.



So who does the better leaflet?


To me the Perrys version is more attractive and has more information (albeit information I might have no use for). The flags included on the Warlord Games leaflet are not only more numerous, but also larger than the ones included in the Perrys box and on top of that also a bit prettier I think. However, I'm not a fan of having flags on that thick paper, so they are of no use to me personally. Of course people could photocopy the page onto thinner paper and use them that way.



Sprues



Here we can see the main differences in layout. The Perrys are using three regular-sized large sprues. There are 12 marching figures on each sprue. The models are pretty much all single piece casts with only the backpacks/knapsacks having to be glued on. However, on the sprue we also get several optional heads (to use those you would be required to cut the heads off the models and replace them), an extra drum (not sure why) and, most remarkably, two skirmishing Voltigeurs or grenadiers in firing, cocking or loading positions. One of the skirmishers and one of the marching models come with separate little standy things. 


The marching figures are half and half in greatcoats and regular uniforms, making for a rather nice mix.

The third sprue in the Perrys box is a command sprue which is cut just like the other sprues, but in one corner three of the marching fusiliers are replaced with three command figures: A flag bearer, a drummer and an officer in a “pointing sabre, holding scabbard so it won't dangle around” pose, plus two alternative heads, one of them wearing a bicorne, the other one being bandaged (or wearing a bandana, in case you want to do a rogue-ish looking character).

Warlord's sprues are smaller, with six models on each one, two of them wearing epaulettes on their greatcoats. This leaves us with a total of 10 models to cover the elite companies. Weird, but things will be explained in time.


All the models in this box are wearing greatcoats, while in the Perrys box about half the models wear them and the other half are in their regular field dress. The backpacks are separate just like on the Perry minis. The difference is that the heads are separate as well. On each sprue you get eleven heads to go with the six bodies, including three with 'shaving brush' decoration, one head with the fatigue pokalem hat worn in camp (or if your shako got shot off by a nasty sniper), one bare head and the rest with various covered shakos with pommels.




In addition to this a little plastic baggy full of metal minis is included in the box:


These contain six command figures: Two officers, a colour sergeant, a drummer, a sapper (nice addition) and a Sergeant. This is also how the mystery of the 10 elite company figures is explained: The sapper is meant to go with the grenadiers while the Sergeant is meant to go with the Voltigeurs. This ramps up the number of models in each company to the regular six.

As you may notice from the picture, there is no material to cushion the models. They clank around freely in the baggy. This lead to all kinds of very unpleasant effects on the models: The sabre blade on one of the officers had snapped off clean, the rifle on the sergeant had broken off and the sabre blade on the other officer was rolled up in a horrifying spiral. As if Superman had actively discouraged the poor fella from using his weapon. To spare you the shock I will not post a picture of the explicit details on this particular model, but here is a shot of the Sergeant with the broken off and bent musket:



Comparison for this category


Both companies' minis are cast by Renedra, so the casting quality itself is the same. When it comes to the sculpts the much newer Warlord minis still have their trademark chunkiness about them compared to the more delicate Perry minis on which details seem to be crisper and just nicer in general.

Warlord's figures have only half the number of poses the Perrys got, but they make up for that by having a choice of heads. Of course the Perry models come with several additional heads as well, but I doubt many but the most devoted modellers will actually replace the heads. The backpacks/knapsacks are pretty much the same quality. Both sets have a few backpacks with additional stuff like extra shoes, pots or garlic strapped to the knapsacks.


The most glaring difference of course is the command figures. The Perry plastic ones are really nice; no problem whatsoever. The figures in the Warlord Games box are more numerous and pretty fun as well. I think that they aren't just as nice as the Perrys ones and the way they are stored they are pretty much guaranteed to take some damage on the more fragile parts which is a big shame.

A definite point in favour of the Perrys set is the additional flank company figures in skirmish poses. This is a very nice touch indeed. Warlord's set in return comes with a sergeant, another officer and a sapper. Of course these are not necessarily required, but add a little bit of variety to the unit, especially as the Warlord Games models all wear greatcoats. And French just need burly, beardy sappers.



Extras


Both boxes have some additional bits thrown in: The Perry Miniatures box comes with bases whereas the Warlord Games set does not. However, the Warlord one comes – to my surprise – with a little decal sheet to put them on the cartridge pouches (the ones dangling from the backpacks).


A useful little addition. After much confusion as to why I would want to apply black decals to the typically black leather cartridge pouches Thomas A. Hoff on Facebook cleared up the mystery for me: They are meant to go on fabric covers which go over the cartridge pouches. Those covers were used on campaign to keep the powder safe from moisture. I had heard of these covers being used, but didn't know they were standard issue. My guess had been that they were improvised field modifications. That's the thing about Napoleonics – you never stop learning new stuff. At least I don't. Goes to show how little I know about the subject.

Given how these are completely different in this category I could not give a comparison on the quality of the two sets in terms of 'extras'. I would assume that bases are more useful than the decals, but then again people like to base their Napoleonics in very different ways, so they might not be. The decals sure are a nice addition, but I painted the ammunition boxes as plain black leather.



Assembly


Given the nature of the figures assembly time is 80% cleaning of flash and mold lines and 20% actual assembly. I strongly suggest not to glue on the backpacks prior to painting. Paint them separately, then glue them on. This will save you a lot of work.

Speaking of the backpacks, the Warlord Games' set's backpacks have little knubs which go into little holes in the back of the models so you get the position right. There is no such thing on the Perry Miniatures models. On the other hand the Perry minis have all the details properly sculpted out on the back as well. I am not sure if you would ever model the figures to be in the field without the backpacks, but if you were to do so it would be no problem with the Perry miniatures.

When you assemble the figures always take care to use backpacks with sabres only on grenadiers and Voltigeurs and when assembling the models from the Perrys' set of course take care that models without greatcoats get backpacks with rolled-up greatcoats on top and models wearing greatcoats just get regular backpacks.


The fit of the parts is excellent on both sets. No problems there.


Comparison for this category


There is not much to assemble and the little there is works out pretty much the same on both sets. If I was to base an opinion simply on assembly speed the Perry minis are faster to get ready for painting simply as you don't have to clean and glue on the heads. If you are inclined to also add the skirmishing figures the Perry box has of course this will add to the assembly time.


Painting


As the two boxes cover almost exactly the same subject painting is the same on both. Whilst painting the models I really noticed the differences in the way faces are sculpted on the Warlord figures compared to the Perry ones and that details such as hands and feet are a bit more chunky.

This was the first time I painted French Napoleonic infantry and greatcoats definitely are quicker to paint than the field dressed figures. I glued them to strips of cardboard prior to painting. As mentioned before I kept the backpacks for the models in a separate little bag and painted them all prior to gluing them to the backs of the models.





Here they are finished:



Keep in mind that these are mostly painted under severe time constraints, and with the goal of making them look okay for gaming in a big battle mostly.

I got the flag from GMB Designs.







For the command figures I used one of the officers from the Warlord set and the plastic flag bearer and drummer from the Perry box. 

I based the models in this somewhat unconventional way on single 20x20mm bases. These guys depict the 27th Line Regiment at the battle of Waterloo as my contribution to the massive Waterloo multi-player game at VIVAT 2015. I don't have any plans to do Napoleonic battles in 28mm, so I based them in a way so I could use them in skirmish games (such as Sharp Practice) later on. The bases have magnetic sheets glued on so during the battle they will sit firmly on a thin sheet of metal.



Verdict


I certainly do not regret getting both sets. Apart from the fact that I got an interesting review topic (or so I hope) out of it I think the models mix really well within the same unit. The way just a few of the guys wear regular uniforms rather than greatcoats make for a nice look and I believe it's more interesting than having the unit wear all greatcoats or half and half.



To wrap this up I will again list the main differences and selling points (as I identified them) on these boxes:


Perry Miniatures French Napoleonic Line Infantry (1812-1815), GBP 18.00 to 20.00, released in 2008, has six more figures due to the six skirmishing miniatures. When looking for differences between the two boxes at hand, I think these are a big factor. If you want skirmishers with your French you probably will go with this box. Some people may prefer the plastic command figures, especially due to the way the metals in the Warlord Games box are packaged. Overall the figures look a little more crisp and neat. The bases will be a very useful addition to some, less useful to others.



Warlord Games' Late French Line Infantry, GBP 20.00, released in 2014, have the advantage of additional command figures and the sapper. The fact that all the models wear greatcoats might be an incentive to go with this box over the Perrys one if you prefer uniformity. The decals and added flags are a bit of an odd fish. Some surely will appreciate the flags and decals while others (like me in the case of these flags) won't have much use for them at all. The decals I'm still on the fence about. In terms of looks I think I prefer the black pouches with golden symbols. Of course these are just a pain in the back to freehand on all these figures. Somehow I think that many people will just leave those off altogether.

UPDATE: As of late March 2016 Warlord Games repackaged the Late French Line Infantry as well, reducing the number of figures to 28 per box. The new boxes are GBP 16.00. The price increase per figure is 1.6 pence. The price difference is negligable.

In the end it comes down to this old thing about horses and courses. I hope I was able to point out the differences between the two sets and the various advantages and disadvantages between them. Maybe it helps you figure out which offering you prefer for your own requirements. I am pretty happy with the way both boxes combine actually. Since I was asked for a direct size comparison shot, here we go:


In the left you can see the Warlord Games figure, in the right the Perry Miniatures version. You can see how the Warlord minis is slightly chunkier, especially hands, head and feet, slightly taller (only by a millimetre or two though) and the bayonet is a bit longer. However, once they're ranked up and painted you won't be able to tell the difference unless you check very closely and know the sculpts well. During painting, when the models were mounted on strips of cardboard for handling the main way to tell them apart was that the Warlord figures have little holes in their backs for the backpacks to fit in. I would say that the models mix exceptionally well.



So even in this case or directly competing products miniature manufacturers still find a ways to make their offerings varied enough to make either worth your while and hard earned pennies. It's good that way I believe. We should always strife for variety and make sure this variety, one of wargaming's most precious attributes in my opinion, is to stay. So buy Perry, buy Warlord, buy Front Rank, HäT, Victrix, Foundry – what ever you please. They all got their advantages and disadvantages. It rarely happens that I find one manufacturer's models to be completely superior or inferior to another's. Most of the times they compliment each other's ranges.





I hope that you enjoyed this review, found it interesting, enjoyed the painting and so on. If you have any questions, comments or indeed commission inquiries, feel free to let me know via the comments section, the Battle Brush Studios Facebook page or via e-mail.

Kommentare:

  1. Thank you for this great article. I'm just getting into Naps, and was looking for something like this as I'm currently in the "shopping" stage. Great information.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, jcroxford, glad you liked the article.

      In fact I'm getting into Napoleonics (French again) on a larger scale these days. Well, a smaller scale actually. 6mm, all Baccus miniatures. 'proper big battles' stuff. :)

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  2. thank you for taking the time to write this review, it is very useful to another gamer!

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