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Rants & Raves

Some manufacturers decisions seem either not very well thought through or simply idiotic. For my opinion on some of these, see the RANTS.

On the other hand, if only to prove that I'm not just a grumpy old git, there are also some very good ideas presented by manufacturers, and these deserve praise. See the RAVES.



01.02.18  It looks like YKREOL have ceased production, which I think is a real shame. because I found their casualty figures very useful. Luckily, I managed to pick up an example of almost all of the Napoleonic sets which were released in the YKRIP range, so whenever I paint one of the figure sets from another manufacturer, I paint the corresponding YKRIP figures at the same time. This takes relatively little effort, and the casualty figures add some extra character to the finished unit.             
19.02.15  I must be getting milder with age, because I haven't had a rant for over 4 years. However, having just received the new Strelets "Sledge Train" sets, I need to vent some steam. The figures themsleves are actually wonderful (this part should be in the rave section), and the sledge itself is not badly done, but - and this is my rant - it's the same horse and sledge model in all four sets (133 French Army Sledge Train Set 1, 134 French Army Sledge Train Set 2, 135 Russian Army Sledge Train Set 1 and 136 Russian Army Sledge Train Set 2). Whereas the figures capture perfectly the motley assortment of troop types and clothing seen during the French retreat and the foraging scenes from the Russian pursuit, having all figures mounted on standard sledges pulled by horses in identical poses counteracts that effect. It really is a shame, because otherwise the figures could have been combined straight out of the box into a great diorama, but as it stands, a certain amount of conversion and horse swapping will be required.             
16.10.10  It's been over 8 months since I wrote a rant, which just goes to show that the pills are working, however I can't let Italeri's latest release go without comment. Set 6136 "Scots Infantry" contains only 36 figures, but is retailing at the standard price for Italeri sets, which up to now have contained 48 or even 50 figures. Effectively, Italeri are delivering 25% less for the same price. The figures themselves are still excellent, but I really wonder whether sales will be damaged by this "hidden" price hike.              
13.02.10  So much for online shops' live stock levels. In the last couple of weeks, there have been two occasions when I ordered sets from online sites and later received an e-mail from the shop to say that they didn't have the set in stock after all, even though it was shown as available on their web site. Apart from not making a good impression, it's also annoying because once I've ordered a set, I look forward to receiving it, so it's a disappointment to hear it won't be sent and I have to look for it elsewhere.             
01.06.09  Speaking of Italeri reissues of ESCI sets, Italeri's set 6073 "Russian Infantry", has a tab on the sprue with the text "Art. 236". This obviously comes from the fact that the set was previously issued by ESCI as set 236 "Russian Granadiers" (sic). As in my previous rant, the same comment applies. Anyone who doesn't know the history of the set will be scratching their head wondering why the article number on the sprue doesn't correspond to the set number on the box.        
24.05.09  Back to Italeri's set 6135 "French Imperial Guard Artillery", which is a reissue of ESCI's set 234 "French Artillery". The set contains two identical sprues. Both of the sprues have two tabs, one with the text "FRANCESI", the other with just a "B". I suspect that both tabs date back to the origins of this sprue, as part of ESCI's set 219 "British and French Artillery". That set contained one sprue of French Artillery and one of British Artillery. The set was later superseded by sets 233 "British Artillery" and 234 "French Artillery", both of which contained two sprues for the corresponding nation. Checking on the PSR website, the sprue for set 234 indeed has the text FRANCESI on one tab, but the other tab has the text "Art. 234". The sprue of set 233 has the text "INGLESI" on one tab and "Art. 233" on the other. For set 219, PSR correctly show one sprue each of French and British Artillery, but the tabs have the text "Art. 234" and "Art. 233", so it seems that PSR simply combined the sprues from the later sets for the photo. I can't imagine that ESCI released set 219 with the intention of later splitting it into two sets, and that they had already decided the numbers of those two later sets. So, my deduction, which may be totally wide of the mark, is that the sprues in ESCI set 219 had tabs with the text "A" and "B" respectively for the British and French parts. Which leads me to the point of this rant. People buying the Italeri set, unless they are aware of the previous history of the sprue, may be slightly confused by the fact that the set contains two sprues, both with the tab "B", and wonder whether they are missing the sprue with tab "A", and if there hasn't been a mistake in packaging the set. Yes, yes, I know, I need to get out more and not let insignificant details like this ruin my sleep.        
03.05.09  Having recently written a rant about Italeri reissuing Esci sets with different set names, I think it's about time to say a few words about Barcelona Universal Models (B.U.M.). BUM seem to have two separate series which are relevant to the Napoleonic era: the "71xx" and the "55xx" series. It's quite difficult to find information on either of these series, but some of the sets from the 71xx series include figures similar to Odemars figures, the various sets then being different combinations of these figures, with paper flag sheets. The sets from the 71xx series are not reviewed on the PSR site, and I don't have any of the sets, so I can't confirm that these are not original figures. (By the way, PSR state on their site that they don't review sets which are of particularly poor quality or are unlicensed copies, however neither of these necessarily applies to this series).  The sets from the 55xx series have not been released yet, but judging by the set names, it seems improbable that these would be copies of any previous figures. I have included both series on this site because I feel it's better for the modeller to have information about the sets available, regardless of quality, etc. 
01.05.09  Even though I had read the review on the PSR website and held the box in my hand before buying the set, it wasn't until I had opened the box at home that I noticed that Waterloo 1815's set 028 is actually called "Napoleonic Monted Line Officers 1813/1815" rather than ".. Mounted ..". Of course it's not a big deal, the figures in the box are the important thing, and they are excellent. However, it's a shame, after all the work that has been put in to researching and sculpting the figures, that the presentation should be marred by a typo in the set name.      
20.04.09  Italeri had already reissued a number of Esci sets, so it wasn't really a surprise when their latest release, set 6135 "French Imperial Guard Artillery" turned out to be a reissue of Esci's set 234 "French Artillery". However, using a different title than the original set gives the impression that the new release contains original figures. Later this year, Italeri also plan to release set 6136 "Napoleonic Scottish Infantry". Whether these will be original figures or a reissue remains to be seen. Esci produced a set 215 "British Infantry", which was a mix of highlanders and non-kilted infantry. Italeri themselves have already produced set 6004 "Grenadiers Highlander Infantry". To be fair to Italeri, they have in the past reworked previous subjects, for instance set 6066 "French Infantry" was not a reissue of set 6002 "Les Bleus, French Infantry", but newly sculpted figures. So it's just a case of wait and see what set 6136 brings. 
06.04.09  Top of my shopping list at the moment is Waterloo 1815's Set 028 Mounted Line Officers. The sculpting of the set looks excellent. However, I can't help thinking that the manufacturer didn't do themselves any favours by including personality figures in the set. If it had just been generic figures, I would probably have bought two or three sets and been able to use all the figures, and I'm sure there are others that would have done the same.
04.03.09  Here's an interesting point, though not really a rant: Last year, Airfix released their Waterloo Battle Set, which was generally welcomed, as it allowed a lot of people (including myself) to get their hands on the Waterloo Accessory Set without having to take out a second mortgage. But the last new Napoleonic figure set Airfix released was their Prussian Infantry (set 1756) in 1979 - 30 years ago! Most of the manufacturers producing figures today didn't even exist at the time.
07.02.09  On 12th December, I wrote a rant about manufacturers apparently feeling a need to include at least one figure of a wounded or dead man in each set of highland infantry. Tragik have now taken this a step further by announcing an upcoming set called "Dead Highlanders for 1812 - 1815". A complete set with nothing but dead highlanders! What more could anyone want?
24.01.09  Not long ago, I praised HäT because they use several different box sizes, so that they don't have to make each set fit into one standard box size. I've also mentioned that on some occasions, I have received ordered sets through the post with either the box damaged or with the contents taken out of the box to save space and thus postage costs. So when I received Odemar's set PF09 "French Revolution" by post today, and the set box was open with the sprue sticking out by about an inch, it wasn't a big surprise. (I know, this set is not strictly speaking Napoleonic, but it does have some great diorama material. On the subject of the grey area between the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, I have a few words to say, but will keep them for another day. By the way, I see that the PSR site has now moved the GerMan sets of the Egyptian campaign from its French Revolutionary Wars pages to the Napoleonic Wars pages. But, I digress, as Ronnie Corbett used to say). Anyway, when I tried to push the sprue back in and close the box, I realised that the sprue is actually longer than the box. From what I have seen from other Odemar sets, they seem to use a standard box, with the "label" for the relevant set stuck on to the front of the box. This is actually a good idea, as it saves costs for smaller manufacturers, but I find it hard to believe that Odemars could have designed a set that does not fit into the box. I don't know whether the fault in the case of the set I received lay with the manufacturer or the retailer, but this was a new experience for me. 
14.01.09  The Airfix Waterloo Accessory Set is easily the most sought after set for this scale and period. It was originally only available in the Airfix Waterloo Assault Set (Set 40604-4), but is now available again with the Airfix Battle of Waterloo Set (Set 50048), which was released in 2008. For a lot of people, this reissued set is a welcome means of acquiring the Accessory Set. However, the purists among the collectors will still hanker after the original set. But, what is actually represented in the Accessory Set? There are a couple of horse-drawn wagons and their drivers, both dressed as peasants, as well as some cargo for the wagons and a couple of makeshift barricades. These figures have no military significance, and I am not aware of any accounts of the battle, which mention the local peasantry being involved. It could be argued that they are supply vehicles, but even so, they would hardly have been in such a forward position as La Haye Sainte during the battle. Why Airfix actually included these figures in the original set is a mystery to me, though with the years it has added to the hobby simply by being virtually unobtainable. 
09.01.09 Zvezda figures are in my opinion the best on the market at the moment, but there is one point I would like to raise. The last two cavalry sets they have produced, 8035 "Saxon Cuirassiers" and 8055 "Russian Hussars 1812 - 1814" have had pegs on the inside of the figures legs to hold them to the horses. Apart from being frustrating as it is almost impossible to get these pegs to stay straight while placing the figures on the horses, they also remind me too much of the toy cowboys and indians I had as a kid, and I want my figures to be the least "toy-like" possible. In any case, there is no real need for these pegs in Zvezda's case, the figures are a snug fit without them. 
25.12.08 While I'm on the subject of company names, I wonder if the firms "Barcelona Universal Models - (BUM)" and "GerMan" realise how difficult it is to search for their sets online? 
22.12.08 I have to admit that I didn't do a thorough search of their website, but I am unable to find out what "HäT" is supposed to stand for. Especially the umlaut (the dots over the "a"): Why? Is it just gratuitous à la Blue Öyster Cult, Motörhead or Mötley Crüe?
16.12.08 Another "quality" of the new material Hät use for their figures is it can be bent very easily. I have had a number of sets now, where when I opened the box, a lot of the figures had their muskets bent right over. It's not very easy to bend them back to the correct angle.
12.12.08 Is there some sadistic streak in figure designers, which means they can't design a set of highlanders without having at least some of them wounded or dead? Every set which has so far been produced has at least one. Even the Odemars set PF14 "Staff of Wellington's", which for some unexplained reason contains 12 highland infantry (another rant within a rant), has as one of the four highlander poses a man holding his head as if he has just been wounded. Either that or he's just realised he left his keys in his other sporran. Of the other sets which have been produced, Airfix 1735 "Waterloo Highland Infantry" contains one pose of a man in the process of being wounded and another lying dead or wounded; Esci 215 "British Infantry", which contains 23 highlanders in 7 poses, has as one of those poses a wounded man being supported by another; Italeri 6004 "Grenadiers Highland Infantry" contains a pose of a man with a head wound and one in the process of being wounded. Granted, the highland regiments were in the thick of the fighting at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, but I can imagine most modellers would prefer a little lower casualty rate among their figures.
11.12.08 It's not unusual for a manufacturer to produce a battle set which includes a mixture of new figures as well as figures already separately available. This means having to buy the older figures again just to get the newer ones, effectively increasing the price per new figure. Airfix have taken this concept to a new level with their "Battle of Waterloo Gift Set". Not only does it include all nine figure sets previously produced by Airfix (so if you already have any Airfix figures at all, you get them double), but also 22 pots of acrylic paints and some paint brushes. Most modellers will already have paints, and each individual has his own favourite brand, so for a lot of people, this is just wasted money. I'm not sure of the exact contents of this set, as Airfix give only sketchy information about it on their site (a reason of itself for a rant), but I have heard that it includes the famous "Accessory Set", which made the original Waterloo Assault Set so sought after. If this is the case, it is definitely cheaper to buy the new gift set than to pay a couple of hundred Euros on eBay for the original assault set, but it still ends up being an enormous outlay for only a few new additions to one's collection. That said, this would be a fantastic set for someone to receive if they were about to start out in the hobby, and I'm sure there will be quite a few under Christmas trees this year.
06.12.08Hät set 8196 "1806 Prussian Dragoons" includes four alternative right arms per sprue, and one figure per sprue with which these arms can be used. However, there are only three sprues in the set, which means that to have each of the alternative poses, you need to either convert one of the other figures or buy a second set.  
04.12.08 A Call to Arms subtitled their 1/72 range "House of Campaign". Which means what exactly?
03.12.08 Odemars set PF14 "Staff of Wellington's" contains three of each of the general staff depicted. If the set had been generic figures, this would be ok, but what are you supposed to do with three Dukes of Wellington for instance, all in the same pose? 
02.12.08 Some online retailers seem to think that the most important aspect of delivery is  fitting everything into the smallest box possible. I've had a number of sets, where the packaging has been dented by being squashed into the box. I've even had one retailer take the figures out of their box and fold it flat to save space. Luckily, I don't collect the set boxes, but a bit more care would certainly be appreciated.
01.12.08 Lately, Hät have been using a material for their figures, which has the consistency of a pencil rubber, and is about as easy to work with. It seems to be the figures produced in China which use this material. Is there a quality assurance issue here, or was it intentional?




15.06.17 Hät have announced that they will no longer use the rubbery soft plastic which they had been using for the last decade, but will revert to using a harder plastic. They have also stated that any future restocks of older sets will also be produced in hard plastic.      
31.01.11 Not content with producing figures, YKREOL have started a side-line in jigsaw puzzles. Each of the puzzles depicts one of their figures, painted to a very high quality. The puzzles, many of which feature Napoleonic figures, can be seen on YKREOL's site at: www.ykreol.com/puzzles.html     
20.01.11 It's amazing what a few strokes of a paint brush will do for a plastic figure. I recently started painting a set of figures by a smaller manufacturer. On the face of it, it seemed to be hardly worth the effort, because the sculpting isn't up to the high standards of other manufacturers, but the more colours I've added, the better the figures look. When it's finished, the set will make a nice animated little group to add to my Austerlitz troops.     
04.02.10 I see that as well as re-issuing Odemars sets, YKREOL have also copied Odemars' idea of having a generic box design with the front kept blank to attach the particular label of the set. And why not? If it keeps costs down for smaller manufacturers, it's worth doing. The YKREOL boxes use an attractive colour scheme, certainly more inviting than that which Odemars used. By the way, on the back and sides of the YKREOL boxes, there are photos of various figures, including those from the Odemars sets PF03 Leaders and PF09 French Revolution. Presumably this means that YKREOL intend to re-issue these sets in the future.  
24.04.09 At the Intermodellbau 2009 model fair, I was able to check out the latest updates to the Croebern 1813 diorama. The realism achieved by the project team is incredible. The figures used are metal, but I recommend anyone interested in building dioramas to visit the project's website. I have added a link to the home page on my links page. 
07.04.09 Even though I have written a rant about personality figures being included in Waterloo 1815's set 028 Mounted Line Officers, those personality figures are actually very useful, especially for the Waterloo campaign. The Prince of Orange and the Duke of Brunswick appear for the first time in this scale, and though Lieutenant-General Picton has already appeared, complete with top hat and umbrella, in two other sets, this is the first time the figure has been mounted. All three also served in the Peninsular War.  
11.03.09 I have just finished removing the components of Zvezda set 8028 "French Foot Artillery 1810-1815" from the sprue and fitting them together. Altogether this took over five hours. Not because of any problem with fitting the parts together, simply because of the enormous number of pieces in the set, making it more like a model kit than a figure set. By comparison, a couple of months ago, I was able to perform the same task for an artillery set by another manufacturer (who shall remain anonymous) in just twenty minutes. The quality and detail of the Zvezda artillery sets is second to none in the hobby.
24.01.09 Strelets set M023 "French Line Infantry on the March (1)" includes a pose of an infantryman trudging along with his musket slung over his shoulder. This must have been a common sight on campaign, but is a very rare pose in the sets available so far. In fact, it may be unique, I haven't checked. In any case, another great pose for diorama builders.
09.01.09 Zvezda set 8055 "Russian Hussars 1812 - 1814" includes an instruction sheet, which matches each figure to the appropriate horse; the figures and horses are also numbered on the sprue. This is a simple idea, but for some reason, almost all manufacturers seem to think that it's enough just to have the same number of horses as mounted figures in a set, leaving the modeller to try to work out which figure fits best on which horse, and which horse tack is appropriate for which figure. (This last sentence should probably have been included in the rants).
18.12.08 Zvezda set 8030 "French Imperial Old Guard" contains a pose of a grenadier in the "present arms" position. This pose is included six times in the set, making these figures very useful for anyone planning a diorama of a high-ranking officer or dignitary being saluted.
17.12.08 The new Zvezda set 8055 "Russian Hussars 1812 - 1814" includes separately moulded pelisses for 12 of the 18 figures. This not only gets around the problem of excess plastic when a pelisse is moulded with the figure, it also provides some great material for conversions.
16.12.08 One simple idea, which Hät use, but which other manufacturers seem to avoid like the plague, is to have more than one standard size for their boxes. When each box has the same dimensions, regardless of the contents, it restricts the size and quantity of the content. Hät use at least three different box sizes - the regular size with about 48 infantry, 12 cavalry or three cannon and artillerymen; a slightly larger size, which is usually used for vehicles like caissons or limbers; and a large size, which normally contains 96 infantry or 27 cavalry.  
06.12.08 I notice that A Call to Arms, rather than commissioning artwork for their boxes, in some cases have used prints of famous paintings. There is also a link on the side of the box to an online military prints supplier. This is a very cool idea, and deserves to be picked up on by other manufacturers.
01.12.08 The Hät sets 8195 "1806 Prussian Hussars" and 8196 "1806 Prussian Dragoons" include a selection of alternative right arms, which hold various items, like a trumpet, guidon, carbine or sabre. This is a great way to offer those poses without having a set which has four trumpeters or flag-bearers, etc. As long as the uniform allows it, the idea would be welcome with other sets.