Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fife & Drum Miniatures Review

     Last month, as a part of  Fife & Drum Miniatures' 1776 Deal, I ordered a batch of 12 British Light Infantry. This was so as to test the 28mm (30mm) waters so to speak. While I have painted a few 28mm figures before, the sum is no more than Copplestone Castings' Swell Dolls from their gangsters line, and the two free Perry Miniatures British rifleman as came with an issue of Wargames Illustrated.

     Let me just start with the fact that James is a wargamer's wargamer. His is a prolific wargamer who runs an excellent blog, "Der Alte Fritz Journal" and who decided to expand into the selling of miniatures themselves. The figures are sculpted by Richard Ansell, and are simply stunning.

     The game scale of the sculpts is 30mm which has been intentionally done so as to approximate 1/56 modeling scale. In fact, these figures look more like models than wargaming pieces! The figures themselves are anatomically proportioned which is quite uncommon in the wargaming world. We constantly find historical miniatures with: pumpkin sized heads, goblin like faces, baseball glove sized hands, stubby legs, and stuffed sausage bodies. Do not take from this that I do not appreciate these design styles, I wholeheartedly do. Such as with 6mm, Adler with their big heads and all, are king in my mind. It is just that if I were pressed to provide an opinion, I prefer the look of a balanced anatomy.

     The F&D's figures have exquisite detail with high relief and the authentic levels of equipment carried. This makes for enjoyable painting for a non-artistic person such as myself. The castings are quite clean with almost no flash or irregularities. About 1/3 of my figures required no clean up at all. The cast on bases are appropriately sized as being only large enough to mount the figure. This is well received for two reasons. First, with some figures it is difficult to pack them in closely unless trimming is done. I do not like trimming and cleaning a casting as I dislike the metal shaving produced and the potential health hazards that follow. Secondly, with a reduced base comes less opportunity to have it exposed as you basing material shrinks during curing.

     I would like lay praise to James' customer service. My ordering email was answered quite fast, but with his sale creating quite a business boom he was needing to back order some of my requests. He kindly offered to send the items in two separate packages which I declined so as to save him both time and expense. I appreciated his offer, but I was in no dire need (the lead mountain is already quite large). By month's end, he had replenished and payment was remitted. The packaged shipped out the next day. When it arrived, the contents were well protected in bubble wrap ensuring no bumps or bruises of the product. To my delight, there were a few samples kindly packed in there as well. Very savvy business move; get the hook in the fish's mouth and set it real good!

     Overall, the purchase was a great experience. I knew from the pictures on his blog that the figures were of high quality already, but once they were in my sweaty hands, the wow factor got even higher. The pricing was more than fair; the customer service was excellent; and, the shipping was fast.

     As of today, I have primed the Lights and will start on them throughout the week. I decided to first paint up a few of the samples, ensuring both colour choices and painting methods. Below are a few pics of the finished work. Sorry for my typically poor photography. The figures have a semi-gloss look in the pictures, but are dead flat in hand.

     Overall, I was quite pleased with my work. I have decided to not change a thing on the British Grenadier figure. As for the militiaman, I will not use the medium green again as applied. I actually have four shades of green on him with all being too similar. The end result is not dramatic enough for the gaming table. Next time it will only be three and there will be a larger colour shift from bottom to top. He will likely be my only solidly green figure anyway. So, not to big of a blow to my painting mind.


  1. Very nice miniatures and a beautiful paint job. Your right the shift in the green is very subtle but I wouldn't discard the application completely, keep it for 1 in 6 or there about's it does work in my opinion. Once again great job.

  2. David: please note that Frank Hammond is the owner of the Minden range of SYW figures. It just happens that I have bought a lot of them because I think that they are the most wonderful SYW figures ever made. Frank provided the inspiration for me to start my own AWI range of figures.

    The common element among Minden (SYW), Alban (Napoleonic), Crannterre (Jacobite Rebellion) and Fife & Drum (AWI) is that all of these ranges are sculpted by the talented Richard Ansell.

    Thank you for the very kind review of the F&D range. You painted samples look wonderful.


  3. Jim,
    I apologize for my error. I have made the apropriate edits! :-[

    Glad you could stop by and read the post. I just wish my photography skills were better, and could do better justice to you figs. I assure you the figures are twice as nice in person.

  4. figvfig,
    Thanks for the kind comments and suggestions! :-)