The Road to Yorktown – A monologue on miniature size and compatibility

Although I don’t want to make this blog too emphasized on painting, I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss miniature sizes and compatibility between ranges by showing off my WIP thus far. I’ve decided to start my AWI collection by painting up the armies from the Philadelphia campaign in 1777. Although there are more generic ways to depict the conflicts, I’ve found it enjoyable to organize regiments and research uniforms. 

With it comes to miniatures in the 25mm/28mm spectrum in the AWI, there are a plethora of choices one can make with new ranges and expansions popping up all the time. For instance, the fairly recent Brigade Games Kickstarter release comes to mind. Then there are more established ranges, like Old Glory. However, without a doubt the most extensive and comprehensive range on the market is by Perry Miniatures, who have recently begun adding the Spanish to their AWI (currently done by no other major 28mm manufacturer). For a long while, Perry was also the only major manufacturer with a 28mm Saratoga range, and even now they have fairly unique offerings like the Volunteers of Ireland and southern/hot-weather troops in Shirt Sleeve order.

However, I feel it would be remiss not to mention Fife & Drum Miniatures. A quick aside, however, is that technically Fife & Drum are 1/56 scaled, not 28mm. 25/28mm is an arbitrary height usually defined as measured from the bottom of the miniature’s feet to the eyeline. 1/56 are proportionally and realistically scaled at 1/56 the size of their real life counterparts. 28mm figures are often not proportionally scaled, and can have unrealistic sized features  (hands, heads, etc.) or equipment. However, 1/56 figures are roughly the same height as 28mm, and so for our purposes they will do. 

The Fife & Drum range has been praised for its realistic proportions and beautiful sculpting and comes highly recommended. Though the range is not not as extensive as Perry or some older ranges, it is still expanding, having just begun a release of its own Saratoga campaign figures. Like Perry, it also boasts some unique offerings in the British Brigade of Guards’ flank and hat companies. 

When I started looking into beginning an AWI collection a year ago, I came across consistent recommendations for both Fife and Drum and Perry (in one peculiar case for the latter, I remember at my first Historicon being told “Perry. Nothing. But. Perry.”). Now, there are other ranges that have piqued my interest and I plan to add to my collection (For example, King’s Mountain Miniatures with its unique head sculpt options, Eureka for their awesome looking Ragged Continentals, and Foundry, Front Rank, and Old Glory for some of their personality options as well). But when it came to actually start collecting, I decided to go with Perry and Fife & Drum to start with.

However, with all the ranges a question that is consistently posed is compatibility. Are the miniatures of different ranges in such different proportions that they look alien and out of place when next to one another on the tabletop? While the answer is subjective, I thought I would take the opportunity to compare Fife & Drum to Perry in what I feel is very apples to apples comparison.

Other comparisons exist but since one of the purchases I made included American officers from both ranges, I thought I would take advantage of two similar looking sculpts for a comparison

I’ve started by ordering some plastic Continental Sets and American officers from Perry Miniatures as well as the Lord Cornwallis, British Mounted Officer, and two American general officers from Fife & Drum. So these are an example of American generals in uniform from each range. I had already painted the Perry one, so for reference the Perry figure is the one already painted.

Perry on the left, Fife & Drum on the Right
Ditto.

Since I am doing the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign, I’ve started with Greene’s First Division of Virginia Continentals, starting withe 1st Virginia Continentals as they would have appeared in 1777 – Blue faced scarlet regimental coats, dyed hunting shirts trimmed with scarlet, and the round hats that were popular with Virginia troops. Here are Fife and Drum generals with Perry rank & file of the 1st Virginia. 

So the Fife & Drum figures are narrower, thinner, and have more realistic hand sizes than the Perry figures. The Perry figures are more… prosperous and corpulent (maybe not as much as other ranges, but still). 

This doesn’t include infantry from Fife & Drum, whose 1/56 muskets are apparently longer than the 28mm ranges. This may look awkward as a mix infantry group from ranges, but separately may appear fine. I would say cavalry figures and personalities mixed together are fine for several reasons – one, horses and people come in different sizes. In fact, I plan on using one of the Fife & Drum American generals as a staff officer to a Perry Washington sculpt command base. 

I plan on reviewing additional ranges as I add to my collection, but I’ll leave some final notes on each range:

Fife & Drum:

  • The sculpts had no flash or mold lines. This is the first time I’ve encountered this with metal miniatures. Either the mold is of high quality or Fife & Drum has pretty amazing quality assurance in making sure figures don’t have these blemishes. I appreciate this. It saves a step in the painting process and frankly should be a step taken by other manufacturers. 
  • The miniatures are finely detailed.
  • While finely detailed, the sculpts are delicate. An American General officer with a cockade feather in his hat had the feather broken. While I was able to remedy this with Green Stuff without issue, it is something to look out for. 
  • The officers, while thinner and on smaller horses, mix with Perry officers and plastics with no appreciable difference in scale. 

Perry:

  • Good detail. 
  • Pose variation with figures representing dynamic actions. Not only with Plastics, but in their metal ranges too. 
  • Range variety
  • Mold lines and flash were commonplace. To be expected, but one American officer had his face ruined by a mold line that deformed his nose when it was removed.

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