Reviews: Miniatures



15mm Bavarians and Prussians 1808-1814

AB Miniatures


Fos Yr Ewig,
Llanfynydd,
Carmarthen SA32 7DD
UNITED KINGDOM
Phone/Fax : 00 44 1558 668771

What can I say? These are the best figures under 54mm I've seen any where (yes, that includes the 25mm WF and FR ranges), with only a couple of faults. I'll discuss the Prussians first, then the Bavarians.

Prussians 1808-1814

OK, you ask, why review the Prussians? They've been out now for ages and everyone's seen them. Well, not everybody has seen them. Besides, I haven't seen them reviewed elsewhere so I'll do it. Besides, I love these figures, they are really little gems.

Firstly, there's two ranges available, one each from the periods pre- and post-1806/07. I've seen a couple of the "early" Prussian figures and they're very nice. But I have at least one of every figure from the post-1807 period, have painted (or I am painting) them and feel more qualified to discuss these.

All the basic troop types are available- Line Inf, Jaeger, Reserve and Landwehr Inf, Dragoons, Hussars, Uhlans, Kuerassiere, foot and horse artillery. There's also some nice staff figures, casualties and "enthusiastic infantry" available.

The figures are all in campaign dress. That means there's no difference between the Musketeer, Fusilier and Grenadier figures bar the pouch-box badges (yes, they are there). The Hussars are wearing their dolmans sans pelisse, the Dragoons and Kuerassiere are in litewka and the artillery and Uhlans have covered shakoes and wear the kollet (tailed coat). The staff are in feldmutze and Ueberrock or Liebrock (whoops - I mean soft peaked cap and either tunic or tailed coat). Where appropriate the figures have rolled greatcoats over their shoulders and the British-supplied, interim and initial issues of the Reservists' uniforms are available, most don't have side-arms BUT the swordknots are still represented (Tony Barton has obviously done his research). The landwehr infantry are in feldmutze and litewka and are spottily equipped (ie some have shoes, others clogs or bare feet. Some carry packs, some knapsacks and some nothing).

Naturally there are many variations in pose. As well as the standard marching with sloped arms, firing/loading and advancing for the ingantry, there are also the casualties and enthusiastic troops mentioned earlier. These, added to the various differences within each pose, allow the units to look like a body of men and not identical robots. You can increase the variations within each pose by removing the pouch badges and mixing "Musketeers", "Fusiliers" and "Grenadiers". In the Landwehr, particularly, the differences within each pose make emphasise the poorer training given these troops.

The cavalry are posed either "in reserve" with the troopers relaxed and resting their sword arms (Kuerassiere, Uhlans and Hussars) or "charging" with the figures posed in more vigorous, aggressive positions (Dragoons and another set of Hussars). The gunners are various poses representing different stages of serving the guns.

These figures are superb. However there's one gripe, unfortunately one that's fairly common with the AB range. It's not complete. Missing are some minor items (mounted Jaeger- a simple mounted figure in litewka or kollet holding a rifle would suffice or a pioneer with short musket and spade strapped to the pack, though the Jaeger marching will do in a pinch) but also some major ones. For example, I would like to see the horse artillery in litewka (far more common on campaign) rather than kollet, more variation in the skirmishing Jaeger (there's only loading and firing) and artillery drivers, limbers and a 10lb howitzer to complete the guns available (the 6lb and 12lb guns and 7lb howitzer are already in the range).

If you're looking for a range of 15mm Prussians, then these are the best available anywhere. If you want to do an army in 25mm then think again. I sold 1100 25mm Prussians to start again with these. They're well posed, anatomically correct (the men are slim- you didn't get fat legging it around Europe with Bonaparte & Schwarzenburg's Battlefield Tours, Inc) and above all accurate. Above all, they average about 16M Barrett scale (sole to eyes, medium heft) so won't look out of place on the field pitted against OG, Minifigs or Essex.

Bavarians 1812-14

Possibly the best wargames figures I've ever seen, with one qualification I'll discuss later. The amount of detail has to be seen to be believed. Even the fusiliers' tuft above the LHS chin-scale boss is available so each company can be identified. There's few figures in any scale below 65mm that approach the quality of these figures.

At writing there I have seen samples of the infantry and artillery only. The figures have back-packs and the officers wear either the sash or gorget-plate, placing the uniforms in the 1812 change-over period. The new Saxons are also in the 1810-14 uniform so I'd say the ranges are designed with the Russian campaign in mind. They are in the usual poses- marching, firing, standing, etc. The artillery is similarly mixed, with appropriate figures for loading or firing. The gunners appear to be foot artillery. There were few differences between foot and horse gunners, but the differences are noticeable. Hopefully some horse gunners are in the pipeline or else I just didn't get any among the samples I received (thanks Nic of Eureka Miniatures. BTW, every one who buys mail-order from Nic gets some samples so I'm not doing a plug for some freebies).

The big problem with this range is that some of the figures are about 8 feet (2.5 M) tall. And unfortunately, these are the fusiliers, not the grenadiers. The muskets are in scale so they look like rifles in the hands of these giants. One figure stands about 18.5mm tall (sole to eyes) and would make a basketballer feel vertically challenged.

I intended to use these figures to fill out my Old Glory battalions. Having seen them I'm not so sure any more. They're beautifully detailed, well proportioned and accurate. Standing together with only a their coats and flesh painted they still look impressive. But they're so big! By themselves, they'll do the trick until they close with the enemy, when their height will cause their enemy to break regardless of the die roll! Unfortunately I think it's going to stop a lot of people getting them as they look out of place on a table among my OG and other AB figures. But if you get a chance, have a look and make your own decision.

AB Horses

I decided to deal with these separately. The original AB/Battle Honours horses weren't the best. They were skinny, undernourished little things that could slip between fence palings without effort. The only saving grace was that they were well animated (usually) and, in profile, well propotioned. Over the last two years things have improved. The horses have bulked up and they now look as good "head-on" as in profile. They are imaginatively posed and their moulded on equipment accurately represents the different harnessing used for heavy and light cav. But Tony Barton has gone further. Now you can see that the horse you're buying is a gelding and has been shod because the "purse" and shoes are on the figure! (No, Freida, we're NOT talking fashion. Calm her down please, Mike.) These figures ARE the best on the market up to and including some 75/90mm animals and are accurately proportioned, well animated and appropriately tacked out. If there's any criticism I could make it is that the animals are too well bred and thus too fine in the leg, face, chest and croup. They would be more at home on a race course than under a tired hussar. Having said that, they look like horses. They're not the approximations offered by ALL other manufacturers in 5mm to 30mm I've seen (that includes WF, OG, Minifigs, H&R, FR, etc). Get some if you can.

Reviewed by Dallas Gavan

 

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