Tuesday, 30 August 2011



I spotted a box of the WSS plastics by Wargames Factory going for a tenner on ebay, and since I have begun a Marlburian army, I decided to nab them. What follows is an initial review.

From left: Copplestone, Front Rank, Wargames Factory, Front Rank, Copplestone, Foundry ACW, Perry ACW.
 I had poor expectations for the Wargames Factory's plastic range. On paper their business model seems like a great idea: Let people vote for the range they would most like to see in plastic, and then make it on the agreement that many of these people will purchase pre-orders. And despite the companies recent woes, this model can still succeed. But their WSS plastics are a disappointment. I thought it then and I know it now, with a box here in my hands. But other aspects aren't so certain.

I work in animation, and a great deal of that involves 3D model design. WF sculpted this sprue using a 3D sculpting program. It doesn't matter which; they're all basically identical. One assumes that they were working with limited time, but this does not excuse the somewhat lazy and ill-planned design of these figures.

The forums have already vented their frustration over the figures, and the various points do stick: the torso is too large, the detailing is too smooth, the heads appear to hover on stalky necks. I would add also that the musket is weedy, and the eyes too beady. But the greatest disappointment has to be with the stances. The figures are not quite standing, and not quite marching. They are stuck in a half step, and this is bizarrely carried over to all three figures that each sprue supplies.

One has only to compare these to Reiver Castings' Marlburian range:

Image taken from the Reiver website.
The sculpting may appear crude, but can you see the life in the figures? The energy that every gamer should want in his model army? These figures are humble, but evocative and dynamic. WF's figures at best resemble the stiff lead soldiers of the old days, or at worst capture something of the undying torpor of the various plastic zombie ranges.

I did wonder why all of the promotional shots of the figures featured goggle eyes, and now I see that the eyeballs on the heads are simply too big not to paint them in.

Although I remain disappointed by them, they are honestly better than I expected. Seeing the sprue, and the vast range of options available of wepaons, limbs and heads mean that a gamer can field a varied force from one box. This is an entirely noble effort on the part of WF to cover so many potential units, from the 17th and 18th centuries, and I salute them for it.

In all honesty, this range could have worked so very, tantalisingly well. Key mistakes, the kind one would hope would be ironed out before committing to an immensely expensive manufacturing process, scuppered the venture. I hope they have learnt from the project, and that it isn't too late to redesign. This was at best a beta, and we can only hope that WF have the nerve to see it as such and make amends.

I field units of 12 men each, so here I have 3 units' worth from one box, which is good value for a tenner. I will paint all of these up. They will see action, but if I may, here are two points to consider:

1- Every plastic set needs a metal range to augment it.

2- If you're going to go up against Alec Brown, your wee men had better be frakkin' good.

P.S. I didn't have time to finish my SCW chaps. I'll post them tomorrow right here at INCH-HIGH & TERRIFIED.

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