Monday, July 11, 2011

Getting Started in Imex 1/72 Napoleonics

Imex Does Not Have Napoleonics

They have about five sets planned, between Waterloo and the War of 1812, but I am not going to sit around and wait for them. 

I'm going to use what they do have.
Webmasters get a report of the varous search terms people have used to find their blog, to help with planning.

Someone was searching for information about how to paint Imex figures, and wound up looking at my posts earlier in June about the Revell Prussians and the Imex British redcoats that I had converted to serve as Austrians for the Seven Years War.

So, I don't know, I do think that people should be encouraged in getting started out whether in wargaming itself, a new period, or in a new line of figures. But the person did not make a Comment, so I don't know how to really answer that.

 It is common enough to be getting started with something though, it happens all the time.

It could be a new scale, or a new material such as plastic versus metal or vice versa, for someone who already has some other kind such as World War Two models and wants to try something else.

Earlier this spring I was bit by a plastic 1/72 bug so I have been painting and collecting them since about February. I already had some, a few hundred, left over from what must have been thousands I used to have but that were victims of the vicissitudes of my life.

So in that sense, I am also getting started again, and relearning several familiar old lessons in the process as I go.

From the 1970's I had a large collection of most of the output of a company called Airfix, from the UK. They had figures from the Romans against the Ancient Britons, on up through Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham, to more familiar periods such as the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. They even had a set of spacemen based on the Americans going to the moon, with lunar rovers, if I remember correctly.

 Most of them are lost, but some are still in my possession. I also had from the 1980's a few more boxes but they were harder to find then, and I was focusing on other things, so there were not so many. I had ancient Egyptians that were from Atlantic, and I still have a Soviet heavy machinegun by itself in the bitz bag. And those Revell Prussians I finally just painted a few weeks ago.

Nowadays there are hundreds more sets more or less available from many manufacturers.

It used to be we had seven or eight that were supposed to be Napoleonic, and some others from other periods that could be somewhat plausibly substituted in for various purposes. Everyone did it that way, including the big and famous names in wargaming from that era.

When the French Imperial Guard set finally came out I did not get them, because for me it was too late, and I had been using British 1776 Grenadiers for that purpose for years already. They had bearskin hats and muskets and the coats were close enough.

I am now still operating from that same mindset, although I am not sure everyone else is, these days.It is a built-in part of my mentality when it comes to these plastic figures, to use them in the Old School way.

It would take four or five pages to print out just a list of all the Napoleonic sets that have now been put out on the market. It didn't used to be that way. People are spoiled nowadays.

So as I have been buying up the sets available around my town before resorting to mail order, I have a mix of different periods. It's not just the 18th century. But there are only a limited choice around town, and that is what I have been stocking up on and painting furiously day after day. Eventually I will exhaust their stock, and then see what's out there from outside companies, but right now I'll support the local guys at least until they have nothing else I can use.

Part of it is Napoleonic. I have got one good box of British Infantry for Waterloo in 1815 from A Call To Arms, with 32 men. One box was all they had at the store.

Then five boxes of both Esci and Italeri British Light Dragoons (Hussars). There are three boxes each of French Cuirassiers and French Artillery, and a British Royal Horse Artillery.

The French artillery and Cuirassiers are Accurate, but they are actually the same old figures from Airfix in a newer box under a different label. That means that besides the three guns each, they also include eight marching infantrymen, so I have 24 French infantry to face those 32 British infantry from  A Call To Arms.

I've also got two or three more sets of these left over from earlier phases of life.

Well that is not very much and it is kind of heavy on the supporting arms, especially cavalry. Not even five dozen infantry. They must not be glamorous enough, or else somebody else already bought all of them up.

But I also have those Mexicans for the Alamo. They are rather disappointing, to others, in their review at PSR
they explain the reasons well enough. But they do carry the Brown Bess musket and wear a shako. And as you look through there at the hundred-plus sets now available, from many companies, set after set have certain flaws anyway. That means the 'right' ones aren't always quite right either.

I am going to convert the Mexicans with paint to serve as generic Napoleonic infantry to hold me over until I can collect more from all these other guys. There are lots of these available in my town, whenever I am ready, and at half or less the price they charge by mail order.

The reason I turn to this expedient is that one box of  A Call To Arms British already completely exhausted the supply of Napoleonic infantry on sale in my town. That was the only box there was. From here I cannot expand in Napoleonics locally unless I want a bunch of the British Royal Horse Artillery, because there are still a few of those left in the store.

The Alamo sets are still plentiful though, and by using the Mexicans to represent almost any army with shakos, for the time being, I can form up some better-balanced forces quickly and locally before I gradually replace them later with the more correct counterparts as and when I can. So far then I have over a hundred French, some Swedes and some Prussians.

Also I can use some of the Alamo defenders set and the US Infantry for the Mexican War for the Prussian Landwehr, even though they don't wear the litewka coats. Some of the real Landwehr didn't get those either, and the hats are close enough until I can get some of the right ones to replace them.

In this way I have my sights set on using Imex 'Napoleonics,' which don't actually exist yet except in their planning stage, to do the great battle of Leipzig in 1813. I've done it before, but not in this scale.

I'll apply the same sort of thinking to other periods as I expand my range.

How To Paint Them

As to how to paint them, I would recommend you put them in hot water with dishwashing soap at least to soak, and if you can be careful use a toothbrush to scrub a little. This is to remove oils or greases from the factory to hopefully take the paint better.

Next a primer. I have been using either an acrylic gesso from an art supply shop, or just ordinary acrylic paint. It does not seem to make much difference either way. The plastics are not the same from one set to another, but most will reject the paint at first. I just go over it again and assume it will need a few coats. The first one will not be complete usually, but even if it only halfway sticks, it gives you something to stick the paint to later on a second and third coat. The artists call this aspect having some 'tooth,' something for the paint to catch on and stick to, and that is what gesso is meant to do for their canvas or paper too.

Then there are several types of paint, and for that I would use acrylic. The enamels I originally used in the 70's worked, but had usually been sitting in the store way too long and were often dried out, which did not help. Some of the acrylics are that way too, but I have had better luck and better results with them.

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  1. In the how to paint them forgot the brushes...:-D Muhaha!! ;-D
    I only use "stink normal" acrylics...nothing fancy (or expensive) and being a lazy type..I don´t even bother to degrease the figs either...just paint an acrylic base on straight off the sprue...and funnily problems with flaking paint...maybe the grease binds with the paint somehow??

  2. I agree, it seems not to make much difference either way, really. I did forget to mention brushes, and besides that a sharpened toothpick helps with the really tight spaces or small dots of paint.

    Anyway I started out the hard way and just figured it out bit by bit, and did not have such good help available on line. Anyone doing 1/72 plastics should definitely see Paul's blog.

  3. I'm jealous on you. You still have some shops who sell figures. I can only dream of that. Now I have to order them to internet shops, or go to meetings like Goor (FIGZ) to find the figures I need.
    Point is you don't find the figures you need in those shops. And that's a pity. Can't you order them there? Or are they quitting with them?
    I wish you good luck in your search and keep an eye on your mailbox the next days. ;-)


  4. One of the issues with plastics I have is the painting and prepping and the eventual flaking.

  5. I've never painted a plastic figure, so I'll just leave it there!!

  6. Peter, the package should go out this Wednesday. I'll let you know. I have a nice padded envelope.

    TAL there are some that have been painted for decades and are pretty much still okay. The others can be easily fixed, where it chips off the flexible musket or something.

    It would be nice to store them nicely, but even the ones piled together in bags held up. The nicely stored and based ones went nicely to the garbage when my exe-esposa was rampaging. What remains are the ones she did not see.

    The shop has a 20 percent off sale.

    The normal boxes are about ten dollars, for one set. But several were marked as less because they had been there a long time. The Esci hussars were $4.25 for example, which is why I took them all.

    Then ordinary hobby shops carry Imex figures in bags with two or three sets for ten or fifteen dollars which is half price--before the sale discount. But they have only a few like that, on American history themes: Pilgrim set, Lewis and Clark, Pioneers, Revolutionary War, Civil War, Alamo, WW2 and Korean War.

    The price and the ease of grabbing them in the store are the reasons to stock up on those.

    But the Napoleonic story is as told. I'll go to mail order later, but don't want to wait for that.

    For the Korean War, we used to use WW2 Japanese because there were no Chinese troops. Now there are plenty. I would need about a million, if it was at 1:1.