Thursday, 11 November 2021

Metals vs Plastics

On my workbench:  some more Copplestone
RCW cavalry, and Warlord Games
AWI infantry.

In a rare moment of opportunity and modest enthusiasm I tackled a sprue of 28mm Warlord Games American War of Independence militia that has  been knocking around for ages. I wanted some more figures in buckskin with long rifles for Rebels and Patriots and five out of the ten figures on the sprue were useable.

I can't remember why I got these instead of buying metal, but they might have been a free gift. Opinions about plastics amongst my friends are sharply divided. There are those with large plastic collections while some people just can't abide them.

I've bought painted plastic figures on eBay and IMO they mix well enough with metal on the tabletop, but I've never made any up. In fact, I can't remember doing anything like this since I made Airfix kits as a boy.

In theory assembling figures from bits provides opportunity for variation. In practice choice is limited. The detail, proportions and realism of the figures is good and  the job wasn't too challenging but there are some negatives. You have to be careful to find the right bits, e.g. matching arms. The fit wasn't perfect and requires some filler.  Above all the whole process was extremely fiddly mainly, I suppose, because plastic is very light.

Metal figures also require preparation, particularly clipping, cutting and filing. This sometimes requires a bit of strength but I've never found it fiddly. 

The finished product. They seem relatively free of plastic 
cement damage, unlike the kits I did as a boy!

The resulting poses are possibly not as convincing as one-piece metal figures but at least the long rifles are less likely to break. Once mounted on metal bases (2p coins) with added filler, the figures will seem more substantial.  Overall I'm pleased enough, or will be, but I'm not sure I'd want to do a whole army.


  1. Am not keen on plastics personally, Richard. I guess it’s as personal taste.

    1. Simon, I had you in mind when writing this post! I’m much more neutral. I bought some ready-painted Colonials and didn’t even realise that some of them were plastic until I examined them closely. I also really like the look of my Perry plastic Late Medievals. I now know I'm not keen on constructing them and I don’t like their lightness, but I’m happy enough to buy them ready-painted and rebase them.


    2. I think the Perry WotR’s figures are the best plastics I have seen Richard. Again it’s horses for courses. I did make two Perry plastic AWI Continentals once. Took me a day to get two figures looking right and not looking like they are having some kind of fit. Plastics are not for me!

    3. Simon, I would have made a better job of them if I'd studied some pictures of finished figures first, but it's highly unlikely that I will bother with multipart plastics again. On the other hand, I would consider smaller scale single-piece plastic figures, and I am intrigued by the potential of smaller scale plastic 'figure blocks'.

      I've had to assemble a few multi-part metal models (mostly vehicles) and these have generally been even worse - ill-fitting and without instructions or illustrations as to which pieces go where. At least Airfix got that right all those years ago. Richard