SAS Wargames Club

SAS Wargames Club
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Wednesday, 15 August 2007

6mm Corner

Steve's views on 6mm Figures...

Turkish Columns prepare to advance, Battle of Alma, figures from Dave's collection“6 mil” corner is part of the “SAS” website for those of us in the club who are brave enough to dabble in the dark and un-trodden paths of 6mm wargaming. I say “brave” because as you can guess we suffer the slings and arrows of the other members in the club who ridicule and demean this rather neglected figure scale, well, neglected within our club at any rate. 

Why 6mm? 
For many years I was, and still am, a big fan of 25mm figures, having a rather large collection of them myself. However as time has progressed and the years have taken their toll on my patience I have become progressively more and more fed up with having to spend hour upon hour painting these rather detailed figures. I tried 15mm for a while but gave up on that idea, as they’re really a fiddlier and just as detailed version of 25mm.

“Now”, I hear you say, “surely 6mm figures are even more fiddly than 15mm”, well yes and no. 6mm don’t have the detail that a 15mm figure has so you don’t have to spend hours painting it on. 6mm can be fiddly in as much as they’re small to handle but if you glue them to a say a piece of wood or card before you paint them then this overcomes the problem.

1798 Government Command Stand, figures from Steve's collection

There are several reasons why I chose 6mm:

1. When you put 6mm figures on the wargames table en masse they look as if they’re playing the part of a big army rather than looking like a couple of blokes out on a re-enactment weekend which is the impression that some 25mm or 15mm games give.

2. They’re easy to store. I have 2,000 figures stored in two A4 box files. Each box has two layers holding 500 figures each and they’re sectioned off so that the figures don’t move around when I’m taking them to the club. With my 25mm collection I had to carry two large metal toolboxes and several large cardboard boxes around with me, and that became tiresome I can tell you.

3. When your 6mm figures are painted and based into units they look really good. I have 80 figure units with a frontage of 10 inches per unit and they look like regiments of foot or horse. In 25mm this would equate to about 10 figures, or your “10 blokes out on their re-enactment weekend”.

1798 North Cork Militia, figures from Steve's collection

4. You can make up all sorts of peripheral or “luxury” items that you may not have the time or inclination to do in the larger scales. I have a nice regimental camp scene that adds a bit of flavour to the battlefield. It’s made up of three 4” x 6” sections so it can be as big as 12” x 6” if need be. I have a baggage train consisting of 30 wagons and also a large collection, and still growing (48 so far) of 6mm buildings. These look really good when they’re all placed together giving a proper impression of a village rather than looking like a small hamlet comprising of half a dozen 25mm buildings.

5. I suppose one of the biggest attractions of 6mm figures is that the cost isn’t prohibitive. My two 1798 Irish rebellion armies, one United Irish and one Government, consists of the following: (Prices have been taken from the Baccus web site as at June 2007)

If you compare this to the cost of buying 15 or 25mm figures the cost would work out as follows: (Prices have been taken from the Essex Miniatures web site and the Ian weekly web site for the tents as at June 2007). Artillery numbers remain the same as I have assumed that the same amount of guns will still be required no matter what the scale. However, the tents and wagons I have reduced proportionately to the scale, as I feel space would dictate how many you could have on the tabletop.

Painting 6mm figures is a not as off-putting as it may sound. At first it may seem a daunting task but once you knuckle under it’s not so bad. The beauty is that there’s no detail to speak of and a lot of the painting is done with ‘blobs’ of paint, examples being the face and hands. It takes me about five minutes to do 60 faces and 60 pairs of hands. When painting my figures I use No 1, ‘000’ and ‘0000’ brushes.

1798 United Irish Musketeers, figures from Steve's collection

The following guide is of course my method of painting “Baccus” figures and you may want to modify it to suite your own tastes but it’s a good guideline if nothing else.

1. First of all I glue my figures en-masse onto a 12 inch piece of wood, giving me 60 figures to paint.

a. For our younger viewers out there 12 inches equates to 300 of those foreign EU millimetres.

2. When they’re firmly stuck on I apply two white undercoats using a No 1 brush. Apart from being an undercoat it also serves another useful purpose, as I will explain a bit later on.

3. The next stage is to paint the hair. All of my men have brown hair and I use a ‘000’ brush for this.

Battle of Arklow: Government Troops anxiously awaiting the onslaught, figures from Steve's collection

4. Whilst you still have your brown colour out, paint any muskets or other weapons that your troops may have.

5. The next thing to do is to paint the coat. I use a ‘0000’ brush for this because if you’re painting troops that have white cross belts you can paint around these leaving them white meaning that there is one less job to do later on. If you find this technique too fiddly at first then paint the cross belts on during stage 8.

6. When the coat colour is dry you can, if you wish, paint on the regimental facings. (Go on, have a try!)

7. If your troops have white trousers, like a lot of Napoleonic troops do, this job was done for you in stage 2 when you applied your second under coat, so unless your troops have any other colour trousers there’s no need to paint them.

8. If your troops have black cross belts then it is at this stage that you will want to paint them. Use your ‘0000’ brush for this.

1798 Raay Fencibles, figures from Steve's collection

9. Hats are next. A ‘000’ brush is generally good for this.

10. Any sword scabbards can now be painted, use your ‘0000’ brush.

11. Hands, and faces next, use your ‘0000’ brush again for this.

12. The next activity is to paint on any metallic items such as sword hilts, pike heads etc with steel or gun metal, but leave any gold, brass or silver paint until after you have varnished your figures. I find that these kinds of paints tend to run when varnish is applied.

13. The second to last activity is to paint the bases. I use green for my figures but this is of course up to you.

14. Now leave your figures over night to completely dry.

15. This next stage will bring out the detail of the figure without too much effort and takes the “flat” effect away from them. Make yourself up a wash using matt varnish, I use Ronseal outdoor varnish, and “Payne’s Grey” oil paint. You will need very little oil paint so don’t over do it. I mix 1 teaspoon of varnish with a spot of oil paint, the wash shouldn’t be so dark as to darken the figures it should be a “Transparent” grey. This amount of wash will be enough to do all 60 figures. Apply the wash using a No 1 brush and leave to dry. You can then add any gold, brass or silver paint and then base your figures as you like.

Figure reviews 
This part of the site may grow over time but for the present the figure reviews will be limited to manufactures that club members have bought and the periods are also limited to those that we play at the club.

I have found that 6mm figure manufacturers all seem to have their own idea as to what 6mm actually is and because of this the figures aren’t very “mix and match” friendly. So when you’re choosing a manufacturer make sure that they have the ranges that you want and the figures that you will need to complete your period. Below is a table that may help and a few web links to other sites that give pictorial comparisons.

Links that may help you choose your figures
Jim Doty 6mm Figure Comparison

Bob Mackenzie figure comparison

Figure manufacturer reviews and links to their sites
Link to Adler Miniatures

I have put Adler at the top of the list, not because I use them but because they are particularly good. When I bought some late 18th century French I have to admit to being rather expectant about them but when they arrived I was sadly disappointed. I had brought them to compliment my Irish 1798 range that is entirely made up of Baccus figures but unfortunately the Adler ones didn’t fit in.

The detail that Adler deliver is exemplary and there is also a certain amount of animation and different poses to choose from that you don’t get with other 6mm manufacturers. However, there were three major drawbacks that thwarted my plan to integrate them into my 1798 army.

1. Adler figures are not true 6mm figures and are more of a 7mm to 8mm figure. This may seem insignificant but when you place an Adler figure against a Baccus figure there is a huge difference. Adler horses make Baccus horses look like ponies and the two don’t really mix. The infantry you can just about get away with but they would not mix well with figures from Irregular miniatures.

2. The detail, although being excellent, is for me off putting. I could see myself getting back into the 15mm syndrome again spending hours painting the detail that was begging to be painted.

3. The other thing with Adler figures is that there is a lot of “flash” on them when you first get them and this means quite a bit of cleaning up is needed before you can paint them.

However, even after saying all of this I would definitely recommend Adler if you wanted “large” 6mm figures with a lot of detail, they are truly excellent. I will eventually get round to painting the figures that I have brought and you never know it might just inspire me to buy some more.

Link to Baccus

These have to be my favourite all round figure. They fall in between Adler and Heroics and Ross (H&R), smaller than Adler but bigger than H&R and with a lot more detail. Baccus have quite a limited range but it’s growing all of the time. When you receive the figures they’re lovely and clean and “flash” free so they can go straight onto the painting stick. The detail is there if you want to paint it but the figures are small enough that it wouldn’t really matter if you didn’t. They’re easy to paint being manufactured in groups of 4 per base. Baccus figures even have their eye’s nose and mouth visible if you look close enough.

Link to NAVWAR (Heroics & Ross - H&R)

H&R are a kind of upgraded Irregular miniatures figure that look very good when placed en masses on the table. They’re all individual figures and as such have better animation than Baccus and Irregular but not as much detail as Baccus. H&R are now owned by “Navwar”.

Link to Irregular Minitures

Irregular Miniatures have a superb range to choose from and cover almost every period you can think of. For me they’re too small and rather blobby with very little detail and I’m not a great fan of them. However, my compadre Dave can’t understand why anyone doing 6mm would want to buy anything else, he loves them and I have to admit that when they’re sitting there on the table en-masse, they do look the part. Irregular come six figures to a base and are even easier to paint than Baccus and it’s really up to you to put on the detail where you want it.

So what have we done so far? 
If I look back to the time before I became interested in 6mm our club did quite a lot. In years gone by we did a lot of 6mm WWII and modern warfare. In recent years Phil Hardy embarked on his epic World War One adventure, Matthew Toy did some splendid 18th Century Burmese games and Dave Vallance did an epic Battle of Bull Run game (American Civil War) and the battle of Blenheim (Marlborough). Over the past two years we’ve also achieved:

1. The battle of Balaclava put on by Dave Vallance. A Crimean War game using 2,000 figures and fought on an 8’ X 6’ table.

Battle of Alma: Government Troops anxiously advancing, figures from Dave's collection

2. Several “What if James the II hadn’t fled to France Scenarios” Jacobite 1688 games put on by Dave again using some 1,500 figures and fought on an 8’ X 6’ table

French troops, figures from Dave's collection

3. The Battle of Sedgemoor 1685. A 1,200 figure game using a 12’ X 6’ table. Put on by Dave and myself

4. A couple of 1798 Irish rebellion battles put on by yours truly.

a. The battle of Ballynahinch. a 2,000 figure game fought on a 12’ X 6’ table.

b. The battle at Three Rocks. A 1,000 figure game fought on a 12’ X 6’ table.

In the pipeline we have the battle of the Alma another Crimean battle. This will consist of 3,500 figures and will be played over a two week period, and the battles of Arklow and New Ross, both of which are 1798 Irish rebellion games.

Another “what if” scenario that I’m working on is based on the Fashoda incident in 1898 between Great Britain and France, “What if Britain and France had gone to war over this insignificant little fort?” (See link for historic background)

Fashoda Incident - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This will take the form of a campaign with the two great powers mobilizing for a war in Europe and there’s plenty of scope for political upsets. Will the Boers decide to rebel against Britain a year earlier and join France? Will Germany join with Britain and help crush France in a pincer movement? Will the First World War come early, who knows?

Anyway that all for now, have a look at the photo’s section to see what we’ve been up to.

Cheers for now

Steve Cast