Thursday, February 21, 2008


Getting the painting wobbles…

I’ve spent most of the past week painting a few old Willies and some Stadden command for IR 35. I had been wanting to be doing a really good job on these figures; not only do they cost an awful lot of money, but they are also my beau ideal for toy soldiers.

The upshot of the whole experience has been to convince me of a few things.

Firstly I’m a choker.

You know whaen you want to do a really, really, really good job painting figures and then just can’t? This happens to me every time I lay my hands on some particularly beautiful or coveted or expensive castings. All of a sudden I am a sausage-fingered idiot with a four-inch brych trying to paint the cross-belts on a 30 millimetre figure.

Sure, and I can paint just fine on any figure I have decided I don’t care about. Perhaps a solution lies in this direction? Perhaps I ought to get good and drunk before I touch my next Willie?*.

Which leads me in a near-perfect segue on to the new Willies.

I have only briefly seen the new ones – incautiously ripping open the mail one afternoon last week to discover my birthday present (roll on March 22nd!) – and admit to some mixed emotions on seeing them.

I have always really liked the older Willie castings for the light and graceful style of their design, but was getting very tired of trying to repair some really shocking imperfections in the castings which for the asking price were really unacceptable.

To me the new Willies are very much based on the old masters, changed somewhat and improved in terms of the research behind them and the fact that the old moulds look to have been re-made from the “new, improved” masters.

That’s all to the good, but (and this is going from a five-minute peer through the plastic baggies) it looks to me that the castings still have certain faults. These are not as bad as in the old range to be sure – I have a couple of French Infantry with lower arms attached by a metal “thread”, and British drummers with no fore-arms – but I saw at least two castings of the 32 I bought with significant pits in the backs of the figurines.

At GBP12.95 per eight castings (or about $AU31!) I’m not too sure as to whether I ought not just wait on Minden Minis or even just buy RSMs!

Has anyone else bought any of the new Willies and seen this problem? I’ll do a more thorough review when I can get my hands on the figures toward the end of March.

UPDATE: I recently bought and started to assemble some of the new customisable GW movement trays.

Initially, I thought that these were a great idea - customisable movement trays that you can size in 20 or 25mm units. Then I started to assemble them. Why (oh, why) are the edge pieces that you glue onto the traysides and front not themselves made in lengths corresponding to multiples of the 20 or 25mm units that make them up? Am I being obscure/silly? It makes sense to me to make the "edges" in - say - 75 or 80mm lengths.

Oh, and instead of providing "corner" pieces, why not just bevel the ends of the "edges"?

Is it just me, or do they seem to be quite bad examples of design?

*fnar, fnar, fn-a-a-arrrr!


Andy Mitchell said...

"You know when you want to do a really, really, really good job painting figures and then just can’t?"

I do. Its a recurring experience for me. Its remarkable how comforting it is to read someone else describing the same experience.

Bluebear Jeff said...

I must confess that price is a serious consideration for me. Thus I have no experience with Willies (or any other pricey figures).

So I'm delighted with the RSMs . . . but I also think that the Mindens look fabulous! If I wasn't so pleased with the RSMs (and had more money), I'd definitely order some units of Mindens.

-- Jeff

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Hi Greg,

Well, I've never seen ANY of the Willie figures up close and in person, but I've certainly seen enouch of them via various websites and blogs. While they are nice figures for their old school appeal, the sculpting style just doesn't grab me in the same way as, say, the Staddens/Traditions or RSM's. . . or even my slightly smaller plastic Revell Prussians and Austrians.

Frank's Minden Miniatures are impressively sculpted, but they are also priced a little high if one wants to assemble large units. And there is the question of "completeness" of the range. For my money, I'd proceed with the more reasonably prced and readily available RSM figures, like those you have painted to a pleasing standard already. As, I think, Stuart Asquith remarked in a Battlegames article, they are cheap, paint up well, and realsitically proprtioned. Some of the RSM's even are closer to 30mm figures (1:60 scale) than the nominal 25mm size. Ok, back to your regularly scheduled program.

Best Regards,


Anonymous said...

a choker!? never thought i'd find an Aussie admitting to being a choker...8-)

Martin said...

Use the Force Greg. Use the Force. Become one with the miniature; the brush; the paint. Let it flow through you.
I know what you mean. I'm in the process of painting up a unit of 25mm Scruby figures that I have wanted for the better part of 30 years. Just relax and enjoy the process.


a.k.a. The Markgraaf of Raubenstadt

Fitz-Badger said...

I just paint to please myself (and if others like it all the better), but I don't worry about painting competition quality or anything. I'm slow enough as it is - I don't have time to be too picky. :-)

Just do your best.

Bloggerator said...

Hi Andy - it's the "wanting to do too well, too much" syndrome, I think they call it!

Jeff (and Stokes), with the $AU going up to areound $US0.92 recently, I'm reading the credit card for some more RSMs; most opportune! I want some more Prussians, Austrians and Croats. I just wish the dollar was stronger against the Pound so I could afford more than a few dozen Mindens. I think Frank has mentioned that he will build the range out pretty fully on his blog.

Stokes, I do love my Willies. I can see myself buying 2-3 battalions over the next 12 months or so... well, I can dream anyway.

Anon: better a choker than a sledger, I always say!

Martin von Raubenstadt, consider the Force turned *ON*. May it ever guide your hand.

Fitz - likewise I am sure. Sometimes, though, I just find my best is a bit variable depending on whether or not I care too much...

Bloggerator said...

err, that's "readying the credit card"



johnpreece said...


I know exactly what you mean, when I was painting up a regiment of Stadden figures, to represent the Erb Prinz from Charge, I simply froze for weeks.

Eventually I had to grit my teeth and just put some paint on and they came out OK.

Nothing is going to match whats in your mind because its an idealisation, so just do them the best you can and youwill be pleased at the end.

abdul666 said...

According to my delicious daughter I always painted like a (color-blind) parkinsonian!
Then with minis seen 'en masse' on the tabletop from some distance and with my spectacles off, iwas not too unhappy with the overall effect...

John Clements said...


Just saw this by chance. I've bought quite a few of the new Willie range (there's lots available but not yet listed on the Tradition website) and have put photos on the Old School wargames site under 'Johns Armies'. In my accompanying post I made the same comment about casting quality, though these faults are minor compared to the state of the original Willie moulds.

IMO they do do justice to the Willie name and really look the part when painted. They are expensive and the new policy of selling in box sets, meaning that one gets unneeded figures, doesn't seem aimed at wargamers. I probably won't buy as many as I had planned, but go for Minden or RSM to make up the numbers. Have you ordered direct from Tradition in Sweden? I find that slightly cheaper.


Bloggerator said...

G'day John,

I've seen your lovely piccies and agree with you on every point!

I'll probably build up one 60-fig unit and see how I feel at that point, I suppose.

Best regards,


Bluebear Jeff said...


It is March 22 as I write this.

Greg is fine. He hasn't forgotten Alzheim, he has just been very very busy.

-- Jeff