Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Hundred Years War: A Conundrum

Of all historical periods, perhaps my favorite is the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). This conflict between England and France was never a simple war of succession, indeed never really ending (the Kings of England only struck the French blazon from their heraldry in the 19th C). It was also characterized by tremendous changes in equipment (this was the transitional period, where knights changed from being equipped primarily with mail armor, supplemented with plates, to wholly plate armor), social change, as well as changes in recruitment and the status of the army (in England, a system of indenture -- or contract service -- while with the French Ordonnance of the mid 15th C saw the establishment of a permanent army of a sorts).

One would think there would be a lot of lines of miniatures for this period in 15mm, and you would be right. The problem is that many of them are just not that good. My two "go-to" manufacturers (Old Glory 15s and Essex Miniatures) are both problematic: Old Glory's range is of questionable accuracy, is all over the place in armor styles (remember this was a conflict that lasted over 100 years!) and generally are poorly sculpted. This is a real shame as I like OG15s a lot for other ranges (though any range can have its duds). Essex has a different problem: while sculpting is adequate, the range is all over the place, and difficult to zero into. They sell by packs in a generic "Medieval" range, and it is up to the consumer to select the figures they need. This is problematic as the figures often do not have good descriptions, and worse the website is neither fully illustrated, or often the picture link is broken.

There are a few other ranges, such as venerable Minifigs, Lancashire Games, Black Hat (ex-Gladiator), and a host of others The problems with these ranges are usually either very old (i.e. Minifigs), or just poorly sculpted (Black Hat ex-Gladiator, some of the worst figures I've ever had the displeasure to see). So the situation is that there are no really good Hundred Years War ranges on the market.

Enter Corvus Belli.

Now, I have to admit I am a huge fan of the Infinity range: anime inspired and some of the finest cast miniatures I've ever seen. For multi-part metal figures, fit was as good as a plastic kit! Amazing!

I'm less enthusiastic about their HYW figures. I had originally bought some of their 25mm figures (Bowmen specifically, now sold by Crusader), and while cleanly cast, they were not very well detailed, with little variety or interesting equipment, and had a disturbing resemblance to Gerard Depardeu. Their 15mm figures are somewhat better, however, but suffer from a bit of hypercephalism.

Here the figures pictured are the from packs Billmen Standing and Billmen Attacking. These represent the best figures of this era on the market right now, in my opinion. I find this dissappointing, especially considering all the high quality 25mm figures there are (chiefly Front Rank, Perry Miniatures, and Foundry). I bought a few packs of these, and have been laying around for some time. I'm going to go ahead and paint them, but should there ever be a good, high quality range for this period, I'll buy!

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