And now for something completely different...
A lot of the ranges I've tried this far for my French are very common, and you'll see them all over the Internet. But one 28mm range that I had never really seen painted is HäT. HäT is mostly known for their 1/72 (so around 18-20mm) plastic miniatures, and secondly their 1/32 scale miniatures. But they also have a small number of boxes of plastic 28mm, but again, I've never really seen anyone use them.
Me, I love trying out different ranges, so it didn't take long before I had ordered a few boxes. Now, my main reasons were these:
1) I like plastics. They are easy to store and transport. HäT have plastics for two things that I want to eventually have in my 1812 force: French light infantry in breeches and hessian boots, and Bavarians.
2) Price. HäT are possibly the cheapest 28mm Napoloenic miniatures out there. So trying them out was hardly a big risk, given that they are cheap as chips (I got mine for the equivalent of £0.3/mini).
3) From the pictures I could find, the proportions actually looked pretty good, though a tad small. I wanted to find out if they would look ok next to my other miniatures.
The boxes come in sets of 32, perfectly sized for a SP2 formation. The downside is that you have to buy a separate box to get command miniatures. So basically you'll either have to make several formations from them, or you'll end up with a ton of extra command. My solution was to pick up a few officers from Front Rank to go with them, which would turn out to maybe not be the best option ever.
I got four boxes, both marching poses and skirmish poses for French light infantry and Bavarian infantry.
Chasseurs à pied de l'infanterie légère
To confuse people in the future, the French had two kinds of chasseurs - mounted light cavalrymen, and light infantry. The chasseurs on foot are the equivalent of fusiliers in line infantry regiments - they form the center companies, which are flanked by two veteran companies. So the majority of the light infantry soldiers were chasseurs.
In the early days of the Empire, the light infantry had been considered better trained than the line infantry. By 1812 the difference were smaller, and some history books I've read consider the difference between the two merely cosmetic at this point. But the noticable differences are that the chasseurs had epaulettes where the fusiliers didn't, the light infantry wore blue gaiters instead of white ones, and they worn the hussar-style hessian boots for their parade uniforms.
The sprues were surprisingly small, with just two pieces per figure - the main body and backpack. I decided to try out painting the backpacks separately for the first time and it turned out to save some trouble, as you can reach parts on the back such as the coat piping more easily.
I started with the marching poses and primed all 32 and painted them in one large batch. One marching man mysteriously disappeared during the priming, and was replaced with a chasseur in skirmish pose.
The painting was quite straight forward. Some parts were not so very detailed, such as the faces. The marching poses were good, though with closer inspection I think the skirmish poses are not nearly as good, and some of the faces in that box look like they'll need some effort to pull off with decent results.
Given the straight forward sculpts, they painted up real quick. The smaller size makes the formation look a bit too dispersed, even when mounted on 20mm bases. I think they would look even better if you are using 15mm basing width.
Size comparison. The Front Rank officer on the left is basically the worst case scenario, with Front Rank being maybe the bulkiest Napleonic 28mm I have (except for a few Flintloque miniatures). Next to him, the trooper looks like a teenager at best.
Next to the Warlord and Perry officers here, they don't look quite as small. The thing that sticks out is that the proportions are too realistic, funnily enough - especially the head size and shoulder width.
Once you get some distance though, I think they can work. Here are the four units, with Front Rank command.
Overall, I think they are... ok. The details on most other plastics (not even mentioning metals) is simply crisper, and there are some parts on these sculpts that are a bit iffy up close. But I like that the proportions are more realistic, and I think that an army with only HäT would look really nice on a gaming table. From a distance, you see colour and proportions, not details. The big problem then, is that HäT's range is quite limited, so you'll eventually have to mix them.
But sure, with one of each box of the French light infantry (marching, skirmish, command), you have the core of a SP2 force. So that's another interesting option on my growing list of good ways to get into SP2 on the cheap.
Now, there are two ways to go from here, I think. I could expand on them, paint up the skirmishers, and get a HäT command box. Or, I or leave them as a one-off attempt, and buy "proper" metal chasseurs to go with my voltigeurs and carabiniers.
Which way would you choose? I'd love to hear!
A recurring problem in our Sharp Practice games has been that I simply don't have enough officer models. In Sharp Practice you'll find yourself needing a lot of leaders, often two or more per formation. So when we pile our resources for a big game, I often have to scrounge up whatever I can find to prod the rank and file forward, sometimes counting musicians or standard bearers as low level leaders in lack of better solutions.
Now, this can clearly not go on. I gathered up a bunch of officers, spray primed them brown, and got my own military academy started.
First man from the left is an interesting addition, from Brigade Games. He's carrying a small fanion, affixed to the musket through a metal rod. I painted him up as a voltigeur sergeant, as I'm especially short on voltigeur leaders. I found several pictures online where a voltigeur fanion is adorned with a golden cornet, which I added as well.
Next in line are four generic line infantry officers. Three of them are from Warlord Games, both from the line infantry box and the Vistula Legion box. The man with the bandaged head is an officer from Perry's plastic French kit. The final bloke furthest to the right is my first (but probably not last) appearance from Victrix, painted up as a voltigeur officer. Now I should have no problem to field two large formations of voltigeurs, at least.
Same guys, from behind.
I also added some more mounted officers, which came as a blister from Warlord ("French infantry colonels"). I find that mounted officers are really useful to mix in when playing SP2, epsecially when you have several leaders in a formation. You can easily distinguish your mounted officer from the rest. So once the wound counters and other effects start to pile up on the table, you can easily keep track of which officer is doing fine and which one is a bullet-riddled mess.
While taking photos I realized that the officer on the right is still a bit glossy, so he'll get another coat of matte varnish before he's shipped off to the club.
The man in the coat on the left is another officer from Warlord's Vistula box. So all in all, nine new officers! Now they're ready to add some character to our next battle.
Finally, bonus gaggle of geese objective point for pillage scenarios. Honk honk!
I'm doing my light infantry in the wrong order, starting with flank companies without having any center companies painted up. But I needed skirmish screen to cover my carabiniers, and with all those bearskins and parade uniforms it wasn't a job for my regular skirmishers.
Enter these guys from Front Rank: light infantry voltigeurs, all decked up in colpacks and plumes. The yellow and red really stands out on the battlefield when I use them. Right now I'm happy with my decision to distinguish line and light infantry by using more parade uniforms for the light infantry. But in the future I might mix a bit, especially given the really nice line infantry released by Avanpost the last year.
As for Front Rank, I like that these have a ton of character, and overall I prefer their infantry to their cavalry, mainly because of the poses. They are a tad on the big and bulky side compared to a lot of the other ranges I use, but it doesn't really bother me, especially when using them in separate units.
Now I just really need some light infantry chasseurs!
Command - NCO, musician, and officer.
Click for larger size
"Glory is fleeting,