Cannon Candor: 15mm ACW Artillery Review. | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Wednesday, 30 April 2008

 

 

All of the pieces in this review. Note that some do not yet have crews in this picture.

 In North America, artillery proved its worth during the Mexican American War, just a few short decades before the Civil War broke out. When the American Civil War came, both sides were well stocked with artillery and its massed use was planned. The US had largely escaped the earlier wars in Europe that had utilized the cannon to great effect, and now was about to relearn those lessons. 

The timing was perfect, new production techniques had reduced both cost and delivery time, making artillery plentiful, if a bit dangerous to use. American observers who would later serve on both sides were present in the Crimea or shortly afterward, and brought back lessons on artillery and transportation. The stage was set for a conflagration that would utilize the artillery piece in ways the US had not yet seen.

We brought Eureka Miniatures, GFI, Old Glory Miniatures, Quick Reaction Force, and Stone Mountain Miniatures Parrott Rifles and Napoleons into our painting area for review. While we were ordering for all of our upcoming ACW reviews, we ordered entire armies from Stone Mountain and Irregular Miniatures. It is unfortunate that Irregular’s army does not include artillery, but watch for them in both the Army Boxes series and the other two reviews in this series.

Thanks once again to Scott of PaperTerrain for reading this for us.

Edit: 12 May 08 - Fixed references based on OG actual package contents.

Note (13 May 08) SeattleGamer on TMP has observed that the spoke counts for the pieces in this review are varied and some incorrect. See TMP for the thread, but a summary is that GFI and Stone Mountain have the correct spoke count if that is an issue for you. 

Note (14 May 08): Some gents have commented that they believe the color of the carriages should be green - they may well be right. Since this observation does not invalidate the review - which is about vendors, not paint jobs, though that might be hard to tell from the frothing going on at some sites - we will not be making changes, but if you came here hoping for painting examples, please note that OD green or a gray green is considered correct by most for the carriages. In the future perhaps those with concerns will comment on the site where the review is hosted.

 


All of the pieces from the side. Again, because some of the Eureka and all of the Freikorp crew figures were buried in the Infantry review box, this picture is missing some figures (they’re in the correct section’s pictures though) 

This is the first of several 15mm American Civil War reviews we will be running. About two months after we posted our review of Scale Creep Miniatures infantry, readers started asking us when we would post some more ACW reviews. Well, here they come. We will intersperse the three reviews with other content, but we will cover the three primary branches of service – Artillery, Infantry, and Cavalry.

Going into this review, nearly all of our ACW figures were plastic 1:72nd figures, so we were starting pretty much fresh with the option of using all of the figures we brought in to build armies large enough to do justice to the large-scale battles of the American Civil War. For artillery, we ordered 10 pound Parrott Rifles from Stone Mountain, Old Glory, Battle Honors, Eureka, and Quick Reaction Force. While placing orders, we also ordered Napoleons from those who offered them. We ended up with no Peter Pig product for our artillery review, though we purchased infantry for that review. 

Throughout these reviews, our basing is for Fire and Fury, but we also intend to use the figures for RFCM/Peter Pig Civil War Battles  and the free Honor and Glory  rule set.

Honestly, declaring a winner in this review was tough. These are some nice figures that are all rather close in terms of quality, each having appealing factors and detracting factors. All things considered, despite the fact that they are the largest of the lot, we chose Eureka for the natural look of the figures and the ease with which they are painted. The artillery piece was simple to paint, the figures are well defined making it easy to paint all the straps and buttons, we had a blast painting them. For figures, Old Glory comes in a close second, but for overall product, we would choose Stone Mountain as second place – mostly because of the packaging of Old Glory into groups of guns of different styles and calibers. 

Seriously though? You will be happy with any of these products. They’re just darned pretty, and we’re glad to have them for our armies (though some will get stripped and repainted as rebs before they hit the table or things will be a bit unbalanced – we only painted them all Union so as to leave the color choices out of the review).

Eureka Miniatures (AB Miniatures)


The Eureka model from above.

Somehow we only ordered one gun from Eureka – the Parrott Rifle. That is unfortunate because these are beautiful figures. The lack of a Napoleon in this review is an oversight on our part, not a missing bit from Eureka. 

Eureka sells all of these as individual pieces – we ordered a gun and separate figures for the review. Done this way you can get a highly customized set – making the crew for all of your Parrotts the same, for example - but you’ll pay a bit extra for the privilege.


On the painting stick. 

Looking at these figures and the gun, you can see why we like them so much. They are extremely well detailed, came practically flash-free, and painted up easily. The one thing that’s a bit odd is the lack of rope on the carriage, but they’re not the only vendor that didn’t put it on, and the fasteners are there if you want to use thread to place some.

The figures are well defined, with the details set well for painting, the poses such that they look realistic while not hiding straps and pouches behind arms – which may or may not be important to you. All of the figures we received wear the standard artillery dress, which is acceptable to us. There are other figures in a variety of dress including sack coats , Hardee hats, and shirtsleeves. The pictures on Eureka Miniatures, USA’s site just plain don’t do these figures justice, hopefully this review will remedy some of that. 


From the side. Note the cleanliness of the figures.

US Sourcing: Eureka Miniatures, USA

Price: $2.62 per artillery piece, $0.72 per crew figure 

UK Sourcing: Fighting 15s

Price: £1.85 per artillery piece, £ 1.85 per pack of four crew.

 

Minifigs/Game Figures, Inc.


All of the GFI guns together.

We don’t own a ton of GFI gear, and this is our first 15mm purchase from them. The figures and guns were all flash-laden, and several of the poses were obscured by the flash. We presume that we recovered them sufficiently, but it was more work than for any other vendors’ product. With that said, they certainly came out nice enough, particularly at three or four feet distant. So if a little extra work is not a worry for you, these figures will do just fine. GFI sells Napoleons, for some reason we did not order any. Again, this is our fault, and no fault with the vendor’s selection. 

GFI came prepackaged with three Parrott rifles and twelve figures – perfect for most ACW rule sets, and in our case we received two each of four figure poses and one of a fifth pose. This mix is a good one because no two guns need share an exact team.


On the painting stick. 

There is a subtle softness of edges to GFI figures that is not there in the other vendors’ products. For our purposes, we didn’t like this effect while painting, but it looks nice enough when finished. This same softness makes the belts and straps less well defined than on other vendors’ products – they are sunken in and without a hard line to use as reference. Again, we were able to make it right with painting, so this is likely not a huge negative either.

Like Eureka, GFI artillery pieces come without rope on the carriage. This may or may not be an issue for you, as your tastes dictate. Again, you could glue sewing thread into place on the hooks and it would look just fine. 


From the side.

Sourcing:

US: GFI

US Price:$9.95 for three guns and twelve crew. 

UK: Miniature Figurines Productions Limited

UK Price: £ 2.10 for three guns (either Napoleon or Parrott Rifle) and £ 2.10 for eight crew members.

Note: Minifigs UK sells their guns in packs by type, so the Parrott pack has everything you need to make any combination of three 10 and 20 pound Parrott Rifles. We think that is a very cool option.

 

Old Glory


Our Old Glory Pack together

 The Old Glory pack comes with six guns and twenty four crew members. I don’t know what the standard is, but we received two Parrotts and four Napoleons.

Note: I have been informed that the larger Nappies are Rodman guns.  DWM

 These are OG figures, no doubt about it. They come in a variety of poses, they are reasonably priced, and they take some cleanup – though not as much as many figures in this review.

 The high points of the OG items are the inclusion of men stripped to their shirtsleeves, a very subtle (but usable) line along the seam of the pant leg for painting the red artillery stripe on, though not so pronounced that it’s noticeable if you don’t use it. The same is true of rank – some poses have rank on their sleeves if you’re looking for it, and those poses are great for making NCOs out of. Once again, if you don’t paint the rank on, it is cannily crafted to fit right in with the wrinkles on the sleeves.


On the painting sticks.

 The poses were well mixed, with the exception that the officer figure holding binoculars to his eyes was over-represented in our set. We didn’t like this figure due to complexity around the sword, and then there was one per gun. Presumably OG doesn’t hand pick these figures to be exactly the same in every bag, so we hope you don’t get so many of this figure because the other figures are wonderful.



Both pieces from the side.

 Sourcing:

US: WarWeb

Price: $15.00

UK: Battle Honours UK

Price: £ 12.00 (price at time of writing was £ 11.00 but an increase is upon us, should be 12 by the time you read this)

 

Freikorp/LKM Direct


The Freikorp15 guns. Note the bottom left crews are excess OG figures. 

We ordered Parrotts, Napoleons, and a pack of eight crewmembers from Freikorp. There were two Parrotts and four Napoleons in the packs we ordered.

The very first interesting thing we noticed about Freikorp is that they (unlike everyone else in this review) oversize the axles on their carriages and the pins on their tubes. They leave it to you to cut them down, while everyone else makes these same bits fit snugly. At first, we didn’t like this system, but after using it and finishing off the models, there’s not a ton of difference. We glued the wheels into place tight against the carriage and cut the excess axle off, then cut off the excess on the gun tubes where they pinion to the carriage. It takes a few extra seconds per gun, but the final look is pretty much the same as everyone else, and if you can think of a use for extended axles, then we recommend this system. 

We were pleased with the look of the Freikorp figures, and indeed, they are very close in style to the Old Glory crew figures. Indeed, there is one figure that could conceivably have the same head on a different body. There is a significant height difference with Freikorp figures being several mm shorter, but not so much so that you couldn’t mix some in as the 15 year old volunteers.

We ordered figures in slouch hats from Freikorp. This is not a problem with their 15mm ACW line, it was just us attempting to add a touch of variety. Hopefully it gives you ideas of how different styles look, we know it gave us some ideas.



On the painting sticks.

The poses are well done and well mixed, with two sets of two figures and four unique poses in the pack. Two of these unique poses have the body in the same form with different heads, but even if you count those as the same poses, you’re still on three sets of two with two unique poses.

The Napoleons have fins on the top of them, something no one else has on theirs. We think it is a nice touch, you can look at the pictures and decide if it’s for you.


The Napoleons from the side. 

Freikorp is the only vendor whose rope is in a single loop around the spars on the carriage. The other vendors either have no rope (like Eureka) or a figure eight (like Old Glory). This isn’t a huge plus or minus, just something for you to be aware of in case you have a preference.

One interesting tidbit, every vendor in this review crafted their wheels at approximately 2mm wide except Freikorp who is 1mm wide. We don’t know which is right, and most people will never notice, but once you know, you can pick the Freikorp artillery pieces out on a table loaded with this entire review. The only problem we had with the width at all was when painting the metal rims – it’s easier to slop over the side of a 1mm edge than a 2mm edge, but that cleans up easy enough in the touch-up phase.


Parrott Rifle from the side.

Sourcing:

US: Little Wars

Price: $3.35 per gun package, $3.35 for pack of 8 crew. 

UK: Freikorp/QRF

Price: £2.00 per gun pack (2-4 guns), £2.00 per pack of 8 crewmembers

 

Stone Mountain Miniatures


The Stone Mountain guns.

Interestingly, we ordered an army from Stone Mountain that will end up in our “Army Boxes” series, but will also fill in this review series. To round out the selection, we also ordered a pack of Parrott Rifles, but forgot to order crew for them. We’ll use the extra OG figures (they came four to a gun, and we’re mounting three to a base, leaving us six figures) to man these extra Parrotts. We’ll clearly label the pictures below that use OG crew so that you don’t have to wonder.

Stone Mountain makes some pretty good miniatures. They’re relatively flash free, and the guns are a close match to the Old Glory guns. The figures are a close match to all but Eureka (who has the largest figures) and Freikorp (who has the smallest), and could be used mixed in with any of these figures. Stone Mountain is a better match to GFI than any other vendor because they lie somewhere between the smoothness mentioned in the GFI write-up and the more pronounced edges and folds of the other figures. If you’re looking for the universal figure for this review, Stone Mountain is the best for mixing and matching.



Stone Mountain on paint sticks. 

We received three Napoleons with a total crew of ten, along with the pack of four Parrott Rifles we ordered. The figures are well mixed, with two outright duplicated figures and several that are close to duplicates. The set includes three lanyard pulling figures, three rammers, three shot carriers, and a commander.

We really liked the Stone Mountain guns, the figures are definitely nice, but that special something that Eureka brings to the picture just wasn’t there. The breadth of ACW material available from Stone Mountain, their ability to fit in with other vendors, and the ease of ordering preconfigured units make them a great second choice though.



From the side.

Sourcing:

US: Historical Miniatures

US Price: $7.25 for four guns or 24 crew.

Items are available individually also at $2.00 per gun or $0.35 per crew figure. 

UK: We are not aware of any UK distributors and Stone Mountain did not respond to our query on the topic.


Measurements

Because carriages could be different sizes for the same gun, we weren’t going to do any measurements of the artillery pieces. But just to be sure, we took some samples, and the barrel lengths, which should be pretty standard (Parrotts were 73-74 inches for example) vary wildly in this review. It’s not obvious from tabletop distance, but we’re including them here for those that want scale to be accurate.

 

Barrel Length

Notes

Actual Parrott/ 100

18-19 mm

 

Actual Napoleon/ 100

17 mm

 

Old Glory Parrott

22


Old Glory Napoleon

18

 

Eureka Miniatures Parrott

22 mm

 

GFI Parrott

17.5 mm

 

Quick Reaction Force Parrott

22 mm

 

Freikorp Napoleon

21 mm

 

Stone Mountain Parrott

19 mm

 

Stone Mountain Napoleon

18 mm



 EDIT: 12 MAY 08 - Have been informed two of the OG guns are Rodmans, which we did not review, so have removed them from the chart.

Figures, on the other hand, we intended to measure all along. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, sometimes it just forms more questions. This time, we think it is the best route because of differences in measuring styles and base heights. So we give you a picture.


Heights. Apologies for the flock on some bases, in the rest of the series we’ll take measurement pictures prior to priming.

 

 

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