Friday 3 April 2020

Gendarmes: a bit of a comparison.

Heavy French and Italian cavalry 
When I finished the Swiss pike, my original intention was to launch straight into a pile of 200 landsknechts to give them some more opponents, however, I also had quite a large lead pile of cavalry to do, first off was a couple of units of Swiss and Italian mounted crossbows (that don’t feature in this post) and having done them I decided to try some of the many Gendarmes and early 16th century knights that were also sitting in the box. I had figures from 3 different manufacturers which I had accumulated over the past 6 months, a dozen of the SteelFist Gendarmes, 6 charging and 6 with upright lances, 6 late 15th century knights from SteelFist, 8 Gendarmes and 8 archer types from Eureka, and finally 24 Foundry Gendarmes (only 12 of those finished so far).
So, having painted all of the above in this last few weeks I thought I’d give you a brief comparison.
Steel Fist Gendarmes
So first, the Steel Fist figures.  I can find very little to say about this companies figures apart from unstinting praise, beautiful sculpts, great and enormously varied poses, high quality casting and metal, they are excellent figures. They produce 2 different sets of Gendarmes, one charging, one with lance upright. All the figures and horses are different, with separate heads and weapon arms,  and sheathed swords. plumes are also separate,  so the permutations are enormous. If you wanted to get super adventurous you could swap in some of their Landsknecht heads or maybe Perry ones. The horses are all individual barded mounts, if you want to find it, there is amazing detail on them.
 My only very small  issue  with these figures is that you might need to drill out the odd neck to get a better fit with whichever head you choose to place on whatever body.  These are outstanding figures.The best way to buy them is as a set of 6, this way they come in at £5 a figure. Not cheap, but generally you get what you pay for in this life. 
Steel Fist again, remarkable figures- side-show Bob leading the charge.
Now the bad news. Currently the Gendarmes are out of stock and unavailable due to the current emergency. I will be getting another dozen as soon as life returns to normal. I urge you all to do the same (but not until I have my order in).
Earlier Italian Knights from Steel Fist
Somewhere along the way I bought 8 earlier knights on unarmoured horses.  these tie in well with the Perry plastic set, I replaced one of the heads with a Perry one. Not as flamboyant as their later brethren, but similar in style and quality, separate heads and lance arms.
All of the Steel Fist figures look BIG. Nothing wrong with that, and they are the same size as Perry medievals.

Eureka Miniatures Gendarmes, with heavy cavalry support

Next up are the Eureka miniatures. Lovely figures, well cast, great, crisp detail, separate lance arms, alternative sword/hammer/mace arms and weapons, these are really well thought out figures, separate plumes, lovely Barded horses- you can create a lot of variation with these figures, price for these is £28.25 for a set of 8 which is very good value. I will be getting another 8 of the Gendarmes. They also produce Archer/coustillier types which are nice, although without the massive variations of the Gendarmes. Good figures. My only comment would be that are a little bit small,not a lot, but a little,  certainly when compared to Perry and SteelFist. In their own units alongside each other they look absolutely fine, but I would be reluctant to mix them in the same units with the other manufacturers.
Eureka again, very varied and clever designs

Foundry Gendarmes
 Finally we have Wargames Foundry. Wargames Foundry are... well, Wargames Foundry. Consistent, high quality sculpts to good standard. They are sort of benchmark figures. Separate cast lances and sword scabbards, the latter of which fit really neatly into a lug on the figure. Cast on heads. The figures are fine, albeit a tad dull. All in a sitting lance upright pose, little animation, and I guess if you have read this blog you know I like a bit of animation.
There are basically 3 or 4 head variations on 2 body types. Then the horses......I’ve never been a huge fan of Foundry horses, to much shaggy pit pony for my liking. I bought 7 different mounted packs of the Gendarmes....and there is only 1 barded horse type and 4 unarmoured horse. However, I can live with that, what was a bit of a shock was the casting quality. It was bloody awful. Massive lumps of flash, mould lines, the works. 24 figures and horses took me about 4 hours to clean up and assemble, which is a bit poor, and after all, Foundry are charging premium prices for 30 year old sculpts. I bought them on a deal which was great, but if I had paid full list price for them I would have been disappointed. Compared to the more modern figures their age is showing, but, they paint up as fine as they always have.
Another view of Wargames Foundry

Foundry head on

All of these figures were a joy to paint, and I’m really pleased with them, I set them off with a bunch of Pete’s Flags, which, let’s be honest, always make average painted figures like mine look brilliant.
Flags, faces and bases....that’s all you need.

All banners from Pete’s Flags.