Friday, 31 July 2015

French Infantry - some more thoughts

(Updated 03/08/2015)

Since the post on French Infantry on 31 January there was a lot of discussion about the need for new French moulds (the Karoliners are pretty close), and if there is a need what to put in them. There are still comments coming into that post, which suggests that there is interest in moulds for French infantry, so I have discussed with PA the possibility of doing some after the initial releases of cavalry.

I have read through and responded to all the comments, and hopefully my suggestions below cover most of what has been said - please put me straight if I have got it wrong?

Having looked through all my reference books, and the quite a few hours on the internet, I came to the conclusion that this Historex sheet is a good starting point for discussion.

Mould 1 - Rank and File

The first two illustrations give a pretty good indication of what I think the figures should include to make them distinct from the the what is already available in the range:

  • Coat with turn backs.
  • Visible external waist belt and scabbards for the sword and bayonet.
  • The large haversack slung over the right shoulder
  • Hair in a short pony tail extending not far below the collar

I would suggest there should be a mould with the usual advancing and march attack poses, kitted out as these chaps. For heads there would be:

  1. Tricorn, hair loose, clean shaven, for fusiliers (looks same as Russian musketeer)
  2. Tricorn with moustache, for grenadiers (could also be used as late war Russian grenadier)
  3. Plain fronted bearskin for Grenadiers de France (could also be used as 'German' grenadiers in Austrian army if you don't like the side plaits in the Hungarian moulds).

For use in Canada, it might be useful to fit in a 'bonet de police' as worn by the chap in the middle of the illustration below, In the moulds there is usually space for two figures and four 'bits', so a fourth head will not fit in a mould containing a the march attack figure with a separate arm.

Mould 2 - Drummer and officer/standard bearer

Many illustrations show the French drummers without the coat turned back as the third figure along in the Historex print. With the loose coat tails and belts and scabbards outside the figure is significantly different. (However if you wanted to minimise mould purchases, and already have the Prussians, then drummers are also shown with turn backs, so their drummer is pretty close, but the belts are under the coat and the Prussian coat is open down the front)

The Prussian and Russian officers are close, but not quite right, the Prussian's sash is too prominent, and the gauntlets on the Russian are wrong. if a suitable pose can be found then provide an officer who can either carry the standard or a pole arm.

As for heads in a second mould, an officer's head with tricorn and side curls would be needed, this would also be fine for the drummer (or use one from the rank and file), there is then scope to put in something different, perhaps:
  1. Tricorn, side curls, for officer (& drummer)
  2. Bonnet de police, for Canada (as requested by Paco)
  3. IF it will not fit in the cavalry mould, a bearskin without hanging bag. An alternative interpretation of the Grenadiers de France, and more importantly it would convert the Austrian cuirassier to the Cuirassiers du Roi (as requested by Duc de Brouilly).
  4. Might be space for something else, depends what second figure is

After these four figures what else is really needed for the French?

  1. Alternative rank and file mould with the coat without turn backs (also for WAS etc)
  2. NCO - armed with a pole arm, and the same baggage as the rank and file, but no cartridge box, the coat tails could be left down for variety??

Current thinking is (updated 03/08/2015)........................

Get the Cuirassiers and Dragoons released, the range needs cavalry (and artillery, light troops and staff officers)!

If it can be done quickly without much delay to the artillery etc, then release a couple of French infantry moulds to get collectors of French armies up and running, these could contain:

Mould 1

  • Rank and file advancing
  • Rank and file march attack
  • Tricorn - fusilier
  • Tricorn - grenadier
  • Bearskin with bag - grenadier

Mould 2
  • Drummer
  • Officer (who could double as standard bearer)
  • Tricorn - officer
  • Bonet de Police
  • Bearskin with no bag - Cuirassiers du Roi (if it will not fit in the cavalry mould)

However PA have not yet decided whether or not to do some French early, as it will cause some delay to tthe artillery and light troops. However there is a case for releasing some French infantry after the 'Austrian' cuirassiers and 'Prussian' dragoons,

As usual, thoughts please?


  1. Nice idea but should be down the line. I think that artillerists and guns should be the priority after the cavalry to finish basic armies and allow complete games to be run. Adding more countries right now just delays this.

  2. Steven

    Thanks for posting, this is the sort of feedback I am looking for.

    The suggested one or two mould(s) should be all that is needed to build the whole of the French infantry and cavalry; based on the releases for the Prussians, Austrians and Russians; and so open up the SYW range to anyone wanting French.

    If these moulds are made after the initial cavalry the delay to the artillery etc. should not be too much, as the figures are in the 'standard' poses, and the heads modifications of Austrians and Russians.

    (Incidentally, an original proposal was to have a generic 'Lace Wars' range, and avoid the need to say that for instance a French officer can be made using a Prussian officer's body and a Russian officer's head, but it was thought 'Seven Years War' would be more commercially viable.)

    Thanks again


  3. I would think artillery and staff first.

    Interesting to note that both of those watercolor prints are of troops in Canada. Not sure it matters.

    Also note that one of the drummers does have turnbacks so might not be necessary to do a special drummer, at least not up front. It is a shame about no coat without turnback for WAS and Fontenoy but understandable given SYW tag.

    Will the tricorne have the blunt, high upturned front as here?

    1. Ross

      The plan was for a similar head to the Russians (see post 15 March); however it might be an idea to steepen the front up a little, similar to the head sculpted for the Austrian cuirassier (see post 9 July).

      Once the SYW range is reasonably complete, there may be an opportunity to extend the timescale, but that is way off. There are a lot of illustrations of SYW French with no turn backs - do you think it would have been common?


    2. oops just realized I never answered this. I think with the French and British the coats were still loose enough and the turnbacks temporary so that they could still be let down in bad weather, both armies, at least as late as 1759/60. It seems though that as Prussian fashion (and economy) became popular the coats started to be cut tighter and loose the ability to be worn open well before the regs caught up. In other words one could live without them. Full coat was probably m8re common on sentry duty or on the march in bad weather or in winter.

  4. Dear Steve, thank you very much for this post with all the questions.
    As an old fan of PA, coming from Meisterzinn and then PA, I turned away of this ranges because of the lack of flexibility (too few possibilities, no commanding structures) and started with the 3-dimensional figures. I still have some PA figures in action - especially the unforgettable Rossbach-figures of PA.
    For your French project, do not care about too many details - there were only 2 different infantry types, both with the famous haversack - without lapels and turn backs (French) and with them (mercenaries as Germans, Irish, Scottish, Swiss in French duty). I guess, you could use the Russian infantry type and the Austrian and just modify them.
    As collector of all 40mm figures there are on the market, I highly estimate a certain flexibilty as changing heads, a separate arm to vary some positions,....
    The most I missed in PA was the lack of useful cavalrists, any officers or standard bearers for the cavalry - so we never could mark a regiment.
    The casting process wasn´t also really making happy, due to r.a. 30% mistakes in casting a figure (always cutted then more capillaries into the mould) - so the fact, that today I can order already casted figures is a luxury for me.
    What do you think about producing some battle packs of, let us say 20 figures, already casted and ready-to-paint? The advantage of PA is also, that they are cheaper to produce (and also to cast, of course) than the 3-dimensional ones - ideal for collectors of armies.

    I am very, very happy about the fact, that PA will extend the 40mm range. I regret that we are a smaller community than the 28mm-one. But the advantages of painting a 40mm miniature is unbeatable - I always prefer this scale. So, if I can help more to foster our scale, I will do that.
    By the way: the semi flat PAs match well with my other, 3-dimensional ranges of Sash&Saber, Trident, Frontrank and Manske - I never had a problem to combine them in a deployment or battle. In particular, the PA Rossbach artillerists are a jewel on my vignettes...
    I will follow your next steps, especially the cavalry development - I am very curious.
    Thank you for all your efforts.

    1. Peter

      I agree that there is no need to try and detail everything, and for the French I do not think there is need to model the lapels - these can be painted on.

      It is a difficult balance to decide what to do, which is why feedback is welcome; after all PA want to produce moulds which they can sell to collectors like us.

      The plan for the range is that the figures will make wargames units, so the cavalry will have an officer, standard bearer, musician and trooper for each type. They will however be mult-part, so need some work.

      I find that in casting from the PA moulds that the bodies are fine with standard metal, but I sometimes have difficulty with the heads, which cast better with the more expensive Model Metal.

      PA do cast figures for their Karoliner range, and there is quite a discount ((£1.27 from £2.07) for buying in bulk, however I do not think they are selling very well; so currently I do not think there are any plans for this range.

      Thanks for your comments - keep them coming.



  5. The above post covers quite a bit. Some quick comments:

    I believe that the range should attempt to provide two complete opposing forces composed of Horse, Foot and Guns before going off in new directions. If the French are going to delay providing artillery for the existing Infantry and planned Cavalry forces the French should be deferred to the future.

    The suitability of the existing officers to serve as Frenchmen depends on how much detail can be comfortably winked at. The Prussian officer has a prominent sash. The Russian has gauntlets. Both have a rat-tail down their backs.

    Since the plan calls for the belts to be outside the coat the inference is that the coat will be closed, at least partially. The existing Prussian drummers have open coats with the belts worn underneath the coat.

    1. Rahway

      I think what you are saying is that if we do the French then we should wait a while and do it right. I agree it needs to be done right, but am still tempted to get the French underway - if it is quick.

      My thought has always been that we need two infantry figures and a drummer, but have never been sure about what else.

      Duc de Brouilly has suggested adding an officer who can also act as standard bearer, that might do it ............. if a suitable pose could be sculpted?


  6. That seems like a good plan Steve and I agree with all the points you make on the details of uniform etc. Might be worth pointing out that although the French infantry and grenadiers wore an identical uniform, their arms and equipment were slightly different: the grenadier carried a curved sabre (rather than a longer straight blade) and also had a noticeably larger a cartridge pouch. You can see these details in the Historex card.

    Concerning the second/drummer mould, personally I wouldn’t find an NCO particularly useful, I’d rather have another officer. It’s nice to have a variety of officers and if the officer were carrying a spontoon, you’d be able to substitute a flag and that would give you an ensign. (This is what I’ve done with the Karoliner officer). As an alternative, what about doing a specific Grenadier de France figure in this second mould. The uniform is slightly different to the ordinary French infantry in having lapels and button-hole lace on the coat and waistcoat; though I accept these details could painted on. You could then put the bearskin head in this mould and the bonnet de police in the first mould. Just a thought.

    The Chasseurs de Fischer are another favourite unit but they would merit their own mould; perhaps further down the line.

    Anyway, it’s really nice to see that the French are in view and the Cuirassier bearskin (with patch and cords?) is just what I'm looking for.

    1. Duc de Brouilly

      It has to be remembered that the idea of the range is to produce 'accurate' figures for the troops who made up the the majority troops of the major nations, and then get reasonably close for the others by swapping heads and/or or painting on detail. The differences between French grenadiers and fusiliers fall into this category.

      On that basis it should be possible to get close to the Chasseurs de Fischer with the proposed light troops and suitable head.

      I will try and get PA to fit the cavalry bearskin fitted in somewhere.


    2. Many thanks Steve. This is a really exciting project. Really looking forward to seeing the cavalry and artillery as well as the French.

  7. This french rangewill be very good!
    before or after artillerists , i will bye the whole range!

    Nco or grenadier in the second mould is equal for me ! The metal flagpoles are a much better idea than a complete tin flag !!

    best regards

    the multi- head system is realy a plus in this range ! and i prefer standard bearers with metal pools

  8. Many thanks to all of you for your comments, the gist of it seems to be:
    - When the French are done, do it right
    - Don't delay the artillery, guns etc
    - French would be nice soon
    - Provide heads to make the Cuirassier du Roi

    Nothing has been decided yet, however IF something is done with the French it will be relatively quick, based on existing poses. I will update the summary at the end of the post, and keep you up to date when I next have a chat with the sculptor.


  9. One more try, with a different account.

    While I haven't dived in yet, this is a range I am getting quite excited about- the figures have that great balance between toy- and model- soldiers that I find very attractive, and seem to capture the "feel" of the era really well.

    It's been years since I've tried my hand at casting Prince August figures, but these are splendid, and the opportunity to break out the epoxy putty and try my hand at some conversions is also a draw.

    While I'm happy to acquire some Austrians and/ or Prussians, the French would be my first love and I would like to see at least an option at some point for infantry with full coats- no turnbacks.

    While taking on board that this is a SYW range, andI understand that no turnbacks may not have been common in the SYW (if at all) a lot of prospective buyers would, I would think, have the models in mind for earlier wars and for imaginations. Having an option for infantry without turnbacks would simply add greater versatility to the range as a whole.

    Looking forward to developments with cavalry and artillery (gunners in waistcoats would be an excellent idea).

  10. The haversack was carried on the march but was probably not carried in battle. Most troops disencumbered themselves of their packs before going into action.
    Iirc the latest research suggests that turnbacks were the norm in the SYW.

    1. John

      Sorry I missed this comment.

      Although the haversacks may often have been discarded I think that the haversack should be included to make the figures distinctive from the Russians in winter uniform.

      The sculptor has been doing more work on the French, and I hope to add something to the blog tomorrow.

      Keep the comments coming.