Sunday, 19 June 2022

How much metal do I need?

Over the weekend I ran some participation games, which were re-runs of the Prague game we put on at Hammerhead back in March, but this time using the 'Field of Battle' rather than the 'A Gentleman's War' rules. Both are fun rules, however I found the FoB games ran quicker.

One of the players was considering building an army using the PA moulds, and asked how many figures can be cast from a bar of metal. I guessed a unit was about 250-500g (2-4 bars), but was not really sure - I have now looked into it in more detail..................

Prince August Metal Bars

PA's bars of Model Metal weigh 125g each, and according to their website will cast five 40mm foot figures.

Apparently the bars are sold by volume, so for interest I weighed 4 of each - Model Metal averaged 126g/bar and Casting Metal (surprisingly) a bit lighter at 121g/bar.

I also weighed a couple of my completed units (mostly scrap metal), after making allowance for the basing:

  • A 16 figure infantry unit weighs about 325g, just over 20g per figure, so 5 or 6 foot figures per bar should be about right (3 bars per unit).
  • An 8 figure dragoon unit as heavier at something like 500g, so 62.5g/figure - 2 per bar (4 bars per unit).
Looking on the PA site, there is currently (19/06/2022) little price difference between the two metals, assuming you buy 30 bars (enough for about 8-10 units), the cost per bar is:
  • Model Metal - £3.47/bar
  • Casting Metal - £3.25/bar
Model Metal generally produces much better castings, so at these prices there is little point in buying the cheaper metal (but prices are ever changing).

At the time of writing Model Metal is about £28/kilo (plus postage), so about £0.55 for infantry and £1.75 per cavalry; clearly if you can substitute/recycle  'free' scrap lead you can both save money and feel smug!

Scrap Lead

As I have said many times, the bulk of my figures are cast from scrap metal, although I do use Model Metal for fine detail such as heads, and Casting Metal when I run out of scrap.

For reference I weighed some bags of Old Glory ECW figures, these are small 28mm, both the foot (30 figures) and cavalry (10 figures) weight in around the 420g mark - about enough for a semi-flat unit. (I'm not suggesting you melt down new figures - it is just to give an idea of comparative weights.)

Anybody who knows someone who home casts, please don't throw away old figures, metal sprues etc. save them and get them recycled,

Printer's Metal

PA are currently selling old printer's metal at £15.83/1.9kg, so £8.50/kilo - less than the 1/3 price of Model Metal - has anyone tried it? 

If you can add any useful information please share it in the comments section.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Steve,
    I´ve tried Printer´s Metal ~20 years ago and the results were......mediocre. And I can confirm the description on the PA website, the castings are harder and much more brittle, especially swords and muskets. Pure is really not the best choice, but you can mix a small quantity with scrap metal.