Sunday, 13 May 2018

Steve Marthinsen's SYW Project

In response to my request for photographs of your projects, Steven Marthinsen has kindly sent me photographs of some of his infantry units.

I also asked him for some background to his SYW project to allow me some text to put with the photos. He sent me quite a long email, which he has agreed I can repeat pretty much in full, - as it gives an insight into why he chose to use the PA moulds, and what else he would like to see.

Steven's email

"My experience with the SYW came straight out of Charles Grant and Prince August.  Charles Grant's 'The Wargame' and his fictional imagination campaign books are just great and tremendous inspiration.  However, the SYW would never have come about without PA because I specifically wanted the toy soldier look for this project.  I already do Napoleonics in15/18mm so really did not need another horse and musket era unless it offered something unique and casting your own armies is certainly that!

I currently have 15 regiments of foot troops painted and based along with 13 guns and crews.  I have one cavalry regiment, hence the reason I have been asking for cavalry molds for so long!  I am excited about the new cuirassiers but do hope they prevent more scale creep within the series.  In general the molds have been well mastered and easy to cast.  I would like to see a remaster of the initial Prussian molds to bring them up to date with the others (buttons on gaiters, better musketeer head and slings on the muskets).  In terms of basic molds for the SYW, we are so close to getting it done I hope that PA recognizes the benefit of having a complete range to offer gamers.  More cuirassier torsos and everybody's dragoons would do nicely to round out the basics.  Hussars, command and light infantry could then be added in the future to really fill it out.  British troops would sell well, especially on your side of the pond, but I would not want those to slow down completing the basic line of European continental armies (but of course I would still buy them!).

I use PA Model Metal exclusively and casting issues have been few, although some are persistent.  I do not believe the hub on the artillery piece wheel has ever fully turned out leaving me to file it down before filling the hole with putty.  The more important thing is that I do get the wheel spokes on a consistent basis so I don't mind filing the hubs.  The pegs on the Russian infantry heads are too thick and each one has to be filed down to fit in the hole.  That is annoying but doable.  The hands for the artillerist with the trail spike are awkward and the fit questionable.  Still, these are essentially minor complaints and overall casting has been quite successful.

Going forward, I have some regular and conversion regiments on the block to paint.  Austrian regiment Puebla used scalloped lacing on their tricornes so I used the Prussian guard head for them.  I created my version of Saxon infantry by using the Austrian musketeer head on the Russian winter infantry body.  Three regiments of French troops are primed and patiently waiting the brush.  Of course, all of this can be interrupted by cavalry molds!

For rules, my original thought was to use The Wargame with half size regiments, and I still might,  However, I recently tried Honours of War and really liked them.  The idea for rules will be to make them fun and not too complicated so players can enjoy the game and retain some of the feel of the old school toy soldiers.

That's it for now but feel free to ask for more pictures or anything else I can do to help with the project.  This really is a unique opportunity for PA and for gamers alike to be able to purchase and cast their own armies.  I realize it is not for everyone but honestly it is a lot of fun and you really do have more investment in the armies when you create them yourself."

Back to me...............

Personally it is great to see how the new range are being used. If there is anyone else out there who would like to contribute to the blog PLEASE send me your photos and thoughts.

'Scale creep' is an issue,  it is one of the many difficulties which has arisen with the change to digital sculpting - hopefully it is being addressed?

I know there are some minor issues with the range, and even after the years spent on this project it is sometimes difficult to 'mould' PA into the mindset of the wargamer - but in general I think we re doing OK.

As always your comments are welcome, I do pass them to the sculptor (who follows this blog), and they are taken into account.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Austrian Cuirassier - completed unit

Painted cuirassier

I have now completed my (the?) first unit of SYW cavalry, in doing so I made a couple of minor modifications relative to the figures as designed:
  • The reins have been extended to the hand (they are a bit short in the mould to allow the figures to slot in easily). 
  • I have added a sword hilt to the trumpeter and standard bearer, these were cut from a French infantryman's sword.
I painted the coats off-white (Vallejo Ivory Pearl White) - after my visit to the military museum in Vienna I am convinced that is what all of the white should be. It also looks better and also shows off the belting - I will probably try my next infantry the same way.

I have taken photos from 8 angles, so you should get a good idea what the new figures look like.

As with the older ranges, the horse is cast flat in the mould, however being multi part the torso is cast the opposite way, allowing detail on the cuirass.

The sword arm (and head) are also separate, allowing the arm to be well detailed.

The joint between the rider and horse is around the coat tails - but not really visible.

The fit between the arm and torso was a bit tricky and left a small gap, however it filled in fine with paint without the need for any filler.

There is also a separate carbine.

I think the figures look great, and are pretty much what I was hoping for. They are a bit more work than the older ranges, but in my opinion worth it.

Size comparison

As discussed in the previous post, these chaps are a bit on the large side. the horses are OK for a 16 hand cuirassier horse, but the riders are large (I think about 7%).

It only really shows up when the units are very close.

I am advised that the tooling work for the cuirassiers is underway at the factory, and PA have announced a planned release date in June.

The sculpting for the dragoons is also almost complete. I have asked if it is possible to 'plot' these about 7% smaller, this will bring the men into scale, and also reduce the horse from the 16 hands appropriate for the cuirassiers to 15 hands for the dragoons.

As always please let me have any comments/feedback, and I will pass them on to the sculptor to assist in deciding what to do with the next releases. (I will be away from my computer for the next week, so replies will be delayed).

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Austrian Cuirassier Moulds

(Updated 14/04/18)

The nice postman delivered me a package today containing something I have been waiting for for quite some time. I now have the silicon test moulds for the Austrian cuirassiers - and as I am not at work this week had time to cast up a few.


One of the reasons we have taken so long to get to this stage was deciding how to cast separate horses and riders whilst keeping the semi-flat nature of the range. Consideration was given to a number of options:
  • Full rider with legs straddling the horse - this would not fit in with  semi-flat range.
  • Cut at waist - the joint was difficult to hide, especially where the loose coat had no waist belts present.

In the end we opted to cut around the coat tails, and leave the legs on the horse (my idea, so don't blame PA if you don't like it!).

Currently there is only one horse which is used for all the riders.


As with the whole range,  all the figures have separate heads. Also, in order to get decent detail, the arms are separate (and generally interchangeable)

There should also be a carbine - but that is coming later­čś×

The figure fits neatly into the slot and it is difficult to see the join.

I think he will paint up very nicely!


As with the trooper there is a separate head and arm. (The arm will fit the trooper if you don't like the at rest pose.)

Not that you will notice it - but the head has no mustache.


Standard Bearer

This chap needs a pile adding for his standard.

Size Comparison (Updated 14/04/18)

Comparison with Karoliners

These guys are big compared to the original Karoliner cavalry.

The new cuirassier alongside a Karoliner charging Russian cuirassier, this figure was converted by adding a SYW Russian  officer's head. (See photo lower down with a the same Karoliner without the head swap)

Comparison with HE

Rahway has requested a comparison with the old HE figures, so here is one alongside the HE cavalryman on the 5 legged 2 tailed horse (which actually works well to add variety to units).

The horse is clearly taller; exactly how much is difficult to measure; the SYW horse is probably about 41mm at the shoulder compared to 37mm on the old HE. The new one is clearly taller. however we are comparing a 16 hand cuirassier horse with a 15 hand for a dragoon, so overall only about 5% increase in scale, which is probably in line with the difference between the new SYW infantry and the old Karoliners.

The new SYW figures are however much more detailed, and bulkier. Being multi part, the horses and torsos can be cast different ways in the mould', allowing detail on the front of the figures, such as clasps on the breastplate.

The big difference is the rider; one of the major changes between the new SYW range and the older ranges is the heads, the old ones really were too small, particularly the hats - however he is actually a bit too big - see below.

Comparison with SYW infantry

The minimum height requirement for Austrian army was 5' 3", so 63", which happens to be almost the same as an Austrian cuirassier horse, for which the minimum height was 16 hands which is 64".

It can be seen that the SYW Austrian infantry (leaning forward) stand about the same height as the new horse, so the new horse fits in with the infantry. The Karoliner horses are clearly small relative to the Infantry.

Where there is an issue is the rider, which should be the same height as the infantry (cuirassiers were not taller than the infantry - my earlier mistake - sorry), however he is clearly taller.

So, in conclusion, the new cavalry will fit nicely with the new infantry (although the riders are a bit too big). However they will not mix in units with the older ranges - but neither will the infantry.

As always comments welcome.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Steven's Artillery

Steven Marthinsen has kindly sent me some photographs of his completed PA Austrian and Russian Artillery - in both cases he has increased the crew to five by adding in an officer figure.

Mix-and-match Artillery

He has also sent an interesting photo showing his collection of mix-and-match guns using parts from not only other parts of the PA range, but also other manufacturers.

As can be seen there is a lot of scope for mixing parts from different moulds to get something which looks closer to the historical dimensions.

I only have the PA moulds, so to bring the information together Steven has provided me some additional information on the Artidee and Nurnberger moulds, so I thought it worth collating the dimensions of the various parts...........


Dimension as measured on model (scaled up assuming 1:40):

   PA - SYW 6pdr                32mm = 1280mm (12 spokes)
   PA - Rossback 12pdr       32mm = 1280mm (8 spokes)
   PA - Karoliner 6pdr          27mm = 1080mm (8 spokes)
   Artidee - Prussian 12pdr   27mm = 1080mm (12 spokes)

These two diameters cover most of the Prussian and Austrian guns. The Austrians use the larger diameter for everything and the Prussians the smaller diameter for most of their 3pdr and 6pdr battalion guns, and the larger for the lighter 12pdrs (but not the Brummers).

Ideally you should use the 12 spoke wheels, the old PA 8 spoke are wrong.


Again dimension as measured on model (scaled up assuming 1:40):
   PA - SYW 6pdr                 68mm = 2720mm
   Nurenberg                        68mm = 2720mm
   Artidee - Prussian 12pdr  59mm = 2360mm
   PA - Rossback 12pdr       57mm = 2280mm
   PA - Karoliner 6pdr          52mm = 2080mm
Information relating to carriages is not easy to come by, for example I assumed Napoleonic dimensions for the Austrians, and scaled the Prussians from Kronoskaf, however here are some examples:
   Austrian 12pdr - length 3191mm - nothing long enough
   Austrian 6pdr   - length 2759mm - there is a PA carriage for this
   Austrian 3pdr   - length 2440mm - the  Artidee 12pdr is closest (or PA Rossbach 12pdr)
   Austrian how   - length 2739mm - the PA Austrian 6pdr is fine
   Prussian 3pdrs - one is 1900mm -  the Karoliner 6pdr is closest
   Prussian 6pdrs - one is 2200mm -  the Rossbach  12pdr is closest


There is quite a nice collection of barrels, dimensions are the overall length including the counterweight, which is longer then the dimension often quoted:
   Nurenberg                          - 55mm = 2200mm
   PA - SYW Prussian 12pdr - 51mm = 2040mm
   PA - Rossback 12pdr         - 47mm = 1880mm
   PA - SYW Austrian 6pdr  - 43mm = 1720mm
   Artidee - Prussian 12pdr  -  42mm = 1680mm
   PA - Karoliner 6pdr          - 36mm = 1440mm
   PA - SYW Russian Uni.   - 28mm = 1120mm
   PA - SYW Austrian how   - 26mm = 1040mm

I don't have a lot of information on overall lengths, but I measured the Austrian barrels in Vienna:
   Austrian 12pdr - length 2030mm - PA Prussian 12pdr is closest
   Austrian 6pdr   - length 1640mm - PA produce this (model is a bit long)
   Austrian 3pdr   - length 1270mm - Karoliner 6pdr is closest
   Austrian how   - length 1040mm - PA produce this

So What does all this mean?

Well if you want to try and match a gun you can try mixing parts from different moulds, for example an Austrian 3pdr would have:

  • A barrel from the Karoliner 6pdr
  • The carriage from the Rossbach 12pdr
  • Wheels from the SYW 6pdr
I'll give it a go next time I get the moulds out!

As always comments welcome, and information on your projects would be welcome.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Just to let you know we are still here!


Just a quick line to let you know that things are still moving along - slowly (these are not Prince August's top priority - but they are still progressing).

Cuirassier officer - work in progress

Next up are the cavalry, both cuirassiers and dragoons, which are almost done. Currently we are struggling trying to figure out how to cut them up to allow interchangeability of riders and horses etc, and it looks as if the parts will be:

  • Horse
  • 4 torsos - trooper, officer, standard and musician
  • Arms (right)  for above
  • Heads

The tricky bit is trying to figure out how to have interchangeable torsos on a semi flats, the traditional legs either side the horse will not work. I think we have it and I will hopefully post something in next week or so.

How are your projects coming along?

It would be nice to have some feedback on how your 40mm projects are coming along (mine has stalled waiting for the cavalry).

If you have any photos of your projects I can upload it would be appreciated, or alternatively links to your sites?

Monday, 2 October 2017

Casting Tips

Last updated 04/10/2017 - see list of edits at bottom of post.

As the range has now been going for some years I thought it worthwhile to pool our experiences  casting with the new moulds.

PA have a series of tutorial videos on their website, which are worth watching, particularly if you are new to the casting hobby:
There is quite a good video at the bottom showing casting the new cannon.

Casting Metal

As mentioned in the very first post on the blog 27 March 2014 (where did those years go?), I have been casting for some years before the SYW range of moulds came into production, generally with PA's the old 'Karokiner' moulds and my 'Scrap' metal.

At the time I was very pleased with the results I was achieving.

When I became involved with PA in producing the SYW range, the sculptor provided me with slicon moulds. to allow me to cast test figures. This allowed me to check out the uniform etc, and also make up sample units, before the expensive tooling up was done for the black moulds. I have to confess that the silicon moulds are easier to use than the black moulds, and cast very well, even with my 'scrap metal',  so many of my figures are cast from these moulds.

However - once the black moulds came into production, and before I started this blog, I did some casting with them to ensure they worked!

First I tried PA's expensive Model Metal (54% Lead / 11% Tin / 35% Bismuth), this cast very well and gave good detail, without the need to vent the moulds.

I then tried to cast some figures using my 'Scrap' metal, the content of which is variable, there are figures from many suppliers, however it is likely to be similar to PA's less expensive Standard Metal (65% Lead / 2% Antimony / 33% Tin). At first I struggled to get the 'upper' heads out, however after venting the upper head inlet up to the top, as shown on PA's site (under the figure descriptions), all of the moulds produced full castings. The detail was generally good, but not as crisp as from the Model Metal; the difference was most noticeable on the fine detail of the faces. (They were still probably better than the old Karoliners.)

If building up armies on a budget, I would recommend casting the bodies in the cheapest metal that gives decent castings, and then using a high grade metal such as Model Metal for the heads to get the best out of the detailed faces, minimal cost but a bit more effort.

With the move to digital sculpting there is now no need for the silicon moulds, so the French I have cast are all out of black moulds.

The wargaming unit I painted up has Model Metal heads on 'Scrap' metal bodies, whereas the ones for the packaging were entirely Model Metal to ensure the best detail on the hands, weapons etc.. 

Melting the Metal

As on the first post on the blog - I still just use old milk saucepans, (which have a spout to pour accurately) on the gas cooker (preferably when my wife is out). But now I have two pans, one with model metal and the other with 'scrap'. (Not the most energy efficient I know - but it is a hobby!) I cast on a section of old worktop to protect the  kitchen work surfaces.

I test the heat by dipping in a wooden stick, and if it smokes it is hot enough (to be quite honest it is trial and error). When lifting the pan don't forget some insulated gloves!

And, although it should be obvious, keep all fluids away from the molten metal and the moulds, as mixing the two will have an explosive effect.

Clamping the Moulds

I generally cast the moulds in pairs, which makes them more stable, and usually pour two or three pairs at a time.

I cast with the clamping force on the moulds provided with heavy elastic bands, and they will cast fine with just two; however experience has shown that this can be unsafe, and there needs to be additional clamping in the event of one of the bands snapping due to heat if the mould leaks, or overflows:
  • Preferably also use a metal clamp, not for the pressure, but to be safe in case any of the bands snaps. (Note the PA in their videos only use clamps). 
  • At the very minimum I now ALWAYS use three or more bands in case one snaps. (also keep an eye on them, any which show signs of tearing discard them - they will snap eventually).
  • Place the moulds on some heat resistant sheet, in a tray or similar to catch leaks or spillages.
This amount of clamping force can sometimes be too much, in which case it will be necessary to either take of one of the bands, or the clamp. It has been interesting that everyone seems to cast differently, see the comments below.

Please send Comments & Tips

I intend to continue/add to this post, so please put any tips in the comments and I will feed them back into this post to combine all our findings.

Update Tracker

03/10/2017 - link to PA videos added
04/10/2017 - casting photos changed and minor changes to text.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Artillery - Released

Just a couple of photos to show you the painted figures which will go on the packaging.

Prince August went for the Prussian variation on the gun. Probably not noticeable but this has the wheels with the thicker spokes.

And they were released today (1 August).

Now lets hope for some cavalry in the near future.