Perry ACW Plastics: Misfire or deathshot? | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Thursday, 29 May 2008

From 1861 to 1865, the United States of America were not so united. The war of secession raged across the country, leaving only the farthest northern areas untouched. For the US, it was the end of an age – artillery had been proven to the US in the Mexican American War and the War of 1812, and in the Civil War it played a major role, with massed batteries inflicting World War I style casualties on advancing lines of troops. Never again would American soldiers fight in such a war.

The Rebs are a’ comin’!

We are in the midst of a series of 15mm ACW reviews, but since there is such an interest out there, we took a bit of time off from our 15mm work to bring in a box of the new Perry Brothers ACW Infantry. None of us play 28mm ACW, but Brandon at Rattlehead Games suggested that we turn these figures over to Flatcon for their Gamers for a Cure initiative, and we think he’s got a great idea. 

These figures are talked about quite a bit out there on the Internet, so we snagged a box and brought them in to our tables to show you in detail how they assemble and paint up. 

The box.

We chose to go with a generic Confederate paint scheme for these figures. ACW seems infected with a bit of the Napoleonic disease of perfectionism, but thankfully by the end of the war you could paint Confederate soldiers in pretty much anything – there were plenty of stocks of uniforms, but each state supplied their own, in keeping with the governmental system they established, so many soldiers didn’t have complete uniforms, or had the generic gray. We went with generic gray because it is iconic for the South. 

One of the sprues

The box comes with three identical sprues of 12 men each. This brings us to our first couple of complaints about these miniatures. You have everything in multiples of three. This isn’t a huge deal for most things, but do you really need three officers – one per eleven men? We don’t think so, and the rules that are provided imply that the figures should be split evenly between two opponents... Oh darn, there go the kids arguing over who gets the extra “guy with a sword!” The other problem we had with multiple sprues was the composition. There are only two men per sprue – six out of thirty six figures – that could be firing. There are a couple of different options for the arms on these two  figures, so they could be firing, but at the cost of ones cocking their weapon. Nearly half of the figures are marching. While marching was certainly a part of the civil war, we got bored with that pose rather quickly. The figures are unique per-sprue, so you get five  different marching poses, three of each pose to get to your fifteen total figures – all rather similar. The remaining three figures are the officer (two sword options), assistant (drummer, banner carrier, or marching), and two men loading their weapons. The mix is okay, and as you can see from the pictures, they certainly look good on the table, but a higher percentage of firing line figures would have been nice in our opinion. 

Three head/hat styles

None of the figures come with hats attached, leaving you the option of using either of the two supplied hat types or leaving figures bare-headed. We modeled approximately half of each hat type and one bare-headed figure. We really like this option and applaud the Perry Brothers for it. We also like the way that the command figures come with one outstretched arm and one bent arm. A nice in-between would have been cool, but hey, there’s only so much room on a sprue, right? We’ve already got double the hats we need, two officer arm options and two options for each of the firing figures. There is also the drum, shouldered rifle, arm with drum sticks, and arm with pike to hold the banner. That’s a lot to pack onto a sprue, and definitely makes for a nice start to a varied force. 

Officer and the two specialist troopers (third is a marching figure)

One of our very first two figures – the samples we paint up when beginning any review – was miscast. We know he was miscast because the other two sprues had the same figure without an outrageous blob on their face. Luckily for both us and the Perry Brothers, this blob appeared in just the right place to make a walking wounded, and that is what we did. It appears that he’s got one eye bandaged, and we were lucky to get him with just the right error. Presumably you won’t receive similarly marred characters, but if you do, try painting them up like our figure displayed here. 

The walking wounded

Nearly half of these figures come with bedrolls, none come with backpacks. A few have their cups hanging off of their bags, nearly all come with canteen. 

The figures are well designed, with great expression and diversity to the faces. We were a little worried about that with three figures per pose, but the individual faces are unique enough that you don’t notice the repetition the way you would if some of these were head-swapped figures.

With and without bedroll 

They’re plastic, so they’re more smooth than metal, and this can cause things to look too “soft”. In the case of these miniatures that was not a problem. The other automatic part of plastic is weight. These will blow away under the force of primer spray, so be forewarned… Even if you don’t normally base your miniatures, if you use spray for anything, put these on a nice heavy base to hold them down. We wanted to go for the rough look, so we misted them with both primer and finish, giving them a more used ambience. We think it came out fine, and any odd white bits you find in the pictures are a regional problem that we got caught up in (see my blog or the Irregular Miniatures 1940 Battleset review if you care about details). We’re trying to get them all out and the pictures replaced before this article goes live, but likely we’ll miss some bit of white on some figure.

Officer and bedroll from the rear 

Everything is really well defined. The rules imply they are for non-wargamers, and the figures could easily be assembled and painted up by an entry-level modeler, but if you’ve got some hours with a brush in your hand, there are bits for you also. The folds are well suited to layering and mixing colors – longer and sloped well – and the details like hat braid and buttons are clearly defined. We kept finding more things that we wished to complete, and in the end you can still see that we did not do anything that introduced massive differences in paint job – like customizing the blankets.

The army 

There were a couple of places where we felt that one hand or the other was too big, and occasionally there is a really bushy eyebrow, but other than that we found scaling – internal consistency – to be excellent. The only other item that is questionable is that places where it would be very cool if there was air gap, plastic fills those holes. A good example is the connection of rifle butts to some knees – a 1/4 inch extension of the butt from its top to the leg. This is not unusual in miniatures, though less common in metals, and it is certainly not a deal killer.

And its commander 

In the final analysis, you can’t evaluate this product without considering the concept of price. Perry Brothers are charging $29/£12 for 36 figures. While for us there are not nearly enough firing soldiers, for the bulk of a force, this is astoundingly good, with very few metal miniatures able to come close to that price point, and these are not a half-done attempt at plastics, while they suffer from some issues they are all minor, and nothing worse than we’ve seen in 28mm metal. That makes these a great deal for bulking up a force.

Close-up of the formation 

Our recommendation? If you’re doing 28mm ACW, pick them up – if nothing else they will bulk up your army. And they’re a blast to paint. Are they the best thing to happen to 28mm ACW gaming, as some suggest? We doubt it. We’ll be happy to see the range expand though, because they could be.

At this time we do not have plans to review the other offerings in this line (at this time Cavalry and Artillery), so if you want to see them reviewed, please do let us know. 



We purchased our box as a special order from Rattlehead Games (if you choose to do the same, ask Brandon to tell you the story of how many hoops we made him jump through), but Brandon at Rattlehead will have to special order for you, so we’re listing one of our other preferred retailers who regularly stocks Perry Brothers’ Miniatures. 

Manufacturer: Perry Brothers

Manufacturer Product Code: ACW1

US Sourcing: The War Store

Price: $28.50 

UK Sourcing: Direct From Perry Brothers

Price: £12

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