Battleline Miniatures is the only miniature company in New Zealand that focuses on pre-modern historical miniatures with a comprehensive 15mm ancients range, but also a good selection of Napoleonic, American Civil War, Medieval and even New Zealand Wars miniatures. Slightly hidden away under the label 18th century they also sell a range of Seven Years War miniatures, namely French and British.
In 2012 I got a prize voucher through one of the BattleCry tournaments Battleline Miniatures kindly sponsors and decided to give the French Seven Years War line a go. This review focuses on the late French line infantry in turnbacks with command.
I present the miniatures in bare metal, primed and finally painted up as the regiment Royal Roussillon, complete with a list of colours used. I will also compare them size-wise with the Eureka Seven Years War line.
Sculpting quality and poses:
The musketeers come in a single marching pose as do the Grenadiers. NCO’s and standard bearers also come in only one pose. While this is not an issue for the latter, the musketeers surely would benefit from some variation, if only head variants or a slightly changed angle of holding the musket.
The pose is, however, quite convincing for the period, as the strict reglement and drill surely would have produced a less animated appearance of the soldiers when advancing. In combination with only one pose this might reflect well the very uniform looking battlelines of the time. The NCO has, not unlike the musketeers, a rather stiff pose and would look better with a more dynamic one, after all he is commanding his men to advance or even prepare for attack.
The sculpting is clean and facilitates painting in providing even surfaces. The miniatures are not as detailed as Eureka miniatures, but then they are also smaller and follow another design philosophy. It appears that the miniatures were carefully posed to achieve a user-friendly product. Much of the front of the uniform is hidden by the musket and the arm holding it, avoiding the depiction of the often rich detailing of uniforms with buttons and lapels. This makes them also suitable to depict a variety of regiments without being too worried about the number of buttons.
On a funny note the musketeers sport fabulous moustaches, so much so, that I took some of the volume away. I think this is a case of the common exaggeration of proportions in 15mm, resulting in a less realistic and more cartoony look. If you are going for some light-hearted Imaginations this might be an advantage. However, if you prefer a more realistic depiction the fancy moustaches are nothing some quick knife work could not fix.
The faces of the NCO and the standard-bearer are quite good, but the musketeer’s one is only average. The chin protrudes quite a bit and gives the miniature an odd look from the side. The detail on hands and hair is not very convincing, as the fingers are not sculpted but rather suggested by vertical lines. This also applies to the hair, looking more like hair pieces, which surely would not have been worn by privates. Nevertheless, single strands are sculpted, so painted up it looks the part. Overall still no deal breaker, as this is not as prominent when looking at the miniatures from a normal gaming distance and massed in a battle line.
An odd choice is the depiction of the NCO and standard-bearer with a sash. It seems sashes were not worn by French officers during the Seven Years War nor the War of Austrian Succession and it would be very difficult to cut the sash away without major green stuff surgery afterwards.
Poses and sculpting are surely a matter of taste: Do you want the detail of an 28mm miniature then you should go for Eureka. Do you want miniatures that are easy to paint, but still look the part the offerings of Battleline Miniatures might be your cup of tea. If you can forgive some exaggerated proportions the musketeer will serve well to bring some more variety in your units or if you really enjoy a light-hearted, more cartoony look then this line might be just for you.
The miniatures are cast in a rather rigid alloy, implying that only a few of the bayonets were bent during transport , which can be easily corrected. The casting quality is good, with an average amount of flash. Some of the miniatures have slightly misaligned halves, which implies more work when preparing them for priming. Nevertheless, there are no holes, missing details or casting artifacts, so all in all a good job in the casting department.
The musketeers retail for 0.70 NZ$ per miniature and can be bought as singles.
Comparing them to another 15mm line, Old Glory, musketeers retail for 0.47 NZ$ per miniature, but only come in packs of fifty and if you don’t live in the states or Europe postage will be substantial. If the 23 cent difference is a deal breaker depends on your location and preferred sculpting style.
Eureka come to 0.87 NZ$ per figure and can be bought as singles. They definitely offer better sculpts were you can go crazy on every miniature with a high quality paint job, however, it might be an unfair comparison as they are 18mm.
Compatibility with Eureka:
Unfortunately I do not own any Old Glory Seven Years War Miniatures or any other true 15mm SYW range, but I do own some Eureka Grenzers. Can they be fielded at all in the same army or are these two ranges entirely incompatible?
I would say on the gaming table, if not mixed in one unit, Eureka and Battleline are compatible. Close to each other it becomes apparent that the French are not as slender and shorter than the Grenzer. The picture also allows a comparison of the different sculpting styles. Eureka offers definitely a more realistic sculpt in terms of proportions, while Battleline offers a more stout, cartoony appearance.
The sculpting really facilitates the painting process, further helped by the uniformity of the troops at the time. I decided to paint this selection of test miniatures in the colours of the first battalion of the regiment Royal Roussillon that took part in the ill-fated battle of Rossbach. The second battalion was sent to Canada were it fought in the French and Indian War. The sash posed a problem, as it is not a piece of equipment for French troops supported by primary sources. In the end I painted it gold and imagined it being a present by an Austrian officer. While regulations were strict, it seems officers still had some freedom if it came down to their personal equipment.
Battleline Miniatures offers with the Late French a range that has its problems, but can still convince in several categories.
While the quality of sculpting is only average and the equipment of the command figures is unfortunately not supported by primary sources, the miniatures still paint up nicely and add a more cartoony, light-hearted style to already existing ranges.
The casting quality is overall good and price wise they are positioned between Old Glory and Eureka. Due to the lack of different poses they are not really suitable to be used alone, but might well add some variety when mixed with other 15mm ranges.
I would say give them a chance and see if they fit your requirements.