Monday, December 1, 2008

Whistlin' Dixon

"Give 'em heck, boys!" Bluebellies With No Name.

A quickie shot of some of my Union troops using my cellphone camera in less-than-ideal lighting. Making a Daguerreotype would probably have been an improvement.

Note the generic flags- the jury is still out considering an order of battle to follow, so as yet my tiny warriors have no "identity" beyond "Yankee-type varmints in shoddy blue" and "Treacherous dang' Rebs in greasy butternut". They were based individually on 20mm square bases for a long time, but I'm in the middle of re-basing them; four to a 60mm x 30mm stand.

One time having to pack hundreds of individually-based figures for a move is enough, thanks very much...

As mentioned, Dixon Miniatures all. Now, more than twenty years (yikes!) after they first saw the light of day there are a lot of other miniature options out there, including very nice plastics from Perry Miniatures amongst others.

Dixon are not for everyone. To start with, the average size of what were known as "25mm" minis have "grown" over the years to 28mm in size, with most companies now admitting as much. My samples of Renegade's ACW range, for example, simply tower over the chubby little Dixons.

Did I say chubby? A lot of people are turned off by the chunky proportions of the Dixon range- the "pumpkin-head" syndrome. Some minis in the range seem more prone to this than others, and personally I do not find it as much as a problem as do some. But I'd have to admit that there is a fair amount of truth in the charge.

On the other hand the level of accuracy for the uniforms is quite astounding. This is one well-researched range of figures. There are as many variations in the range as you would ever want - well over 350 potentially different figures. It is really a complete range-
they even have a band!

Redoubt Miniatures also offer a wide range of variety, I believe, and are less "stocky". But with Redoubt I'd be looking at assembling heads and/or torsos for most each and every figure, which makes them prohibitive for me in terms of the time I have available for hobby stuff.

The great strength of the Dixon range for me is that they paint up so well! They have a nice, smooth finish that takes paint well. They are a real joy for me to work on, which is a lot more than I can say for a lot of other ranges out there, no matter how gorgeous the sculpts.

One asset here is the deep folds and creases sculpted into the models. One discovery I made was that these are deep enough so that I don't need to add much- if any- extra shading, as given their size there is enough natural shadow to suffice. Not only does this speed up painting, but I found that a more "economical" painting style- not trying to paint too much detail on each and every figure, and leaving the eyes as just dark brown slits- can actually help to reduce the overall "pumpkin head" effect. The two-foot rule really suits this range, I think.

I have to say though, I feel that the Dixon artillery blows chunks. I opted for Foundry crews and Old Glory/ RAFM guns. Not sure on the cavalry either, but I'm primarily an infantry guy, so I haven't given it too much thought. The Perry plastic cavalry are probably going to be a lot more cost-effective anyway.

For more discussion on the merits or otherwise of Dixon Miniatures there is a good thread on this topic here on The Miniatures Page. Suffice to say that Dixons work for me!

Next post will be about orders of battle- my boys need state allegiances.

1 comment:

Giles said...

I bought loads of Dixon ACW figures about 11/12 years ago and am slowly returning to the period. Despite what is now available, particularly the Perry figures, I'm going to stick with Dixon, largely for the reasons you've mentioned. They have "character" (in a good way, not using the word as a euphemism for "bad sculpt") and the pose variation is awesome.

Best wishes