Deep breath. I haven't really been looking forward to this posting - I could easily get into a lot of trouble here. There's something oddly sacred about Hinton Hunt figures - open criticism could earn me a lot of hostility, or an excommunication - I might at the very least get my windows broken.
Yet this is the right time to talk about HH. Once I started putting together armies using Higgins as the principle maker, I had to source all the things which Higgins did not make, which at that time meant drummers, staff officers, highlanders, Portuguese and - well, cavalry, since Higgins had not started their cavalry yet. Hinton Hunt were an obvious supplier. They had a vast range, they were very highly regarded, and some of the figures were very attractive indeed.
Since then I have bought and fettled and painted and fought and sold a great many Hintons over some 30-odd years. I do not regard myself as an expert, but I am certainly well acquainted with them, and the pounds and the hours I have invested over this time must surely earn me the right to express myself honestly. So I shall attempt to be fair but realistic.
My problems almost certainly stem from the fact that, though 1973 does seem like the Dark Ages now, I suppose I was actually fairly late on the scene as an HH customer. Many of the moulds - especially rank and file of popular nations - were knackered by this time. Further, since no shops (at least no shops near me) stocked the things, you couldn't sift through a tray and choose good ones. This was mail order of an extremely risky nature - orders came back incomplete, or incorrect, they might be months late, quality control was negligible, and the castings and the flash content were often really poor. Also they were expensive. If I hadn't somehow felt it was a privelege to be dealing with them at all, I would have been sufficiently impressed by all this to have given up on them.
They were ground breakers in customer service. I once phoned up to ask about an order which was a month overdue, and was given a lecture about how busy they were. While on my way to a holiday in Austria (in 1974) I took advantage of a 2-hour delay before my connecting train to Dover left London and I dashed along to Camden Passage in order to genuflect at the Shrine. I was met at the door by a man with a bunch of keys, who asked me was I thinking of coming into the shop. I admitted that he had identified my purpose with breathtaking precision.
"Nah - sorry - I have to go out for a while - can you come back later?"
This was 11am on a Thursday, and I couldn't.
I once treated myself to some factory-painted general staff figures which were even dearer, took even longer to arrive and were so badly done that I still get angry when I think about them. I repainted them.
And yet - and yet....
I have seen some of the ex-Peter Gilder cavalry OPC figures which Clive has. Beautiful. Heavily tweaked (wire harness, sheet metal bases, flat wire sword blades, etc), individually animated and superbly painted, I can easily see why such things would inspire devotion. I can even see why they might now change hands for high prices, though some of the prices have become obscene rather than high, in my very humble opinion.
So I have some HHs in my armies - I very much like the OPC French general - I have a number of these - it is a simple, elegant, useful little figure. I have a unit of highlanders (though it does have Art Miniaturen command figures) which I like - they have been with me for a long time. I have a unit of Brunswick hussars - again OPC. I have a unit of Portuguese cacadores - they are OK - if I could get something better I would replace them, but they are fine for now; since I cannot get HH command figures, these cacadores are led by Kennington Rifles figures, which appeals to the inverted snob in me. I have HH eagle bearers in my Higgins French Guard units, though I have provided them with paper flags. One or two (dismountable) generals. That may be about it now.
I had a brigade of Portuguese infantry, but I replaced them. Broadly speaking, the infantry are a little small for me, and I do not care for their weasel faces or their awkward posture. As for the dismountable cavalry, I really do not like the stumpy little legs, so have gradually sold and replaced what I had. True enthusiasts distinguish between original HH and later, David Clayton reissues - I accept that this may be significant, but I am unmoved. Clayton owned the rights and was the licensed manufacturer, so I am not sure why his figures should be regarded as in any way inferior. I am sure someone will put me straight!
Righto - the shutters are in position.