Sunday, 3 October 2010
If Minifigs have been the longest stayers in wargame miniatures manufacture, the Spanish firm, Falcata, must have been one of the shortest. Their white metal 1/72 figures are certainly attractive, and a bit different - they are what I would describe as diorama material - many variations in pose, some quite subtle, and many different details of dress. The French infantry set, for example, which I have found to be the most useful, has many men in marching positions, with all possible combinations of with/without shako covers and gaiters, different head and hand placements, some with bandaged heads, some waving - considerable variety, and I have put together some pleasingly scruffy units of French allies from them. The figures came in a box of 30-odd, with a plastic spacer inside, sealing them in. They were expensive (especially if you paid Guinea Hobbies' astonishing postal rates), there was no guarantee of exactly which figures you would get in a box and - like plastic figures - a proportion of the contents would not be useful for wargaming.
They produced two excellent Spanish infantry sets (one of 1808 line infantry, one of grenadiers of the same period), plus French infantry, British infantry in stovepipe hats (a set I found less useful because of the high proportion of battalion-company men in firing poses, which I don't use), a super set of of KGL heavy dragoons, and some very fine looking Spanish lancers, though I was not able to get hold of any of this last set. There were also plans to produce British Rifles, French light infantry and other sets, but they didn't appear.
The figures have chunky bases, and the sculpting ranges from some veritable works of art to a few very crude conversions, which suggests that there were several individuals producing the masters. There are also some minor mistakes in the uniforms - epaulettes and rank distinctions are often incorrect. Casting was a bit uneven, and the moulds were beginning to break up a little around the time the supply dried up. So, they were an odd mixture, but they are a very useful source of odd poses for command figures or for use in conversion jobs - my Cazadores de Castilla regiment, as per JM Bueno's book, are Falcata Frenchmen (for the double-breasted lapel jackets) with Higgins British Light Infantry heads (for the tapered LI shako).
I know very little about the Falcata firm - Mike Oliver, who was their UK importer for a while, has mentioned that their approach to business was rather on the relaxed side. Whatever, they disappeared fairly abruptly around 2008, though the occasional box of remainder stock can be found in on-line model shops. It would be unfair to try to guess what happened, but it is not unknown for these little cottage studios to be set up by enthusiasts who cannot cope with the routine demands of production and shipping when the business starts to become serious. Anybody know?
I think they differ from their Spanish compatriots, NapoleoN Miniatures (whom I shall look at next week), in the dioramic style and the fact that Falcata do not seem to have sold the figures direct. Also, I think I would regard them as a charming oddity rather than, potentially, a major wargames supplier - by contrast, as I am sure I will mention on a future occasion, I think we will come to realise how big a loss has been the demise of NapoleoN, which is a tale for another time.