Saturday, 5 March 2011

Review: Elite Miniatures' SYW French

At present, I am waiting for my construction project to dry as it has just received it's last coat of plaster - full details to follow.  In the meantime, perhaps this mini-review will be of use to someone.

Elite Miniatures has been around over 25 years and have something of a cult following.  I have read too many times than I care to remember that "you either love 'em or hate 'em" a generalisation with which I disagree!  The figures follow the general style of Peter Gilder's classic Connoisseur range.  Elite's proprietor, Peter Morbey, sculpted some of Connoisseur's later figures and thus the similarity is not accidental.

Elite (right in both) and Crusader French Fusiliers.
In general, Elite's offerings are pretty "animated" chaps.  By his own admission Mr Morbey likes "dramatic" units so there is a great sense of movement in many of the figures.  For those ignorant of Elite or Connoisseur, perhaps the closest parallel, in terms of style, would be the action-packed figures for which Old Glory has become famous.  Think of chaps looking over their shoulders, shouting and running with coat-tails unfurled and you will get the general picture!  That said - I am today dealing with the Seven Years War French - a small (and dare I say oft-overlooked) range that is, by Elite's standard, very restrained indeed!

I bought a representative sample, purposely avoiding the "advancing" poses as I wanted yet more troops in "March Attack".  Pack SYF9 contains four identical Fusiliers in this pose and is competitively priced at £3.80 (March 2011)  At first glance the figures appear slender in comparison to more recent 28mm offerings - in my eyes this is no bad thing!  Sitting on small, thick bases, they are well posed in a determined march and nicely proportioned.  In certain areas the detail is as good as anything out there and I am especially pleased to see the figures have realistically sized hands!

The somewhat old-fashioned nature of mid C18 French military attire is captured well - but the coat and cuffs are not overdone as is seen in some other ranges.  Bayonet and musket are nice and slender without feeling vulnerable to breakage.  The face is gaunt with a prominent mouth (in profile he looks like the young Schwarzenegger) this fella has been campaigning hard.

Elite's SYFC1 - "Mounted Officer"
Moving on to the mounted officer and horse in pack SYFC1 (£2.55) the same general observations apply.  He is a very haughty looking gentleman, posed looking down with extended hand, exhorting his men to advance.  The coat has no turn-backs and he is certainly usable for most other C18 armies.  The horse is a big beast and nicely done.  Another good figure.

Finally, we have SYFC2 "Trooper" (priced as before £3.80 for 4 troopers.  Horses must be ordered separately)  Depicted with sabre "at rest" on his shoulder and a carbine slung (muzzle down) on the right hand side of his saddle.  In my opinion this is the least appealing of the three figures but still a rather attractive casting.  Again he is slender and realistically proportioned.  Good detail throughout and generic enough to be used by an ImagiNation without people crying "Achtung Frenchie!".  I didn't order the horses designed for this figure but have posed him upon another Elite beastie - hopefully this gives the reader some idea of the mounted article.

SYFC2 "Cavalry Trooper"
To summarise, I am very happy with my Elite purchases.  the figures are well observed, display a good level of detail and are beautifully produced - minimal mould lines and not a single miscast!  If you need SYW French and fancy something a little "different" I recommend that you investigate this small range pronto!

Infantry note:  The Crusader figure has been raised slightly so that "ground" level matches.

Cavalry note:  Apart from removing the mounted figures from their packaging, I have made little attempt to "seat" them upon their steeds - so in the photos they ride a little high in the saddle. 

Scores out of 10 - thoroughly personal ratings explained:

Sculpting - Quality of detail and accuracy
Casting - Mismoulds and flashing
Variety - How comprehensive is the range
Service - Was the seller easy to reach, polite and helpful
Delivery - How long did they take to get to me
Value - Are they a good deal overall

Delivery time based upon my experience - UK to UK delivery.

Sculpting:                  7/10 
Casting:                    10/10 Not a single miscast 
Variety of Subject:    4/10 Very small range of SYW
Customer Service:    7/10
Delivery Time:          4/10 Almost 3 weeks UK-UK
Value:                      8/10


  1. How would they fit alongside Minden Miniatures?
    Looking at the Crusader figure I feel Minden would too slim to mix

  2. I have not yet handled Minden minis.