|From left to right: TTG, Gladiator, Naismith, Naismith, Essex, 4 from Old Glory, 2 from Venexia|
Now I have almost got a 900 point army finished, I just need 8-12 bases of Adventurier crossbowmen for my early army and 4 bases of mounted arquebus for my late option. Either will involve some substantial modification work so I have finally made a serious start.
From experience with my Swiss, Landsknechts and Gendarmes, I think quite large differences in figure size and style look OK as long as the weapons are fairly uniform. Achieving that was easy with pikes, quite easy with heavy lances but a bit more of a challenge with crossbows.
The cast crossbows vary in length from 9mm (Venexia) to 14 mm (TTG / Altuos) and in span from 8 mm (Venexia and Old Glory) to 11.5 mm (Essex). There is also a lot of variation in shape of the bow - whilst contemporary crossbows seem to be mostly thin steel, these were all quite think with the TTG bow apparently 1.2 mm in diameter - like a scaled down 5" fence post. Even worse, the Old Glory figures come with a solid mass of metal filling in between the bow and the string.
I decided to cut the longest bows down in length and replace all the actual bows with flattened, shaped (with a needle file) and bent pieces of 0.7 mm brass rod to give a pre-bend span of 8-9 mm. This isn't quite as fiddly as it sounds but it is much more of a faff than just replacing cast pikes.
After cutting the bows (and string and fill-in metal) of the first couple of Old Glory figures, I found I could get quite a reasonable effect by drilling out the filled-in area then cutting and filing away to just leave the thinned bow and the string. It isn't quite the same as the brass bows but I think it looks OK and matches in reasonably. It does raise the question though of whether I should string all the others.
The second issue is that some of the figures are very medieval looking. Also the hats on the Old Glory figures don't look very French to me.
I have been following Stuart's blog about converting 28mm 15th Century figures to represent early 16th C French. Fantastic work with a lot of original research and far beyond my abilities but he shows how to put together some great French skirmishers with crossbows and arquebus and I decided to try something similar with these smaller scale figures. I have chosen what I think are the most suitable figures - 4 each of 6 different ones for my 12 bases - and started modifying them by filing and adding Milliput. There's a long way to go with this but I am quite encouraged so far.