Vintage 40 mm semi-round Holger Eriksson musketeer miniatures, newly cast in Prince August rubber moulds, and converted to grenadiers of the Chasseurs de Fischer by swapping heads with the grenadiers from moulds PA18 and PA20.
The simplest conversion of a 40 mm Prince August miniature is a cost-saving one: using strong pliers, snip off all four corners of the figure’s base and use the recovered metal to cast more figures. The resulting diamond-shaped base facilitates basing the miniatures on wargame stands, especially if the troops are to be based in two ranks. Depending on the size and thickness of a figure’s base, the weight of a home-cast miniature can be reduced by up to 10 percent. At the current price of tin, this is a significant incentive. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why Games Workshop reduced its figure bases to a narrow strip of metal which slots into a plastic base.
The bases of Prince August cavalry figures are more difficult to cut back, because they do not extend far beyond the horse’s hooves. Using the circular blade of a miniature power tool, it is possible to remove the unnecessary centre section of some of the horses’ bases, leaving two small rectangular bases at either end, where the hooves touch the ground. This operation works best with miniatures cast from lead-free alloys which are harder, and less likely to bend, than casting metals containing lead.
Converting Foot Figures to Ensigns
Holger Eriksson carved two very attractive flagbearers PA21 and PA31, both of which can be cast without their flags if printed paper flags on piano wire staff are to be used. In addition, a few of the infantry and dismounted cavalry figures can be converted to carry flags. The gunner with ramrod PA33 and dismounted cavalryman PA46 are obvious choices: remove the ramrod or pistol, drill a hole through the hand and into the figure’s base, and insert a flagstaff. The infantry officers PA29 and PA30, too, make excellent ensigns. The advancing officer loses his sword and has both hands drilled open to accept the flagstaff. His left hand needs to twisted 90 degrees to the left; otherwise drill through the top of the left hand and remodel the hand with »Green Stuff«. The standing officer simply leans the flagstaff against his left arm and shoulder; this bond is secured by glueing the flagstaff into a hole drilled into the figure’s base. The officer’s left hand can be filed off and remodeled around the flag using »Green Stuff«.
Like the standing officer, the standing musketeer PA25 makes a very convincing flagbearer, except that he has to have his musket removed carefully. The advancing musketeer PA14, as well as the marching musketeer PA17 and the marching grenadier PA42 can be turned into ensigns by removing all or part of the musket and inserting a piano wire flagstaff. Finally, the grenadier PA39 offers a very heroic last stand pose if a flagstaff is placed in his right hand.
Head-swaps are an excellent way to increase the number of available poses, by converting musketeers to grenadiers and vice versa. Using the circular blade of a miniature power tool or a razor saw, remove the heads of two miniatures which are to exchange their hats. Using a pin vice with 0.5 mm bit, drill a hole into the figure’s neck and the head to be joined. Insert a short piece of 0.6 mm brass or piano wire into the neck, add a drop of cyanoacrylate glue gel, place the new head on the figure, and let the glue settle, making sure that head and body are properly aligned. Once the glue is dry, any gaps may be filled with »Green Stuff«, filler wax, or more glue gel. If done right, the join will be strong enough even for skirmish wargaming. The strongest bond is achieved by soldering the new head to the figure, of course, but this is an advanced modelling technique requiring extra equipment and some experience.
The popular range of Holger Eriksson figure moulds available from Prince August offers six useful heads for conversions: tricorne, grenadier mitre cap, grenadier fur cap, mirliton, slouch hat, bare head. If the Battle of Rossbach series of moulds is used, there are even more tricorns, mirlitons, grenadier mitre caps, and an Uhlan fur cap to choose from. The new range of 40 mm Seven Years’ War mould available from Prince August includes interchangeable heads with virtually every single headdress worn in the Seven Years’ War. These heads are cast with a cylindrical lug which can be inserted into a hole drilled into the neck of an earlier Holger Eriksson or Rossbach miniature.
Filing Mitre Caps into Mirlitons
The marching, standing and kneeling firing grenadiers from the Holger Eriksson range of Prince August moulds may be converted to light infantrymen by cutting down and filing the grenadier mitre cap into a likeness of the peaked cap worn by Russian Pandurs, Austrian Grenz-Infantry, or the Green Croats of the Prussian Freikorps von Kleist. To complete this conversion, the top edges of the gaiters are filed off so that the figures may be painted with long, tight-fitting trousers and short boots or »Opanka« lace-up sandals.
Casting separate Parts for Conversions
The Holger Eriksson and Battle of Rossbach figure moulds produce one-piece casting which are normally used as is, without the need for conversion. If spare parts for conversions are required in quantity, there is a simple trick which can be used to cast only the needed part and not the entire mould. Using a complete casting from a particular mould, carefully remove the ingate, runners, and the desired part from the figure. It is ok if that part is destroyed in the process, but the remainder of the figure must stay intact so that it can be used as a mould insert.
An example is the ensign from mould PA21 which can be cast without the metal flag if printed paper flags and piano wire flagstaffs are to be used. Using pliers, remove the figure from the flag and top section of the flagstaff. Carefully trim and file any trace of the figure’s hat and hand from the separated flag. Insert the cleaned flag into the mould and cast the figure as usual. A cold shut will result where the molten metal meets the insert. Remove the casting, and separate the figure from the insert by snapping the cold joint. This is an excellent technique for casting separate heads which are easy to remove from the donor figure. This trick can be employed if the part to be cast selectively is reached by the ingate or a runner. Otherwise, a decision must be made to cast the desired head and that section of the shoulder attached to the ingate. While not perfect, this small part is still easier to work with than an entire casting. The rubber mould cools off very quickly if only small, separate parts are cast, significantly speeding up the production process.