.....50+ years of hoarding metal and not enough painting........a site dedicated to vintage 20/25mm wargame figures ........and yes they are old school, mainly all one pose per unit and definitely shiney!......

Monday, March 16, 2009

20mm French Napoleonic 8/9 pdr Field Gun - Comparisons of different manufacturer's model

Without doubt my first choice for artillery for this period would always be the Hinchcliffe 20mm products - clean good looking - scale correct and a good range of different pieces. Alas they are no more and trying to find any nowadays is almost impossible. So I sorted out all the different samples I had - bought some I didn't have - and compared the French 8/9 pdr offerings from all the manufacturers I managed to collect/obtain.

The images shows on the top row - from left to right:-

RSM - Currently available but a little too small in my opinion given that Hinton Hunt are the figures I need the artillery to match.

Hinton Hunt - No longer obtainable - untidy casting - always seemed too small to me - Even if it was obtainable I wouldn't use it!

Alberken - Oversize wheels and barrel - shows its vintage and of course no longer available.

Minifig S Range - Quite a good casting - a little coarse by today's standards and again no longer available.

Hinchliffe - The ideal product in my opinion - all others have to be compared to this standard - Sadly no longer available.

Bottom row left to right:-

Lamming - No Longer available - nice clean square casting - a little thick in the wheel but if it were available it might be a contender - because of its clean square and neat casting - although some of the others are better scale and more accurate.

Rose - Available again from Greenwood and Ball - Really nice clean square casting - Scale feels right - proportions look right - except wheel hubs which are too small and no outward cant to spokes.

NapoleoN - Currently available - also a nice clean casting - probably the best wheels of all the models - a very accurate representation of the field gun - I am not sure I like the one piece casting of the barrel and the carriage - it just doesn't feel right - Nevertheless it is a model that is well worth using.

Kennington(SHQ) - Currently available - it also is a good clean casting if a little unsquare and slightly misformed - at least the ones I got were - but again it looks reasonably accurate but the trail side view doesn't ring true to the scale drawings. Wheels and axles are a very sloppy fit - I would certainly use in the absence of a couple others here.

Les Higgins(Phoenix) - Not sure if NapoleoN will re-issure these guns - I didn't have a French one so I had to resort to the British one that I had to show the scale and quality. Clean casting little plain - If NapoleoN reissue it then I need to get a French gun for better comparison. Though I cannot see why they would reissue it given the quality of their own gun.

So who wins? - For my money in the absence of Hinchliffe - I will use the Rose and/or The NapoleoN. I love the clean square uniform castings of the Rose product - but I also really like the wheels on the NapoleoN gun. If it's barrel was not cast to the carriage then I would use that model solely

Now I want them both to make the howitzer and the 12pdr and also the limbers!!

I used the drawings in Osprey's New Vanguard - Napoleons Guns 1792-1815 as a guide when looking for scale and accuracy.


  1. Hi Ron

    That's a really interesting and useful post especially as I have been trying to decide which guns to use with my own HH. I have a bit of a mish-mash of models at the moment and wanted to find the best modern offering.

    I was told that Newline Designs are also a good prospect - have you looked at them?


  2. Hi Ron

    Re- the non-dished wheel problem, I well remember this trying feature of metal Chariots in my youth. The solution I came up with;

    Buy (or otherwise obtain!?) a clean - unused - sheet of Pritt Buddies or Blue-Tak (OR as Blue Peter might have put it 'a propeiatory plasticised non-glue-based poster adhesive system'), lay a sheet of cling-film or grease-proof paper over it and then press the wheel into the stuff. Hay presto - you have dished wheels!



  3. Ian - I have not seen the Newline - I should try them out!

    Hugh - Sounds great - and do you make little cookies on the grease proof paper in the shape of the new dished wheels - Chocolate Wheelies. :)
    Thanks for the tip = I might just try that out on the spare set of wheels I happen to have!

  4. Depending on how badly you want it to look just right and how tight the funds are, would the NapoleoN wheels fit on the Rose cannon?

  5. Snickering Corpses:
    Yes I had contemplated that earlier and disregarding finance issues the wheels would fit with just a little drilling out. The Napoleon wheels are a little larger diameter (1 or 2mm)but this would would make a very nice piece albeit twice the price of the basic model.

  6. Ron - excellent opportunity to see the various models in this way - thanks very much for doing this.

    The Higgins/Phoenix French cannon was good but a bit large for 20mm - I sold some on eBay recently, primarily because they were too big for me. I would guess they are about the same size as Minifigs 25mm. Phoenix, as you know, did a crafty little, dignified scale creep towards the end - you can see that their French horse gunners are very big, strapping chaps compared with the rest of the range. I doubt if it was an error - that would be uncharacteristic of the enterprise. More likely a last-ditch attempt to stay compatible with the bigger Hinchies?

    Whatever, the PMD cannon are probably too hefty for 20mm.

    Keep up the good work - much appreciated


  7. Thanks Tony,

    What do you use for your artillery?
    Assuming that is you are using Hinton then as you know they are slightly bigger then true 20mm - 1/72nd scale - so the slightly bigger guns are not as out of place with them.
    But for true 20mm - I think all of the ones I show (with the exception of the RSM) are probably two large. I expect there are many more suitable guns for true 20mm available from different manufacturers.

    Scale creep really annoys me - such a shame that so many great figures are ruled out by this fad!

    On the other hand - I supposed Hinton and Alberken can be accused of that since they increased the size of their figures to around 22mm (bottom of foot to eye level) - however they really were the standard that everybody tried to emulate or be compatible with in the early days and there was not much else available in this scale then to be compatible with.

    Scales in the UK were very influenced by model railwaying and the confusion of OO versus HO in rest of the world still reigns there!


  8. Hi Ron

    I confess straight away that I am really not good at the "true 20mm" discussion. My armies are predominantly Higgins/Phoenix, with a growing subgroup of NapoleoN figures, which I find compatible. Also some old Garrison and some early Lammings - so I am committed to armies with men about 22/23mm tall (naked!). I realise that's a bit bigger than true 1/72 (though I also have some Art Miniaturen and Falcata figures which work very well) and it's certainly a bit bigger than HH. I find that scale comparisons often come down to "the size of the hats" rather than "the height of the figures" - I have some rather undernourished Kennington Brunswickers which work well because their hats look right.

    Whatever, my artillery are Hinchliffe 20mm and NapoleoN (new additions), with a few Scruby 20mm thrown in. I'm so impressed with some of the plastic artillery on the market (HaT and - especially - the currently unobtainable Zvezda French Foot Artillery) that I am in the process of recruiting a bunch of them to be the garrison gunners in my new Vauban fort, but I realise that in a pure world they are a little small for true beauty. While I am on this digression, I might mention that I am using Newline Designs 20mm 18pdr naval guns in the role of cannon on garrison carriages for the fort.

    Back to the point: I agree that Hinchies' 20mm artillery are the business - they are elegant and nicely cast and make the HH ordnance look a little crude (with respect). NapoleoN's cannon are a welcome alternative - they only have a single size, but I can certainly live with the solid barrel/carriage unit - the barrel detail is excellent too.

    There is a mystery to be cleared up. In these days of re-issues of classic miniatures, I would be delighted to know what happened to the moulds for the Hinch 20 artillery pieces. Skytrex claimed that there had never been such a thing, and I never got a sensible response at all from the previous Hinchliffe manufacturer (i.e. the one before Hinds).

    There is a job here for Super-Sniffer - someone out there must at least know why they aren't around any more.



  9. Tony,

    My own enquiries after the 20mm Hinchcliffe produced the same results - Skytrex - after several emails back and forth - where they professed no knowledge of 20mm Hinchliffe Artillery - and after I had sent them a copy of the catalogue - confirmed that none of those models are available. They did not actually say they did not have the moulds - but that is all I could get from them.

    Your comments about size of hats is absolutely bang on! - there were several figures I rejected because of that reason.

    Incidentally my entire British Army (with a few exceptions and command figures) - are LH/Phoenix.

    May I ask - if you were looking to get additional figures that were compatible with Hinton Hunt or LH/Phoenix Napoleonics - what nationalities would you want to get or what type of troops would you want? (e.g. Austrians with helmets, Prussians, Russians, Peninsula British with stovepope shako etc) Also what poses do you prefer - Marching, Advancing, Charging madly!, or Firing. (disciplined or undisciplined?)


  10. Ron

    I prefer advancing or marching figures for close order infantry, for skirmishers I like plenty of variety - firing, loading, kneeling - I've used diorama style figures such as Falcata and Art Miniaturen for skirmishers to very good effect.

    For cavalry I've gradually developed a preference for more static poses - cavalry waiting in reserve look pretty silly waving swords around at the gallop, and I think I've gradually got the hang of the fact that it was safer and more sensible for infantry - even when attacking - to do so mostly with arms shouldered - it was certainly safer for the backsides of the guys in front!

    Which nationalities/extra troop types would I look for? Hmmm. Can't really answer that without putting in a bit of personal history. In the early 1970s, I finally despaired of the state of Hinton Hunt's moulds, and decided to concentrate on Higgins, and I sketched out an ambitious plan to organise two large armies for the Peninsular War largely based on LH figures - it would have to be the later stages of the Peninsular War, to accommodate the belgic shakos. Prior to that, I'd had all kinds of fantasies about building up forces for the 1813 campaign in Germany.

    Then Higgins stopped production, Garrison and Lamming got too big, Minifigs switched to manufacturing garden gnomes and my heart was broken. The plan was shelved, I wargamed occasionally with the armies I had, but somehow I felt the hobby had let me down, and I really dropped out of collecting and wargaming until the fairly recent arrival of eBay and the emergence of new manufacturers in scales which were of some use to me. I also took early retirement around the same time, so my old master plan organisation is pretty much back on track again.

    If you were to ask me what figures I'm looking for now, it would mostly be command figures - mounted colonels and suchlike, to complete the armies I have. If you were to ask me as the young guy I was in 1975 or so, I'd be looking for Austrians, Russians, Prussians, Bavarians etc etc - everything for Leipzig. At that time, I'd decided that Hintons were too expensive, too unreliable in the casting quality, and not a great bet. I remember being very excited when the new Garrison 25s appeared - I had a couple of excellent samples of Prussian Landwehr - but it was a false dawn...

    Nowadays I have great hopes for the NapoleoN range - they regularly seem to take a bit longer to get things done than they state up front, but their products are excellent, they are going to produce a range of helmeted Austrians in the next year or so. I'm not dedicated to pure vintage - I'm more than happy to use new figures if they suit what I need. My figures probably represent a fair investment, but I'm not really so worried about that aspect of it, which probably makes me a third-rater as collectors go! My ambition is primarily to complete my planned armies and enjoy wargaming once again.



  11. Whilst i don't have any hard facts to add to the Hinchliffe debate i suspect that Frank Hinchliffe may have kept those moulds when he sold up to Skytrex - after all he designed those pieces (as far as i know...Norman Swales didn't get involved with Hinchliffe until the mid/late 70s..?). I don't know whether FH is still with us, though i did come across a reference to him being involved in model engineering (miniature steam engines and the like) post Hinchliffe Models.

  12. DC - you may well be right - I have no idea how to contact FH and I also have no idea if he is still with us - Hopefully he is and well!!

    I wonder if anybody out there knows how to contact him?

  13. Unfortunately I have just discovered that FH passed away in 2006

    I have just found this on the web:


    and here:


    it says that it is the one and same Frank Hinchliffe of Hinchliffe models!

  14. I made an enquiry to Frank Hinchcliffe's widow regarding the 20mm Artillery and that skytrex deny the existence of the moulds - this was her response:

    Hi Ron, I am Franks widow I am afraid He died Sept. 2006, The only thing I remember that he sold the whole model range to Skytreck and we don't have any of the moulds , so what they did with everything we never new but there were quite a lot of the things that were never seen again so I am afraid I cant help you , I am very glad that we have some very nice painted armies that we kept inc. The magnificent Japanese Commander painted by Ray Lamb and quite a few larger painted models

  15. Naturelover,

    I did not understand your comment/request - please send me an email.


  16. http://www.hinchliffe.co.uk/home.htm

    Hinchliffe are still available. Drew

  17. Hi Drew,

    Could you please tell me where I can obtain them from




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