Now, some wargamers have remarked that they don't "get" Spencer Smiths, and others have complained that the castings are crude by today's standards. Well, all I can say to that is don't be too quick to judge, and as a result shortchange, these neat old figures. Sure, the (now metal) castings are not as finely detailed as, say, Frank Hammond's Minden line, or any number of other more current figure ranges. But, SSM's are quick to paint and look impressive when massed into large units. You can't argue with that. Those of you with an interest should take a look at Phill Olley's Classic Wargaming blog (link at lower right of this page), to see the impressive results he has achieved with SSM figures. Finally, even with rising metal prices, SSM figures are economical for the wargamer mindful of such things. And I'll eventually add a unit or two of SSM infantry to the Grand Duchy of Stollen collection once my two basic Sittangbad-sized forces are done for both nostalgic and economic factors .
If you are concerned about adding some definition to your SSM figures, you can do that in a couple of ways. One method is to base- or undercoat in black and then carefully leave black lines showing between arms, legs, crossbelts, etc, something I do with all of my figures regardless of brand. For the SSM figures, this particular technique will really help make the detail that is present, or any additional detail you paint in, stand out markedly. An even more old school way to get a similar effect is through actual black lining with a small brush and thinned black paint or ink. I like to use a Leow-Cornell 001 spotter when I do this with my personality figures.
However, such painstaking work is not the only way to add blacklining to your SSM figures. Rob Grace, who is assembling his own Sittangbad-sized forces made up entirely of specially comissioned variant SSM figures, wrote to me with his own tip for effective black lining. Here's what Rob has to say on the matter:
"Reading your comment about black outlining on General Buttinski I thought I'd pass on how I do it: I use a pen! I've tried a few but only recommend a 0.1 or 0.3 "Edding 1800 Profipen" depending on how fine a line I want. You need to make sure the paint is really dry before you use them or it seems to clog them up, but they cover really well and don't run when varnished (I spray first followed by a brush applied coat). I've tried a variety of other pens but they all seem to run with the varnish and require a lot of retouching."
Thanks Rob! I'll have to visit my local artists' supply shop for a suitable pen and give your method a try the next time I sit down to do genuine black lining here in Zum Stollenkeller. By the way, the rest of you Stollen regulars can see some of Rob's beautiful work, if you have not already, by visiting the gallery section of the Spencer Smith Miniatures website. Find the link by scrolling down this page and looking for it on the righthand side in my own links section.
Oh, and returning to Holger Eriksson figures for a moment, once I get the current crop of Huzzah infantry all finished, I have a regiment of 30 Holger Eriksson dragoons in the painting queue, which I'll tackle this summer. I had Peter Johnstone send these to me in Germany last summer, when the Grand Duchess and I were again in Berlin for several weeks. And needless to say, I cannot wait to start on those. Chaaaaaaarge!