The conversion bug

Sure, ‘the Conversion Bug’ may sound like some sort of new nemesis for the Stargate SG1 team. It is not. Instead, this is the feeling or affliction which strikes me when I see plastic miniatures. Every time I get a new plastic boxed set, my first thought after assembling the first few is: what else I can convert them into?

The explosion of hard plastic miniatures onto the wargames market has been for the most part very welcome. It has made the dreams of large armies possible for most gamers. And then there are the conversion possibilities. For me a famous wargamer described it best when he said that these models are effectively multipurpose conversion kits. Plastics may be more fragile than metal, but make up for it in sheer versatility. The dream of having each model in a unit or even an army each in a slightly different pose becomes possible. 

With any conversion work, I recommend a sharp knife, a good cutting surface and to be aware of where the knife is cutting. Always cut away from your fingers towards the cutting surface and you’ll avoid getting some impressive scars… (Yes, wargaming scars are cool, but no, we do not recommend getting them on purpose!)

While painting my Napoleonic French as part of the ‘Painting a whoooooole box of French Line Infantry’ for Facebook, I did some conversions on the models I was painting. I focussed primarily on the Grenadier/Voltigeur models from the Warlord French boxed set, as these have their right arms away from the body and thus are easy to cut off and swap over. I simply used spare arms from the Victrix and Perry sets for the conversion. I didn’t really fancy several Grenadier or Voltigeur models looking exactly the same…

With the French finished, I was itching to do more, and looked around for another project. How about I saw what I could do with converting Victrix and Perry Austrians?

Some people criticize the Victrix set for their complexity. I think this is for the most part unfair, I’d rather have more choice than less when it comes to poses. The Victrix set offers marching, reloading, at porte and firing poses while other companies generally only offer marching models. Once you’ve constructed one sprue, you get used to the different parts and where they go. The unused arms also come in handy if there are any breakages.

Firstly I took the basic Perry and Victrix right arms and heads and simply swapped them. Any arm I cut off a Perry, I reused on a Victrix (waste not, want not!). The heads are pretty much interchangeable, though the Victrix shakos are slightly taller, the difference is minimal. The Victrix head also fits in slightly differently than the Perry, but this is easily adjusted with a good plastic glue (I use Revell Contacta Professional).

Next I played about with the command figures, simply swapping the heads and arms around from the different sets to make up new variants. I’m always after slightly different looking command models for my units, so these simple conversions did the job nicely. The drummer for example uses the Perry heads, arms and drum (in grey plastic) while retaining the original Victrix body. The parts from the Victrix model were used on the Perry body in a similar fashion.

Finally, so my French didn’t feel left out, I tried the same trick on some of the Perry and Victrix French. I’ve always fancied a unit or two of ‘Marie Louises’ regiments for my French, so I took the caps and bonnet de police from the Warlord and Victrix sets and added them to Perry greatcoats. I swapped the occasional arm as well, to add in more variation. The drummer is a Victrix body with added Perry head, arms and drum. And yep, you guessed it, there’s a Perry body with added Victrix arms and drum in my collection!

Converting plastics can be a fun and painless experience, as long as you’re careful with your blades. They can add character to your units and break up that single pose rank and file look. Now to paint some Austrians. That’ll be lots of white in another blog!

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