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Metal Review Jan 2014 New Releases
Reviews of new metal figures to arrive in the hobby by George Phillips, Martin Ainscough and Mark Avery
Open Fire Figures
Various new releases
Last issue I gave a brief review to a new company Open Fire Figures who had released a set of WWII partisans. At the time I knew very little about the company but the figures certainly garnered my interest enough to make me want to find out more. OFF were thankfully in attendance at the December London show so I made a beeline for their tables first thing in the morning to see what they were all about.
Upon approaching the tables I could see a very professional set up (something you don't always see at toy soldier shows let's be honest), with sets clearly laid out and smartly presented. The tables were manned by the driving forces behind the business, Adam Gayford (sculptor and painter) and Louise Boardman (painter), the pair are extremely friendly and I was very pleased to learn that although knew to toy soldiers they have been producing wargame scale figures (15mm and 28mm) for quite some time.
As well as displaying the WWII partisans the pair also had three other new sets on display. First up was a WWII SBS canoe, there are actually four very subtly different versions of this available (two different camo patterns with two different oar positions as far as I can tell), these sets are well painted and appear to be aiming to emulate the matte Chinese paint style and scale allowing these to be used in dioramas filled with figures by the larger producers (a smart idea). Price at £80 per set these are interesting little sets that appear to fill a gap in the market.
Next up I took at look at a set titled 'Sir Henry Morton Stanley Through the Dark Continent. An age of exploration'. This I feel is an unusual but quite daring set as usually when new businesses decide to enter the toy soldier hobby they 'play it safe' by producing Napoleonic, WWII etc. so I think OFF should be highly commended for treading a different path. Personally I love this set and I certainly hope Adam and Louise add to it, all eight figures have a high gloss finish (although can be ordered in matte) but both styles, including the gloss version, feature a more detailed painting style akin to what we're used to seeing from China based producers in recent years. Priced at £300 the set is not exactly cheap, as this equates to £37.50 per figure, but given the level of detail and the fact that this set, like all current OFF releases, is limited to only 25 sets ever being produced it actually seems like a very fair price. And if you like the look of this set then make sure you turn to page 72 and enter our competition this issue as OFF have kindly donated one of the 25 sets as a prize!
Last, but by no means least, is my personal favourite, the Chelsea Pensioners. I have seen the CP's produced by dozens of companies in various formats over the years but I can honestly say that OFF's version are one that really got Andy and I talking when we photographed them at the show. The seven figures that make up the set are all very bright in their red overcoats, and this is enhanced by the high gloss finish applied by OFF, add to this the mix of five regulars, a corporal and a sergeant and varying facial features including beards and moustaches, and this set really stands out from the crowd. Again not cheap at £260 (around £37 per figure) the price may put some off but honestly these are worth a closer look, good chunky sculpts combined with nicely detailed shading, all made in the UK and package in an interesting and somewhat quirky way make me believe OFF are off (no pun intended) to a flying start in our hobby.
Review by Mark Avery
Open Fire Figures
77 Belmont Road
Tel: 0161 976 3070
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