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From Russia With Love
Canadian writer Michael Cross returns with a look at the work of Russian figure kit producer Chronos Miniatures
John Jenkins Designs
WWI & F&I Wars
As a boy growing up in Canada, Russia meant one of two things to me; the 1972 Summit Hockey 8-Game Series when the then Soviet National Team almost defeated a stunned NHL star-laden Team Canada (at the height of the Cold War to boot) and a very memorable James Bond flick with the equally memorable Bond girl Tatiana Romanova.
I did eventually mature and expand my world view enough past my own personal borders and sports biases to realize that Russia, or the Russian Federation, had not only blessed the world with skilled hockey players and great Bond storylines, but had for centuries blessed the world with a seemingly endless array of artistic talents; Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Pushkin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Chagall and Kandinsky, Nureyev, Pavlova, Yul Brenner of Magnificent Seven and Ten Commandments fame and one of my favorite more recent Russian exports Anna Kournikova, (though not technically 'artistic' but very well designed none-the-less).
As model soldier enthusiasts we are all familiar with Saint Petersburg as being not only the cultural epicenter of the Russian Federation but also the home of some of the most beautifully sculpted and painted miniatures found anywhere in the world. Figures from Russia, especially Saint Petersburg have become synonymous with excellence and quality and will at times fetch upward into the thousands of dollars range for a single figure, elevating the hobby from what is normally viewed as a casual interest, into the realm of pure investment.
Though the Russian-crafted model soldier may now be defined by the Saint Petersburg brand, the high standards and unparalleled quality that the Saint Petersburg brand represents in the model soldier world does not end there; the country is in fact, overflowing with remarkable creative talents and inspired entrepreneurs.
Chronos Miniatures, the name Chronos relating to the God of Time from Greek mythology and the father of Zeus, is the personal project of one (non-mythological) Dmitry Karamnov, a 36 year old creative demi-God from Russia.
Like most, or let's just say rather all of us, Dmitry began his model soldier journey quite young, playing with, painting and collecting 1/72 armies related to his particular interest, the Wars of the 17th-19th centuries. Dmitry's love for the hobby was to remain a lifelong one, but as some of us have also experienced there was a notable sidetrack, that being the years where we abandon our pursuits of childhood for social opportunism and higher education. My own sidetrack led to a lot of hangovers, memory loss and my loving but misguided mother giving away all of my soldiers to an ungrateful nephew, whereas Dmitry's sidetrack led him to much loftier spiritual studies and pursuits (Psychedelic Goa-Trance and the culture of India, Tibet, Ancient Egypt, Aztecs and Mayans) which would eventually become subject matter for his current career as owner and creative guide of Chronos Miniatures.
Though this venture did not begin until 2012 the output of Chronos is staggering to say the least. What began as a single 54mm figure of a Swedish Musketeer from the Great Northern War and due in part to the positive response it received from the model soldier community - Chronos has now turned into a fulltime occupation for Dmitry and a current company output of twenty 54mm figures, with plans for many more to come as well as figures in 75mm, 90mm, 120mm, accessories and hyper-detailed model bases.
The current 54mm line of resin kits is as diverse as you'll find in any of the more well established figure makers and consists of:
1. Swedish Musketeer of Infantry Regiment, 1708-21
2. British Pioneer of the Grenadier Guards Regiment, 1856-57
3. Spanish Conquistador, 1560-1600
4. Havildar (Sergeant) 15th Bengal Native Infantry Regiment, British India 1890-98
5. Russian Unter-Officer (NCO) of the Life-Guard Regiment, 1812-14
6. Russian Grenadier Infantry Regiment (Crimean War), 1853-56
7. Ancient Egypt Infantrymen (New Kingdom), XV-XIII Century B.C
8. French Knight, 1420-1425,
9. Akali (Immortal) Warrior. Sikh Army. India, XVIII-XIX Century
10. Roman Centurion, I Cenutry A.C.
11. Philistine Heavy Infantryman, XIII-XII Century, B.C.
12. Sherden Warrior, XIII-XII Centruy, B.C.,
13. British Sergeant 60th (Royal American) Regiment, 1813-14
14. Russian Grenadier (NCO) of Infantry Regiment, 1812-14
15. Havildar (Sergeant) with machine gun. Indian Infantry Regiment, 1916-18
16. Russian Fusilier of Infantry Regiment, 1709-20
17. Westphalian Jager of Royal Guard, 1809-11
18. Russian Drummer of Grenadiers Regiment, 1812-17
19. Swedish Grenadier of Mellin's Regiment, 1700-05
20. British Private 24th Regiment of Foot, 1879
The kits are beautifully sculpted, full of character and are some of the cleanest castings (virtually flash free) I have ever seen using resin. The resin is of a much harder variety so the clean up, what little there is to do, is a breeze. Details are sharp throughout the figures and accessories, and painting, as you can see from the photos, is a real pleasure.
I think that the subject matters alone elevate these kits to a level where they can compete with many of the more well-established makers (Andrea, Pegaso etc.), even considering the metal versus resin discussion. The Swedish Musketeer was an instant success with kit enthusiasts and collectors, and with the two separate heads that come with the kit there was an added value option of being able to portray a number of regimental uniform variations.
Though Chronos Miniatures would be well considered an up-and-comer in the model soldier industry (barely two years old), their uncompromising quality of output and commitment to serving as wide a range of historical interests as possible makes them on the verge of elite status and I for one hope to see much more from them moving forward.
So now, whether I catch myself humming along to Rimsky-Korsakov, enjoy another (attempted) reading of War and Peace, find a wall to hang my ChagaIl (copy) on, watch the Magnificent Seven for the umpteenth time, or repeatedly sit through highlight's from Wimbledon (Kournikova) I will have a much deeper appreciation of what Russia has for centuries blessed the world with and continues to do so in the hobby I love.
I have however still not completely forgiven Russia for the 1972 hockey series. That will take some time.
Chronos Miniatures are on sale in model shops all over the world including; Russia, USA, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany, Australia and Japan or you can contact them direct at: www.chronos-miniatures.com.
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