Following in from the last couple of pieces, having selected your army and decided on the rough numbers it's time to actually buy some figures. This can be fraught, so here again are a couple of pointers.
Plastic or Metal?
In many ways we are living in a golden age because plastic 28mm historical figures are making some armies financially viable again. What is more, the availability of cheap plastic figures has imposed something of a cap on metal figure prices. This is good for the gamer in the short term but we may end up with less choice in the future. As a personal choice I prefer plastic over metal for a number of reasons. Firstly, the aforementioned price. Historical plastic figures tend to sell at roughly around half the price of metal ones. A second advantage is weight. Seems a bit of a strange thing to have to consider but humping around several hundred metal figures can be something of a chore. On the downside be prepared to stick more bits together in plastic rather than metal. There are a couple of excellent sources too - Victrix, Perry, Gripping Beast and Warlord Games are probably the leaders in plastic, but you should also look to smaller outfits such as FireForge, Agema and Conquest. One word on Warlord. Their Hoplites are reboxed "Immortal Miniatures" ranges, which were probably the very first Ancient figures in plastic. They're ok, but not a patch on Victrix. The same can usually be said about the reboxed Wargames Factory Persians and Hoplites available from Warlord, although they are damned useful and very flexible figures. Victrix are currently in the lead here as they have just released their first Cavalry sets with more to follow, including Elephants in 2017.
That's not to say you should ignore metal, but you do need to be careful if you are going down that route. Twenty years ago Essex miniatures ruled the roost, but today they are largely ignored due to their static poses and lack of variation. Out and out leaders in the UK are Perry & their old employer Foundry,both great sculpts and wide ranges. Old Glory in both the US and UK are however very much worth looking at (the US website has many more pics than the UK) and the quality ranges from "rough and ready" to "Foundryesque" but with the advantage of discount prices. Warlord also produce a good selection of metal figures that vary in style and proportion, a result of their "hoovering up" of smaller ranges such as Immortal and Bronze Age. Mention should also be made of more niche suppliers such as Footsore, Gripping Beast (Kings of the Dark Age), First Corps \ Kingmaker, Aventine and many others, some of who produce exquisite and complete ranges in their chosen specialised area.
So going back to the earlier post on Romans, where would I get them? There is a stand out range available in plastic from Warlord, with Victrix promising another later in the year. To recap I suggested the following number of units to make up a core Early Imperial Roman force:
2 Funditores (Skirmish slingers)
2 Equites Alares Medium Cavalry
2 Mauri Javelin armed Light Cavalry (Moorish fits the bill)
Numbers of figures per base is not fixed in Impetus - you are free to go with as few or as many as you feel looks good, as long as you and your opponent can differentiate. In this case Warlord produce a box of thirty Legionaries in plastic, which would allow you to build four bases each with six or more figures on each. That's not too shabby. Warlord also produce an Auxilia box set with 24 figures, again that is more than enough for three units of Auxilia. At this point if you can still find them the older Wargames Factory Numidian Skirmishers and Early Imperial Auxiliary Cavalry boxes would cover most of your other requirements, but if you cant get them Warlord will sell you suitable metal figures, an Imperial Roman Cavalry Regiment will get you 12 figures for £24 which is actually very good value, and will happily furnish you with two bases of cavalry you need plus a couple of spares. In fact comparing it to other stuff on their website I think they may have screwed the pricing up so maybe strike now before it changes?
Similarly you need 4-6 light horse with Javelin, or two packs, but the "Regiment" deal works out cheaper plus some slingers (one pack - Balearic) and you probably should grab a Command set of your choice.
So £50 in plastic Legions and Auxilia, £24 Cavalry, £18 Light Horse, £8 Slingers and £4 for a general, so just over £100 and you are done. If you were to buy the same numbers in metal from Foundry they would be about 12 packs so £144 but they do a deal that would bring the price down to £120 - worth considering. Old Glory in the UK sell their figures in packs of 30 including command (10 for Cavalry) so you would need 5 sets - 2 infantry, 2 cavalry and some skirmishers - again about £130. First Corps also come in at around this price point. Check them out and go for the one that most tickles your fancy
One word about the best deal going - Warlords Imperial Roman Starter Army. You can still find these on ebay for £65 and they're excellent value - 100 Legionaries and 24 Auxilia. You can build your army and have enough spare to gift them to a friend!