Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Dixon Grand Alliance!

My Dixon figures has arrove! A few weeks back I sent out a small order for some of the venerable Dixon Grand Alliance range and the ding-dong at my door this afternoon was the mailman dropping them off. I say 'venerable' because the range is more than 35 years old—that's dead in dog years and nearly so in figure range years. But these figures have stood the test of time and are as good or better than many newer figure ranges.

But I wasn't sure what to expect from such a hoary range when I ordered. In too many cases, ordering figures from a range that's a few decades old (or older) can be a disappointment. The molds might not be maintained well and what you get requires a lot of filing and trimming just to distinguish them from fishing weights. (I recall an order to Minifigs USA many years ago that made me think I'd purchased from the Carve-Your-Own-from-a-Block-of-Lead range.)

This is not the case with Dixon! The figures are as clean and well cast as if they were a brand new range. Not only that, but the packaging has all the elegance of old school English figure manufacturers. No bubble-packs or baggies full o' lead. My order contained two small 3" x 3" x 2" white boxes personalized with my initials on the top.

Monogramed box
Inside, the figures were wrapped in royal blue tissue paper as carefully as if they were fine porcelain.

All snug in their box
This is a nice touch.

These figures bring back fond memories. I painted a lot of them in the '80s. When they first came out ca. 1980 they were absolutely the best figures on the market. In a world that was still dominated by Minifigs and Hinchliffe (both cutting edge in their day), their fine detail, animated poses, and head variants put them way ahead of everyone else. They were also in an historical niche that I just loved and no one else was making late 17th c. figures.

I was living in San Jose, CA at the time and several of us got the bug to game the late 17th c. using the old WRG Renaissance rules by George Gush. I painted my minis as Brandenburg-Prussians ca. Nine Years War. I sold them when I went off to seminary in 1986 and briefly resumed painting some about three years later while I was still in Chicago. I never did much with the new batch and sold them in the early 90s after I moved to Seattle. Since then, I've wanted to do another project using these figures. The North Star 1672 range fulfilled some of that desire—Mark Copplestone is the sculptor for both ranges and I'm a big fan of Mark's work.

Among the felicities of The Pikeman's Lament, is that the small scale of a company means that I can do projects for those rules that I would eschew if they required hundreds of figure to complete. So I decided that I could use Dixon Grand Alliance figures to build a company for James II and William III's Irish campaign. I'm already doing late 16th c. Irish Wars using the excellent Timeline Miniatures Border Reivers, so this is a fast-forward by 100 years from that period--no kern or gallowglass.

I'm starting with James' Irish forces first. Years ago, I picked up a nice booklet on the conflict: William III at War: Scotland and Ireland 1689-1691 by Alan Sapherson.

It's chock full of information about Irish, English, Dutch, and Danish units for the campaign in Ireland. I picked it up for $8.95 30 years ago, now it's going for $45.00 on Amazon! I've already got the uniform colors in mind and Flags of War makes the flags for both sides. (Gotta have flags, even in a skirmish game.)

In my Dixon order, I got 12 musketeers for a shot unit, 6 grenadiers (with plug bayonets) for a forlorn hope unit, 2 each of the officers and drummer, and a mounted general.

All unboxed now
This is a good start for now. My plan for the company is to add another unit of shot, a unit of 6 pikes taken as aggressive forlorn hope (no shooting, just piking), a 6-figure unit of dragoons, two 6-figure cavalry units. I'll get the lot in my next order to Dixon.

Musketeers and grenadiers
For now, I have a lot of figures to paint: for other projects ECW, Aztecs, conquistadors, Thirty Years War, Medieval Spanish, Irish 16th c., etc.

Officers mostly
But I'm pretty excited about the Dixon figures, so I'll likely clean and prime these figures soon and get then on deck.


  1. Great to see another gamer getting into this period (again). What regts have you chosen to paint up. I've done Kirke's for the English and I'm in the middle of painting the Earl of Clanricarde regt. I chose this one because they wore grey coats, so they can double up as a French unit for Fighting in Flanders.

  2. They are indeed lovely figures which have certainly stood the test of time.I particularly like the officer with hat in hand and the other one depicted in the last photo. I had them many moons ago but they went as part of my downsizing.I really look forward to seeing them painted.

  3. I'm planning to do Lord Louth's regiment. White coats lined filamot (rusty brown). When I get around to the Williamites, not sure. Possibly Cutt's.

  4. These are truly little works of art. Copplestone is definitely one of the great sculptors.

    Mr. Hamm has some of these gems too:


  5. I saw Doug's figures at Enfilade years ago when he first started the project. They're beautiful. He needs to run a Battle of the Boyne game at Enfilade some year - maybe this year, since the theme is Invasions.

    1. OK, with Bill's and your enthusiasm it has rekindled my efforts in the era. Well OK it never wained but I, well, have a attention span of a confused ferret....
      The main thrust of my collection is indeed Ireland and the Boyne so it can be "converted" to TPL.

  6. David,

    Nice review - I too am a fan of Mr Copplestone's. I am looking for figures for King Philip's War to match my 'hefty' Redoubt (FIW) Indian figures.

    You don't by any chance have a side by side comparison with a Redoubt figure of Perry or something so i can get a feel for the size of the miniatures please?

    Also, do you think they'll be suitable for KPW? If so these, combined with Northstar's figures provides a nice range of Copplestone exclusive sculpts...that's very nice to have.

    Hope you can help...my quest for suitable figures continues but these might be them!


    Happy Wanderer

  7. I too love the Dixon figures. When they came out, as you say, they were far beyond the other figures available. They are still mighty nice.