I like female miniatures. I think one of the fundamental realities of the 40K setting is that is sufficiently dark that petty differences begin to fade away in response to a greater threat. If the Tyranids, or the Warp, or any one of a thousand other threats is about to devour your planet, do you really have room to disregard half your population?
I like them even better when they’re not cheesecake, or tokenized.
What I’d really like is female Guard figures, for which I have had depressingly little luck. Enter Victoria Miniatures.
I’ve had my eye on Victoria’s Arcadian Rifles miniatures for awhile now. Victoria produces a number of Guard-alike figures with several ranges to choose from harkening back to either classic Guard units like the Praetorians or Mordians, or with alternative sculpts.
Flirting with a new Guard project, I ordered a squad of the female Arcadian Rifles (there are also male sculpts available). At $49.90 for a complete kit of 10 figures plus weapons, they’re a bit on the pricey side, close to double the cost of a plastic Cadian Shock Troops kit, but cheaper than a squad of Elysians, which is $53 at the present, the pound having taken it in the teeth lately. So how are they?
Ordering and Delivery: Ordering was easy, with a minor snafu from PayPal not handing me back off to Victoria’s server solved with a quick email. I ended up ordering both the full squad and a set of kneeling legs, both because I liked the look of them, and because it pushed me over the free shipping threshold, effectively getting me more toys for less money. The package arrived promptly, shipped Air Mail and well padded, at least as fast as I’d expect from ordering anything else from Australia.
Sculpts: The sculpts are everything I’d expect from Victoria Lamb. If you don’t know know who she is, check out The Rescue of Sister Joan and Firey Angel. Even a decade later these pieces are outstanding, and at the time…well, to someone just getting into the hobby, they were something of a revelation.
The faces are detailed, with realistic expressions that go beyond just “Shouting!” and there’s plenty of small details for those who want to lavish attention on their miniatures, without going overboard. Appearance wise, they’re closer in style to the old metal “Classic Cadians”, looking a bit like what you’d expect if you lifted “Classic Toy Soldier” and placed them in the 41st millennium. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and for the intended project, an air cavalry Imperial Guard regiment, it’s actually pretty perfect.
Gender wise, they’re clearly and unambiguously female, without being comically proportioned. There’s a slight taper at the waist and a roundness to the hips of the figures, but otherwise they look like women in standard infantry attire. If you’re looking for pinup-type models with high heels and exaggerated busts, this isn’t the line for you.
Casting Quality: In terms of casting quality, the miniatures are, again, about what I would expect from a small production company. There’s a fair amount of flash on the models, but this can be easily removed with a hobby knife or fingernail in most cases. Similarly, there are definitely mold lines and the occasional bubble, but well within the range of what I’d consider acceptable. I’ve had worse figures come from both Games Workshop and Forge World. Below is a picture of several bits of sprue to give an idea of what we’re talking about:
The resin used is pretty hard and seems reasonably durable. One note is that the figures are clearly meant to be used with slot bases (some are included). Removing them is trivially easy, but in several of the walking figures it leaves them with not a ton of surface area to be glued onto a base. This probably isn’t a problem when using flat surfaced base like stone, urban streets, etc. but when I mounted them on Secret Weapon’s Blasted Wetland’s bases, which are fairly gritty, it was a little tricky.
So far, so good. So…can some ladies join the Imperial Guard?
Line Compatibility: This is where we run into problems – or more accurately, caveats. I asked Victoria about line compatibility with the GW range before I ordered these, and to her credit, she said they’re at a subtly different scale. They are. Here’s a kneeling and standing figure from her range next to some Cadian Shock Troops:
While roughly the right height (accounting for being in recessed bases), the Cadians are considerably bulkier. The Arcadians have smaller heads, thinner arms and legs, and are generally “slight” in a way that would look odd on the tabletop. I’ve heard that Elysians are slightly more delicate as well, but I don’t have any of them for comparison. The thing is, on their own, I don’t think they’d look jarringly wrong, or be of a sufficiently different size to dramatically change things like cover and line of sight.
It’s just going to be a little hard to “Mix and Match”.
Generally, I don’t think that’s a problem. For tanks, it won’t be noticeable, and for vehicles with canopies they can be painted over. The Arcadians have a laudable array of special weapons, so that’s not much of a problem either. Then we get to heavy weapons…
Victoria sells a number of heavy weapons, but they’re all over a very bulky “Riveted Iron Chassis” look, and the crew arms available match that aesthetic – they’re less about interacting with the weapon, and more about pointing downrange and lugging an ammo crate into place. If that’s not the look you’re going for, a little creativity is going to be called for. The available arms are somewhat at odds with the way one would expect to interact with Games Workshop heavy weapons, and as far as I can tell there’s no mechanism for a missile launcher at all. It’s not impossible, of course, but it’ll take some work and possibly sculpting.
Overall: I’d give the Arcadian Rifles female figures a solid 9/10. They’re outstanding miniatures, detailed, well-cast, and…anatomically plausible. They’d make outstanding figures for a female Imperial Guard unit, or with the Arcadian Rifles male figures, a mixed gender force. They are a little steep price wise, and unfortunately despite being really appealing, aren’t quite a drop-in substitute for the full range of units one might expect in a Guard force, and are of a sufficiently different scale that it will be hard to smooth out those gaps with say, Cadian arms.