I've been painting HaT's 1/72 figures as long as the company has existed. I had a website devoted to reviews of plastic figures (it's still out there), and I was even one of the hemi-demi-semi-official painters for HaT. If you look at the figures they released between 2000 and 2002, the sample painted figures are very often mine.
Eventually I gravitated to 15mm metals, then to 28s. Still, I have boxes and boxes of the old plastic figures, and I sometimes paint up a few as a change of pace. There are many things that I like about 1/72 plastics: the low cost, the easy availability, and above all the realistic proportions. I dislike that the figures rarely rank up well into units, and as I started building armies rather than vignettes, the plastic figure boxes started collecting dust.
So it was with some curiosity, mixed with nostalgia, that I heard HaT was releasing hard plastic 28mm figures. When Harris from HaT emailed and asked if I would like to paint some test shots, I jumped at the chance.
The first two 28mm sets HaT is releasing are El Cid's Spanish infantry. I don't know the period well, but a quick visit to Gripping Beast's website gave me some painting inspiration.
Spanish Heavy Infantry
Here they are, based on 60mm x 20mm bases for WAB/FoG. The sprue has one figure each of eight different poses. Most of the figures have seperate weapons, and they all have seperate shields, but this is pretty common for 28mm figures. These are not multipart kits like the Wargames Factory Romans I painted. I ended up spending almost as much time building the WF figures as I did painting them, which was a bit of a pain. I commend HaT for making attractive one piece figures. You can see the sprue here.
If you remember my review of Wargames Factory's Romans, you'll recall that the figures did not fit well on the standard DBx/WAB/FoG base. The HaT figures do just fit, although I had to shuffle them around a bit to keep them within 60mm. You'll notice some overlaps in the photos above.
The HaT figures have some beautiful raised detail in their clothes, which makes the folds very easy to paint. I just did a two tone paint job on the figures above, but the colors really jump out because of the strong relief. The chain mail, on the other hand, was a little too shallow to take a drybrush well. The sculptor could accentuate the mail a bit more and make a drybrush much easier.
The figures have all the strengths of their 1/72 counterparts. They're inexpensive. They should be readily available in hobby stores. And their proportions are very good. To most wargamers, especially those who game in 28mm, these HaT figures will look undersize. But wargamers are used to 28mm figures with strangely thick anatomy.
The figure on the left (one of Old Glory's prepaints) is a pretty standard 28mm figure. The HaT figure looks much smaller, doesn't it? But look at the heights of the two figures. Go ahead and scroll down so that the tops of the heads just touch the top of your computer screen. You'll see that they're almost exactly the same height. Both figures are on Litko 1.8mm bases, but the Old Glory figure has a slightly higher metal bottom, so the HaT figure is even slightly taller than the Old Glory.
The ruler's measurement begins right at the top of the Litko base. Again you can see that the figures are roughly the same height.
My first impression on viewing the HaT 28mm sprue was that the HaT figures were not much bigger than their earlier 1/72 figures. A side by side comparison quickly shows that's not the case, however.
The Carthaginian spearman measures 22mm from toe to eye, while the spanish infantryman measures 29mm.
I'm interested to see where HaT goes with this new line. Their 28mm figures will not match any existing 28mm range. The HaT proportions are clearly superior, but they're also clearly different. Will wargamers like these new figures enough to build whole armies from HaT figures? Will HaT release enough troop types to make that feasible? Remember that the reason I moved to metal figures was because the metals ranked up to look like units. Harris wrote that HaT's 28mm Napoleonic sets will consist mainly of marching poses.
If HaT can release 28mm plastic figures with all the strengths of their 1/72 sets and none of the weaknesses, I can easily see myself building large armies from those figures. So this set may foreshadow great things.