Friday, November 22, 2013

Victorian Science Fiction: Space Prussians! (Part 1: Infantry)

The Victorian Age, Science Fiction, and Victorian Science Fiction
The 19th century was a great one for Science. Darwin was getting hounded for declaring apes as our ancestors. Faraday invented the dynamo. Maxwell was unifying magnetism, electricity, and light. It looked liked Science was going to answer all our questions about the world - and was creating new ones of its own. Out of Science, Science Fiction emerged.

Typical of the times, Science Fiction was critical inquiry into a specific question. Could animal electricity be used to bring back the dead (Mary Shelley with Frankenstein)? What if a ship could travel under water (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)? Will the Martians suck?

Science Fiction has moved so much on from these early steps, that we take an entirely different delight from them. They are dated, but they are charming - like 70's scifi films. Their serious extrapolation is our quaint whimsy. Further, the Victorian Age is often remembered for its cuteness. Tea cosies; handlebar moustaches; and penny farthings are as much its legacy as the Suez Canal and post-colonial, civil wars.

Herein is the state of Victorian Science Fiction (VSF) today. Some pieces, like the fantastic The Difference Engine, are a serious "what if" exploration. That book for example, explores what might have happened if Babbage had actually built his Victorian computer. Others, like the Wild Wild West, are just fun and ridiculous. The innate cuteness of the subject matter plays well to this.

VSF is well explored by wargamers, and there are no end of companies that make VSF figures. A great place to explore the scene is the Lead Adventure's forum. Even if you're not into VSF, give the forum a look. It's a wonderful gateway into alternate wargaming and minis.

My own VSF project is quite whimsical. Work and life are pretty serious, so my hobby space usually has little room for that. As such, it was only of matter of time before Space Prussians happened. Here is the first part of their tale.

Trench 2114

It's rare that I am so delighted by a miniature that I reach straight for my wallet (well, I suppose more rare than it used to be). Cactus Games' Trench 2114 had me doing this, my only regret is that they didn't have a larger range. Here are their "Heer Light Infantry".  Click, and be delighted too.

At $5.50 for a pack of 10, they're a huge win for a cheapskate. Also, the picture on the site doesn't do them justice. Once I got them, I couldn't help but notice they were some of the nicest 15mm infantry minis I had ever seen. They rival 28mm in detail. Khurasan is doing some incredible work with 15mm characters, but I've not seen anyone do rank and file this good.

I must also say that even the service was great. John the owner:
- Shipped the goods the next day.
- Replied all my follow up emails within 24 hours.
- Reserved a stock for me from the next casting, asking for no money down
- Cared.

I'm keen to see their ranges expand - They also do 28mm as well. Trench 2114 is one to keep an eye on. 

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