Designing The Winter War Finns

Designing The Winter War Finns
with James Brown

The Winter War Finns featured in Rising Sun were my second opportunity to try my hand at sculpting a figure range (the first being Vietnam Anzacs for Tour of Duty). I knew a lot of people were eagerly awaiting these figures, and I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed. So I started with a lot of research. For information on uniforms and equipment, Osprey’s Men-At-Arms series is always an excellent starting point.

Read James's preview of the ANZAC range for Tour Of Duty here...

Below: The Jääkäri SMG Platoon (Winter).
Designing The Winter War Finns
The Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive - is another excellent resource. It features thousands of historical photographs from the Winter War, mostly from the home front, training and exercises. However, Photographs from the actual front lines of the Winter War are rare.

Right: Osprey’s Men-At-Arms: Finland at War 1939-45.
Designing The Winter War Finns
Below: Images from the Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive.
Designing The Winter War Finns Designing The Winter War Finns Designing The Winter War Finns
Designing The Winter War Finns

So for more action-packed figure inspiration and reference I used the 1989 Finnish film Talvisota (Winter War) - Using a film for reference is not something I would often consider - contrary to what some wags occasionally like to claim, Flames Of War is not, in fact, the ‘game of the movie of World War II’. However, in this case I made an exception. The Finnish film industry has quite a history of high-quality, rigorously researched war films, and Talvisota is one of the highlights.

Left & Below: Still images from the Finnish film Talvisota (Winter War).

Designing The Winter War Finns Designing The Winter War Finns Designing The Winter War Finns

One reason the Finns gave the Soviets such an unexpectedly hard fight in the Winter War was that they were much better experienced and equipped to deal with the vicious winter conditions. I had fun with the Lapland boots – the unique traditional footware with the turned-up square toes designed to lock into cross-country ski bindings.

The ski troops will be released as a special order code sometime soon.

Right: Finnish ski troops.

Designing The Winter War Finns
Below: A Finnish Sissi Platoon ambush a Soviet convoy.

Designing figures on skis which look good and are also suitable for casting was a bit of a challenge. Since six or seven years ago we use a standard 10mm round base on all of our figures. With the ski poles having to be spaced out from the body, and the ski tips having to protrude past the edges of the base, there was just no way to make the figures cast as a single piece. The solution I settled on is to have the legs end in pegs, which plug into separate feet and skis, which are attached to the round base. It’s quite straightforward and works well, so hopefully people will find them easy to assemble.

Of course, you don’t actually need to use ski troops for your Sissi Platoons – the normal infantry figures are fine. I also made separate skis and ski poles so people can make teams of prone firing figures similar to this well-known photograph.

Designing The Winter War Finns It takes a lot of patience and planning to create a figure range. I’m happy with how they have turned out, with perhaps a few minor reservations. For one thing, one or two of the figures are slightly taller than the others. But then not everyone is the same size in real life, and a tiny bit of extra height shouldn’t be held against anyone (I hope not – I’m 6’5”).

The vast majority of the figures measure 15mm from the feet to the eyes, and overall the range will combine well with our earlier summer Finns.

Left: People come in different shapes and sizes.
Below: The Jääkäri Rifle Platoon (Winter).
Designing The Winter War Finns
I particularly enjoyed sculpting the hooded snow suits. They have such a distinctive look, and I also really like painting them. Not everyone agrees with me, though – I know plenty of people are intimidated by painting white. I hope this video helps.

I really hope everyone likes this figure range, and I look forward to seeing some beautifully painted Finnish armies.

Hyväa Sumoi! *

~ James.

* According to an episode of Veep I watched recently, that means ‘Go Finland!’ I apologise to Finnish readers if I have been cruelly misinformed.)

Last Updated On Thursday, October 10, 2013 by Blake at Battlefront