Les Higgins Miniatures

I was very pleased to receive through the post recently samples of 20mm scale metal figures. These were a large group of recast Les Higgins figures, very generously supplied by their manufacturer, John Cunningham.

Caricature Combat! Co-founder Brian Marlow duals with Les Higgins (taken from the 1971 Les Higgins Miniatures catalogue as displayed on the Prometheus in Aspic blog).

The interesting story behind Les Higgins Miniatures is nicely recorded on the Vintage 20mil website. Founded in 1967, Les Higgins himself tragically passed away aged 49 in 1972. The company continued for some years as Phoenix Model Developments. The figures all belong to my recently favoured Marlburian period and include lovely examples of:

Musketeers

Grenadiers

Command figures

Cavalry

The group of cavalry caught my attention, examples of what I believe are;

  • a trooper of horse
  • a hussar
  • a French dragoon
  • a dragoon wearing a tricorne
  • a trumpeter
  • a horse grenadier
  • and a cuirassier with a ‘lobster’ helmet.

A very nice group of horses were also included for them to ride:

In addition to the Les Higgins figures were some examples from other 20mm manufacturers of yore; Alberken and Douglas Miniatures.

Alberken Miniatures:

Begun in 1964, Nottinghamshire-based Alberken was formed by Albert Horsfield and Ken Watkins, (whose main business was making “pie machines”)! The manufacturer name was a portmanteau of their first names. The figures are described on Vintage 20mil as being “thin in build, a bit static in pose, sometimes lacking in detail and stand around 22mm high and noticeably flat“. Albert Horsfield tragically died in a car accident just a year after forming and Alberken subsequently ceased production. Full story again on Vintage 20Mil.

Douglas Miniatures:

Douglas Miniatures were the forerunner to the manufacturer of the 54mm MJ Mode figures which I painted last year. Vintage 20mil states that the early Douglas Miniatures were “quite literally a ‘cottage industry’, with Johnston sculpting the figures in his own kitchen in Glenfield.” In a bizarre coincidence, I happen to paint all figures in my kitchen in Glenfield…

It’s interesting to compare a Les Higgins grenadier (left below) with an Irregular Miniatures version which also came through as a sample.

Left: a Les Higgins grenadier and Right: an Irregular Miniatures grenadier

So, I’m keen to see how these lovely old veterans paint up with a long view of incorporating some into my Marlburian armies. I thought I’d begin by having a go at some of Les Higgins’ cavalry figures, so I’ll post more on these when I’ve made some progress.

“We could perhaps be super-optimistic and see (international wargaming) as a future way of solving our international differences without firing a single, full-size explosive shot!”. And so say all of us…

12 thoughts on “Les Higgins Miniatures

  1. Your blog is always a fascinating read. My take away here is that figure sculpting is not conducive to longevity! I thought the Les Higgins are particularly fine and a good match for your Irregulars.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Bill. That is very true about the sculptors. Les Higgins – died aged 49, Jim Johnston of Douglas Miniatures – died aged 48, and Albert Horsfield of Alberken died a year after founding his company! I have a pipe dream to start a very small-scale model soldier outfit, like a revived MJ Mode (M and J being the initials of my wife and I coincidentally), but at age 47, the history of the above named is not entirely reassuring..

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh my friend I have always said my girls never tempt fate ! What an amazing coincident though. these figures look pretty good mate and I’m sure with you ability with the brush they will be indistinguishable from the others you have done. From what Dave (TIM) says the weather is perfect for staying indoors and painting !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Metal antique figures are a very different to the new plastics, so a slightly modified approach is needed, I reckon, but I like to stick to stamping my own ‘style’ on them. Hopefully, they’ll look ok under my brush…

      Liked by 1 person

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