Part 4

Copying of marketed model figures and other equipment - Page 4 of 9

As to home manufacture of moulds I would like to touch upon the issue of copying marketed products and the related matter of ethics. As seems to be the trend in many other areas, it is today also possible to copy marketed model figures. The cold vulcanizing silicone rubber produces very fine casts, frequently making it difficult to notice any difference between original and copy. I have copied several parts from marketed products for domestic use, particularly heads, weapons, cannons, wheels and horses. Often I have used them for further conversion in order to use them in new connections. But everything I have copied, has been for domestic use. I have never given, offered or sold copied parts from home manufactured moulds to others. That is where I have drawn the line. But whether this is the correct approach is probably something worth discussing in the Society. But I imagine that it would be acceptable to sell parts or figures I had made from marketed moulds.

Units of Musketeers of the Royal Danish Lifeguard at Foot in firing line with band music together with reserve units with gun over left shoulder. Units of Musketeers of the Royal Danish Lifeguard at Foot in firing line with band music together with reserve units with gun over left shoulder.

And a little more complex variety; as touched upon, the moulds from Nürnberger Meisterzinns can cause a trifle annoyance. When after countless attempts I finally succeed in making a perfect figure, I subsequently produce a home-manufactured mould in silicone rubber, and when I need further copies of the figure I of course use my home-manufactured mould


What is the cost of cast figures?

A 54mm Prince August assembled figure of foot with accessories on average weighs around 50g. At a lead price of DKK 7 per kg. it corresponds to a price of DKK 0.35 per figure. The cannon in mould set 80-08 weighs 140g, equalling a lead price DKK 0.98. Finally a mounted trooper including horse weighs on average 250g, equalling a lead price of DKK 1.75. Besides the pure lead prices come the costs for heat source, talcum to the moulds to support the casting and glue to assemble the figures together with depreciation of the moulds. The manufacturers say the rubber moulds can endure approx. 1000 castings if treated carefully. In other words, a mould costing DKK 100 costs DKK 0.10 per casting. If one loosely estimates that only every 3rd casting may be deemed acceptable, it means that a depreciation of the mould of DKK 0.30 should be added to the price of a figure. This means that including subsequent painting a finished figure of foot will cost a little more than DKK 1 in total manufacture costs excluding wage. Of course if you calculate your work time the cost will increase dramatically. But as it is a hobby, where the pleasures of creation, the relaxation and the entertainment pose the central issue it is not relevant to include wage.


Prince August 54mm moulds from the Napoleonic Wars

When Prince August introduced the range of moulds with the 54mm figures from the Napoleonic Wars in Denmark around 1996 it was evident that they represented a rather particular quality compared to what was already on the market for moulds. The figures look clean and carry new pressed clothes when compared with e.g. the range of Prussians from Prince August No. 401-13 from the mid 1700 century also in 54mm, which were introduced in 1982. One may be led to believe they come directly from the tailor or the laundry facility. Coats and trousers are very smooth and are almost wrinkle-free. The tails on the coats are completely without creases. It looks good on the soldiers when on parade, who should give a newly polished appearance when they enter the march column together with the Massed Band.

A closer view of the marketing strategy of the moulds, the planning and the accompanying information reveals that the marketing of the range quite often poses serious challenges to the capacity of the company. This small company occasionally sustains difficulties creating accordance between background information on the packing and the enclosed leaflets, and at times the information fails to conform to the historical realities.

In some painting instructions the colours are referred to in numbers, which is a good idea, but if you attempt to find the colour references to the numbers in the instructions, you will find them lacking. And there is no reference to the Prince August homepage, where the matching colours can be found.


Air vents in the moulds

In connection with the casting you have to be aware of the fact that the moulds are normally manufactured without air vents by Prince August. There's nothing unusual in that, but pockets of air in the moulds may harm the casting as they get in the way, when the lead is poured down the intakes. The lead, consequently, cannot float unimpeded into all the cavities of the moulds. Based on my gradually acquired experience from the casting, I have introduced thin cuttings like furrows as air vents, which I have carefully carved with a sharp hobby knife in strategic places, allowing the air to exit. It is often equipment like arms, feathers in headgear or the base plate of the figure which are not fully cast. Cut a fine air vent from the top or side of the above subject and out to one of the sides. If the lead intake is in one side of the base plate an air pocket may occur in the other side. Cut a fine air vent from the other side of the base plate and out to one of the sides. It facilitates the casting immediately. Don't refrain from cutting. One air vent might not even be enough for a particularly irritating subject.