"Tin Soldiers are 30 mm Tall and Flat"
(C. Rogge, master painter and Seven Years’ War expert, overheard at Kulmbach ’97)
The Kulmbach miniatures fair is a traditional event, held every other year at the foot of the famous Plassenburg castle. The Plassenburg is known for its huge collection of tin soldiers, and its many historic dioramas featuring thousands of painted miniatures.
The exhibit area inside the Plassenburg has been renovated, and dioramas have been grouped by historic period, covering the Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Seven Years’ War, Napoleonic War, and Franco-Prussian War period of history. Civilian themes are found in many display cases along the walls, but the large battlefield displays in the center of each floor are the true visitor magnets. The 30 mm flat shown here depicts Austrian FM Kollowrat. Collectors looking for any historic personality figure will find it in 30 mm flats, the variety seems endless.
Compare this figure to another Austrian commander: FM Serbelloni. Many flats, and groups of flats are based on famous paintings, and they invite the miniature painter to recreate this scene as close to the original as possible. Dioramas involving 30 mm flats can be scenes from history and art history, including large-scale reproductions of famous battles.
Anyone who has ever visited Kulmbach as a kid or adult will remember the diorama of the Prussian II Btl. and III Btl. Garde (15) attacking the village and churchyard of Leuthen, 5th December 1757. The two guard battalions are over 1200 figures strong, and they provide a realistic impression of a linear formation deployed for battle. Inside Leuthen churchyard can be seen the imperial infantry regiment "Red"-Würzburg, about to be turned out of its strong position by III. Btl. Garde. Austrian survivors of a delaying action in front of III. Btl. can be seen falling back on the churchyard. In the meantime, II. Btl. Garde is attacking Austrian and Hungarian infantry in the village of Leuthen with Peletonfeuer, firing successive platoons while the others are advancing and loading on the move.
70 % Flat and 30 % Round
Not everything is flat in the world of flats. Flats have a lot of raised detail, and they can be painted to give the impression of fully round figures like these Zsluiner Grenz infantry. Equipment items are fully round, and they are often scratchbuilt like this Austrian 12-pdr gun from the collection of Christian Rogge. Note the enormous size of this gun compared to the men serving it.
The Kulmbach event has made the transition from a traditional "flats only" show, to flats and fully round figures. Most of the German manufacturers specialize in 30 mm flats, but some have added 1:48 scale, 1:32 scale, and larger display figurines to their product line. The smaller wargame figure scales are still a rare sight at Kulmbach, only Fine Scale Factory and MIRLITON showed a nice selection of their 1:72 scale compatible miniatures and accessories.
One obvious feature of 30 mm and 20 mm flats is that they are made exactly to scale, and figures from different manufacturers will be compatible. The fully round 20 mm figures which are the subject of this magazine are really a misnomer, they are closer to 25 mm tall and sadly incompatible with the enormous selection of accessories available for flats, things like shrubs and bushes, fences, campfires, signposts, even building facades.
The definitive 1:72 scale highlights presented at Kulmbach were the Italian Infantry, Alpini, and Bersaglieri figures produced by MIRLITON. The Italian company is known for its 15 mm Condottieri Italiani figure range (1400–1490) which was also on display at Kulmbach. It is hoped that MIRLITON will expand its 20 mm range to include more Italian troop types and support weapons.