Three’s a Crowd – Interview with Richard Clewer

The product that impressed me most at CRISIS was a new range of figures by Magister Militium. Surprisingly, not only is the range new but also the size: They are 3mm from foot to eye! Now of course there are already some established ‘scales’ at the smaller end of the wargames world: 2mm has been around for some time and is popular especially among modern wargamers, while 6mm has experienced a certain boom thanks to the efforts of Baccus Miniatures and their Joy of Six show.

Republican Roman or Tarantine Cavalry
3mm Roman Cavalry

I’ve always been interested in the smaller scales – after all, my first miniature wargame was GW’s Epic Space Marines, which was nominally 6mm. I like the mass effect of the small figures, which can even be achieved on a limited playing table. So when I first saw the new Magister Militium figures on Facebook, my curiosity was roused. However, seeing them in the flesh at CRISIS was even more impressive: They do show an astonishing level of detail and really convey the impression of a large mass of men. K. and I both agreed that infantry and cavalry formations in 3mm looked, in fact, very very good! And it’s fascinating how easily you adapt to the size – when we headed over to the Baccus stand afterwards, the 6mm figures looked almost obscenely large.

Marian or Caesarian Legion
3mm Roman Legion

As I wanted to know more about the motivations behind the new range, I contacted Richard Clewer from Magister Militium and asked him a couple of questions.

Cpt. Shandy: So, why a new scale? What is your personal motivation for doing this project? 

Richard Clewer: The answers to the two questions are interrelated so I will start with one answer.

I wanted to put together the battle of Pharsalus and to make sure that the figures reflected something of the historic deployment space and formations. I looked at the scales I make, 15mm does not give enough mass and even with 10mm I was ending up using a figure scale of 1:30 or 1:40 and was still struggling with depth of deployment. I then looked at 2mm (I have large ACW 2mm armies) but found it was really difficult to differentiate the legions or clearly be able to identify what cavalry type was what. It had the right mass but had lost the identity.

That left me with either trying 6mm or something else. 2mm looked almost right so I thought I would get one of our sculptors to try making a 3mm figure (based on 3mm from foot to eye). The figure came back looking good so I slowly started him on creating a strip of legionaires, then a command strip and then cavalry, skirmishers and command. When I got the first legion painted up (at 1 figure representing 10, so 528 figures per legion including the double 1st cohorts plus command) it looked good. Clearly identifiable as Marian type romans even with my painting which is not the best in the world. Cavalry also looked good and seemed to take up the right amount of space. I also painted up a 1 to 1 cohort, which was extremely interesting (pictures will follow on line at some stage).

The real benefit in the 3mm was that the figures could be represented in real mass in a relatively small area. At the same time they look like the troops they are supposed to represent.

Marian or Caesarian Legion
3mm Marian or Caesarian Legionaires

I had never really though about selling the figures but the response from the few people who saw them at the unit was very positive so we took them along to Britcon and then the Worlds at Koblenz. The response was great and the range has sold very well so I have now upgraded its sculpting priority and we are cracking on at full speed.

CS: Ok, now the question that is perhaps in everybody’s mind when they look at such tiny figures: How do you paint them?

RC: They are actually really easy to paint. The Romans are painted literally in lines and then the plume, shield boss and face picked out with a very small highlight. Celts are a bit more bitty with the variation needed but again pretty much in lines with a highlight.

Marian or Caesarian Legion Command
3mm Legion Command
CS: And what kind of basing do you use?

RC: I guess basing is down to the individual. I have been working on two different basing styles. I am basing the figures up for Pharsalus on 40 by 20 bases putting 48 legionaires on each base (representing a cohort at 1 to 10). Command is going on a 20x20mm base. That leaves enough space to base and put a very small grain flock on along with space at the back for a printed label.

I have also been putting a full legion together using larger bases but that is for show and not gaming. I tend to base figures for Warmaster Ancients where I can as I like the system, it is relatively fast and fun. That basing system also works for Hail Caesar.

CS: At the moment, you offer Marian Romans and Celts. Do you have any further plans?

RC: The Celts have been released recently; they comprise initially Celtic Warband, Cavalry and Chariots.  Skirmishers with bow and sling are a week or so off. We are also working on Hoplites, Phalangites and Romans in Lorica Segmentata. I will then fill in from there with other troop types. After the hellenics the logical next step would be Republican Romans and Carthaginians. I am not certain about other periods at the moment. I will see how the Ancients go and take it from there. If people let me know what they want we can prioritise accordingly.

CS: Thanks for your time Richard!
EDIT: Several people have pointed out to me that 3mm is not a new size. Figures and vehicles have been produced by Tumbling Dice and Oddzial Osmy for several years. However, most of this is 20th century and SF (plus ACW); no one has done Ancients in that size before.
The error was entirely my fault, Richard never claimed it was a new size.

4 thoughts on “Three’s a Crowd – Interview with Richard Clewer

  1. Michael Peterson November 21, 2014 / 8:05 pm

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about the MM 3mms. Personally I find that painting the generously detailed Baccus 6mms is the limit of my talents, so I am in awe of chaps who can make the 3mms look so good.

  2. daggerandbrush November 22, 2014 / 12:11 pm

    A very interesting scale and one can indeed differentiate troop types. I would like to hold some in my hands to see how much detail there really is.

    • cptshandy November 22, 2014 / 2:10 pm

      I held a base at CRISIS and there was more detail than you’d think. But in any case, I guess you wouldn’t normally look too close when playing – what you see is the mass, not the details on the individual.

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