Last month I read an article about Petite Guerre Toy Soldiers on Stad’s Stuff by Erwin Sell. You can read about that here, Stad’s Stuff.
After I read the article I went to the website and ordered some of their figures. The owner of Petite Guerre is Nino Serra, he is also the sculptor. They are located in Italy. Petite Guerre means “Little Wars”, which is the style of his figures.
“More specifically, my interest focuses on the Petite Guerre, the unconventional, small-scale warfare that played such an important role in the conflicts of the 1740s and 1750s: the War of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years War, and of course the French and Indian Wars.” ~ Nino Serra
So far they have some Native American Woodland Indians, Canadian Militia, British Infantry and now French Hussars.
After I emailed Nino and ordered some of his figures, we chatted as I waited and after I received them. I told him that I would do a review and he answered a few questions that I had. So here is a little interview we did.
Warhorse Miniatures: Greetings Nino, I am glad you have some time to answer a few questions. The first question I have with most creators or owners of companies is how did all this start?
Nino Serra: Greetings to you Mike, and thanks for the opportunity you are giving me to present my work on your blog!
I grew up playing with toy soldiers, and began attempting at making my own white-metal figures as a boy in the early 1970’s. At that time, I used the lost-wax method (non-reusable wax masters and plaster molds). The results were quite frustrating, though, and for many years I achieved nothing.
I then started using RTV silicon rubber to make the molds, and things gradually improved. By the time I went to college, I was able to sculpt and cast a few figures of my own. However, pressed by more important things, for many years I could spare only little time for the hobby…
About fifteen years ago, I decided to make some toy soldiers to play with my twin kids, then three years old, and in the process ended up with a small range of white-metal figures.
Having successfully experimented with resin / hard plastic, I am now perfecting and expanding my range of figures, and hope they may meet with the interest of other toy soldiers enthusiasts.
Warhorse Miniatures: After seeing your figures first hand, I am truly impressed. How many years did it take you to achieve the level that your at now?
Nino Serra: It certainly took some years until I could make decent enough figures.
At the beginning, I subscribed to a couple of military modeling magazines, bought a few books written by well-known military miniaturists, and gradually familiarized with different materials and sculpting techniques.
Warhorse Miniatures: I see you are fond of the French & Indian War era, is there any other theme that you are interested in?
Nino Serra: I have always been interested in 18th-Century military history and warfare. I think it all started with reading “Treasure Island” and “The Last of the Mohicans” as a small boy, and with a fascination for tricorne hats and flintlock muskets…
Beside the French-and-Indian Wars, I would like to also cover other conflicts of the mid 18th-Century, in particular the War of the Austrian Succession with its colorful variety of irregular warfare specialists.
Warhorse Miniatures: Are there any brands of figures that you collect, like Barzso?
Nino Serra: I am not a toy soldiers collector. Over the years, though, I have occasionally purchased plastic toy soldiers (Airfix, Italeri, Hat, Barzso, Accurate, TSSD, etc…) to study and use as a reference in order to improve my own figure design.
Warhorse Miniatures: I was reading your blog about the muskets you created. I noticed that you’re trying to stay historical accurate with your figures, right?
Nino Serra: Yes I try to stay historical as much as I can.
From the blogs and forums that I occasionally visit, I can see that most toy soldiers enthusiasts, collectors or wargamers, are indeed historically conscious and are usually put off by figures that are not accurate enough.
This said, I also like my figures to look a little naive, or “toy-like” (that is why, when I paint my figures, I keep the shading and highlighting at a minimum and finish them semi-gloss).
Warhorse Miniatures: What are your plans for the future?
Nino Serra: At the moment, I am working at a few more Canadian Militiamen and British regulars, as well as Highlanders and French regulars. I would also like to add some command figures to my range, as required to play skirmish wargames…
I am also working at more mounted Hussars, and possibly other irregular figures for the War of the Austrian Succession / Seven Years War period.
Warhorse Miniatures: And lastly I will conclude the interview by thanking you and asking you if there is anything else you would like to talk about or say.
Thanks again, Mike.
Nino Serra: Although I would love to do so, I do not have the facility to produce soft plastic toy soldiers, nor the the means to mass-produce figures for the wider public as industrial manufacturers can do. So, at least for the time being, I will keep operating at a hobby level and produce my figures in small batches upon demand.
Thanks again + kind regards, Nino.
Here is my review of Nino’s figures. I love them, to me they are a piece of art. I ordered the French Canadian Militia and Native Woodland Indians. One of my favorite Toy Soldier companies is Barzso Playsets. The French & Indian War and the Seven Years War are some of my favorite conflicts to study. So if you’re like me, you will have to get some of Nino’s figures. I like the appeal of a raiding or war band of mixed French & Indians.
With that said, the are for die hard collectors. I say that because of the cost, which is around 5 Euro each. But it seems that most new figures or the older Barzso figures can cost that much these days. One of the reasons for the high cost is these figures are hand cast and the molds have a short life. They are a Hobby based production, not an establish company. You can visit his blog and see how the process is done, it is very interesting.
The Petite Guerre figures match very well with most of the current Barzso figures. They vary from 54mm to 57mm tall, but are the same scale. The reason for this is to make them more natural or an accurate realism. Some people are 5 feet, some are 6 feet. Barzso’s earlier figures were on the small size, so they will not match well with the Petite Guerre figures. The most recent Barzso Indian sets match very well with the Petite Guerre Indians.
The Petite Guerre figures are not brittle, the weapons are strong. This resin mixture is very good. I like the sculpting of the Natives, it captures the look of the Huron or Iroquois people. One of my friends has the same shaped head.
Also the French Canadians look great, there are not too many figures sculpted that depict French Canadian Militia.
All in all, they are a welcome addition to my collection. When I finish painting these figures, I will take some more pictures and do another post. I purchased these figures to paint them. As of right now I think the colors are gray and black. The Vallejo paints that I used adhered very well. I am looking forward to seeing more of his Canadian Militia and French Regulars.
Paul sent me some of his pictures to use for the review. Erwin also got his British Infantry figures. Here are Erwin’s pictures.
Erwin Sell did a review too on Nino figures over at Stad’s Stuff check it out.
Happy Easter Everyone.
6 thoughts on “Toy Soldier Review & Interview ~ Petite Guerre Toy Soldiers & Nino Serra”
Miniature Figure Annual Show and Mart Philadelphia May 4 and 5
for more detail see mfcashow.com
Thank you for the reminder, I went to that show last year. It was the first time I went. It is a great show to see. I don’t think I will be able to go this year. I am going to 2 shows in April.
Yes Mike, it is art to me too. Nino has given a great contribution to the toy soldier world and the XVIII Century adventures. The figures and poses look beautiful, full of great details. I wonder how could he get them learning by his own, I suppose that he worked very hard. I would like to be able to sculpt a 1% of this quality. Thank you for sharing. Best regards
I think he has been casting and sculpting since he was a child. I bet there was a learning curve along the way. He tells a story with his blog posts about some of his process.
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