The last year or two has seen a big increase in the variety of plastic figures available for this era, principally Victrix and Perry Miniatures. I believe that this can only be a Good Thing. I'm aware that some gamers have a slightly sniffy approach to plastics, seeing them as somehow not quite proper figures, or perhaps as figures for less serious collectors!? To be honest, I don't really understand that view. In fact, it does seem that the new plastic ranges have been well received and are proving popular.
I happen to like both metal and plastic figures. In terms of metal I have a mix of Front Rank and Foundry, around 50 figures that I collected ages ago with a view to playing some skirmish level games. Both manufacturers figures are excellent although being at either end of the 28mm scale they do not mix too well. I would be more than happy to expand my collection using either range.
However, the big factor for me is quite simply cost. I'd like to build a fairly large collection but at £1+ per infantry figure and around £3 per figure for cavalry that's just not feasible. That's why I've decided to head along the plastic route for most of my collection, both British and French. I'll be using mainly Perry's, with some Victrix for variety. My 24 man battalions will cost £10-12 each as opposed to £24-30 in metal from Front Rank, or more if from Foundry. I've ordered a few Front Rank to top up my existing collection to make full units, and I've ordered 2 boxes of Perry British redcoats that I'll make 3 x 24 figure battalions from.
A downside to plastics is the sometimes fiddly construction. The few Victrix figures I've built were quite tricky, so I'm hoping the Perry figures will be a little easier. Maybe it was due to the fact that it was Victrix's first boxed set and that they tried just a little too hard to give lots of variety. I'll be getting a box or two of the French Line infantry and Grenadier Guards - perhaps these will be easier to build? If you have some then please do comment with your opinion.
A plus point for plastics is that I find less need to varnish them, based on my experience with other ranges. It's quite hard to chip or scratch paint from plastic figures. Additionally, conversions are generally simpler too.
So that's the plan - mainly plastic with a few metals for variety, e.g. command figures, or units not available in plastic.