Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Observer Section: Part Two ... DONE

I checked how long ago the first part of this build was posted and my heavens, it was over three years ago! I've had the model back on my painting desk for over a year to remind me to finish it but I have been pre-occupied with my anniversary Waterloo enthusiasm - until now. Every year I begin with a flourish of completing long standing little jobs to tidy up my haphazard hobby habits and this year has been no exception.
I think everything that really needed to be said about how I kit bashed and contructed these models was said in part one. The only things to observe is that the unit markings are all hand painted and I used at least three lightening shades of weathering and dust to go for that dusted desert worn look.
When it comes to playing WWII, I tend to rush at tanks and infantry figures first but it's elements like transport and artillery which are extremely vital which often get left til last. Earlier period wargaming is about big battles with three arms and we tend to think WWII games are simpler and smaller. I play Rapid Fire rules which is really about battle-group sized games around one or two fully supported battalions of infantry. Truth is, once you throw in on table artillery, observer elements, observer elements for off table assets, air support, reconnaissance, transport to mobilize your infantry and so on, that simple supported battalion becomes quite the miniature army. Just as well we love painting and model making - oui?  
I have the unit mobile as well as in deployed modes. Given the effcetiveness of the British 25pdr Artillery as well as it's diversity, these fellows should seriously value add to my battery's presence on the table-top.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Colonel Prince Karl Bernard of Saxe-Weimar

Colonel of the 28th Orange Nassau regiment, Prince Karl Bernard found himself brevetted to Brigadier by the battle of Waterloo. Interestingly, or perhaps frustratingly depending how you look at it, there are few specific references to how the Prince was attired. We must therefor logically infer .
I have seen these Perry figures painted up with the Prince depicted (I presume) as the Colonel of the Nassau Usingen regiment in green with black facings. In reference to Voices from the Past: Waterloo 1815 by John Grehan the Prince's own letter to his father after the battle could not make it plainer; however, that he was the Colonel of the Orange Nassau regiment (two battalions) and that he was field promoted.

I therefore believe that the Prince must have been attired as the senior officer of the Orange Nassau regiment, with white breeches or grey overalls, blue French style coat and red facings. He is depicted as such by Hoynck J. Papendrecht above, albeit drawn in the late nineteenth century, many decades after the fact. Admittedly, there is not a lot of difference between a Dutch General's uniform and the Colonel of the 28th. A happy coincidence for the Prince?
I researched the uniforms on the run and it was because of the above picture that I have elected to run with a farmyard theme for the command base. I have the Prince with a staff officer and an officer of the 2nd Usingen Nassau regiment similar to the figure on the extreme left of Papendrecht's image. I've done a few bases of wet earth, puddles and the like for my Waterloo armies but this time I want them in the yard of a farmhouse.
I delved onto one of my many boxes of odds and ends and dug up a length of pre-printed and embossed paper - a scenic product from Noch. To be precise it's from Noch's HO scale range and is the 57710 mauerplatte "Dolomit" stone wall effect which will serve as well for a rough stone faces farmhouse yard. I recycled an old wood barrel I bought so long ago I know not from where and flanked it with a couple of 1/48th scale chickens from Pegasus.
The real trick was the time consuming afterthought of shearing the horses from their bases, drilling and fixing steel pins through the hoof and then drilling and gluing them through the surface of the base. I had to build up some foliage around the base of the staff officer's mount as this horse figure was imperfectly cast which you can see. Anyway, something a bit different for me and I like to imagine this Brigadier might be visiting Papelotte.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Captain Bergmann's Nassau Volunteer Jaegers

Better late than never and completed the same time as by Orange-Nassau skirmishing company is my representation of the Nassau Jaegers for 1815.
As dedicated skirmishers, I am continuing my practice of basing them on circular stands of three figures. These twelve figures are all Perry Miniatures 28s and they are simply superb - naturally.

I mix my own colours so hopefully they appear variable in the hue of their green jackets and trousers. I threw in a couple of grey pants for variety. Apart from an irregular hue, I paint the jackets all before the trousers to break up the matches-set look.

Similar to my Orange-Nassau skirmishing unit, I muddied them up as I painted the bases. The basing seems to be getting very complex for me these days but I'm happy with the results. I always apply static grass in dots and build up from there by mixing my own blends. There are three blends used here. I haven't 'wet' the deep ground this time.
I spent more attention to the faces this time, painting in character lines with flesh wash or ink. I actually calculated how many separate painting applications I use per figure and it was approaching 50. Many painting guides have all straps and leather work in ochre but I have retained white leathers for the French issue packs which helps break up the appearance and contrasts the rest.
The bases are measured, cut from 5mm MDF, I cut and fix the magnetic sheet underneath, glue the figures and tall grass on, sculpt with pre-mixed putty and fix the mouse litter whilst wet. Sand, then coat the surface with diluted white glue to fix the litter, two base coats, a black wash, a dry brush then print and fix the unit ID labels, coat with clear matt and finally glue static grass blends times three.

Skirmishing Orange-Nassau 28th

I suppose the first observation is that I elected to run with Front Rank miniatures for this company. This particular unit (28th Orange Nassau Regiment) is not well represented and Front Rank sculpts appear inconsistent with several sources. They have; however, taken a middle-way approach which I think works quite well all the same.
The sculpts have a pleasant bell-topped but unadorned Dutch Line Infantry shako whereas they should have French shakos with chin-scales, front plate and cords. I cut away the back-peak off the shako which then achieves something more representative of most sources, albeit very plain. They come with cockade (including button and lace) and a plume rather than a pom-pom. Some on-line sources refer to the shakos having simple cords instead of chin-scales - which these figures represent.

I generally went with the Osprey 'Wellington's Dutch Allies 1815' guide which opted for white trousers, black gaiters and shoes, whereas others cite grey trousers and gaiter. Similarly, I opted for brass buttons rather than white metal. There was no reference to the lace on the Front Rank shako cockade so I went for yellow for my fusiliers and silver for the officer.

I vacillated for a while but in the end I painted on a plate detail using steel paint and 'engraving' the 'W' cipher detail and crown with a toothpick, which brought the black background of the shako through the paint. I feel I should have used green-stuff to build a properly defined plate but forgot at the outset in my eagerness to get painting.

I furthermore mis-ordered the figures, mistakenly buying centre company rather than flanker figures. I am only representing one company in my scenario (for the time being) and as the regiment was undoubtedly 'light' infantry, I am simply representing a centre company in skirmish formation. As Mark Adkin (The Waterloo Companion) has the regiment strung out from Smohain to La Haie in their pre-battle dispositions, my depiction is in keeping with the entire regiment being dispersed in skirmish order. Phew!

I continue to base Napoleonic miniatures for Black Powder in accordance with In The Grand Manner rules basing conventions - because it matters little and that's the rules I originally migrated from. To differ from my dedicated skirmish troops (British Rifles or Jaegers etc.) I am basing my 'Mixed Order' skirmishing troops at two instead of six figures on an equivalent centre company rectangular base - the same base dimensions as a stand of six figures in close order but with a third the figures representing an open order formation.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A fourth Battalion of Line Infantry and General de Brigade 1870

Some quick and dirty snaps of a long awaited final French line battalion of infantry for my Franco-Prussian war army of the Second Empire. These miniatures were half completed over six months ago - shameful. They were massively stalled by my obsession with revisiting my Waterloo project last year over the anniversary period; like every other project I have on the boil. They are all on more like a gentle simmer I suppose.
These are Old Glory 15's figures and I don't think close up macro shots capture them at their best. They are depicting a generic battalion and unlike my normal approach to developing neat structures, I'm just painting what I have.

This is the last of four battalions of line infantry I can make up with the job lot I purchased. I have made a complete regiment (three battalions) and this extra battalion - and my only Line firing line. All are 24 figure units of four bases of six in two ranks deep. With two battalions of Zouaves, I have two ad-hoc regiments with six battalions in total.
My Regimenal Colonels are based as mounted single command figures. With two regiments I have now supplied the growing army with its first General de Brigade represented by a mounted Major General with ADC on an identical base to the colonels. All command bases will retain the same dimensions but will have increased numbers of figures - three for divisional command and so on.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Gifts for My Girls

Okay, this has nothing to do with wagames or history BUT it has to do with figures. My daughters are not with me this Christmas but when they open their combined mystery parcel they will find their own copy of Zombicide. We played one evening with friends and they loved it - as did I.
So I bought a few character figures on-line from other miniature manufacturers and developed their own characters for the game.
The image for one of my Daughter's character Bella-Tricks which I used to create both the first poster-shot image and the above Survivor Card for the game is taken from one of my macro-shots from the figure itself, cunningly Photoshopped (it took me ages). I wanted to give them a very personal Christmas present which was unique and something with which I could value add.
The poster-shots I have a mind to have made into corresponding t-shirts. I just love both of them and the young woman blowing the bubble-gum whilst rollerblading and sporting a sniper's rifle just screamed Zombicide to me.
Anyone familiar with the game will know about the Survivor Card play-sheets and I tailored the best choices from the attribute lists which, together with a blank Survivor Card I was able to download. It is an extremely well supported customizable game with a growing following. Hard Charlotte as with the other character are avatars based on the girls names: all very roller-derby.
I just hope they like them. They won't be getting the figures and supporting presentation box and Survivor Cards until after the new year to accompany the game itself. Fingers crossed. 


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dutch Napoleonic Command: Representation & Basing

Divisional Command stand: Lt. Gen. Perponcher-Sedlnitzky (left), Staff Officer (centre) with two Guides.
One of the many aspects to wargaming using Black Powder rules is the emphasis on the importance of command and control. Not merely decorative and having far more effect than a bonus factor on melee or a morale role, command is integral to how Black Powder games evolve. In turn, this re-emphasizes my attention to my command figures and has encouraged in me the pursuit of the story-telling vignette.

I have decided for my 100 days campaign armies that my brigadiers will be based with up to three figures to their base and to accommodate this I reckon on a standard 60x60mm base. My Divisional Command will require four figures on an 80x80mm base and my Corps Command will be on a mighty 100mm square base with five figures. I intent to build a French infantry brigade at some juncture and I'm thinking of having an individual figure on a Command base 40x40mm (or perhaps 50) for a regimental commander with more than a single battalion.
The first three images are for Divisional Commander Lieutenant General Baron Henri-Georges Perponcher-Sedlnitzky, who commanded the 2nd Netherlands division at Quatre Bras and Waterloo and for whom I have several units built and on the way. All figures are Perry Miniatures. The bases look far more rugged than they do to the naked eye and attempts to represent the edge of a rye crop where fallow ground meets cultivation. There's a lot going on at ground level - several tones of brown, earth, mouse litter, a black wash and some gloss varnish for tell-tale signs of rainfall. I have labelled the identity of he commander as well as the level of command.

My second command stand pictures are those representing Major General WF Graaf van Bijlandt (1st Brigade, 2nd Netherlands Div.). He is a Perry Miniatures figure mounted on a spare Perry British hussar plastic horse. It represents a spare officers mount given up to the General by an officer of the Dutch 6th Hussars (note the black sheepskin shabraque and red vandykes if you can). I have him charging through shoulder height rye leading or rallying two Dutch militiamen back into the fray on the field at Quatre Bras.
I always glue my figures down first before detailing the bases including any tall grasses. I'm having a re-think on this as in this instance it may have proven better to trace around the bases for location but fixed them after installing the grass.
An issue with creating this vignette is the challenge of being prepared to mask all that painting detail with scenic effects when all you want to do is allow all that fine work to remain on display. Well, not this time and I always had a very clear idea and plan of how I wanted this to look so I stuck to it.
I think (or hope) it clearly demonstrates the obscuring effect of the cropland in the 100 Days campaign for the infantry on the ground and the relative advantage of the horseman. The two Dutch militiamen are from the fabulous Elite Miniatures Napoleonics range which I will always go to - especially for large foot units.
These shots were all taken very late afternoon under a fading Canberra sun using a macro lens on manual setting with the flash disabled. They have been cropped and the brightness slightly enhanced with Photoshop.  In my ongoing obsession with Waterloo, I have commenced the next units - Prince Bernard command stand and two units of skirmishers.