Saturday, January 31, 2015

10th Hussars Start-up: 100th Post

I can't help it but I'm siezed with enthusiasm for this year's 200th anniversary for the battle of Waterloo. For those following my other blogs dedicated to my major projects I can only say sorry. I will be working on them but only gradually for the first half of the year. My enthusiasm (bordering on obsession) may wane - who can say?

Whilst I work on finishing the basing for my 3rd Chevau-Legere Lancers I've started prepping the first two squadrons of my British 10th Hussars. I've had these figures knocking around for several years - a gift from my mate Matt (avatar Bluewillow) and the first thing to do was strip the black undercoating. My painting technique dictates white undercoating and I just cannot see well enough for working on black.
 The figures are old Foundry castings and come in only three poses for the riders - officer, trumpeter and trooper from the B100 Late War Hussar series. Injecting variation and animation across the unit as a whole was required. They all came with mustaches (curiously enough) so some very careful shaving with a fine scalpel and some judicious filing cleaned three of them up for starters. I'll know it was successful only once they are undercoated. The head and shoulders are thick set on these castings so I resorted to some very cautious head turning with needle-nose pliers wrapped in cloth. A twist to the left for some, to the right for others, one tilted back and another to his front was about all I could do.
I thinned their sabres on the outer edge with the scalpel and file and curved some of the oddly straight scabbards. The mounts come in only two poses so I similarly turned a few heads to break them up a little. I docked all of the horses tails as was the fashion except the officer's horse - just because I felt like it. Now I drill and pin the riders to their mounts and they will be undercoated and painted.
Black Powder rules allow for an effective presence in the game for even a single squadron of cavalry but my scenario calls for up to the whole regiment on the field. A trip to CANCON last week saw me return with the Perry plastic British Hussar set which will provide for the other two six figure squadrons. I will not be turning these over in a month as I just about have with my lancers as I promised myself I'd finish three battalions of 2nd Empire 15mm French which are sitting at my table taunting me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

7th Dutch Militia

I think I can safely say I have never taken so long to build and paint just one unit. At long, long last my 7th Dutch Militia can join their comrades on the miniature field of Waterloo. This lot took me three months - that's how much time I have found myself able to devote to this wonderful hobby. I'm hoping this year will see an acceleration of my output. But I am getting more meticulous - perhaps that's an age thing?
 This 36 figure representation of the 7th Dutch Militia is a mixture of mainly Elite Miniatures, with grenadiers and light company (which Elite does not make) from Front Rank. The drummer is from Perry Miniatures. I mounted this unit differently from previous Napoleonics - on 5mm think MDF which helps me move the base rather than holding the figures. The bases will be far less obvious on my future synthetic fur terrain.
The tall grass is a combination of all sorts of scenic stuff I had lying around, rolled together and glued in grooves cut with my scalpel before the bases were textured with pre-mixed wood putty. My static grass is of three progressively lighter blends, the ratios of which I couldn't guess at. I used a life-long lasting reserve of mouse litter for the stones (if you can even see them).
I gave my militia another and different improvised colour from my earlier unit. I say improvised as the militia of the Netherlands newly created army had no national standard issued to them by the campaign. This time I opted for an orange field with gold lettering of the battalion numeral beneath the royal crown - consistent with the generally agreed convention. It is made of cloth as is my new approach.
The thicker bases also allow easier identification if you want to label them as I have just started to do. My labels are simply printed off a Word document at 8pt font size (should have gone bigger), white glued on and clear varnished over the top. I must now look to finishing some 15mm FPW French and then commence painting my French lancers.

Chevau-leger Lanciers: Figure Review Part 1 of 2

My very first Napoleonic French unit in 34 years since my plastic Airfix teenage wargaming days will be the 3rd Chevau-leger lancers for the 100 days. Overlapping slightly with my near complete Dutch Militia, I have built my lancer models ready to prime coat them but wanted to make a number of observations.

These are Elite Miniatures models and to be frank, they have been hard work. Now I'm a long time fan of Elite Miniatures and their Australian distributor and it would in fact be safe to say it was this range of figures which got me back into 28mm Napoleonic wargaming over 14 years ago. I love their infantry but am not such a fan of their cavalry. Don't get me wrong - I think they are a good looking figure and at the best price on the market but they have their limitations.

The riders come in only three poses - an officer, a trumpeter and a trooper. To gain variation, arms must be twisted, heads likewise, and the positioning of the integral rider/saddle can vary the seat of the trooper. Manipulation of the Elite alloy is a tricky undertaking as it is rigid and prone to snapping if you aren't very careful.

The casting of the saddle interior required vigorous filing with a proper workman's tool, as does the back of the mount to enable even a snuggish fit. I drill and pin my riders to their mounts with steel wire and plenty of Selley's Araldite and make my own lances with steel wire and fix them with the same glue at two points all prior painting to secure the best bond.

I've never made lancers before and thought to experiment with their pennons. In recent years I've migrated from tissue paper flags to cloth but was not convinced about fiddling with cloth pennons and dislike the paper variants I have seen. A scotch snob when I can be, my current preferred drop comes with medium grade foil capping which is easily marked and cut. I cut the swallow tail leaves from the foil, rolled the lance end of the pennon over a wire sufficient to hook and glue onto the lances. I then fixed them to the rider and mount after 24 hours. Once fixed, only then did I curl the foil pennons to represent the effects of momentum and breeze depending upon the pose of the casting.
In the end, between turning some horse heads in a vice and even the accidental collapse of the back legs of one mount (see left figure in the first image), I ended up with a varied looking regiment (20 figures) in a series of fully animated poses. I am confident that once painted up and based, they will look the part.