Thursday, October 6, 2016

Celtic Command: Boudicca and Besties

I shudder to even guess how long these models have remained half built and it's taken me three pushes over years to finish them off. What can you do? I just have to be in the mood to be creative for certain projects at certain times. I haven't played with my Celts for years so that may be some reason for the lethargy. Anyway, here they are and done - finally.
The first model is my rendition of Boudicca "Warrior Queen" and my first challenge was what she would have looked like. My imaginative rendition has her adorned with acquired gladiatorial half-mail which she picked up after the sacking of Camulodunum. We are told she led the army so for me she a noble warrior also. We have no idea how old she was but we are told that she had two daughters. We know not how old these daughters were except the unverifiable story has them raped (according to Tacitus) which might suggest they were of a certain age but it remains highly speculative. So, she could have been in her twenties or thirties or as old as you like really. I have her in her fighting prime.
The next model is my chariot unit standard bearer. All three chariot models are from Old Glory except the Boudicca figure which I'm sure is an old ShaddowForge casting which I added a shield and spears to. I added reins by cutting thin strips of heavy foil (from my scotch bottles) and gluing them in holes drilled in the driver's hands and horse harness.
 I have the drivers in two different positions - two forward on the rig and one on the main platform. I covered the two bare-chested drivers in woad painted runes and painted the lime plaster where appropriate. 
I struggled for a long time about what sort of army standard I wanted and this sort of evolved. I had an old heroic looking fantasy Roman centurion figure which was too ridiculous for my army but his head gave me an idea. I fixed an auxiliary's shield which was repainted and - well, the rest is obvious. A bit gruesome but then ... they were weren't they?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Idea Forming: Scutum Mock-up

I could have continued stuffing about on a computer but sometimes it's just easier and more fun to break out the sketch pad and pencils. This is an options draft for what I think the 'standard' scutum design might look like for my speculative Cesarian XI Legion representation.

As previously posted, I've gone for the horse and trident imagery for the Legion's identification with Neptune: god of the rivers, sea and creator of the horse. I think malachite green or Egyptian blue. The green is for the grasslands and the sea whereas the blue could be representative of the rivers or the sea.

Earlier republican scutum are always simple designs - in this instance it might have been represented by only the horse. By the time of the early imperial period, more complex conventions are in evidence with eagle wings, lightning bolts and other devices providing a more cluttered and identifying design. So, I am aiming for a mid-point in evolution of the scutum devices with unenclosed legion number in large numerals and the cohort in smaller font.

My partner says she prefers the green - so this is where I'll go. Besides, I have a thing these days for green and red combinations and the vexilum, red cloaks and occasional crests should stand out even better.

I have today ordered two test sets of Veni Vidi Vici decals from the ancient horse range in black and white to see how they match on my Warlord shields - here's hoping. I think I'll have the tridents hand painted with variation in styles primarily because I think they will be simpler to paint.

Monday, July 18, 2016

SHIELDS ON ME!: SCUTUM on my mind.

Another viewing of HBO Rome and I finally cracked and bought a small stack of Warlord Games Caesar's Legion figures - six cohorts of 24 figures including the first double strength cohort. Now, decisions decisions. How to paint them?

I am attracted to the Lego XI (emblem: Neptune) because of their history with Caesar before and during the civil wars and the fact that the historical Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo were both Centurions of that legion. I'm also drawn to the Legio XII (emblem: thunderbolt) because of their length or service and battle record down to 45BCE.

The subject of uniformity for this period is wide open to interpretation but as a general principle, I believe there needs to be some form of uniformity within a cohort as well as relative unity between cohorts of the same legion. Through re-reading Julius Caesar's Civil Wars, it is very clear that specifics of fighting strength was measured in his mind by numbers of cohorts present. In this way it seems that legions were as a modern division - seen more as an organisational rather than tactical structure or accurate measure of fighting capability. A cohort is formed and reformed, merged and disbanded to maintain a necessary fighting strength which is understood and calculated. A legion, it seems can be under strength in numbers of cohorts but by and large, a cohort was fixed.

As the tunic beneath the armour is only partially displayed, the biggest single identifier is the scutum. So, this for me is where uniformity is to be found in my representation. I rationalise that a fighting man knows is mates and enters the fray in formation but if order breaks down, how does any man on your greater side (say from another cohort) know who you are? So, there will need to be some form of uniformity on a legion level at least. Given that the legion makes camp and has all the necessary support elements with the baggage, there should be a higher degree of consistency in supply and repair when it comes to the shield than not. So, what are my options?

Imperial period XI idea
Reds (earth end of the spectrum) and yellow/ochres were in the widest use in all manner of painting and dyeing. But a malachite green was readily manufactured as well as Egyptian blue. Bearing in mind the surface of the plywood scutum was covered in leather and painted linen or parchment, any unpainted shield is likely to be white or even bare leather - always an option anyway. It seems likely that stencils provided for consistent patterns and there is no reason why generally this would not have been maintained on the march and on campaign.

So, given the occasional shortage, wastage with the use of battlefield detritus and the presence within the ranks of recent defectors during a civil war, I will have a sprinkling of non-standard shields through the ranks except perhaps the first cohort. So, some white, some leather, some of plain colour, some with a white or black stencil on white or leather but the vast majority uniform stencil on base colour - albeit with some variation of hue.

The horse is of interest but I'd do it in white - mostly.
At this stage I am leaning heavily toward Legio XI for additional reasons. Neptune is universally associated with the sea, so I'm inclined toward blue or green - everyone else goes for red! A white stencil on dark blue or green, muddied and battle damaged can be very effective and the standards and any red tunics stand out all the more. Also, Neptune is long associated with the horse and a white horse either stenciled (represented by transfers) or occasionally hand painted across some units can look most striking. More typical would be representations of a trident and the dolphin is definitely one of Neptune's chief symbols. Neptune was one of the few gods to whom bulls were sacrificed and he is is strongly associeted with this symbol also. This choice will give me variety within uniformity and may allow greater differences to be displayed between cohorts. I might even throw in a sea horse or two - perhaps for the signifers?
Another Imperial period XI concept: more cluttered than my ideas
If I go Legio XII then yellow eagle wings and lightning bolts are more probable but the shield could also be a dark blue night sky - green and yellow are out for me.

Probably fifth from the top left
My transfer options are somewhat limited and I may have to design and make my own. Most decals provide the colour background to the shield which I personally find restrictive and unhelpful. Anyway, if you've read to the bottom of this, tell what you think? Help me make my decision.

Another XI concept
Jona Lendering in his article on the Legio XI states, "Since this legion was constituted by Caesar, its emblem may have been a bull, but this symbol is nowhere to be found. Instead, the soldiers may have worn badges showing the sea god Neptune."

Imperial period concept
Well, rather than 'showing the sea god' I rather think representing him through symbolism and representing Neptune's earlier association with horses rather than his assumed domain of water is more appropriate. Given that Legio XI was raised for Caesar's campaign against Gaul which was very much an inland war, the horse would appear more appropriate still. 

Neptune is primarily identified by the trident so I'm inclined toward a horse and trident. 

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.