Friday, April 3, 2020

Quebec: Wolfe's detatched light companies & Cran Tara Minis

It's been a hell of a start to 2020 and I've struggled to cultivate the motivation to paint. I am now marooned with 100,000 souls in a locked-down Kingdom of Tonga for an indefinite period. I have had to cancel a large spate of anticipated leave back in Australia which was to coincide with my daughters' 18th birthday (twins) and an Iron Maiden concert in Sydney. Well that's not happening now. Thankfully the fires which raged across Australia didn't directly affect me or mine but a massive hail storm with stones the size of golf and billiard balls destroyed my car. Fortunately, the insurance write-off was worth more than it's trade-in value so I'm ahead for the purchase of a new Hybrid SUV. I also managed to squeeze in a ten day trip to Dubai and Muscat over which my partner Tania accepted my proposal of marriage. So, the summer of 2019/2020 has been quite the roller-coaster ... and distracting.
I've finally got back into a groove somewhat less intense than last year's end-of-days frenzy. To ease myself back in, I turned to the composite detached light companies for Wolfe's army. This unit comprises for me a 21 figure group made from light companies from three regiments - the 78th, the 2/60th and the 28th foot. It's been a little tricky inasmuch as I've had to flick back and forth between three sets of colour references and late last year I ordered some supplementary figures from Cran Tara as I didn't have quite enough Scots ... needing eleven.

I had not ordered from Cran Tara previously and I was a little dismayed when they turned out to be nearer true 25mm miniatures. I've been used to scale-creep 28mm figures and I didn't feel these boys would mix that well along side my Crusader and Redoubt ranges - not to mention the oversize Blue Moon figures.
The Cran Tara sculpts are very realistically proportioned and very nicely detailed - they are very life-like. Being just that much smaller or rather finer, the kit is a trifle fiddly compared to the others. Don't get me wrong, they paint up lovely but it's a wee bit more of a strain to my ageing eyes and it felt harder going. Their Scots also have all the kit for French and Indian wars with hatchets, powder horns, ration sack, water flasks, bayonet scabbards and sporrans. These figures aren't so much shorter than the others but more accurately slender and I'm not at all sure they would fit well into a formed unit along side my other figures. It's just as well they don't have to as they will be skirmishing three to a circular base so what I've been scrutinizing under my magnifying lamp will be barely noticeable on the table-top.
I have to remark that once painted the differences seem to reduce. I found the faces on these Cran Tara figures to be less well put together than the other ranges in my collection. They are okay but more akin to Elite Miniatures in their attention to detail than Crusader or Perry Miniatures. This range came out years after I had started this project and it looks to be extensive and expanding. If I had my time over again I would definitely have considered them as a foundation range. As it is, I have been working within the uniform limitations of pre-existing ranges where sometimes significant variations in uniform styles between regiments is simply not provided for.
My previous go-to Humbrol metals have partially perished in the heat and humidity of Tonga with no hope of replacement in the short term. I had thought to experiment with alternative acrylic metals from the Vallejo ranges which were thankfully to hand and I will say they are superb. I do believe I am converted now using their flesh tones and now brass, gold and steel metallic ranges.

This makes the eighth unit completed (not including the two guns and crew) and I've already started on the next jumbo unit of 44 figures. I'll push along this Quebec effort but I'm about to hit the end of that particular lead pile and it will be time for the final orders to complete Wolfe's army.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Battle for Quebec: Anstruther's 58th Foot

What was on-track to being the last unit for 2019 became the first for 2020 - my interpretation of Ansthruther's 58th regiment of Foot. I had painted these little men just after Christmas, ready for their mat spray coat but a category 1 cyclone parked itself across Tonga for the best part of three days and more into the new year. High winds, lashing rain and spiking humidity prevented me from finishing them but all good now.
This time I remembered to file off the cast detail for the genadier mitres which again did not conform to the pattern for this regiment. That made life so much easier when it came to painting the King's cypher motif.
As I'm likely to be using Black Powder rules when I finally get around to wargaming this army, it's allowed me to get over a bugbear I've had with basing. These bases allow for eight figures in two ranks with a 20mm frontage each. As you can see, I squeezed the sergeant on the right flank making for a nine figure base. That's because strict figure frontage no longer matters in the current generation of rules ... freedom!
I've been paying a lot more attention to faces these days and I think I've finally settled on my unshaved technique. Over the years I've opted for a diluted Citadel black wash and even painted grey but what's working the best for me is stippling a dark grey wash - just white, black enamels and mineral thinners. If I want it darker, I just repeat.
This is a gratuitous shot and I know I sound nuts but I like the grenadier mitre as much from the back as the front. I opted for the grenade on the black back-band but shied away from the regimental number.
I really enjoyed the black facing for this unit - something a bit different to my others thus far. Hey, you have to take relief where you can find it when painting 34 figure battalions.  The lace patterns and coat cut of the Redoubt Miniatures matched with the 58th foot better than others have in the past so there are less detail compromises this time.
I didn't weather or battle damage the regimental colours like I often do and they turned out quite vibrant - which I don't mind. I did more dramatic folding for the cloth of the flags this time and used the Front Rank fanion chords to tuck the King's Colour in closer to the pole.
The commander is a Black Hussar figure from the British FIW range and I think the drummer is a Blue Moon but can't really remember. The rest are all Redoubt Miniatures.
As I took a bit of time over this wretched drummer, I'm a little vexed he is so obscured at the back so here are two shots in detail ... peekaboo!
One small advantage to this regiment was that all references indicate that the cockade was black with a black tie and no button, making painting the head-wear just that little bit easier. The lace was also plain white for rank and file, silver for officer ranks.
I came to realise I hadn't added to Wolfe's army since 2017 at the start of my Tonga posting. Therefore, I have already started painting the detached light infantry skirmishers and bracing myself to paint the 44 figures for my 34th foot.
I'm happy I got the lighting right this time when photographng. I used my make shift light box and fitted it out with my charcoal cardboard backing sheet. I'm now concentrating on some Russian Cossack cavalry for my Balaclava Build (another of my blogs).