Friday, 12 December 2008

Cuirassiers At Last

Suren Cuirassiers on Stadden Horses

As vaguely alluded to in the title of my last blog entry but one, I have been working to complete my regiment of cuirassiers. I started on this unit over a year ago, and there were two squadrons present and correct in time for my BlastHof Bridge fight. Since then the regiment has been ignored in favour of the dragoons, who are so much easier to paint.

As the photos show, the third and last squadron is now completed. The regiment still lacks its proper complement of officers: but as with other recently 'completed' units, these are but decorative additions and must therefore wait until all vital components of the two armies are ready for Action!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Oh Its All About ....Someone Else Actually

John Preece is back with us after a short absence. He has returned with a loud bang, presenting us with a series of posts that are quite simply jaw-dropping. The photos are a thing of beauty in their own right, and the accompanying text gives considerable insight into the art of painting them. I find myself torn between envy and admiration.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Plains, Terrain and Cuirassiers

A beyond cheesy title: the fact that I was amused by it is probably an indication of how badly one's sense of humour deteriorates with age. It vaguely relates to my being in the middle of making the terrain tiles and units necessary for the next battle. Action! was a small affair by the standards of the Grants. To me it represents a major step forwards, both in the amount of terrain needed and the number of troops.

Work in Progress - Terrain Pieces

There are a few details that make reproducing this battle more awkward. The rules in 'The Wargame' were, for their time, unusually precise in their use of distance. Charles Grant specifies a frontage of 12.5 inches for an infantry battalion. My battalions measure 16 inches. I should therefore either increase all other distances (movement, ranges and the size of the table) or else reduce my 48 man battalions to 38. The first of these is not practical: I don't have the room to do this. The second is (for me anyway) undesirable: I want to use as many of the figures I have as possible.

I shall therefore mull all these things over in my mind, and come to whatever grudging conclusion best suits me at a later date.

Friday, 14 November 2008

The Tricorn Affair Concluded

The King having observed, that the hats of the several Regiments are of different sizes, and cocked in different methods, I am to acquaint you, that the patterns which are sent to the Comptrollers Office, for the Cavalry and Infantry, are, in conformity to the King's Orders, to be sealed by the Board, and deposited as patterns; and it is his Majesty's pleasure that the hats of the several Regiments are for the future to be made conformable to them, both as to the size of the brim and method of cocking. [4th February 1769. Miscellany Book: clothing correspondence. Adjutant-General to Mr. Fauquier. W.O. 30/13B.]

As the excerpt above shows, there is nothing new in the problem of trying to get a hat of the correct size. In my case the lack of uniformity all occurs within a single unit: the evidence is shown in the photos that follow.

I may go back at a later date and knock off a few of the worst hats and remodel them. But, for now, they are 'good enough' and I have a lot more urgent things to do if I am to be ready for the Christmas battle. Similarly, the unit's complement of officers and musicians will have to wait while other units are attended to.

The Le Nobles uniform does look aesthetically pleasing. I think I have made the light blue a little too bright (a touch of grey probably needed to be mixed in) but I am happy with the result this small error gives.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Its Too Cold For Some

We just had a spell of unusually early cold weather here in the UK. For a day there was snow on the ground: very confusing for the many trees about that were still in full summer plumage. My computer was so impressed by this that it felt the need to mark the event by blowing up (I really must remember to put the heating on more).

The lack of a computer seemed, at first, to be a major loss. But I soon found that its absence encouraged me to spend more time painting and modelling. The rank and file for the two companies of my first light infantry battalion are now nearing completion and photos will follow shortly.

Sadly old habits seem to be returning all too quickly. I have an awful lot of blogs and other websites to catch up on, so the rabble of Le Noble's Freicorps stand unattended for the while.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Passing Out

Its a 'big grin' day here with the Dragoons finally being completed. Even the arrival of a copy of 'The Wargame Companion' was insufficient to halt the final stages. Referring to the book, I must say that the revelations about a certain Brigadier's nocturnal activities on page 63 was something of a shock. I shall not reveal the details, but how the press never got to hear of it is beyond comprehension (buy the book if you want to know more).

My Dragoon regiment follows the organisation given in Charge! with the exception that I have given the standard to a separate figure rather than having one of the squadron commanders bear it. This gives me the excuse to avoid painting a musician with all his inevitable intricate finery.

DR8 - Suren Riders On Stadden Horses

This is the first cavalry regiment that I have gotten up to full strength (at least in Charge! terms). It does seem to me to represent a lot of effort, but I am happy that it has been worth it. We come down to the simple fact that having been soaked with the values laid down in Charge! when I was a teenager, even now at the supposedly mature age of 50 I cannot really settle for anything less.

A Wargamers View of DR8

In my particular scheme of things, the figures mounted on circular bases are purely eye candy. Only the figures on rectangular bases fight and define the position of the regiment. The eye candy can be moved around to provide scenic effect - just as can be seen in the refights in Charge!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Dragoons (Almost)

Dragoon squadron commander and standard bearer (Suren riders on Stadden horses).

Today's rather embarrassing photo puts me in mind of a passage in Shaw's "Saint Joan".

DUNOIS: Not a man will follow you.

JOAN: I will not look back to see whether anyone is following me.

I had hoped to show a photo of my regiment of Dragoons, complete and basking in the full glory of a Charge-style cavalry regiment. But all I can do is put up a shot of one slightly bemused squadron commander, accompanied by a standard-bearer, wondering where his men have disappeared to.

Neuro-surgeons may understand some of the details of how the brain works. But I suspect that none of them would be able to explain how that part of my brain storing the fact that 'those dragoons need their muskets adding' chose to remain dormant until today. Inevitably, these dozy neurons chose to fire just after the critical moment: when the dragoons had been varnished. It would, perhaps, be unscientific to attribute all this to the sheer bloody-mindedness of the world in general.

Hopefully in a few days time I will be able to show the completed regiment and wax lyrical about the thing. Until then I shall be wondering about what else is lurking forgotten in the dark recesses of my mind.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Accumulating Companies

The first two companies of IR12

I have to admit to having trouble dealing with even that most simple of inventions: the paper flag. I cut the thing up using sufficient care to impress a brain surgeon. When I glue it to its pole I am aware of all the nasty tricks that a paper flag likes to play on the unsuspecting wargamer and take care to circumvent them all. And yet, when all is done, I end up with nasty white strips along the edges where the two halves of the thing have not been lined up properly. I have no explanation for this: I suspect its an inevitability, rather like that law of physics that says that toast always falls buttered-side down. I have given up trying to find a cure for it other than reaching for the paint pot and painting them out.

As the photo above shows progress on IR12 is continuing albeit at a slower pace than I would like. My plan is to fight Action! with Jim around Christmas time, and there are still quite a few units to do: two companies of line infantry, four companies of light, and two squadrons of cavalry. Hopefully I'll pick up some speed once the weather turns bad and I'm stuck indoors: the current Indian summer, although splendid in many ways, is not doing the painting schedule any favours.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Tedious Inattention To Detail

Prussian musketeers ought to have white lace on their tricorns: at least that's the inflexible rule that's somehow burnt itself into my brain. And so the men of my version of IR 12 (I'm currently painting the second company) have white lace on their hats. It never occurred to me that the Prussian army, in an inattentive moment, might allow any slippage of my golden rule.

Unfortunately, when checking Bleckwenn a few odd uniform details came to hand. Firstly the neck stocks are red, whereas before I've come across only white or black. But, more alarmingly, their hat lace appears to be gold - not just for officers but for rank and file as well. I took this last to be a printer's error, especially as the unit's drummers were still properly decked out with white lace on their hats (and drummers are a truly tarty lot given half a chance). And so, while I duely painted red on the neck stocks, it was the pot of white paint that I reached for to complete the hats.

But today I happened to be reading Duffy in an idle moment. And here I read 'In the veteran regiments the troops wore stocks (neck-cloths) of red, and sported expensive braid and buttons on their coats'. So now I am wondering whether the expensive braid extended as far as the hats, while mulling over the hazards of careless reading.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Double Blues

It has been a rainy week and so there's been time for indoors activities. Most of this has been prepping some dragoons and musketeers, for which there's little to show as yet. However, the test figures for my Freicorps Le Noble are finally complete, as shown in the accompanying photo.

Officer and Private, Freicorps

The one mistake that bothers me is with the officer's sword: I've not beaten it flat consistently enough along its length. The lower part of it has therefore come out a little too wide, imparting a rather odd shape. It doesn't show up at wargames ranges though so I'll let it pass. Having satisfied myself that I have a method for converting these figures that is within my abilities, the rest of the regiment will be included in my next order to Tradition.

Friday, 29 August 2008


The Emperor, rudely made aware that noble blood formed no substitute for skill at arms, hastily despatched General Lentulus to take command...

So says the good book in its preamble to the battle of Sittangbad. Now I don't have an Imperial army as yet, but as I enjoy working on personality figures I could not resist modelling this gentleman.

I haven't been able to identify a Lentulus figure from the photos in Charge! but then, as the book's authors were happy to use the same figures to represent multiple personalities, this isn't really a problem. There aren't any Austrian figures in the Stadden or Suren ranges but the Duke of Cumberland figure happens to have a suitable uniform and is a nice example of Suren's work to boot.

General Lentulus - Suren Cumberland on Stadden Horse

I didn't do much remodelling on this figure. The saddle blanket was of a distinctive design that I hadn't seen before (though it appeared to match one on an engraving of Cumberland), so I replaced it with a paper one. The pistols and their holsters were also replaced.

Lentulus does have a historical counterpart, a Swiss officer Josef baron Lentulus being in the Austrian Service. His son (Rupert Scipio Lentulus) was also active in the SYW, fighting for the Prussians after being captured by them at Prague. Both father and son rose to the rank of General.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Kelly's Heroes (SYW Style)

My title refers to Le Noble's Frei-Korps. I can't find a great deal of information on this unit, but the manner of its ending seems to give a fairly major clue as to its character. A unit that has to be disbanded at gunpoint must possess qualities that, if not laudable, are at least interesting. Certainly a general fortunate enough to command such troops will never have to search his mind to find excuses should he lose a battle.

I am intending to use this unit as light infantry. I'm not sure how historically accurate this is as I won't be modelling the unit's jager detachment, only the troops in 'double-blue' uniform. That's a decision based on aesthetics: I like the distinctive double-blue, while the green of the jager uniform looks distinctly 'un-prussian' to me.

The Stadden prussian SYW figures are not ideal for modelling this unit, due to the poses available. The officer marching in parade order with sword upright and the musketeer in march-attack both seem altogether too formal. The officer with spontoon has the right sort of pose. One can almost imagine him shouting "this way you scum" as his troops attempt to sneak off to the rear. But the weapon is altogether too cumbersome, so a simple conversion to using a sword is called for. He also needs lapels added.

The problem of the rank and file is rather greater. A suitable figure with correct uniform and equipment, sculpted by Charles Stadden (or at least with the same elegant proportions), animated 'at the ready' is simply not to be had. I don't like the firing pose (which is the only alternative given to march-attack) as this always looks odd at the start of the game when there are no enemy near enough to shoot at. The Stadden FP16 Prussian Grenadier charging is suitable: but this has the grenadier mitre cap: hence the tricorne modelling discussion in the previous posting.

Modelling tricornes has proven to be a most frustrating process: I think I have made one of these articles with each and every modelling mistake possible (brim too thick, crown too bulbous, fold misplaced in every various fashions, etc.). Currently about one in six comes out as usable: at least by my standards, a professional would probably reject them all. It might be sensible to make a mould from my best attempt but the only way to get better at this is to practice, so I will persevere. The entire experience means that me and the King of Wittemberg are entirely in sympathy.

The photo shows the two figures converted and then undercoated. I am not altogether happy with the converted grenadier: as usual with Stadden prussian grenadiers the figure appears slightly over-sized. I think Charles Stadden may have had the Potsdam giants in mind when he sculpted these.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


One of the great virtues of our blogs is the manner in which ideas can be floated, discussed and developed. In this case I refer to a posting by Adderphue which gave his method for creating tricornes - by creating a wide-brimmed hat and folding it to shape. This is a solution to creating a tricorne that seems to be within my limited sculpting abilities. One of my current projects (of which more another time) might be solved if I can make tricornes in this manner, and so I am currently experimenting with it.

The big question is: how does one fold a tricorne? Looking into this one very quickly realises that the question itself is rather inadequate to the problem. The hat's shape evolved over time until it finally became the bicorne. So the initial geometry of the unfolded hat, and placement of folds, changes according to which period we are trying to model. A useful starting point is to look at the tricorne at its simplest. This has folds in the form of an equilateral triangle, and gives us the hat worn by these gentlemen.

Gentlemen Pensioners

The maths for this is simple. The figure below shows that the ratio of the hat's central and outer radii is given by r1/r2 = cos 60 = 0.5. All other shapes can be gotten by slight variations on this. For example, if we want each side to have a concave curve to it then we reduce the inner radius slightly. To mimic the tricornes on the Stadden figures, we need to also to raise the front of the hat and pinch the rear corners of the tricorn.

Tricorne Geometry

Monday, 11 August 2008

Guards, Grenadiers And Waistcoats

If there was a church near me with a conveniently ill-guarded set of bells I think I would be ringing them now in celebration. My third regiment of infantry (fusiliers) is complete. In retrospect, the tactic of painting en masse did not suit me at all: I did manage an unprecedented 36 Olley painting points in just over a month, but painting large numbers of figures was not as enjoyable as my usual method of painting in small sub units. So I will return to my old routine of a company at a time.

Now what does a wargamer, of a certain age, do when he finds himself in possession of three regiments of infantry - each one boasting forty-eight bayonets - in all their glory? Well, at least in my case, he finds himself attempting to resemble 'so far as a slightly bulging waistcoat permits, an eagle about to swoop'. I don't actually possess a waistcoat, nor any bulge where the waistcoat should be, but those are the precise words from the book. Of course, if you are not familiar with Charge! you are left at this point wondering what this fellow is blathering on about. For you it's a bit like the US cavalry spotting Indian smoke signals: you know there's something up, but you don't know quite what and you really would rather like to know if they refer to you.

The description in Charge! of the stand of the 'Pultava Guards' against the combined might of the 'Douro Grenadiers' and the 'Musselburgh Fusiliers' was a part of the book that I read over and over in my youth. If I read it now, I find I am so familiar with the words that I hardly read them off the page at all. So it was a delight to finally be able to play it out. My Guarde Grenadier regiment took the place of the Pultava guards, my Fusiliers the Douros (as they have pointy hats) and my musketeers were the Musselburgs.

The Guarde Prepares to Receive The Assault

I shall not attempt to recapture the prose of Young and Lawford in recounting what happened. However, the Guarde mounted a magnificent defence, total casualties to the attackers being 51 shot down and 6 prisoners taken, while losing only 12 men in return (the 'fusiliers' were left with only the unengaged company standing). The dice did take a decided bias towards the Garde and 'salty expressions' would have been the order of the day if this had been played against someone else. But there was more to it than just the dice. Company strengths of only twelve men left the power of the attacking columns greatly diminished while increasing their vulnerability to musketry.

The Columns Make Their Assaults

This leads me to speculate over the reasons for one apparent consistency in the Charge! rules and why it was there. If we look at Light Infantry and Pioneers they both use 12 man company establishments. This would appear to be the natural organisation for line infantry too: four companies form a square far more readily than three. It is notable that, later in the book (ie. at Sittangbad), four companies are indeed adopted, although this is done while retaining a strength of 16 men.

The Defeated Columns Prepare To Hand Over Prisoners

Fighting this action has finally laid another childhood dream to rest, and at the cost of only a few uncomplaining metal lives. I am not a reader of Horace, but I do read Kipling and it was in 'Stalky And Co' that I found Kipling quoting the following lines from Horace, Ode 17, Bk. V, which seemed to me to be a suitable (if somewhat pretentious) way to end this blog entry:

How comes it that, at even-tide,
When level beams should show most truth,
Man, failing, takes unfailing pride,
In memories of his frolic youth?

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Those Fusliers Again

When I'm getting near to completing a batch of figures, I start keeping a list of all the painting stages still to be done before varnishing. That's a simple precaution needed if, like me, you have a bad habit of forgetting small items until after varnishing. I started making my list for the fusiliers five days ago, at which time there were nine items on the list.

So its rather a disappointment to find I still have six items on the list to do. I have been lazy I admit, but there's more to it than that. Because that list grew to seventeen items while I was working on it. If my painting was up to it, I think I'd add a slight smirk onto the faces of these figures.

The Legion Of The Damned (many times over): Stadden Fusiliers

If I do decide to try painting another unit as one large batch, then I think I will try mounting multiple figures on a strip - as many of you have suggested. Well, at least if they are infantry. I rather suspect that Stadden/Suren cavalry would be too heavy.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


I suspect it is a rule of life that if you don't want a green bathroom sponge then the things are everywhere. Local supermarkets offer special deals for bulk purchases of them, small children try and sell them to you through your car window (I'm guessing here, I haven't driven in 20 years), charities give them away to needy and deserving people. But as I actually did want one, there were none to be found in the neighbourhood. My original plans thwarted by the negligence of local shopkeepers, I resorted to using that kitchen essential: the pan scourer. A pack of three 4"x 6" pads, costing 49p, provided enough material to cover three of my monster-sized trees.

The scourers were chopped up into small cubes. The first of these were pushed onto the bare metal wire remaining at the tips of each bough, the wires being coated with PVA to provide a permanent bond. Other cube could then dunked into PVA and pushed onto cubes that were already in place, being held there by their tangled fibres until the PVA dried. Given the small size of the cubes (due to pan scourers being rather thin) this had to be repeated in a lot of stages, taking rather more time than I'd prefer.

Once happy with the amount of foliage added, it was pruned with a pair of nail scissors to try and remove the more visible corners of the cubes and thus give a more natural effect. The final step was brush on some light green paint to soften the deep green colour of the original pad. The net result of all this is shown in the photo.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Do Painters Have Morale Throws Too?

I usually buy figures in small units: a company of musketeers, one of grenadiers, and perhaps a squadron of cavalry all in one purchase. I find this lessens the drudge factor in painting by providing a little more variety. But there is a downside to this. There may be an interval of a month or so before I paint a second set of figures of the same type. And this means that much of the familiarity with the figure has been lost: the same old mold lines may not be noticed (again), and details of which features to paint up and which to ignore, what to highlight, what to line, all have to be remembered.

I had already painted the rank and file for one company of fusiliers some time ago. I decided that I would try a different approach for the rest, completing the regiment by painting all its remaining figures if not all in one go, then at least in consecutive batches. Perhaps the drudge factor would be more than compensated for by the efficiencies of the method.

Well, the figures have arrived from Tradition of London. As usual the inital reception was one of pleasure (I can't frolic like a new-born lamb anymore, though I do try). But there was a little voice somewhere in my mind doubting that painting them all was really going to be quite so much fun as unpacking them. I set them all out and admired them: admiring figures does not take much effort. But it was when I started to clean them up with a craft knife that I really began to reflect on how long it takes (me at least) to paint thirty six Stadden infantry plus their accompanying officers.

Stadden fusiliers in column of bottletop

I remember the old WRG rules sets with their lengthy lists morale of morale factors. My table for 'painter about to sit and paint' would have factors such as +1 for a sunny day, +1 for a decent programme on the radio, +2 for good anatomy, etc.. I think I made my morale throw, albeit only just.

Friday, 11 July 2008


A glance at the map for Charles Grant's Action! shows that I need plenty of trees. Perhaps not as many as at Fontenoy, but still sufficient to provide an appreciable area of bad terrain on both flanks of the field of battle. I don't have to count up the number of trees I currently possess, because I don't have any to count. So it's really high time to turn my thoughts to what's to be done about them.

I want trees that will look good, be robust enough to survive any knocks during gaming or in storage, be big enough to look like proper trees rather than overgrown shrubs, be small enough that they don't take up much room in storage, and stable enough to not get knocked over during battle. And, of course, they mustn't get in the way of any troops lurking beneath them. That's a fair number of conflicting requirements, so some compromises will have to be made.

It has to be said straight away that 'overgrown shrubs' are what the sensible wargamer uses. Large trees have a habit of getting in the way as you try to move figures. If you knock them over the tress are at best merely annoying, it they are firmly rooted then you are lucky to avoid damaging them or else impaling your hand. However, I decided that the look of thing overrides such sensible considerations, if only because I liked the novelty of bigger trees than I have used in the past.

Having decided on size, I chose to have trees that can be firmly attached to my terrain modules (for stability), but removed for ease of storage. This can be done by embedding a threaded nut in the terrain module and incorporating the corresponding bolt in the bottom of the trunk of the tree. It might be simpler to do things the other way round - with the bolt in the terrain and the nut in the tree, but this would make storing the terrain harder as the thread of the bolt would stand proud of the terrain when the tree is removed.

The tree's trunk is build from bottom up. An irregularly shaped piece of card, with a hole drilled through it for the bolt, establishes a good flat surface where the tree is in contact the ground. The bolt is pushed through the card and positioned so that the correct amount of thread is exposed. I then wrap milliput between the card and the head of the bolt, and (temporarily) screw the nut onto the bolt to hold the cardboard firm while the milliput dries. The main trunk of the tree is made out of old fibre tip pens, because I happen to have a load of these I'd never thrown away. The head of the bolt is simply embedded into milliput at the base of the trunk, the milliput also being used to build up the trunk - which should naturally be wider at its base.

Embedding The Bolt

The nut can now be taken off the partially completed trunk and inserted into the terrain module. The two layer construction of my modules makes this relatively easy - the nut is epoxied onto the 4mm thick MDF that forms the lower layer of the module. The foamcore upper layer - with an area cut out where the nut is going to go - can then be glued onto the terrain module, hiding the nut from view.

The boughs of the tree are made of twisted wire. Twist two wires together to make a bough. Twist two of these together to make a bigger bough, etc. The assembled boughs are then pushed into the trunk of the tree, wedged in with milliput to hold them in place. Milliput is then used to cover the wire, hiding the twists in the wire, and adding strength.

Component Boughs

Basic Trees

More boughs can be added using twisted wire to make the tree more convincing. I wrapped some around the outside of the tree trunks to form lower limbs for the trees. Others were added to the upper boughs to create more complex structures. You can buy terracotta milliput (intended to repair garden pots etc.) and this can be used to provide a brown base colour, thus simplifying later painting.

I have yet to decide on how to add foliage. In the past I have used wire wool dunked in sawdust. This looks good, but tends to be messy with sawdust being shed everytime the trees are used. My current idea is to use chopped up bits of a green bathroom spong - if I can find such an article in the shops. So any suggestions on alternatives would be welcome.

Nearing Completion

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

More Musketeers

Painting is continuing at its normal, slow pace. All very routine really: I have finished the first company of the fourth (and last) infantry battalion needed for the Action! refight. It's just a straight forward painting of Stadden musketeer figures, in this case to some semblance of Prussian IR12.

Stadden Musketeers

I usually have twelve rank and file in an infantry company so, as the photo shows, one man has gone AWOL. What's happened is that one figure had a broken musket: I'd rather not waste valuable painting time on a figure in that state. I'll hopefully be able to fix the musket with some wire and milliput: a little project that will provide some variation from the task of painting all those musketeers.

With this company out of the way my metal mountain - which is never really more than a mole-hill by normal standards - has dwindled to just a few odd figures. I have another order from Tradition of London somewhere in the post, but in the meantime I can indulge in the pleasant pastime of fiddling around with individual figures rather than painting in bulk. I have a Suren Duke of Cumberland that looks like he may end up defecting to take up high command in the Imperial Army. I am also starting on the extra terrain I need for Action!, of which more in future posts.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Methode d'Equitation

No, not Baucher's work, but simply a bit more on the correction of the bad habits of a Prussian dragoon officer. I haven't read the book anyway, I was just looking for a title, and a pretentious one will do fine (I came across a reference to Baucher while reading a biography of Louis Nolan). I've gone ahead with my plan, the remodelling of the draggon officer being done in a number of stages.

The big problem I find is that I have a bad habit of holding the wrong place and so damaging other bits that I've just done. This is a particular hazard when the milliput decides to misbehave (a common occurrence) and I concentrate on the immediate problem and forget about other, vulnerable parts of the model. The only solution is to let the milliput harden before continuing. So what should have been a simple, quick modelling task took a few days while I allowed the milliput to harden between each stage.

Step one was the easy bit: mostly a matter of minor vandalism as I attacked the figure with a craft knife. I removed the horse furniture (reins on the horse, and blanket and pistol holders on the officer). The officer's scabbard was lost along with the blanket that it was attached to, so a pin hole was drilled to accept a wire scabbard that would be added later. The officer's coat at the rear was also pared down a bit. A paper saddle blanket was then glued onto the horse, and the officer was then glued onto that, now of course, in the desired upright position. So far so simple.

Step two saw the application of milliput to form the lower parts of the horse furniture. First up was the rear of the saddle aft of the rider's buttocks. The front of the saddle was next added although this is invisible and serves only to support the rider and the pistol holders, which were then placed on top. The square pads beneath and to the rear of the rider's legs were then added. Lastly, the horse's mane, where it was damaged when removing the reins, was also repaired. None of this is particularly difficult as it involves only simple geometric shapes. The figure after this stage is shown in the photo.

After Minor Vandalism and Some Milliput

The next step started with a wire sword scabbard being pushed into the hole drilled in step one. With this in place I could then add more bits of milliput to extend the rider's coat downwards. This requires rather more skill and judgement than previously, and I found it easier to do in two steps: the first being to add enough milliput to establish only the general look of the tails. Once this had hardened I tidied up with a needle file and then added a few more touches of milliput to refine things. I also added the top covers of the pistol holders and the pistol buckets at this point.

The final step saw new reins made out of thin, beaten wire glued onto the figure. The officer's hand holding the reins was also remodelled using milliput (as little more than a blob, I'm not a good enough sculptor for anything better). After that it was done to a paint job to hide all faults: the final result is shown below.

The Riding Master's Star Pupil

Well, from my admittedly biased viewpoint, I think the remodelled figure is a big improvement. At the very least there will be no unkind remarks from the ranks about the officer's riding ability: Captain Nolan would have approved of the change.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


The command Forwards! in this case is not the signal for yet another desperate advance of Prussian grenadiers across a cannon swept field. Rather, it is the instruction of the regimental riding master to his pupil. The centre of attention of all this is the Suren dragoon officer (mounted as usual on a Stadden horse) in the photo below.

The figure is a beautiful piece of work, as is to be expected from anything sculpted by Edward Suren. But picky idiot that I am, I do not want to use the pose that it has been given. Suren has sculpted this gentleman to be leaning well back in the saddle (the lean looks rather more pronounced in real life than in the photo). I must emphasize that there's nothing intrinsically wrong with the pose, it just doesn't fit with my personal goals.

I am trying to acheive a certain, consistent, effect with my armies. Its detractors like to label this as the "clone patrol", a description which really is fair enough. Perhaps the phrase "drill instructor's dream" is kinder: what I'm trying for is the impression of an 18th Century army locked into rigid formations, responding with clockwork precision to the commands of its officers. So - for instance - the ranks of my line infantry are in march attack and, on a good day with no use of alcohol or any other aid, you can fairly hear the crunch of a thousand boots hitting the ground in perfect time. In my vision there is a certain scope for the odd animated figure, but this is limited to personality figures who don't exist on the table in multiple copies. Or to express this as a simple rule - personality figures are allowed to have personality.

Now dragoon squadron commanders don't qualify as personalities under this scheme. I'm planning on having three squadrons per cavalry regiment so three of these gentlemen leaning back in the saddle would, for me, be all too much of a good thing. But as I have noted before, this is where anyone building only a small army has an advantage: we can afford to expend a much greater effort on a per figure basis. So I can look at modifying the figure a little.

The first thing to note is that the entire figure is involved. The feet are tipped forwards to counterbalance the weight of the torso leaning backwards. So cutting the figure in half at the waist and tilting the upper body forwards will not work - unless we want to give the impression of the officer being gut-shot. Instead, the plan must be to pivot the entire figure at the point where it sits on the horse. Doing this means that the rear of the saddle blanket is then raised markedly above the horse's back, so the metal blanket must go, to be replaced by a paper one (this is really no greater loss, paper ones are easier to paint). The horse furniture at the front presents a similar problem, this needs to be raised so that we can pivot the figure at it's seat rather than at the pistol holders. So I'll cut these off, and glue them onto the horse separately.

Well, that's the plan for today. The sun is shining, there's a nice cool breeze: I think a few hours spent sat in the conservatory fiddling about with these figures are called for.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

More Dragoons

We must, I think, sympathise with the travails of fathers in days gone by. There was once a time when a child, left to his own devices, might take up such unworthy pastimes as flute playing. And there was little the enlightened parent could do, other than perhaps chop off the head of one's first born's best mate. My current slow progress has, I'm thankful to say, nothing to do with flute playing.

An 18th C Hoodie Caught On Camera

For my next planned battle - Action!, from the Wargame - both sides will possess a full regiment of three squadrons. So its time to start recruiting my cavalry. First up is a second squadron of dragoons: the new two squadron regiment is shown in the photo. That leaves me with a further squadron to add to each side: something I'll do at intervals to add some variety as I work on the additional infantry units that I need.

Cuirassiers & Dragoons

Decently sized cavalry units will be something of a novelty for me. As youths my friends and I fought battles with Charge! rules, but with sadly understrength units. This was not down to any policy on our own part, but a result of the size of a box of Airfix figures, plus the inclusion in the box of such eccentric figures as 'trooper crouching behind dead horse and waving sword'. And somehow we never used multiple boxes of the same figures, but preferred variety: even to the extent of mixing in units from the AWI up to the ACW.

Military 'history' is an unreliable witness. So if we are to believe French accounts of the passage of the Somosierra, Napoleon smashed a Spanish force of 9000 men and 16 cannon, entrenched in a strong position, with little more than a single squadron of cavalry and his own iron will. Whereas, if we read Oman we discover that the Emperor sacrificed a brave squadron to no effect and was forced to wait for the attack of his infantry to develop.

My own metal heroes are subject to the same faults: my dragoons will willingly relate how they held back twice their number of cuirassiers at Blasthof. My cuirassiers will tell you that they overthrew the dragoons, who were only saved from total ruin by the intervention of their infantry supports. And my cuirassiers, it seems, do not perform head counts.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Ten Months And Counting

I have some sympathy for Frederick and his problems with Croats. In my case it is not irregular infantry hovering on my flanks that are causing concern, but various garden pests that launch their attacks on my veggies. Add to that the sun suddenly going AWOL, and the joys of modelling seem all the greater.

With painting metal soldiers, I can blame only myself if they don't turn out the way I want. I suppose in a way this might be seen as a disadvantage: no excuses are possible. So when I see all the mistakes I have made on the figures I have painted so far, I have to shudder. Indeed, I have to marvel at the sheer variety of them. If I look back I'd ascribe 70% of them to impatience, the urge to get on to the next step before properly completing the current job. The other 30% are due to sheer cack-handedness and lack of talent.

It is now ten months since I started on my SYW 30mm army (the blog didn't start until much later) after a break of roughly twelve years since last wargaming. The internet has changed the hobby markedly during my long period of inactivity. We now have easy access to information of all kinds: uniform details, orders of battle, descriptions of tactics etc. that were hard to get hold of when our only ready sources were the local bookshop, library and periodicals. But, for me, the most crucial change has been the manner in which we can all communicate our own thoughts on every topic to our peers. We can now all play a part in forming the opinions on which the future direction of wargaming depends.

On a more personal note I can take stock of the progress made in the last ten months: nine companies of infantry, three cavalry squadrons, and two guns and their crew. Counting all the supernumaries, it works out at about twenty Olley painting points a month: rather more than I imagined before I sat down to count. I think ten months is a good enough basis to be able to figure out future timescales. The maximum size of battle I'd envisage doing would be that of Sittangbad. Any greater number of figures and I suspect the chore of moving them individually would be excessively tedious: I should have to use a multiple figure basing system if I wanted to do this. I make Sittangbad to be roughly 840 Olley painting points: so, subtracting progress already made, that would take me a little under three years.

Ten months work

Henry Hyde's post on hisFaltenian Succession armies mentions the hazards of being drawn into different periods. For those fortunate enough to be fast painters this is not a problem: for slow painters like me it is 'madness' as the authors of Charge! put it. The most tempting for me would be WW2 as this presents a very different game. Luckily this problem is solved by the simple fact that the best WW2 wargames I have played have been on a computer, using Close Combat 3 (in my humble opinion Close Combat 4 is nowhere near as good a game). I'd recommend this to anyone wanting to try out WW2: you get all the advantages of using a computer, including concealment, accurate morale, proper determination of the effect of suppressive fire (the last is key to allowing proper tactics), all leading to an excellent wargame. And the biggest benefit of all is that you don't have to paint another army, so your modelling efforts don't get diluted by period creep.

At the moment I am working on adding a second squadron of dragoons. This takes a lot of time as I have multiple parts to attach with epoxy glue, so there's not much to show at the moment. Hopefully I'll be able to show the enlarged regiment next post.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Messing About On The River

I'm currently working on bits and bobs at the moment: with the weather having suddenly switched from winter straight into mid-summer there's too many jobs in the garden to occupy my time. Its a fact of life that unpainted metal figures have infinite patience, while vegetables require attention when weather permits. And anyone observing Mitchell Towers at just the right time of night will see me out there, torch in hand, engaged in a savage battle of man versus slug.

One task have have finally gotten round to is to add a little polish to the river sections I created for BlastHof (hence the Cheesy title). The most accurate representation of a stream would use subtle colouring to indicate the reflection of sky and banks in the water. I decided that wouldn't do at all though. I think that with 'water' thats really no more than a few coats of varnish, this would not give the effect of depth that I want.

So my stream sections use a black undercoat with nothing more than a fairly light drybrushing of medium blue on top. The drybrushing is concentrated towards the centre of the stream so that its 'banks' are casting their shadows. Its not realistic: I don't think I've ever seen a stretch of water at all like this, but it does give the impression of something with a depth of more than a fraction of a millimetre.

Stream Sections

I've glued sand onto the banks themselves using PVA. I also experimented with using static grass to represent aquatic plants at the stream borders, but this didn't work too well so I abandoned it after a bit. I think you'd need larger bristles to represent this type of vegetation. There are other embellishments that could be added - such as grit to represent rock - but as stuff like this would make it harder to place figures I think we are moving away from practical wargames terrain into the province of diorama makers. After all, I've already deviated far from the chalked-on water features in Charge!.

On the figures front, I'm slowly painting an officer to lead the Cuirassiers. The Suren figure has its hand sticking out to the front in an attitude that doesn't seem to serve any particular purpose. So I decided to bend this down to a position close to the reins; a pose that looks far more natural. The problem here, of course, is that metal figures don't have elbows so the entire upper arm bends in a gradual curve rather than getting a sharp bend at just the elbow (which would probably snap the arm if you managed it anyway). To fix this I filled in the inside of the arm with milliput and then filed the outside of the arm to remove the curve.

As the only officer painted so far, this gentleman will get to lead the entire regiment (albeit of only two squadrons at the moment). Later on he'll be demoted to squadron commander: the final complement of officers will have two more like him, plus a converted 'special' in overall command.

Suren Cuirassier Officer (Stadden Horse)

I am starting to think I ought to photo my figures before I start painting them: I can see a bit of mold line in the photo that had quite escaped my notice. Oh well, time to get the file out.

Monday, 5 May 2008


Given the title of this blog, it's about time I added some of these gentlemen. As usual (when the range includes them) the figures I have chosen to use are Staddens. The first company, of twelve men, is done and shown in the photo below.

I've painted these figures to represent Fusilier Regiment 41. Bleckwenn shows the coat for this regiment being of a slightly lighter shade of blue than the norm: I've tried to indicate this by using a heavier highlight than usual. Bleckwenn does show some variety of shades of blue amongst the many regiments of the Prussian Army, but as I cannot read the german text of his books I'm not sure why this is. Duffy says that FR41 was transferred from Wurttemburg, so I wonder if the difference in shade in this case reflects the unit's origins.

I did paint these a little hastily. Sometimes I find the urge to get a unit finished is overwhelming, particularly when its a new figure. As a result, I've missed off some detail on the cuffs, and I am still wondering about whether to fix that or not.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Afterthoughts On BlastHof

Its great to see I'm not alone in enjoying picking over these old battles.

Anyone familiar with Charge! will realise that my refight was not an exact reconstruction. Although this (in the original authors' minds at least) was a small battle, it could not be properly contained within the confines of a family dining table. This problem will be far worse for the next battle I am hoping to refight (Action! from 'The Wargame').

Marburgers Close Up - Taken before we chose sides, the wrong general is still on the table.

There were some slight changes to the OOB. These worked very well, the original OOB favouring (in my humble opinion) the infantry-heavy side. It is ironic that the outcome of the battle was decided by artillery. I had reduced the number of guns from two to one on each side. I had originally intended to go further and use a revised artillery effect table, but in the end chose to stick to the original rules in their entirety. The single Rheinfeller gun, once it woke up, blew away an entire infantry company in two turns: one quarter of the Marburger Army.

Fortified by beer and chocolate (no ladies were in attendance to forbid such excesses), both sides pursued extremely aggreassive tactics. This goes entirely against my childhood memories of games fought with Charge! rules, where the tendency was to hang back and bombard the enemy. I don't think we have grown old and foolish just yet, so this change in tactics probably reflected our desire to have a fun game rather than worrying about who won.

We found one major problem (there were many minor ones too) with trying to record the battle. When we came to the critical moment of the battle we were both engrossed in the fight and entirely forgot about taking photos. So the photos of the cavalry charge and melee are of the second and not the first charge. I also didn't take any notes: I'd assumed that with such a simple battle my memory would be sufficient, something that turned out to be an error.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

BlastHof Heath, April 1758

I love it when a plan comes together - as I seem to remember Hannibal Smith of the 'A Team' saying annoyingly frequently. In my personal experience long-laid plans rarely do come together, but this one did. The battle against my old school friend Jim Wannop - almost 30 years since we last locked horns - took place. This post will relate the events. Photos of the battle were taken by Jim, so are of a rather higher standard than is normal for this blog.

The order of battle we used was pretty close to the original: 3 coys of infantry and one squadron of cavalry (36 infantry, 8 cavalry) and one gun on the Electoral side (or in this case Marburgers), commanded by Soubise. Quite what Soubise was doing fighting for the Northern Protestant side is anybody's guess: from his energy on the day of battle it's quite possible that this was a different Soubise who led the French at Rossbach.

Marburg initial position

The opposing Imperial (Rheinfeller) side had 2 coys of infantry and 2 squadrons of cavalry (24 infantry, 16 cavalry) and one gun, under the command (of course) of General Kornberg.

Rheinfels Starting Position

We used the elementary rules as in Charge!, although it must be remarked that neither of us had read the rules before battle commenced. So some deviation from these rules may have unwittingly occurred. However this did not occasion any argument as neither of us was worried about winning or losing.

Initial Moves

Soubise won the toss and moved first. His army moved forwards, inclining to the right so that a second company could come into line on the near bank of the stream. Kornberg responded by a general advance, sending both squadrons of his cavalry across the stream, and following its banks with the rest of his army.

Soubise now showed his natural inclination towards the defensive. He refused his right flank to protect it against the mass of cavalry that was clearly directed at it. His infantry on the left flank continued their advance. He halted his artillery to fire at the enemy cuirassiers, but missed, rolling a four when a five or six would have been required to hit.

Kornberg was unimpressed by the ranging shot and continued his advance, his cavalry being held a little back. By giving up the opportunity to return fire, his gun now reached a commanding position, with its right flank protected by the Rheinfeller infantry, its left and front by the stream.

A commanding position

The Battle Develops

Soubise's staff was now in heated debate about what to do. The leading infantry companies were in easy range of the Rheinfeller artillery, and were masking their own gun from returning fire in that direction. Those who argued for a slight retirement were overruled by Soubise who was inclined to more aggressive action. The dragoons now advanced on the right flank, one infantry company moving to their support. In the centre the artillery moved forwards, Soubise having decided that their gunners were clearly not up to long range firing. One company on his left crossed the stream, the other remained close to his gun.

Kornberg now prepared his stroke. The cavalry moved forwards at a measured pace, its officers keeping the horses fresh until within charge range. The rest of his army remained stationary and the gun took aim at the infantry company opposite it. Only a two was needed to hit, and a two was gotten. Kornberg grinned as he threw for effect. A one, great was the cursing from the Rheinfeller side as a single infantryman was removed. Ignoring their general's discomfort the Rheinfeller infantry fired at the Marburg infantry that had crossed the stream and shot down the four that hadn't gotten into cover.

Soubise now prepared for the charge that was clearly to come. The outnumbered Dragoons were somewhat comforted as their supporting infantry company moved up onto their left. His right flank secure, Soubise now moved his gun forwards again to reach within canister range of the Rheinfellers. His infantry in the houses continued their advance and now took up a position where they could fire upon the Rheifellers without any effective reply. Return fire from those previously caught in the open killed a single Rheinfeller.

Kornberg charged with his cavalry. His gun fired again at the enemy infantry, and despite the close range, somehow managed to miss (he rolled a one on the 'to hit' roll). An irate Kornberg could be seen spurring his horse fowards and belabouring the unfortunate battery commander with the flat of his sword.

The cuirassiers charge

The Marburg infantry now fired on the oncoming Cuirassiers, two of them falling from their saddles. Soubise's gun fired at the Rheinfeller gun: if this could be put out of action, then the need to advance on the strong Rheinfeller position facing his left would be removed. A hit has duly acheived and two gunners fell. The final activity on this turn was to resolve the melee. The Dragoons, despite their secure position, managed to lose one trooper while failing to inflict a single casualty in return. The infantry, who had risked so much to support them, lost three men: again for no return. Both sides fell back.


Kornberg had now lost control of the battle, occupied as he was in chastising his artillery commander. This seemed to be no real loss to the Rheinfellers, and their cavalry charged again. His right flank infantry wheeled left and lined the bank of the stream, putting the infantry in the houses at long range. Meanwhile, a battle-scarred bombardier had taken over command of the gun, and took long and careful aim at the Marburg infantry. This time there was no error and a six for effect was rolled. Six of the Marburg infantry were removed, a heavy loss.

The Conclusion

Soubise noted that his casualties were becoming severe, and urged his army on. The infantry in the house charged the Rheinfellers in the rear. On the opposite flank the remnants of the infantry company there fired upon the oncoming cuirassiers, killing another two troopers. The Marburger gun then fired again on the Rheinfeller artillery. A decent roll here would have reduced it to firing only once every second turn. Sadly it was not to be: a one was rolled for effect, and that was negated by a 'half owed' from firing at the cuirassiers. The advantage in the right flank melee this time went to the Marburgers, the Dragoons killing two cuirassiers for only one loss, the infantry losing three men.

Kornberg saw that his cavalry were blown. He now allowed them time to rest and reorganise. But in the centre his artillery spoke again, throwing another six for effect. The remnants of the Marburger infantry company guarding the gun were blown away. The desperate infantry melee at the bridge was easily won by the isolated Rheinfels infantry company. these devoted warriors killing five men while losing only one of their own, and bundling many of the survivors into the stream.

The Final Bayonet Charge

Too late: the battle was over. The losses to grape and canister had been too much for Soubise's army, which was now understrength. Covered by the Dragoons, it retired from the battlefield, Kornberg being too involved with thrashing his artillery commander to organise a pursuit.

Dr J Evans Mudd, the noted military historian (now based at the University of Geneva), notes that the battle seems to have been won by the skill of a single artillerist, rather than by the tactical ability of Kornberg. The Marburg army had been savagely mauled and was out of action for many months to come. When the news came to the attention of Ferdinand of Brunswick he sent a detachment under Ysenburg to Marburg.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

The Final Countdown

It looks like BlastHof is going to be happening as planned: my old school friend is going to be visiting the neighbourhood at the right time. So our plans are laid, although (of course) the plans of both mice and men are liable to change at any moment due to the requirements of the female members of the species. But if nothing intervenes the 26th of April should see that famous bridge being contested yet again by a band of metal heroes.

Thinking back on old times, I have some fears about the thing. My friend has at times received generous aid from the dice. We once fought a SPI (hex) wargame on the Ardennes Offensive. In that game the Germans receive an initial 'surprise' bonus on their attack rolls until, at the start of a turn, the Germans roll a six. When I fought that game with my friend, my Americans were still being surprised on the very last day, several weeks after Hitler's minions had first crashed into their lines. Good grief, even the French in 1940 had figured out what was happening by then.

But I digress. In terms of the assets required (for BlastHof), things are plodding along at a slow rate. As that's all that is required to meet the planned date, all is well and good. I have five figures left to paint - none of them essential. The terrain is also well under way - but then there's not a great quantity of it needed to fit on your average family dining table.

Figure basing is proving to be the most tedious task, and I have decided to get quite fancy here and have been experimenting with static grass. Having never used this stuff before, I have been very pleasantly surprised by the ease with which the stuff is applied. Stick it into its bottle and give it a good shake, then puff it at PVA glue on the base. You can buy special 'puffer bottles' for this, but I used a top of the line job available at any local supermarket (citrus flavour no less), as the photo shows. All I had to do was enlarge the hole in its top with a 6mm drill.

Dragoons and 'Puffer Bottle'

Looking ahead, I want to start on the units for the next battle in the series given in 'Charge!' and 'The Wargame'. So I've sent off to Tradition of London for a company each of musketeers and fusiliers and another squadron of dragoons. As usual, I haven't bought greater quantities of figures than I will paint in a month or so: I'm hoping that in this way I won't build up a metal mountain of never-to-be-painted figures. Its enjoyable shopping for model soldiers but one can buy them far quicker than you can paint them.

The one problem I can foresee at this point is the light infantry. I'd prefer to use a different pose from march attack, and I'm not keen on standing firing either. The first I associate with infantry in close order, the latter looks peculiar to me when (as normal) there are no enemy figures to the front. Figures with their muskets 'at the ready' would be about right. I'd also like one of the units to be Croats. Now there are figure ranges that would give me all this, but none that I know of that don't belong to the 'porcine' breed. So, at the moment, I have no idea where to look for these gentlemen.

Monday, 7 April 2008

A Little Bit More Gun

It occurs to me - albeit rather belatedly - that my photo of yesterday uses a very bad choice of camera angle for showing the Suren gun. So here's a view of the same gun from the side.

You can see from this angle that the gun's barrel is relatively long, as is appropriate for a French gun. Experiments in the middle of the 18th Century showed that the length of barrel could be considerably reduced without any significant loss of performance, either in terms of range or accuracy. A shorter barrel meant much less weight in metal. That in turn meant that a less sturdy and thus lighter carriage could be used.

All this gave rise to much more mobile artillery, enabling units such as Captain Phillip's artillery brigade (two batteries of 12 pounders) to come up in time to support the British infantry column at Minden.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Guns And Gunners

Guns and crew - at least a minimum complement needed for the battle - are now complete. I have only painted four gunners per gun so far (Charge! uses six per gun) but I intend to add the rest only if I have time before battle commences. I really want to crack on with the terrain now, so the extra figures can wait.

Suren French Artillery masquerading as Prussians

Painting the gunners doesn't take long, its the remodelling done to make them a little more like SYW Prussians (instead of WAS French) that takes the time. As usual with any unfamiliar figure, no matter how carefully I inspect them, I tend to find additional detail that I'd prefer to change after I have started painting. Its only when tracing a paint brush over the entire model that I come to know every feature of it.

I'd probably have done better to have gone with gunners from the AWI as suggested by Alte Fritz. However I had thought when choosing figures that the AWI tricorns looked as if their evolution to bicornes had gone a little too far. With the benefit of hindsight, I think this would have been a relatively minor problem, and one that's hardly noticeable on the tabletop.

So my units are essentially complete and I have only the field of battle left to consider. Luckily the terrain for Blasthof isn't all that complex: a few lengths of stream with a single bridge, a house, a hill, and a ploughed field. With the exception of the bridge and stream none of these had any great impact on the original fight so can be left out if I'm pushed for time.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Artillery

This has been the topic of much thought. I'll be painting only one battery of two guns for BlastHof - each army receiving one gun for the battle. This reduction in the amount of artillery present will make, I think, for a better game.

As discussed in previous posts, there a limited choice of figures for use in a 30mm army. This problem is made more difficult by my own personal preferences. Figure manufacturers, not unreasonably, create gun crews hard at work serving the guns, and no doubt sending a hail of roundshot and grape to bowl over their enemies in great heaps. Indeed, so enthusiastic are these metal heroes that one must take care to avoid having a rammer who is merrily ramming home at the same time as, at the opposite end of the gun, another gunner is firing the piece. This is pretty much the opposite of what I want. I am really looking for a range with figures with choices such as 'gunner peering gormlessly into space while waiting for the smoke to clear'. My gunners are not to be the energetic warriors whose fire have dominated so many battlefields both real-life and miniature.

My final choice has been to go with my original instinct and to use the Suren French gun/crew set. I decided I wanted an 'unreformed gun': ie. a heavy piece unaffected by the great reforms of artillery that started around the middle of the 18th century in most first rate powers. My two Imaginations are both crumbling princedoms, barely able to escape out of the medieval, and so it seems inappropriate to have them possessing any of the more elegant pieces (such as the Elite Miniatures Austrian Four Pounder) that are available. That in itself is something of a strange choice: prefering the 'realistic' over the aesthetic when constructing an imaginary army. But then, as I have only to please myself, I don't need to care over much about such trifles as mere consistency.

As usual, I will paint the guns so they can also serve as pieces in the Prussian Army. This just means simple colours of blue-grey woodwork and blackened ironwork. I don't think these elderly guns would be too out of place in Frederick's Army because, while that monarch did recast his artillery to a lighter design prior to the start of the Seven Years War, he contrived to lose most of these pieces early on. So for much of the war the Prussians were served by older, heavier, cannon hastily gathered from service in various fortresses.

Converting the Suren French gunners into Prussians is rather more laborious than I'd prefer. Their cuffs are of the voluminous type associated with the War of the Austrian Succession and I therefore have to file down these admittedly elegant items to achieve the more utilitarian cuffs of SYW Prussians. As usual, pigtails can be added using cotton thread coated with epoxy glue. Fragile scabbards will be cut off and replaced with wire ones. The French officers are clad in heavy boots: these must be filed down to give gaiters.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Dragoons Done

My squadron of dragoons - the last contingent of cavalry I need for my first battle are, at last, complete. There was one rather crass mistake I made on these. I forgot to repair their manes with milliput where I had carved off the original reins. I didn't discover this omission until very late on in painting them, and any repair will have to wait until after the battle.

I'm planning on using two squadrons of cuirassiers against only one squadron of dragoons. This is a rather bigger difference in numbers (16 vs 6, rather than 16 vs 12) than was used in the original OOB for Blasthof. I will only partially compensate with this by a change in the infantry units used - I think the original OOB favoured Soubise. As my opponent will have choice of sides, hopefully if this produces an unbalanced contest, it will be me that suffers as a consequence.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Bits And Bobs

The flag for the Grenadiere-Garde has finally arrived. It transpires that the owner of GMB Designs has moved premises and this has caused him a few problems. I moved house just two years ago, and still remember the hassle I had: in a simple move that could have gone easily if everyone in a small chain of four people had only possessed three digit IQs. So Graham has my sympathy. The photo below shows my Grenadier-Garde regiment's Fahnenjunker finally ready to join the regiment.

My Dragoon test piece has proven to be as easy to paint as I had hoped: probably taking about half the effort of a cuirassier. The photo below shows him awaiting varnish and metallics.

The rest of the dragoon squadron has just completed the milliput, solder and epoxy glue stage, so I'll be painting them over the next few days. I've also started work on the artillery, gluing the pieces of each gun together.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

More On Bases

Well some things never change. Day one I make a plan. Day two something unforeseen happens and all plans must be recast. In this particular case my pin drill was the cause of the problem. The one millimetre drill, clearly exasperated by my inept fumblings, broke while I was drilling holes in the horses heads to take their reins. So I have only one horse ready for the next stage. I wasn't going to bother with painting a test figure this time round but, as there'll be a few days delay until I can get to a hardware shop, it looks like I'll be doing one after all.

As that won't take much time, I have to move ahead with other items. First up is basing my already completed figures. The cavalry have the worst stability problem so I'll tackle them first. I don't want a large base that overwhelms the figure, so I'm using dimensions of only 18 x 40mm. I am confident that this will be stable enough as the Suren personality figures of Frederick and Soubise have bases of roughly this size and show none of the wobble of the Stadden horses.

Construction is cheap and simple, using only materials at hand. The card I use is thin so I don't significantly raise already tall figures any more than necessary. I build the base up on its upper surface using milliput (I usually have a lot spare that gets thrown away whenever I do any other modelling so this should be cheap) to hide the original metal base of the figure itself and add some weight to it (thereby lowering the centre of gravity). The base is then painted black with sand PVA'd on top. I have the option to add all sorts of niceties later - bits of rock, static grass etc., but thats all I have time to do at the moment. The photo below shows some figures completed to this stage, and spaced roughly 24mm apart, as Im intending to use them in the wargame.

I am pleased with the result. Having a black border around the edges of the base accentuates the fact that the figures are still individuals rather than being mounted into indivisible units.

Correction 15/3/08: base size of 18x40mm not 12x40mm