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.