Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Imperial Infantry At Last

Recruitment for my Reichsarmee has been slow. Since the onset of winter I have recruited but one regiment of cuirassiers. With my painting a few personality figures, this might have resulted in an army with as many generals as private soldiers: appropriate given the subject, but not my intention. Fortunately, it appears I am reaching the end of the process that has been causing the delay: I have gotten the first mold for the Imperial infantry working. The results of the first four attempts to cast a figure are shown in the photo.

Imperial Infantry - The First Castings

These castings represent a considerable improvement over my cuirassier figure. As this was my second iteration at creating figures I felt confident enough to invest a little more time in the sculpting. I had also learnt from my first molds that it is necessary to thin the vaseline used to coat the sculpt when pouring rubber. Failing to do this last time resulted in a pronounced loss of detail.

There appears to be only two flaws in the mould; both in the form of small air bubbles. One is at the front of the tricorn: had it only appeared slightly further to the left it would have made a nice pompom. As it is, it will have to be cut from each figure, along with the second bubble which is lodged between the turnbacks at the rear of the figure.

I'll be casting elements of at least three Imperial infantry regiments from this sculpt. A single mold will be very unlikely to last that long, and I'd like more molds so I can cast more figures from one melt of metal. So I'll be creating two or three more molds from the same sculpt.

More immediately, I need to try making muskets and then painting a few figures to see how they look. Until that's done, and I know there's no adjustments that I want to make to the original, I'll hold back on further mold making.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Nag Nag Nag

I'm afraid I can be unkind at times. My relatives are inclined to agree, although they replace the 'at times' with 'usually' while gently indicating their disapproval and urging me to reform. That Stadden horse is feeling the full brunt of this callous side to my nature. Having been frankly unimpressed by what I consider to be the deficiencies in its anatomy, I decided that a steed of such ignoble character warranted a paint job to match.

Oick On Horseback

"It was a Beaunese sheltie, of about twelve or fourteen years of age, yellow as an orange, without any hair on its tail, but abundance of galls on its legs, and which, whilst carrying its head lower than its knees, yet managed gallantly its eight leagues a day."

Anyone who has read the book will not fail to recognise Dumas's description of the horse that propelled Dartagnan from the parental home to Paris. When Dumas wrote "The Three Musketeers" in 1844, he could assume his readers would be familiar with horses and popular prejudices towards their appearance: we can be sure that the colour is not intended to recommend the animal to us.

It seemed to me, at the time of painting, that such a apparition might, in this case, suit admirably. On reflection, it seems my imagination has gotten the better of me: I have produced some poor oick mounted on a nag that no gentleman of quality would be seen dead on. Oh well, I shall try and palm it off on visiting generals.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Anatomical Angst

The first half of the mold for my marching infantryman is drying out. Its been over a week now and the surface has only just solidified: I suspect I didn't use enough catalyst, so it will be best left a while longer. In the absence of anything else to do I've continued fiddling about with the Suren personality figures.

Nice Figure, Shame About The Legs

Almost every horse I use is the Stadden H1 standing figure. The only exceptions to this is for the colonels of infantry regiments who use the H2 walking figure so they don't get left behind by their troops who are inevitably moving forwards in march attack pose.  I decided that for the Suren personality figures I could use a wider range than this, amd as a 'daring' experiment I bought one of the H10 horses. This noble steed is rearing in a dramatic manner, that is just begging to be used by the more flamboyant kind of general (or possibly any gentleman who has difficulty controlling his horse).

On examination, I was surprised to find what I think are a couple of flaws in this figure. This is something I am reluctant to admit to: Stadden served in Mule Pack Transport during WW2 and so his knowledge of equine anatomy was on an entirely different level from my own. However, I decided not to let the flaws pass because they bothered me, and fortunately I have only myself to please.

The first problem was the front right leg. This seemed to have telescoped considerably and had to be shortened to match the left fore leg. I chose not to cut the leg down as the legs on this figure are rather flimsy: instead I build the ground up beneath it and modelled a new hoof using Milliput.  The second problem lay with the bending of the neck. The inside edge of this had a considerable arch to it that looked wrong to me. Photos on the net - with one exception - seem to show that the horses neck would compress rather than arch in this area, so I chose to fill the arch in with milliput. Right or wrong, the new neck looks more believable to me.

Having attached rider and reins as per usual, I applied the usual black undercoat and a light drybrushing of white as a preparation for painting. This is the stage at which the first photo was taken. What seemed to be a satisfactory figure when viewed as bare metal, doesn't look so good when undercoated: the noble steed has rather bent, thin and nobbly upper legs. I could straighten them out a bit, but I have decided the figure would benefit from a little bit more preparation, filling the insides of the upper legs to create a most robust set of limbs. Oh well, time to scrape off some black paint and break out the Milliput again.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Marechal De Saxe

The world is full of secrets and it should be no surprise if Tradition of London have theirs. If you go to their website, all the wargame figure ranges seem to be visible in a block on the main page: so you click on "30 mm Tradition" or "30mm Suren" and off you go.

And you might just miss the link Tradition Scandinavia which leads to 30mm Willie Series which would be a shame because, unless you follow them, you will never happen upon such wonders as The High Command T.S. Willie Box D F1.  These boxed sets are Suren figures that have been cleaned up: they retain all their original beauty but have had the wrinkles that come with age removed. With Private Schulz currently awaiting his great encounter with destiny (in the form of silicone rubber mould making) I have need of another project. And this will fill the gap nicely.

Marechal De Saxe: Suren Figure on Stadden Horse

The box does not come with horses supplied: a great convenience for me as it allows me to order the Stadden horses which I prefer. The first figure I chose to work on is the one that I take to be Marechal De Saxe. Any general lively enough to die from a 'surfeit des femmes' following an 'interview with a troop of eight actresses' deserves a figure to commemorate him.

Saxe at Fontenoy - Or Not

I found the choice of uniform for de Saxe problematic. Pictures of him at Fontenoy show him mounted on a white or a brown horse and he is dressed in a dark blue or a red uniform. According to Wikipedia he was carried round the battle in a wicker chair (he probably needed a rest) so the artists are clearly not fussy about accuracy. I chose to use the red uniform simply because it differs from the Prussian blue of the "other lot".
The only physical changes I made to the figure were to cut the rear of the saddle cloth off and replace it with milliput that I could fit more exactly to the horse's back, and to replace the cast reins with wire.  There's a small blemish on the horse's mane that I didn't notice until I could see the photographs I took of the figure: it's only with the magnification these images give that such problems are noticeable by me, alas.