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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Almost There.....


Just a quick work in progress shot or two this week.  The Bavarians are nearing completion at long last.  Just some detail work and a little bit of highlighting and they will be ready for basing

 

 Only the sword hilts remain to be done on the backside of the figure.  They will need to be black-lined though, so not insignificant.


 Buttons, cross straps and shoulder straps are all that remain on the front side, but once again, the cross straps at least will need to be a two-step process so that they will stand out against the crossed belts.


Despite the very long time to get these figures to this stage, there is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing they started out as the figures above.  As a reminder, with the help of readers I was able to identify these figures as metals casts of converted Airfix French Old Guard grenadiers.  Matt Golding provided some replacement muskets and I suddenly had what I needed to make a unique battalion of Bavarian infantry.



 I've been slowly whittling away at a series of smaller painting projects, and I am determined to get these off my desk before starting another unit of 1/72 Napoleonics.  On deck I have some figures to supplement a Narnian fantasy army, a base camp vignette for a Napoleonic 28mm army based for a DBA variant, and three elements of French Hussars who have been awaiting paint for a number of years that is embarrassing.



 As a final distraction from painting I have been promising to create an appropriate display for the Tennant collection.  Over the years, our study space became a repository for all kinds of odds and ends (and one massive oak desk that was a gift from one of my wife's colleagues).  Now that or eldest child is settled in Florida and the youngest away in college, I have gotten spousal approval to turn this space into my office and decorate as I wish, so wanted to get a few "before" pictures. 



 I had intended to paint the woodwork (it is inexpensive pine paneling), but these photos gave it a richness it really doesn't possess that I find quite appealing.  It is in actuality quite pale and washed out in appearance.  I may try and give it an application of oil or varnish and see if I can save it, before I commit to painting the room.



 The futon and artwork will be relocated.  I am hopeful that I can find some reasonably priced bookcases or display cases that will take their place and let me show off the Tennant collection.



We have two writing desks or display cabinets in the room that came from my wife's grandparents.  I think one will get relocated and the other will stay.  I may have to try my hand at installing LED display lights within the cabinet.  In any event I wanted to document the state of the study before I get started on bending it too my will.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

15e Chasseurs a Cheval


 Recently I decided to tackle the first unit of Cavalry from the Tennant collection and get them back up to battle readiness.  The cavalry suffered the most in their trip across the Atlantic (with the exception of the artillery limbers).  Most arrived as if taking a sharp turn and had a 35-45 degree lean.  Fortunately the Hinton Hunt company must have used good quality metal, because there were only a handful of snapped ankles and most of the horses were easy to stand upright again.  There was however a significant amount of chipped paint that will need to be corrected as I tackle each new unit.


The Elite Company in their fancy Busbys with red bags trimmed in silver form the right wing.



 They are as beautiful from the back as they are from the front!  As is now fairly standard, the only significant changes to the figures is the addition of highlighting and a wash for shading in select areas, especially the flesh colored areas, as well as the horses.  The horses started as a very uniform enamel brown which really begged for some shading.  This is a super quick process (I just brush on some acrylic colored with black ink) and it makes a huge difference in the appearance of the figure.




Originally painted as the 21e Chasseurs a Cheval, I decided to rename as the 15e since they were a part of the Army of Portugal that I am attempting to use as the model of organization for the Tennant collection.  The 21st had dark orange facings, the 15th, light orange.  With the addition of some high-lighting I felt like it was a justifiable change.  Here you can see some of the amazing customization work Mr. Tennant did.  I believe the trumpet and trumpet cord are both custom additions to the trumpeter.

 

 Now that I have had a little practice, I feel like my highlighting has become much more subtle and integrates much more seamlessly into the original painting.


 One of three line companies, each with its own distinctive lozenge below the plume.



 Oh my gosh the detail work!


 I didn't want to break off the officer from the trumpeter vignette so added a little gold to his epaulets and gorget to mark him as a major.  Above is an original figure that I have added to the collection to serve as their regimental Colonel.  This is an Art Miniaturen figure of Baron Meda, that is used here to represent Colonel Fran├žois Jacques Guy Faverot de Kerbrech, who served with the 15th from 1811-1815 and was also made a Baron of the Empire, so I figure the fancy tiger saddle cloth might not have been too much of a stretch for him.



 Love all of the silver bullion/lace on his uniform!


Size-wise the Art Miniaturen figures are a good match for the Hinton Hunts, even if just a wee bit bulkier.



 A shot from the new fangled hot air balloon overhead.


Changing the unit designation presented a unique problem, as each of the battalions in the collection has its own name plate.  I was able to find some green card stock that is almost a precise match and identify the font used (which took forever).  The version of the font I have is very slightly different, but so close as to be virtually indistinguishable from the original.



 Now that the French have a couple of cavalry regiments (the 13e Cuirassier and the 15e above), I needed to get a brigade commander and his aide ready to command them.  Fortunately Mr. Tennant has done an excellent job providing appropriate generals.


 These figures really came out well.  The addition of the washes not only brought out detail in the horses, but also the detail in the fringe of the saddle blankets.  The amount of work it must have taken to paint all of the leopard spots is staggering!


So for now I will ride off into the sunset like the General de Brigade and his Aide de Camp, but will return with a new battalion of Bavarians, which has been slowly progressing, but is now coming to the stage of painting where all of the hard work starts to pay off.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

40mm Role Playing with The Fantasy Trip

Having spent my last two blog posts on the "serious" subject of Napoleonic wargaming, I thought it was time for something a little more whimsical.  Some of my fondest memories growing up are playing role playing games with my friends from high school.  Unfortunately, unlike the kids from the "Stranger Things" Netflix series, I didn't discover this joy until I was a little older.  While I really only played for three or four years, the memories have stuck and are a constant reminder of the importance of friends and great relationships.  

When one of the role-playing games we played was recently re-released and updated via Kickstarter, I couldn't help myself.  This was the first and only Kickstarter I have ever backed, but oh what a joy to receive!


While the cover art was updated the counters and maps still are reminiscent of the originals.  Though the game is meant to be played with cardboard counters on a hex grid, it can also be played with miniatures, so of course I couldn't help the excuse to paint up a few more of the 40mm quasi-historical figures I purchased when the Mindstalkers game fell on its face.  The game looked terribly cumbersome and complex, but the figures were beautifully sculpted and cast.  At one point they were selling for a couple bucks a piece, so I bought a box full of them.



Just because a figure is beautifully cast doesn't mean the painter has talent, and here is an example of a face only a mother could love.  I tried to salvage the expression, but alas it was either a complete re-paint or accept that not everyone is handsome, so here is a warrior with a charisma score of 3...



Despite the paint job the pose is dynamic and this is actually one of my favorite figures.  Can't wait to try him out in the dungeon!



Slender and beautifully proportioned, the Mindstalker figures were some of the best I have seen.



The sorceress was a bit of a conversion figure.  I added some hair, the staff, and trim around the bodice of her dress to make her less like an adolescent fantasy figure, but once again I think she came out with a face of a hardened warrior sorceress.  I'll pretend that is the look I was going for and get on with it.



Casting a spell clearly calls for a stiff headwind, as that cloak is really blowing!




While I can't say it is some of my best work, I really wanted to have some female warriors and wizards so my wife and daughter could play a game.  They were kind enough to give it a try last Christmas with some friends, but let's just say the dungeon master was a bit rusty.  I had killed the whole adventuring party within a couple of hours.  The Fantasy Trip always was a tough game to survive, but the fault in this case was mine, as I made a couple of nasty bears, twice as tough as they were supposed to be.



This is another minor conversion of a female standard bearer given a new hand with a longsword.



I do like the way the wind is blowing from behind on this figure, causing the cloak to billow forward and her hair to fly forward rather than back from this angle.



That's a big honking sword to be using one handed!



Let's hope next time I get around to hosting a game she survives!  As a parting shot, a look at the dungeon I have been preparing for the games.  Fortunately all of the rooms in the "Death Test" scenarios are the same size, so I can just use the same room for different encounters.

 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Project Update for 1/72 Old School Shiny Napoleonics


Just a quick update this week on some upcoming units for the French Napoleonic army from a variety of figure sources.


Here are some minor conversions of Der Kriegspieler line French artillery.  I added the plume and will add epaulets as needed to model the 9th company of artillery that was attached to the Imperial Guard Fusilier-Chasseurs regiment.



I had enough Der Kriegspieler figures for a battery of the Imperial guard and a line battery with a captured Austrian gun.  The line artillery is really extra to my needs, so if anyone out there has any DK 16s or Elite Voltigeur would be happy to trade.  I need about ten of each to expand my Middle Guard Infantry battalions.



I'll be modifying and using Newline Design's artillery transport team and Caisson to model the support team for the Imperial Artillery.



Nominally 20mm, but fit in well with the Der Kriegspieler figures.


Did a little arm surgery to modify one of the DK line artillerists so I could have one with a rammer


Continuing to make progress on the Bavarians.  With such minimal facial detail on these modifications of the Airfix originals, I felt like a wash simply would not work to bring out the detail.  I tried the reverse process and started with a darker base coat, and just highlighted to bring out a semblance of a face.  The result was fairly abstract, but will do OK when seen in mass.


I found these old Alberken figures on eBay masquerading as Dutch 25mm figures by the seller.  I suspected Alberken Duchy of Warsaw and Wellington Man was kind enough to cofirm using an image from the Lazey Limey site:

http://lazylimey.blogspot.com/2008/12/alberkenearly-minifig-20mm-fn09-line.html



Here is an Illustration of the 8th Infantry Regiment, that these figures will ultimately represent.



Next up from the Tennant Collection will be my first cavalry regiment to get the shiny treatment and some much needed touch up - the 21st regiment of Chasseurs a cheval



When doing so I mount each figure individually to facilitate finding and correcting any missing paint from the journey overseas.  I'll add a wash for the faces and some highlighting and then off to battle with them!



Lastly, a necessary concession to my decision to retain the large battalions of the Tennant collection, is the expansion of my original infantry battalions.  In this case two more companies of the 17 line regiment to bring the 1st battalion up to strength.  Behind are a line Chef de Battalion and Colonel who will lead the 39th line infantry regiment into battle.  The mounted commanders are Franznap figures.  As you can see - lots to do!



Sunday, August 4, 2019

6th Legere Deployed and an Amazing Serendipitous Find


Before revealing the "amazing serendipitous find" referenced in the title, I wanted to post a few pictures of the 6th Legere in all of their glory.  After last month's test game using Muskets and Marshals, I decided it would be best to retain the original structure of the 6th legere's battalions in the Tennant Collection.  These are organized into very large battalions of 36 figures, which lends itself nicely to deployment in line or column, and is large enough to allow the voltigeur companies to be detached in skirmish line.  With that in mind I re-based some of the companies and now am able to present them in what I hope will be their final state.  By incorporating the regimental staff (eagle bearer, officers and cornetists) into the battalions, I was able to have enough figures left over to add a company to the battalion deployed in skirmish order, bringing the 3rd battalion up to a reasonable strength of 24 (4 - 6 figure companies).



The majority of the 3rd battalion chasseurs are made up of Alberken FN05 figures (very early minifigs) painted by Peter Gilder. I was able to find an unpainted example on Lazy Limey's excellent blog site:
http://lazylimey.blogspot.com/2008/12/alberken-andor-early-minifig-20mm-fn05.html 

The voltigeur are Hinton Hunts and the carabiniers are converted Hinton Hunt chasseurs. 



Here we see the command set incorporated into the battalion structure for ease of movement on the battlefield, and frankly the esthetic of having them incorporated into the line.  With the abstraction of 20 men per figure, I thought it appropriate to do so.



On Mr. Tennant's advice, I created a ground template for the eight gun battery that is representative of the actual width of a battery in comparison to the width of the battalions when deployed in line.  Ten yards per gun is the recommended width, and a French Battalion in line deployed three deep tended to be ~170 or so yards wide, so the battery is just under half the width of the battalion in line.



I wanted to add mounted Colonels and Chefs de Battalion to the structure of the army, so purchased the figures above from Franznap to serve in that role.  These are excellent highly detailed slender 1/72 scale metal figures.  They are a tad slimmer than Hinton Hunt figures, but nevertheless fit in well on their own.  I had quite the discussion online of how to properly color the plumes in the 1811-1812 period, which if you really want to get into the weeds of Napoleonic uniforms you are welcome to read:
http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=511311

It felt good to add my own work to the Tennant collection!  The officer in the white plume is the Colonel (regimental staff) and the one in the red plume is the Chef de Battalion.



Beautifully sculpted figures with separate right arms to enable a variety of poses.



As the 6th Legere is half the strength of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division of Loison's 6th Corp of the Army of Portugal, I thought it appropriate to go ahead and mount up the divisional commander and brigade commander, beautifully painted by Mr. Tennant.  A little bit of shading and highlighting was my only contribution to these wonderful figures.


All of the armies leaders are labelled with their name and rank on the top of the stand, and each stand of all units has a label on the underside detailing the battalion, regiment, brigade and corp of that particular unit to aid in keeping them appropriately grouped when traveling to and from wargames meetings.  Mr. Tennant shared a story that he felt his wargaming friends were a bit rough with his figures on occasion, and given the labor of love he put into them I entirely understand.  That is actually one of the main reasons I am mounting them on larger bases and giving the a very hard coating of a durable oil-based clear varnish.  They should be well protected now!



Just couldn't resist slipping in another (hopefully better) photograph of this wonderful artillery train!



And without further delay, a story wonderful enough to make me weep with joy.  Above is a copy of the Airfix guide to Napoleonic Wargaming that was the genesis of 40 years of devotion to the hobby of miniatures collecting, painting and wargaming.  I was 12 years old when I first thumbed through this book, and the black and white images within are indelibly imprinted on my memory.  As a lad of twelve without much in the way of resources, I made my first armies with figures made from hand drawn colored soldiers cut out from index cards and glued onto paper bases.  At the time living in Oxford, 18 pence per metal figure seemed like a fortune, but by the end of my stay was able to move back to the states with a few battalions of Hinchliffe 28mm Napoleonics.




After my last blog post, Rob posted a comment that mentioned the book above and that was enough to get me to open it again (yes I still have my original copy) and thumb through it.  I was astonished to see Richard Tennant credited with several of the photos.  Suddenly I realized that the figures I now so proudly own and am endeavoring to bring back to the wargames table are actually some of the very same figures featured in the Airfix guide of my youth!  I contacted Dick Tennant, and indeed he remembered photographing them and forwarding them Donald Featherstone, where they were mixed in with other photos.


To my utter joy and amazement Mr. Tennant still had scans of the original color photographs, which he so kindly shared with me.  Here you can see the Polish Vistula lancers that are impatiently awaiting my attention.




I have yet to break out any of the British and Portuguese, but they will be making an appearance soon.  I wanted to get at least one brigade of French ready before starting to tackle the British.  Can't wait to pull these bad boys from the Highlands out of their plastic storage box!






Here is a shot of the 2nd battalion of the 39th Ligne that I tried to photograph in some semblance of the same order that they appeared in when photographed originally








Here they are in a grand review.  Even the trees in the background were included in the collection on a lark.  How fun it is to see them in these photographs.  Originally the building were going to be included as well, but we decided jointly that they would just be prohibitively expensive to ship, and they found a good home with a collector in Great Britain.



Love the painted backdrop!



The 1st battalion of the 39th Ligne has been on my painting desk for the last couple of weeks, and as luck would have it, the weather cooperated and I was able to finish them and get them based in time to include some finished photos (below).


Voltigeurs leading the way.  Mr Tennant's painting on these is exquisite!  All I added was a bit of touch up work, a wash to bring out some of the facial details, and some highlighting to help make the colors pop and give the figures a little depth.


While the unit is depicted in 1812 regulation dress, I have read it was not unusual for the flags to have been late in getting to the battalions and many second and third battalions retained their eagles for years, hence the earlier patterned flag with an eagle for the premier eagle bearer.


To the right are a staff escort who I believe is Spanish and will serve in the 3rd division most likely (Correction - this was a uniform I didn't recognize but realize now is that of a mounted Gendarme so will probably serve in the 1st or second division staff), as well as an Aide de Camp (From the aide's red brassard, he would serve a General de Division, so will be an aid to General Marchand).  Now on to the second battalion!