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Saturday, July 4, 2020

Old School Games Table and One Big Step Closer to Rolica!

 What better way to spend the Fourth of July than in the basement working on a game board.  All of the Independence day fireworks have been cancelled due to the pandemic, so the basement seemed like a good option for the afternoon at least.


 Last weekend I patched the hole I had to cut in the table to accommodate the basement's structural support pillar.  I little filler and some spackle made quick work of this task.  That and a light sanding made it ready for painting.

 Before painting I wanted to cover all of the spackle and white boundary lines of the ping pong table with a relatively uniform shade of green as a primer.  I also painted the support pillar a sky blue and intend to conscript my daughter to paint some pine trees around the lower portion where it emerges from the table.  It will be a really dense impassable forest!

While that was drying a rabbit was outside eating all of my vegetables, so after a culinary decimation of the rodent kind, I wanted to tidy up the garden and put some poultry netting around it.  All of that is just to say I do actually have other chores around the house and it's not all fun a games.  If I could only figure out a way to still make an income and not have to work....

 July the Fourth morning was spent in the Garden before the heat of the day hit.  Not quite finished!

 With my chores done it was time to turn my attention to the game board.  Here I have several contour maps of the Rolica battlefield that I used to guide the cutting of the hillside.

The first layer of 1/2 inch insulation foam board, ready for cutting.  Each subsequent layer represents a 25 foot gain in elevation.

 The contour lines of the hills assembled.  Thank goodness for the hot wire foam cutter I found on clearance several years back at the local art store!

In this shot you can more clearly see the "cuts" into the hillside that the British used to try and advance up the hill.  Lots more work still to do but this is a huge step forward!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Legion Hanovrienne - a Peter Gilder story

As many of you may know, I am working towards recreating the battle of Rolica using my existing Hinton Hunt armies.  This will mean that the units present may not necessarily match with historical accuracy, but the type of units involved, the number, and scale should be a close match.  One of the units present at the battle was the 4th Swiss Regiment fighting for the French.  In my description of the preparation, Mr. Tennant was kind enough to point out that the unit in his collection he had designated the Legion Hanovrienne, actually was originally intended to be the 4th Swiss and was painted by none other than Peter Gilder himself.  As this is a Hinton Hunt Napoleonic unit, it is highly likely that it was painted by Gilder, as part of his early work in the wargaming hobby.  He went on to create his own figure line, but that is another story for later. 

For a bit more background on Peter Gilder you can visit the site below:

The stylistic differences with the rest of the Tennant collection were immediately apparent, and the uniform of both units is so similar it is easy to see why it could play either role.

The above photograph was taken by Mr. Tennant.  While he does not believe he made any changes to the paint himself, I believe at some point the plumes and perhaps the epaulets were repainted on the fusiliers, as those areas lacked the gloss covering on the rest of the figure.  One of the Grenadiers unfortunately broke off at the ankles during transport, but I only needed 24 of the 27 figures to make a complete unit (I am keeping the drummer as a stand alone display along with a French Line Voltigeur from another unit, also painted by Peter Gilder).  A little research indicated there are some key differences between the Swiss uniform and the Legion Hanovrienne, and the figures that were chosen for this unit (Hinton Hunt FN 75 French Young Guard 1810/15 Voltigeur Guard charging) are actually much more of a fit for the light infantry of the legion, than for the 4th Swiss.  With that in mind, and mindful of wanting to retain as much of the original painting as possible, I made a minimal touch up and updated the unit just a tad to clearly distinguish them as the Legion Hanovrienne.

 The chief casualty of this modification, and one I was loathe to make, but felt necessary in the end, was changing the standard bearer's flag and eagle.  I was made to feel a little better when I examined the eagle itself, which in all honesty was horribly cast.  I was surprised to find when doing this that the flag staff was actually an integral part of the figure.  It was clearly a conversion of FN 70 (the officer figure standing next to him), but must have been recast with the eagle standard added.

 I hope the end result is a unit that is still clearly Peter Gilder's work on which I have put my own slight stamp, which I hope adds to the whole effect and does not distract from the magnificent painting on the figures.

 In this closer view you can see the changes made to the fusilier's plumes and epaulets.  I think the changes actually bring them more in line stylistically with the painting on the rest of the figure.

The uniform itself of the Legion Hanovrienne I have to say, is just tremendously striking and I love the way the battalion came out in the end.

 Grenadiers to the fore!

The voltigeurs are based to facilitate open order deployment and of course, casualties should they come up against those most feared of British troops, the rifles - speaking of which, the 5/60th expansion is underway and my next post should feature some more of the American Rifle Regiment (who weren't really Americans).

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Scots, Scots Everywhere, nor Any Dram to Drink

The Scots arrived in full force this week, but scotch whiskey has gotten so expensive I fear my ability to have a dram in celebration is going to be severely curtailed!  Nevertheless I poured a wee glass of Macallan and tipped it back in honor of the brave men of the highland regiments.  Below are the 92nd "Gordons", the 42nd "Black Watch" and the 71st Highland Regiments.  Most of the credit of course belongs to Dick Tennant, the original painter, but I have added a few figures along the way, as well as some additional detailing, general touch up, and the regimental commanders.  The end result is in all humility, spectacular!

 The Gordons taking the lead!

 I love the big battalions of the Tennant Collection.  With 36 figures per battalion, a line formation starts to resemble the famous descriptor of the thin red line.

 Here I added a couple of Der Kriegspeler copies of the original Hinton Hunt figures to bring the unit up to strength.  The NCOs (one with halbard and the other to the right of the regimental banner) are additions that were added.  The halbard is a customized metal spear that replaced the figure's original musket.  The detail on all of these is mind boggling.  So glad I only had to paint two from scratch!

 Above is the finished figure representing Lieutenant Colonel John Cameron, regimental commander of the 92nd.  This Der Kriegspieler copy of a Hinton Hunt mounted French Marshal, has had a number of additions.  Most notably of course is a head swap with a Highland soldier.  The kilted sash was modeled from "Green Stuff" epoxy putty.  The horse blanket was also squared off, a sheepskin holster cover was added, and the riding boots shortened to match British style.

 Color balance is always a bit tricky given the indoor lighting sources.  Colonel Cameron's horse in actuality appears much more grey than in these photographs.  The rendition of the color in the square formation (2 pictures below) seems more true to life.

 Colonel Cameron leads the 92nd past the watchful eyes of the 42nd,

and into square should any enemy cavalry appear.  One of the benefits of the larger battalions is that there is actually room for the commander to shelter inside the square.

Not to be outdone, the 42nd forms column and follows the 92nd, ably led in this instance by Brigade Commander Major General Kenneth Alexander Howard, who confers with Lieutenant-Colonel William Williams of the 5/60th rifles before heading on.

 Once again the only imposters for the 42nd are the two Der Kriegspieler copies on the far left; the officer on foot and the color sergeant with a halbard.  The regiment is presented as originally painted by Dick Tennant, with the addition of new flags to replace those that were too severely damaged in transport, and the two aforementioned DK figures.  All were touched up, highlighted, shaded, given a protective glossy varnish and then remounted on movement bases.

 I also added a few squares of what I hope is a subtle blue to the kilts to catch the addition of a little color that was lacking in the original paint scheme of the standard government kilt pattern.

 The Grenadiers and light companies are shown in the photo above.  Mr. Tennant has given the grenadiers an extra red stripe in their kilt, something I have never been able to verify was done in actual practice, but I opted to stick with the design to stay true to the original paint and also because if he painted them that way, he probably has an obscure reference to it tucked away somewhere.  His research on these figures was extensive!

 The 71st has graced these pages before, but in the end I decided I wanted to add standard bearers.  Mr. Tennant had not done so due to their designation as light infantry.  While there may have been many times the colors were not carried in the field, I wanted the unit to have them for those times they stand firm as a formed unit.

 The color bearer and drummer figures are from the Kennington/SHQ line and fit nicely in size with the Hinton Hunts.  The standard bearers were sculpted to be NCOs I suspect, with shoulder tufts and wearing backpacks.  I thought the addition of the backpacks fit well with the light infantry roll, but added ensign's shoulder insignia.  The idea of young ensigns carrying their own backpacks while holding the colors has some appeal to me. The reversed colors on the drummer is also speculative, but I suspect not too far from what was worn.

The flags of the 42nd and 71st are by GMB, but due to the size, had to be scanned, enlarged and reprinted before installing.  I also highlighted with paint to minimize the look of a "pre-printed" flag.  Considering I got the Union Jack of the Gordons upside down in my attempt to free paint, I think I will be sticking with the GMB flags!

 Lt-Col Henry Cadogan of the 71st also got a wee bit of a repaint, but honestly the poor guy could have used a face lift.  Talk about a face only a mother could love!  Sometimes these DK figures have been through the ringer, and I think this poor figure fell on his face one too many times.

I was just reading about a young ensign who was horribly disfigured by a saber cut while defending the flag.  Maybe he got a promotion and ended up commanding the 71st!


 Elements of the 1st Division, 2nd and 3rd brigades preparing to march out on Rolica!

 Can the chase the French from the high ground and move on to victory at Vimiero?

 Personally, I think they can.  This is a fearsome looking crew, but I suspect the real key will be in the large number of riflemen that were present.  Both the 95th and 5/60th were present at Rolica in large numbers, so they are up next in the painting queue.

Till next time, stay safe and happy painting!  If you made it this far remember to follow my blog because you are either a nut or actually enjoy painting these little guys!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Ramblings on Safer at Home and Works in Progress

The new reality of "Safer at Home" and the changes to work and family life have of course had an impact on hobby expression.  While just as busy as ever, I found myself with more flexibility for how I use my time.  Almost even more importantly, trying to cope with being home bound, led to several major home projects in an attempt to stay busy and engaged.  In terms of the hobby, that meant a major renovation of our garage space.  While not a finished basement, it is a pleasant enough space in which to have games and to do my painting.

To the left (above) you can see the outer wall of my darkroom.  That room has been sitting unused, except for storage, for the last 15 years.  I worked as a professional photographer as my first career for a dozen or more years.  I started out as the in-house photographer at Vanderbilt University but then transitioned to a freelance model and built this darkroom to facilitate work at home.

The end of an era - long overdue!  It really doesn't look like that much debris, but it was enough to fill a pick up truck!

A well deserved celebratory dinner of white bean chili and beer.  This is a fantastic vegan recipe, but as I am not vegan, I threw in some pasture raised chicken.  

Update: Had a request for the recipe so adding a link to the recipe.  It is from Americas Test Kitchen Vegan recipe book.  I simplify a lot of the steps to be honest. I didn't think it really needed to be pulverized with a food processor, so just did a light mashing with a hand potato masher. I was also out of Anaheim chilies, so just substituted a diced Serrano.  I did however have homemade vegetable broth!

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the construction debris has been removed and the space rearranged to house a games table made from the top of an old Ping Pong table.  Right now I just have a 5x6.5 foot cigar box battle mat set up, but the full size of the table is 5x9 feet.  Of course there is a bit of impassable terrain around the basement support pole!  To the right of the games table is my painting desk.  I have it set up with a BlueRay player and a monitor so that I can watch movies while I paint now.  I also have an old iPad set up on the side that I can use for uniform references as I paint.

A better view of the games table.  We have eight folding chairs down here that we purchased over the years to accommodate people at our Thanksgiving Day celebration every year.  Nice to think they will be put to use more often now.  Above the table is a Miller Lite billiard hall style light that was a gift from one of my wife's longtime colleagues when she retired.  It adds a nice bit of whimsy, and a lot of light to the space!

Finally I have to say that not every aspect of "Safer at Home" is a bad thing.  Here is a shot of my office one afternoon not too long ago, and my office colleague.

He tends to be a bit lazy though...

The painting of figures slowed considerably during this work, but I was able to finish the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, with the exception of the GMB flags, which I had hoped would show up at some point in the future.  After two months of waiting I decided to just paint my own, which reminded me why I had ordered them in the first place.  So much fiddly detail!

I used Alan Penderbury's free downloads from Napflags as my template.  The Black and white sheet above was used for scale only, for the flags I printed that same sheet out with minimal ink saturation so that the design would just barely show on the paper.  Here you can see the base colors applied.

 The flags are sized so that they are just above the crown of the head of the figures, which puts them at slightly over 6 feet high.

More fiddly details - the wreath and base colors of the central motif.  I used the Flags of War site for flag specific information, as the British flags on the Napflags site are all from the Waterloo era.


 Fold in half, apply white glue in an even layer on the back of the paper flag, fold around the staff and shape to the desired waviness.  I didn't want it too crinkled up after laboring so long on the painting!

When these are dry I will brush on clear oil-based glossy varnish and the Gordons will finally be done!

The next unit on the painting table is the Black Watch 42nd Highlanders.  I have almost finished the additional officer and NCO so these should progress quickly toward the finish line from here on out.

-------------------- * -------------------

In the wings are a few more additional figures to finish units that are in need of expansion.  I was able to find six original Hinton Hunt Russian Cossacks to bring the Russian Guard Cossacks up to Strength.  I will also be adding six more cuirassiers to the 13th Regiment.  I have 6 Hinton Hunt original castings thanks to Mark D, and am debating whether to split them up into 2 groups.  Three figures representing the elite company with three additional DK figures to bring them up to the nominal strength of 18 figures per regiment.  While it may be a bit before I am ready to tackle them, I just received the last of 36 figures for a full battalion of French Guard Marines, as well as a Battalion of Old Guard Grenadiers made up of Les Higgins castings.

I have been known to bad mouth the DK canons, but these French 12 pounders actually came out quite well.  The addition of the ammunition chest gives them the French look and I added drag chains for that added bit of detail.  I think they will paint up nicely.  Look for them to be served by Old Guard gunners.

 Lastly, Here are the Hinton Hunt Cossack lancers of the Imperial Guard waiting for their turn on the painting desk.  The original lances were in terrible shape, but that was no big deal, since I wanted to have them match the painted DK figures.  Hopefully I will have pretty pictures of the Gordons on parade in my next post!

Stay safe and be well!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

92nd Gordons WIP and Lt Colonel Cameron conversion

I'm closing in on adding the 92nd Highlanders to my list of completed battalions.  As a reminder of the conversions planned I am using the figures pictured below to add to the color party and of course to represent Lieutenant Colonel Cameron:

 Stage one of the conversions are shown above.

 Above are two Victorian era depictions of Colonel Cameron that helped guide my efforts.

 Hence the addition of the shoulder roll from kilt material.  Not a true great kilt as he is wearing trousers, but apparently this type of sash was common enough.  Also added is a sheepskin holster cover to disguise the figure's origin as a French general.

 The kilted shoulder roll was constructed using "green stuff" epoxy putty.  I also heard from Mr. Tennant that the boots needed to be trimmed down to be British in style, a detail I would have missed, so was very grateful for his help.  So just when the conversions were going well and the painting was coming along nicely, I got it in my head that the time to clean the garage was at hand.  I would after all, need a gaming space once these gentlemen are ready for the table, so the darkroom I had constructed for my years as a professional photographer had to go.

Darkroom Demolition!

First step, get all of the crap - er, I mean stuff, out of the way!

 The darkroom sits at the far end of the Garage, most of which is usually occupied by my wife's car.

 Fortunately my hobby painting table remained accessible, just to the right of the darkroom.

One full afternoon of really hard work with a sledge hammer and the business was done.  Thanks to my friend Chris who tutored me on how to dead end the electrics formerly powering the lights and fan of the darkroom.  In all of my years as a photographer I never went to the expense of plumbing the darkroom, and would just take items needing to be washed or rinsed upstairs to the utility sink.  Without plumbing to deal with the demolition was much simpler!

 Of course all of the hobby crap, er I mean stuff, that was hiding in the darkroom had to come out and find a place to sit.  It was there partly so my wife wouldn't know how big the unpainted pile of lead is.   My dear one is actually quite forgiving of my hobby expenditures both in terms of money and time, and has been quite supportive over the years of her quirky husband and his "little metal men".  She's also quite clever so my ploy to hide stuff never really worked...

After all of that work indoors trying not to breathe in all of the dust, I really needed to get outside (and take some Mobic!), so off we went Sunday morning to a local park; Bell's Bend.  I have said it before, but it bears repeating; one of the best aspects of living in Nashville is all of the nearby parks, each with its own character.

 Bell's Bend sits in a bend of the Cumberland River, and being former farmland, is mostly open fields, so was nice to be there on a cloudy day that was nice and cool.

 As usual the pups benefit from our excursions.

While we were walking in the park the 92nd Gordon Highlanders were sitting in front of a fan.  The varnish is dry and all that is needed now is basing and flags.  Hopefully I'll show off the finished unit next weekend.

Until then, here is a parting shot of the Gordons getting ready for their debut.

Be well and stay safe out there everyone.  Hope you can find joy in some new places as we all adjust to life during a pandemic.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Coping with COVID 19 - Work in Progress: Fusilier-Chassuers and 92nd Gordon Highlanders

One of the great things about a hobby like ours, is that it does lend itself well to time spent indoors.  For me time really ceases to have much meaning as there is a bit of a meditative peace as I paint.  It of course doesn't hurt that I am usually nursing a Scotch whiskey towards the end of the day when I am working on these little guys.  :)

Above is a recently finished expansion of the Fusilier-Chasseur battalion, now brought up to full strength and including some NCOs that can be seen in the 1st file with gold shako rims, and decorated with green and red shako cords.

Of course you can't paint figures non stop, and though working at home now, I feel as busy as ever.  With the advent of the shelter at home policies affecting the way we work, it is important to get out and exercise as much as possible.  The governor and mayor have recognized the importance of getting outside and exercising to maintain health and declared that an essential activity.  We try to get out to the parks early in the morning when we are not likely to encounter many other walkers.

 While the communal places are closed, such as picnic shelters and the nature centers, the trails and walkways remain open.

7:00 on a Sunday morning and not another soul to be seen.

 These two goofballs, Bozon and Darla, are unconcerned and simply thrilled to be out on a walk.  I think they have learned to discern the subtle change in our routines that indicate it is a weekend, and look forward to their morning walks - and give voice to their insistence that they get it soon!

 Spring wildflowers are blooming and along the way we encountered an entire hillside covered with Dutchman's Britches (Breeches).

 Bozie and Darla checking their "pee-mail".  They get a lot of messages so have to check frequently.

Warner Parks has closed many of the paved roads to vehicle traffic and these are now lovely walkways lined with beautiful moss covered walls.  These walls were built back in the 30s and 40s as part of the WPA (Works Program Administration) created to get people back to work after the Great Depression.  I have to wonder if we will need a 21st century equivalent after the Pandemic.

 Around the aptly named Bluebell Bend the Bluebells are in full bloom.

There has been lots of rain this Spring so the creeks are full and the park full of the sound of running water (and squirrels and birds!).

One last check of messages and a quick drink before heading home.

Next up - The 92nd Gordon Highlanders!

 The core unit is painted by Dick Tennant and contains 34 immaculately painted figures.  I will be adding two figures to the battalion to bring it up to 36 total figures.  One will be an NCO with a Halbard converted from a DK 188 preparing to fire figure (above), the other a slight DK variant (below - 2nd image) of the standard Hinton Hunt infantry figure (HH BN33, DK 187)

 Here we have a colonel figure ready to have a head transplant from a poor hapless Highlander with a broken rifle.  He will represent Lt Col John Cameron of Fassiefern: raised to Lieutenant-Colonel 23 June 1808; commanded 1/92nd Foot 1809 to 1815; served at Walcheren 1809; served in Peninsula October 1810 to April 1814, wounded four times; commanded brigade in 2nd Division in Peninsula June and July 1813; brevet Colonel 4 June 1814; wounded and thrown from horse at Quatre Bras 1815, died shortly afterwards.


Here is the conversion fodder for both the Gordons and the Black Watch.  I decided the Halbards were a bit too long so they have been shortened from those pictured here.  (left to right - DK 188, 187, 188, 150 and unidentified mounted commander with head transplant)

Here they are primed and the painting has begun!

 These were some of the figures that really cemented my interest in the hobby.  They were pictured in the Bruce Quarrie Airfix guide to Napoleonic Wargaming in black and white glory (below).  The figures are HH BN 37 Highland officer marching, BN 30 Highland officer charging converted to ensign for color bearers, BN 38 Highland Piper, and BN 33 Highland private charging)

Mr. Tennant was able to provide a digital copy of the original photographs of his figures used in the Airfix guide, reproduced here in black and white, though the originals are in color.

There is a lot of work to be done on these that is not readily apparent.  Mostly as is usual, touch up on the ankles and elbows and bonnets, but unfortunately in this case the ankles are often painted in the argyle sock pattern!  Nonetheless I hope to get them done quickly so I can be ready for Rolica when the shelter at home order is lifted!

Best wishes to you all and be safe out there!