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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:

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: 

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:

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!