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Sunday, November 7, 2021

November 2021 - Works in Progress

 I have a fair number of units under way for my old school Napoleonics collection, so though none are finished yet, I thought it would be interesting to show some works in progress.  This should give an idea of my process, an idea that I have shamelessly stolen from Aly over at Aly's Toy Soldiers.

The Legion du Midi is well underway with all of the base coats essentially done.  The devil is in the details as they say and these fellows will be no exception; lots of fiddly work still to do.  The prep work on these was challenging as well.  All of the shako cords were removed, a carrot shaped pompom added, and the shako plate of an eagle removed to be replaced by a teeny tiny diamond cut from cardstock.  The rank and file as well as the command on foot are all Der Kriegspieler miniatures, while the mounted Colonel is an exquisite modern figure made by Franznap.

Also just now getting underway are two line battalions of French infantry, painted by Richard Tennant.  These battalions were featured in the Airfix guide to Napoleonic Wargaming by Bruce Quarrie.  Mr. Tennant and Mr. Featherstone contributed a good many of the pictures that were used in that guide.  I still can't believe I ended up owning a collection that was so vital to my early interest in the hobby.

Here's how they appeared in the Airfix guide, though of course in black and white.  Mr. Tennant still had copies of the original images, which he kindly shared with me after I realized his figures had been featured in Napoleonic Wargaming.  I hope to have them spruced back up to their original glory soon.

Unfortunately the trans-Atlantic crossing was pretty rough on the collection and there were a few casualties and a lot of chipped paint.  The metal is so soft in these early Alberken figures, that drilling out the ankles to put in support posts was a very challenging process.

But worth it in the end!

A little bit of green stuff and he will be good as new.

The Battalion flag for the second battalion was in pretty rough shape so I decided it would be best to replace it.  Though I try to stick with the original paint scheme as much as possible, I think I will likely paint over the inked in flag holder, as the way it is presented just doesn't seem particularly practical.

The first battalion eagle and flag are actually still in pretty good shape so I will likely keep them, but may add the complete baldric, rather than just have it painted on as it is presently.

My current conundrum, which I would love feedback on is two-fold: 1) Should I pare down the Alberkan grenadier, sapper, and voltigeur stands so that they match the Hinton Hunt fusilier stands which are the majority of the battalion?  2) I swear I have seen this before, probably in the Funken uniform guides, but were there really white, over the knee gaiters, with black boots?  I suspect I will keep this as it hearkens back to the early days of our hobby, but was this really a thing?

My buddy Rob has been harassing me to get on the stick and get the first of the Vimiero scenarios ready, but sometimes you have to take a break and just enjoy life when the occasion presents itself.  Not long ago we got the chance to enjoy my wife's fall break in nearby Chattanooga on the banks of the Tennessee River.  Sometimes the little metal guys have to take the back seat!

I've also been busy harvesting the last of the garden veggies.  On the stove is a mash of fermented and pulverized Jalapeno, Poblano, and Anaheim peppers.  Not too spicy but oh so flavorful!

Alright, back to business.  Along with all the infantry I have been prepping three squadrons of Imperial Guard Chasseurs-a-Cheval, and the attached squadron of Mameluks.  For these I am using Minifig s-series as well as early minifigs, which are in this case quite similar.

I have worked to give the figure pose a little more animation, as well as shorten the sword to be more in line with the Der Kriegspieler Chasseurs-a-Cheval.  Size-wise the two figure brands match remarkably well.

The Chasseurs-a Cheval of the Imperial Guard were known to have a Mameluk kettledrummer, so I converted a trooper into a convincing looking drummer.  I was also very fortunate to find a bugler for the Mameluk squadron.

The kettle drums themselves were actually cut from a 15mm Essex camel drummer from their Ottoman range, to which I used epoxy putty to model the drum cover and fringe.  I also stole his drumsticks.

Here is the command group for the Chasseurs-a-Cheval of the Imperial Guard, all made from converted troopers.

The bugle was donated by a spare Mameluk who had no need of it, and the eagle is actually available as an accessory pack from Hagen.  The cord attached to the bugle is actually from Richard Tennant, who sent a few of his modeling supplies along with the collection.

Here is a shot of the command figures in process.  In the background you can just make out the Legion du Midi before receiving their brown jackets.

Lastly, as if all this were not enough, I wanted to give a quick shout out to Wellington Man who let me hang onto these beautiful Hinton Hunt castings of the Princess Dragoons from a figure lot he found here in the US.  Many thanks WM.  They are already cleaned up and stripped of the old paint.  I understand know why you are always eager to get the Hinton Hunt castings over the Der Kriegspielers.  These really are magnificent little figures.


  1. Really super conversions, David!
    I'm afraid I haven't a clue about the gaitors. I can't recall seeing anything like that before. I'm not sure what you mean regarding the grenadier and voltigeur stands. Isn't the plan to remount the both battalions on new stands?

    1. Thanks WM. The Grenadiers, Voltigeurs and sappers are all Alberkan figures with a large rectangular figure base. Hinton Hunt fusiliers have the smaller square base with rounded corners. The Alberkan bases are so large they will likely cover the entire 6-figure movement stand. For that reason and for the sake of consistency within a battalion, I am considering trimming down the Alberkan bases to make them more akin to the look of the Hinton Hunt figure bases.

    2. Oh, I see. Yes, a tricky one. I've avoided having to do that to date, but only just. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with having differeing base sizes in a single unit. It's actually very vintagy.

  2. As always, a pleasure to read and to look at the very nice little minis. Not a clue about the gaiters. I’m not a old figure collector (well I am actually, I just don’t collect old figures lol), but I’d say cut the bases down. Your minis. If some dude inherits them many years from now, let him be puzzled over the discrepancy.
    Glad you got a chance to get away. Chattanooga is beautiful this time of year. Cheers!

    1. Let's just say there is a reason these old school miniatures have an appeal for me, though I had to say that most of these miniatures are still younger than I am! Really enjoyed Chattanooga. Lots of great hikes and history as well as some really good food.

  3. Hi David, I’m impressed with how much you have on the go at the same time - I have to keep it small to stop it overwhelming me.
    As for the bases do what you think looks best, personally I only clip bases if needed to make them fit rather than to match them to others, which is unusual given my OCD tendencies. Two-tone gaiters or boots over gaiters (must be uncomfortable and pointless) is something I can’t recall seeing. I can’t see any moulded above the knee so I would go with boots, or my preference short gaiters. However, if you can find a picture in a Funcken (I don’t have those books) go with that as genuine piece of vintagery.
    Tennessee looks like a New World, you are truly blessed, well at least until the next tornado blows in.

    1. Rob, having multiple types of projects going on actually keeps me engaged. If I don't feel like painting one day I can work on prep or organization. Helps to keep it fresh.

      I looked through Funken and didn't see that odd black white gaiter combo, but I know it was in one of the early guides. For the life of me I can;t find it though. I believe I painted a unit with the same thing back in the early 80s.

      I think we are safe from the tornados for awhile, as the season has passed. We did have one literally go right over our house 15-20 years ago. Fortunately it didn't actually touch down for another mile or so down the road. Just took off the crown of one of our trees, re-arranged the treehouse roof and cracked our metal garage door. o:

  4. Well your certainly keeping yourself busy David…
    The Legion Du Midi are looking lovely… I am also looking forward to seeing your Mamelukes… In have a unit of those waiting in the wings…
    I have never seen French leg wear in that arrangement…
    Prior to 1812 most infantry wore over the knee gaiters in black (for winter) or white (for summer)…
    Light infantry often wore shorter calf length gaiters.
    After 1812 the regulations changed for infantry and the started to wear knee length gaiters… usually in black…
    They certainly wouldn’t be wearing boots over gaiters… in fact they just wouldn’t be wearing boots.
    I think it’s possible that Mr Tennant has just misread the details in the castings.
    If it was me… I would just paint in the top of the gaiters… which would make them correct for pre 1812.
    I personally see no problem with reshaping the bases… I’ve done it myself in the past.

    All the best. Aly

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Aly and look forward to seeing your Mamelukes. I am considering repainting the gaiters black as you suggest, but there is something very vintagy about that look as WM would say. I wish I could find the source of that misinformation, because I distinctly remember seeing it and mindlessly copying it as I did not understand what it was meant to represent.

  5. Ah David, heart warming pictures over my morning coffee, absolutely delightful. There is something about seeing those old shiny castings of a certain vintage that is still special to this older chap! Seriously though the younger generation are missing out out with their dedication to multi part hard plastic soldiers in my humble opinion and will they stand the test of time over decades to come? Of course I also remember that photo from the Airfix guide with great affection and it's amazing that they came to you all those years later and are still in use. Great repair job on the drummer. The vacation spot looks very relaxing too :) Keep it up my friend.


  6. Glad these shots hit the spot. That first cup of coffee in the morning is sacred time! Funny thing is that we all clamored for plastics so that amassing an army would be cheaper, but I'm not sure they are any cheaper than metals and require more work to put together, though I will admit the customization of them, particularly in the WWII ranges, is pretty sweet.

  7. Excellent figures, the Legion de Midi are taking shape, look forward to seeing the guard cavalry, like the detail on the trumpeters. Another great post, thank you.


    1. Thanks Paul. I am excited to get the Legion du Midi and the two French line infantry battalions done so I can dive into the Guard Chasseurs!