Saturday, January 29, 2011

28mm 95th Rifles in Battalion Order

Good Lord. They look like a 19th century version of U2. Apparently the British army had no barbers (nor enough shakos)...

Really, I thought I'd never do it - I thought I'd never crack. I was committed never to paint one of the most ubiquitous units in a British Napoleonic wargaming army: yes, yes, you guessed it, the 95th Rifles. To me 'The Rifles' are like the iPods of Napoleonic gaming - very trick, sexy, grossly over-promoted and seen freakin' everywhere. 

In my defense I did have a pile of unpainted Foundry riflemen from an age-old ebay auction AND I had several frames of the Perry plastic riflemen that come in each of their infantry boxed sets. So c'mon, I had to do something with them. Right? Right?! (sigh) Anyway, I've since stifled my toy soldier snobbery and have done up a unit of Rifles for myself. 

Over the past few weeks I've been reading about several actions where the 95th eschewed their regular skirmish tactics and instead fought in standard battalion formation. So I thought I'd depict a unit of Rifles that are madly scrambling to double-out into battle line while being under fire. I wanted to use as many of my current castings as possible, but the scale difference between the Perry's older Foundry stuff and their more current range is quite distinct. Since the Foundry models are significantly shorter I had to do something to make them blend in better. I decided upon an old trick by using a type of forced perspective where I've placed the shorter castings on trimmed down plastic base 'shims' and put them in the front rank.

Here is an example of a base with the plastic 'shims' in place.

The older Foundry castings go on the shims...

...and the newer, taller Perry model goes au naturale.

This way the shims partly mask the bigger dimensions of the taller models set in the back and the extra height helps to draw the viewer's attention away from the differences in scale. I still see the differences but I think for the most part it worked out okay.

Note: This man was shot for not having a mullet.

I added a dead horse casting I had in my bitz box to depict the officer just having his mount shot from underneath him. For the pistol laying on the horse's flank, I trimmed down the hand from a pistol in the Victrix plastic set and placed it in the vignette to show that the officer has just put his horse down, dropped the pistol and is now drawing his sword, all the while bawling out commands.

The end of the line has a sergeant pointing to where he wants the men to form up. The plastic Perry riflemen are great for giving that hustling sense of urgency.

Well, there you have it. I've now joined the ranks of those who just had to have the 95th in their collections. Actually, I'm pretty jazzed about taking them out for their first game. I can now just hear the whining, faintly annoying electric guitar playing 'Over the Hills and Far Away"... (shudder)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

28mm White Uniformed French (16th Regiment in 1806 Regulation Dress)

From 1806-1807, due to a lack of indigo dye, Napoleon issued a new uniform regulation that would see his line infantry begin a conversion from its standard blue uniforms to new ones in white. He initially chose 19 regiments in order to determine how they held-up in the field. It is not known exactly how many of these 19 regiments were actually issued the uniform but it is confirmed that there were at least eight regiments dressed in white by the end of 1806.

Napoleon ultimately changed his mind on the white uniforms. Some say it was because he was appalled at how the blood stood out on them after the battle of Eylau, but I think this is a little sensationalist as Bonaparte was a man not easily moved by the sight of carnage. I think it was mearly due to the fact that French producers found a way to source blue dye to maintain the established uniform. Nonetheless the white uniform was popular amongst those regiments that received it and it was not until late 1809 that the last battalions were converted back to blue.

These two units depicts the 1st and 3rd battalions of the 16th Regiment of the Line (the second battalion is pretty much ready to go, just needing some extra NCOs and command figures to finish it off). In 1806 this regiment was issued the white uniform with blue facings and turnbacks. Elting mentions that this uniform was very sharp, being a hit in Paris, but very difficult to keep clean in the field. I also chose the 16th as it saw heavy action in one of my favorite Napoleonic battles, Aspern-Essling. At that battle they were under the command of Molitor and were in desperate close-combat contesting the town of Aspern.

I decided to keep the third battalion in greatcoats to indicate their more conscripted status (something I will probably do with all my lower battalions). A portion of the figures from these two units I bought in an Ebay auction. Nonetheless they were a little rough around the edges and in need of a bit of 'tweaking' to get ready for the table (shipment repairs, highlighting, washes, rebasing, drybrushing, etc). I also added new NCOs, colour party members and mounted commanders to tart them up. Flags are from the indispensable Flag Dude.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

6mm Napoleonics for 'Grande Armee'

I was going through some old shots of my 6mm collection and I thought I would post a few for those who may be interested. These bases were made up for Sam Mustafa's excellent corps-level game 'Grande Armee'. I started this project several years ago when we were working abroad and I knew it had to be something that would be fairly portable. All of the castings shown are from Adler miniatures which I quite like (a little stumpy but I like the animation). I've always been quite impressed with the massed look that is possible in this scale and so I packed on as many castings as I could.

Knowing that I was taking on this project solo meant that I had to collect and paint armies for several nations. It been a slog but I now have a decent representation of most of the major powers. I think the only big one that is conspicuously absent is Russia (which is strange as I find their participation quite fascinating).

I originally wanted to use thin steel for the bases but I decided against it for fear of the models being damaged by players picking up the stands by the figures. Instead I went with 3mm wood ply bases from Litko as they have a thicker edge for grabbing hold of.

I also mounted a thin strip of magnetic sheet on the right rear corner of each base so I could affix unit designations mounted on custom cut thin steel strips. Works pretty well.

I have a load of already painted 6mm stuff yet to be based but I get easily exhausted as I find the process quite fiddly. Each infantryman has to be cut from the strip and glued on the base individually (as I like to arrange them shoulder to shoulder) and Adler spaces their figures too wide on their cast strips. It pretty much takes me a whole evening to get one base properly, completed with groundwork and finishing sprays.  I really should quit whining, buck-up and get them done someday...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

28mm British Line Infantry (aka The beginnings of Colborne's Brigade)

Here are a couple British battalions I painted up for a recent 'Black Powder' game that I thought I'd post. My long term plan is to build Colborne's ill-fated brigade of four battalions which was over-run by Polish lancers and French hussars at the battle of Albuera (with a near 70% casualty rate). The first unit shown below is the 2nd battalion of the 31st (The Huntingdonshires) which was the only battalion of the brigade that managed to form square before Latour-Maubourg's cavalry hit. Twenty four of the figures were previously painted and based from ages ago, but I  rebased them, added a fresh colour party, a mounted officer and some additional casualty figures to flesh it out.

The next battalion is a completely new addition to the collection: it is the 2nd battalion of the 48th (The Northamptonshires). Like the 31st this unit was also mauled by the Polish lancers, but rallied and then endured a protracted firefight with a French brigade. It lost over 400 men during the action. Poor buggers.

Both of these units are composed of venerable Foundry castings (Perry sculpts). The excellent flags are from Rick "The Flag Dude" whose service I cannot recommend enough (to which a dedicated review will follow). I still need to add flank companies to both these battalions but that will have to wait for another day...

Monday, January 3, 2011

28mm French Dragoons (1st Regiment)

This unit depicts the 1st Regiment of Dragoons. It gave good service for Davout at Austerlitz and in 1811 was remodeled into the 1st Chevau-Leger Lanciers (a future project it would seem...).

These are Perry plastic models which are fantastic. The poses and animation are great and I particularly like the horses. Too bad they are so light (I've always been partial to the heft of metal). Nonetheless, with these new plastic boxed sets of cavalry there is finally a way for players to field large units of cavalry without breaking the bank.

I have another 8 models sitting on the painting desk which will bring this unit up to a fairly beefy size.

28mm French Legere Battalion (The 6th Regiment)

This battalion actually began its life about 10 years ago as a 16-figure unit but I have now added another 16 figures to make it more compatible with 'Black Powder' and 'Republic to Empire'. This unit depicts the 1st Battalion of the 6th Legere which gave good service to Ney during several of his early campaigns.

These models are old Perry Foundry sculpts which I still very much like. They are a little more squat than their more recent work but I still think they're great. (I've always been partial to the colpack-wearing carabiniers of the early light infantry battalions.)

28mm French Aide-de-Camp Vignette

I composed this group to be placed immediately behind the artillery line. In Barry Hilton's 'Republic to Empire' he does an interesting thing by having his rules reflect to the correct depth of deployed artillery formations.  This is to say that with a deployed artillery battery the limbers, caissons and ammunition wagons could extend the depth of the formation to several hundred meters. In game terms this means that there is an actual purpose to all those lovely caisson models as they should be arrayed behind the gun line.

This vignette has one of my favorite models in the Perry range. The Aide de Camp resting his telescope over his horse's back is brilliantly subtle and is very reminiscent to several paintings by Detaille depicting these typically innocuous examples of day-to-day duty.

I have painted the observer as a member of Marshal Bertier's staff. His aides were the only ones which were allowed to wear scarlet trousers. This would have made them quite distinct from the multitude of other staff officers scurrying around within the Grande Armee. These young men would have been hand-picked for their skills as horsemen, fighters and diplomacy. Any general seeing one of these men ride up to them would know that these aides possessed the authority of the Emperor and they had the ability to chastise or even sack troublesome generals.

I have given Bertier's staff officer some company with another aide-de-camp and two artillery officers (one wounded and the other marking time with his pocket chronometer).

Here are a few shots of the vignette with an artillery base. Ultimately I will have similar groupings behind each gun base along with caissons/ammunition wagons trailing behind.

28mm Brigade Command Stand

This is a brigade-level command stand for use in any of the 'Big Battalion' rulesets. Castings are from the Perry twins. I differentiate command level by number of figures (2=Brigade, 3=Divisional, 4=Corps). Though these are certainly beautiful sculpts one thing I found odd with these two are that they are significantly larger than many of the other mounted figures in the range. I had to mix and match them together so the proportions to one another would not look out of whack.

I particularly like the infantry colonel's model as his horse is rearing back slightly to which he is leaning back to compensate to the horse's movement. Subtle but evocative of the period painting.

I've based these on metal discs sourced from a fellow in the UK. Like all my other units I use metal as I like the lower profile of the base, the added weight it gives to plastic models and since I use texture gel it does not warp like wood often does.