Thursday 30 April 2020

Planning a Paint Conversion....Part 2

On parade and in the garden! The Del Prado Lifeguard figures before I get to work on them. The two separate figures are officers and the three with as yet unpainted bases are the new arrivals fromBob Cordery.

There has been a little bump on the road as far as painting figures is concerned as I have been involved in some 1:1 scale artwork in the shape of our downstairs cloakroom. Why is it that he smallest rooms prove to be the most problematic? We have had masking tape disasters, bubbling paintwork and various other minor but irritatingly time consuming problems. We are on the last of it though so I can get back into some real painting tomorrow. Spending hours in a cramped position with a 1” or 2” brush does not really inspire me to pick up something smaller at the end of the day!

The fellows you see in the ‘before’ shot are the Del Prado British Lifeguards which will be the first paint conversions from the collection I will be tackling. It is fair to say that these are probably best described as ‘based upon’ rather than historically accurate. Still, there is potential to make, if not a silk purse then at least a canvas shopping bag from the sow’s ear of a figures that comprises the rank and file trooper.

The plan is quite simple and I have listed the steps I shall be taking to spruce these up - and these are in no particular order.

1. The horses will be uniform black (with white in random places)
2. The saddlecloth will be painted in the correct regimental colour and to a similar standard to that of the original figure.
3. The small blanket roll will be painted in the correct colours
4. Six figures will have a new jacket colour of dark blue
5. When completed the figures will be gloss varnished and the bases matt.
6. Where possible the correct collar colour will be applied.
7. The two officer figures will have some additional work in respect of details of trim where possible.

To be honest there are parts of the figure that are going to be nigh on impossible to address without some extensive repainting and surgery. The biggest issue in this respect are the cross belts - I am not convinced they had these but in having them the front part of the tunic is effectively masked so there is precious little room for the yellow trim. I was toying with the idea of drafting in some plumes from somewhere to finish them off but would not know where to start looking for such.

From Ugo Pericoli’s Uniforms at Waterloo. My Blues officer figure will unfortunately have similar horse furniture to his Lifeguard counterpart - no doubt he would sniffing disdainfully at the notion but sadly need must and all that!

When completed I will have two British Guard cavalry units they will look closer to the real thing than they currently do but they will still be ‘based upon’ rather than strictly accurate. This does not bother me as they are purely representational after all!

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Very Suave Zouaves

Very Suave Zouaves indeed! Needless to say the base figures has given me a number of ideas, many believe to be unnatural.....

One of the units in the partially completed ACW Spencer Smith collection that I got from Old Painter Bob was these rather splendid fellows you see above - the New York Zouaves. Bob did a really lovely job on these and all I needed to do was to base them (and paint the figures base for the drummer).

Historically these were very active but they were very roughly handled by the Texas Brigade which is kind of handy for reasons that will become clearer in a few days....

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Planning a Paint Conversion

A short photo shoot whilst soaking off their bases - British Lifeguards by Del Prado, the subject of my first paint conversion. The picture is of the figures as they were originally available

The fellows you see above were kindly donated to me by Bob Cordery to bring my contingent of British Lifeguards to 13. There are two officer types which are actually the same figure but with a different saddle cloth and horse colour. My plan is to not only repaint six figures into the Horseguards  (the Blues) but also to address the more obvious errors on the original figures. Once completed the plan is to have two six figure units - the Lifeguards and the Horseguards.

This is (in theory) quite a straightforward undertaking but it will be a good way to get my painting ‘eye’ back in before tackling some more involved work. This is also the reason I am currently working on something unrelated to the Del Prado collection but a useful exercise nonetheless as it will also help to get those figure painting muscles limbered up after what has been a very long time.

All will be revealed soon.

I hope....

Sunday 26 April 2020

New Coat, Old Paint

Games Workshop metallic acrylics. Purchased lord alone knows when and incredibly still usable. Whilst sorting out the selection of GW paints I have the above three were the only metallics to survive as the various gold and bronze colours were beyond salvaging.

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be aware of the fact that as far as painting goes my relationship with can best be described as casual. It was not always so and indeed, to this day stick a spaceship, ‘mech, or anything that floats (as long as it is not sail driven - I cant be doing with all that Nelson chequer malarkey!) in front of me then I will happily tackle it. My painting technique has barely evolved from 1972 and is still predominantly enamel driven although as a sop to those new-fangled acrylics I rather like using their metal colours - mainly because they do not tend to ‘lift’ when applying the varnish. I still own some 300 or so tins of enamel including some unopened Humbrol Authenticolours purchased God knows when! I prefer a white undercoat although my WW1 warship and most Sci Fi types technique uses the black version. I went through a phase of using a smidgeon of black paint in the varnish to add some depth to the figure but have not done so for some time, mainly because I have not painted anything that needed it. Washes, shading, highlighting or other such ‘advanced’ techniques have completely passed me by.

Two things have changed my mind about painting to the extent that I want to do so again but within my own frame of reference so to speak. The Del Prado collection for one and also the venerable old Spencer Smith figures.

The painting on the Del Prados varies quite substantially but for the most part is block colours but with the detail. Very similar in fact, to my own technique of yesteryear. The Spencer Smiths are a slightly different story in so much as seem to be ideally suited to the basic painter simply because there is not a great deal you can do with them other than to tidily dress them for action and rely on the mass effect.

There is a reasonable amount of tidying up to do with the Del Prado collection including the oft mentioned paint conversions so I figures it would be a good idea to sort out the paints and see what I had and what I needed to get. At this point I decided that I would stick with enamels simply because I have so many of them and replacing them wholesale would be quite an undertaking, as well as not cheap. As luck would have it I have pretty much all I will need to tackle this and as a further piece of good fortune our local DIY shop carries the Humbrol range which is very handy. I checked my small supply of GW paints (most of which were purchased when Battlefleet Gothic was released in 1999) and many of them had to be consigned to the bin. I was really pleased to have salvaged the colours you see above though.

I have rather a lot of Spencer Smith ACW figures left over. If you remember I purchased a couple of armies for my Kurz and Allison project just before Old Painter Bob loomed over the horizon and sent me the painted ACW figures he had amassed for a project he had shelved. He then went on to add some additional bits and pieces to round off the organisation for me for which I was immeasurably  grateful. Bob had used a different Confederate infantry figure than the one I had selected and had also  produced the Rebel cavalry wearing the kepi. All the Confederate infantry I purchased were the variety wearing a pack rather than a blanket roll whilst the mounted arm is wearing a hat.

One of the key things about the Kurz and Allison style of ACW army is uniformity, even for the gentlemen of the South, which of course completely defies the historical reality. So what should I do with all those excess figures? I read somewhere that in the Western theatre the hat was not solely confined to the Rebels so there was a possible answer. I could add a couple of hat wearing infantry and cavalry units and it would not matter if they were different to the two thirds of the collection that Old Painter Bob had tackled.

One of the biggest attractions of this for me is that Old Painter Bob’s painting style for these figures in theory should be easy enough for me to copy and so to add units that will not look too much out of place. His output is prodigious and is of a high quality which I would not be able to compete with but at least what I can get done will fit in nicely.

Another potential use for some of the kepi wearing extra figures I have (not as many as for the hat wearing types) is something that is more than a little off the wall. Many of the troops that fought in the War of the Pacific wore uniforms very similar in cut to that of the Union forces of the ACW but rather more colourful. In fact some of them would not look out of place in a self respecting 1860 to 1880 imagi-nation but let’s not go there. Not just yet anyway.

So what was the point of this post then? Well, I am tentatively looking at dipping my toes (actually a brush as I sure that would work better) back into figure painting - shock, horror! - and so am readying the materials I have and thinking about a couple of ideas I can explore to ease my way back in.

The painting quality and techniques used will be ‘old school 1972 vintage’ but as I have seen many wonderful examples of figures painted in this style I certainly do not feel self conscious about it nor of not indulging in the much higher standards of brushwork that seems to be de riguer these days.

It will certainly stand me in good stead with the Del Prado collection and who knows? I might even enjoy the experience....

Saturday 25 April 2020

Big Little Ideas....Part 2

The vehicle selection I am working with for the present. The top are all Oddzial Ozmy WW1 types (as are the previously shown Rolls Royce armoured cars) whilst the three clear plastic bags contain Tumbling Dice WW2 types - T34, Sherman and Panzer 4

A fair amount of sorting out has been the order of the day today and the fruits of part of this are below. I did have a another lightbulb moment though in respect of what I will be doing first in respect of the 1:600th collection. If you remember I mentioned about my plan to use armies on a generic basis so that, for example, a khaki based army could be used for a variety of nations with just the specific equipment dropped in as required. This is where my thinking went.

A selection of terrain. The top row is from Oddzial Ozmy and consist of trench sections and palm trees whilst below there are some of the Brigade Models 1:1200th scale buildings. The three on the left are for the Middle East, the centre are the Mediterranean and the right are Russian.

Painting a force in a khaki drill would enable me to tackle the British in the last years of the 19th century or I could use them as Turks for WW1. The loose order infantry strip I have in mind for tribal or skirmish types - for example Afghans, Arabs and certain Mahdist types, possibly Boers. There is certainly more than enough variety here for any number of actions. In many ways this project can be seen as a step up from the block armies which was the idea when I first acquired these figures a few years back.

As ever, plenty to think about.

In the meantime though, I have something else on the go - something that I have surprised myself with, especially as it is the first time I have done anything like this for a while....


ANZAC Day 2020

Today is ANZAC Day - the annual day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand “that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served".

The service of the armed forces of both Australia and New Zealand has been both long and distinguished and there can be little doubt that their contributions in both world wars was a significant factor in the eventual Commonwealth and Allied victory. Originally organised to honour the members of the ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) formations following the Gallipoli campaign in WW1 the day has continued to be observed by both nations in remembrance of those who served in war and peace.

There is a joint service of remembrance held between members of the Turkish and Australian armed forces at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula. This first took place in 1934 when Kemal Ataturk delivered the following words to the attending dignitaries.

Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well

Lest we forget.

ANZAC Biscuits

On a different but related tack as part of the lockdown we have been entertaining our grandson with various things including cooking (which both he and my son enjoy hugely). One of the comestibles that resulted from this ‘bake off’ was the legendary ANZAC biscuit.  The first batch were a little on the crunchy side but the batch above were delicious! I had an interesting time explaining to my grandson about ANZAC day and ANZAC biscuits and as he went on holiday to Turkey last year also about the Gallipoli campaign. I was especially proud of him as he equated the significance of the day day with our own day of Remembrance in November.

Friday 24 April 2020

Big Little Ideas

Tumbling Dice 1:600th scale cavalry and infantry. The former is available in helmet or shako whilst the latter are in close or loose order. The MDF base is a 1” square for comparison. Interestingly the figures themselves measure 5mm from the sole of the foot to the top of the head

I will be completely honest in that my enthusiasm for matters Napoleonic is struggling to reach the peak of the past three months. It was an insane amount of work to get them game ready and I really feel like I need a change to sharpen my interest once again. I am also conscious of the fact that at present I have more spare time than I would have ordinarily and that I need to make the most of it. There is no shortage of things that I can do but it is more a case case of what I want to do.

Finishing off the ACW ships was a welcome change of pace and will give me something else to game - I am planning to do so shortly - but I am now on the hunt for something else. I have several things I can take a look at but the curve ball of the Portable Colonial Wargame has given me much food for thought - and in a very positive way!

Inspirational for sure, but in my case probably not quite in the way you would expect - or possibly you might!

I have a whole pile of the chaps you see above - I actually prefer them to blocks of troops - acquired over time for various ideas but thus far with none being translated into anything tangible. Supporting them are some of the Tumbling Dice tanks (I have T34s, Shermans and Pzkpfw 4s), some ‘modern’ artillery pieces as well as wagons, limbers and infantry support weapons. One of my ideas was to paint them up as fairly generic types that could be used as a variety of armies depending on what I wanted to fight. A good example of this would the grey painted types being used for WW1 and 2 Germans and anything in khaki being used, well, for anyone that wore khaki. Essentially they would be a step up from my block armies. I also have some pieces from Oddzial Ozmy who specialises on 3mm figures and equipment as well as some from Peter Pig from their ‘Hammerin’ Iron’ ACW naval range.

Every so often I get them out of their box, carefully examine the contents, nod sagaciously at the appropriate moment - and put them back again....

What I am about to describe is quite common for me and i am willing to bet that at least a few of the readers of this blog have suffered in the same way. I was glancing at the cover of Bob’s latest book and thinking about the figures he used and how they looked. They are 15mm Essex figures as I recall but the thing that struck me was how, at distance they looked rather blob like - confirmation if you like of the old ‘table viewing distance’ painting standard (these are very nicely painted by the way and so I am just referring to the effect of viewing them at a distance - only the main colours show up in any detail). Was it by chance that my box of 1:600th models was located next to the book and has the benefit of a clear plastic lid (it is one of those flat Ferraro Roche chocolate boxes) meaning that I could see them? Coincidence? Perhaps but I prefer synchronicity.

Colonial in 1:600th? Are you mad? Well, after having spent more time than I should thinking about it there is absolutely no reason why not, especially when you see what else I have been toying with.

Leaning up against my green 3” 12 x 8 gridded playing surface is the old cork noticeboard from the kitchen which has a playing surface measuring 24” by 18” or, as planned, 12 x 9

For me the essence of the whole Portable Wargame genre is the ability to be able to fight wargames on a small playing surface. With this in mind I plan to explore using more smaller figures to represent units for the mass effect so, for example, a single strength point could be represented by 8 infantry figures. 1:300th or 1:600th in my case are both good examples of this. Using the armies in Bob’s cover shot as an example all that would need to be painted for an Egyptian infantryman would be a white undercoat and a red fez, perhaps with a blue tunic for an officer type. British would be red, white and blue (naturally!) with khaki an option. You are looking these at a range of at least a foot so anything else in the way of detail is irrelevant. Although there are no specific Colonial types available either from Tumbling Dice or Oddzial Ozmy the latter does produce a good ancients range so a paint conversion on something like a Celtic naked fanatic would double for Zulus or Fuzzy Wuzzies. The loose order Tumbling Dice infantry could serve as Bedouin or Afghan skirmishing types and in case you are wondering I am pretty sure that camels are available.

I have built up a small selection of 1:1200th scale buildings from Brigade Models and these include Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Russian villages. These are lovely little models and although not the same scale as the figures really do not look out of place alongside them.

It is unusual for sure and is certainly not something I would have logically thought about but the more consideration I give it the more sense it seems to make.

I even have some Rolls Royce armoured cars in 1:600th....

The classic Rolls Royce Armoured Car

Thursday 23 April 2020

Del Prado Napoleonic Units Number 2....French Guard Lancers

Lancers of the Guard - Dutch on the left, Polish on the right

The Dutch Lancers or as they were officially known: 2e régiment de chevau-légers lanciers de la Garde Impériale

The Polish Lancers or as they were officially known: 1er Régiment de Chevau-Legers-Lanciers de la Garde Impériale. These are not available in the Del Prado range but came about as the result of a paint conversion by Old Painter Bob, and very nice they look as well!

What is not to like about a French Guard Lancer? I was rather pleased with the two units above, especially as I had the full command group for each although the trumpeter for the Dutch Lancers was acquired separately. These form part of the Guard cavalry selection I have along with the Horse Grenadiers and the Chasseurs a Cheval. In due course I will add the Empress Dragoons but for now I am in the rather embarrassing position of having nearly twice as many Guard cavalry as infantry!

Whilst on the subject of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard I recently took advantage of the Naval and Military Press Easter sale to pick up a copy of the tome you see below.

A great doorstop of a tome and a high quality reprint although the plates of the original version are now prints rather than glossy photographs. A snip at £7.99 down from £35!

I own an original edition of this work that I acquired at a boot sale but it is without the dust jacket and is in what I believe is known as ‘bumped’ condition. The cover and the body of the text look at though they have had an argument and there is a huge gap between them. For all that it is a cracking read though and I am very pleased to have a new version of this classic title.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Return to the Swampy Bayous in 1:2400th

The Confederate Navy. There is a selection of ironclads in the bottom row with some cottonclads in the middle together with the floating battery C.S.S. Memphis. A paddle gunboat and some harbour tugs form the top row. The names are a mix of historical and hysterical - there are no prizes for guessing which are which!

Last year I started making plans for the ACW using the Spencer Smith collection and also tackling the all important naval dimension, specifically operations along the ‘Great Father of Waters’ - the Mississippi and its tributaries.

I wanted something compact and quick and easy to put together and for a variety of reasons I decided that using the modest range available in 1:2400th from Tumbling Dice would tick most of the boxes for me. Originally I was looking to scratch build a limited number of generic models using the ‘cartoon’ style approach but again, for a variety of equally tedious reasons, I abandoned the idea.

I acquired a number of packs of models from their Victorian range and then set them to one side whilst I focussed on the Del Prado collection.

Whilst this was going on I made the decision to scale down the planned Arab Revolt/Madasahatta style WW1 campaign - the naval side was becoming rather unwieldy - and so I opted to dispose of a whole pile of ships.

To cut a long story short, my ACW collection was painted for me as part of the aforementioned disposal by the legend that is Jim Jackaman.

The Union Navy. There are a magnificent seven monitors in the bottom row with a selection of six of ‘Pook’s Turtles’ in the next, complete with the correct coloured funnel bands. Some sternwheelers (or at least very serious....) and a pack of assorted gunboats form the remainder of the third row. Assorted smaller gunboats including a pair well used to defending the homeland

I have not revealed these models up until now (I had them way back in January) as I needed to add the names and ensigns. This has now been tackled and so for your delectation here follows a selection  of pictures of ACW naval vessels primarily for use on the rivers or in estuaries.

Additional bits and pieces. Floating batteries, mortar rafts and some small and a large fort complete the collection.

Jim did a fantastic job on these models and it is a great shame that the range does not include more models. A word with Mr Sulley at Tumbling Dice may well be in order....

My first port of call in respect of rules will be Bob Cordery’s Gridded Naval Rules or rather the variant that Mr Fox spent some time on which are rather good. Having said that there are a few other bits and pieces I would like add in.

The main reason for using 1:2400th is so that I can make use of the large quantity of Heroscape terrain I own. This will be invaluable for shaping the twists and turns of a meandering river. I have some shore batteries as well as the floating variety so some combined arms style actions will certainly feature.

Jim did a really lovely job on these and in fact there are a few minor conversions as he added some spare fortress guns to some of the cottonclad types for variety. All I had to do was to add the names and the flags which I have finally gotten around to. Now for some games methinks!

Once again many thanks to Jim for his work with this and I am only sorry I did not give it the credit it deserved sooner!

Tuesday 21 April 2020

The Portable Colonial Wargame - Is Here!

Oh yes indeedy! That will be my reading sorted for the next few days as well as allowing me to paint convert another Napoleonic British cavalry unit

It is always good when packages arrive - probably even more so given the current circumstances we find ourselves in - and so today I was highly delighted when this particular one arrived from Bob Cordery.

The latest book in the Portable Wargame series has raised the bar of quality and inspiration even further but this is of little surprise given the author’s well known interest in the period. This book has been a real labour of love and it certainly shows. There are a selection of rules, ideas around terrain generation, heroic leadership (just right for the deeds of derring-do one usually associates with the period!) and the use of ‘modern’ technology - railways, steamships and even aircraft in the latter stages. I will submit a more detailed review once I have given it some attention but suffice it to say this volume is a welcome addition to the Portable Wargame stable and for me should provide the impetus to at last get my 15mm Arab Revolt on a war footing.

The contents to give you some flavour - for me the battle reports, terrain generator (which would be readily usable for other periods) and the chapter on early 20th century Colonial Wars are of particular interest

I read this book in draft form and seeing it both freshly printed whilst holding a real copy in my hands is hugely inspiring and for anyone with an interest in the period or of the so called ‘small wars’ I would highly recommend it.

In the package was also another welcome addition to my Del Prado collection in the shape of four British Lifeguards. I now have 13 figures in total and plan to paint convert 6 of these into the Royals.

In both cases many thanks to Bob for helping to push along one project and to inspire me to finally start the other!

Sunday 19 April 2020

Renovating Old Figures....Part 2

The regiment in all its glory - now the real work begins!

Work on the Minifigs French Dragoons progresses. The bases have been carefully cleaned up as far as possible - luckily the filler used was very thinly spread - and I have taken the opportunity to get he figures on their new bases. These will give me something to handle them by whilst I am painting them.

As well as replacing the green I also intend freshening up the black and white areas. The metals appear to be OK for the most part so will need little work.

It is funny that even something as simple as placing these venerable warriors on new bases seems to have given them a renewed sense of purpose. I hope that my efforts will do them justice!

Saturday 18 April 2020

Tradition and the Del Prado Collection

A Tradition British Napoleonic infantry officer alongside a Del Prado infantryman. You can see that from a build perspective they are very similar.

I have a degree of personal history in respect of Tradition 25mm Napoleonic figures. Way back in the early 1970s myself and two gaming friends from back on the Isle of Sheppey had a day out in London courtesy of one of my friends elder brother. Neil, the friend in question, had an elder brother who was, as I recall, an architect that drove to his office from the island to Holborn on a daily basis. Neil’s brother was large scale figure painter par excellence, specialising in the British Army, and so he knew of the Tradition shop (at that time at 188 Piccadilly) and indeed, often shopped there for his models. As it was the school summer holiday he agreed to take us into London and then to bring us back when he finished work. The date was arranged and so the three of us immediately began to make plans for what we would be doing with the day.

At the time I had a paper round and I remember saving up for around three weeks before we went so my spending money was, for me at least, a very healthy £5! We all took packed lunches and the only issue was that we had to be at Neil’s brother’s house for around 6 in the morning!

The day came and we were duly dropped off in High Holborn to spend the day in the West End of London.

At the time our armies were largely Airfix based and metal figures were new and exotic and also used by ‘proper’ wargamers. I was thinking about starting a Napoleonic Russian army and so when we arrived at the shop they would be my first port of call. I remember buying a unit of 20 Russian grenadiers in their distinctive ‘Kiwer’ shako and 10 gunners - enough for two crews. By the time I had tacked on some tins of paint (Humbrol Rifle Green as I recall) my budget for the day were virtually blown but it was worth it. We also visited Under Two Flags at St. Christopher’s Place just off Oxford Street which was another splendid shop for the model soldier enthusiast.

It was a grand day out but sadly the Russians are no more - I sold them to Eric when I moved to London along with some Hinchliffe Cuirassiers (HUGE figures), some Moscow Militia, greatcoat wearing infantry and some Hussars - the latter painted by Chris Hardman. I know Bill has a load of Eric’s Napoleonic figures to sort out so it would funny if these figures saw the light of day again.

Tradition figures from their 25mm range are elegant sculpts and are stylistically a really good match for the Del Prado collection as you can see from the picture above. The British contingent (and I am referring to the line troops) has two standards - the regimental colours and the Union flag - and a drummer (not in reversed colours though) but no foot officers per se. I plan to use the Tradition range to address this shortfall and as luck would have it the figures do not look too out of place alongside the Guards and Highlanders.

The three British infantry officer figures that came with the collection are pictured below.

I have two of the figure on the right and one of the left but have absolutely no idea where they are from!
Looking at the British contingent as a whole my requirements in respect of command figures looks something like this:

8 infantry officers - 2 for the guards, 2 for the KGL* and 4 for the line
8 Ensigns - 4 for the guards, 4 for the KGL
4 Ensigns - for the Highlanders
4 drummers - 2 for the guards and 2 for the KGL

* I am unsure what the colours were for the KGL either in respect of what they looked like or how many each battalion used.

There are some other foot command figures I need to get for the Allied army - mainly for the Brunswickers - but others will be contained within the additional units I shall be raising in due course.

Renovating Old Figures

One of the troopers fresh off the base. It is really strange in that it is only the green that has given up the ghost - everything else is absolutely fine with the exception of some of the white trim. If my plan works these venerable warriors will once again see service on the tabletop.

The reverse of the figure. I will not be adding regimental numbers as the unit will be representing any one of a number of units.

I mentioned in my last post that my next job will be the renovation of some old 25mm Minifigs French Napoleonic Dragoons that were painted way back in the late 1970s. There is a full sized unit of 20 figures including four command - two officers, a standard bearer and a trumpeter, two bearskin wearing elite troopers and fourteen other ranks. For my organisation this will be all the Dragoons I am likely to need. In the Command and Colours and Portable Wargame world units are typically of four figures whilst for anything else six or eight figures works well. For the unit I have the facing colours are pink meaning that they could be used for regiments numbered 13 to 18 (they have been numbered as the 17th).

The figures were originally painted using Humbrol enamels except for the horses which were done in oils. They were based in multiples on card which was then flocked.

My first task was take the figures off the old bases which was easily accomplished over a period of a week in my trusty soaking tray. I did this a while ago and the figures returned to the box in which they came before I made a start on them. Originally I planned to tackle these last of all as there is a fair amount of touching up and paint conversions to undertake with the Del Prado collection but following the arrival of the Chasseurs I decided that they needed to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Now they are off the card the real work can begin so tidying up the underside of the figure bases before going on the new versions. This will also be useful as I will have something to hold onto whilst painting them. Before I get to that stage though several things have to be done. To begin with, I need to file around the figure base to remove the last of what looks like filler. Once this is done I will then get to work of getting off as much of the flock as I can.

At this point I am still a while away from actually painting anything but I hope to be there in a few days or so.

A careful examination of the figures reveal that the only problem areas are basically anything painted green - which on a French Napoleonic Dragoon is rather a lot! Mr Hardman, who originally painted these figures all those years ago, used the Humbrol Authenticolour French Dragoon Green (now Matt 101) which seems to have gone off in a big way. As you can see in the picture above it seems to reacted in some way and has both flaked and peeled away, in extreme cases taking the undercoat as well to reveal he bare metal underneath.

I have been thinking about the best steps to take with this part of the process especially in respect of the all important preparation. I would prefer not to strip the figures Back to the bare metal and start again because I believe I can salvage them. The green will not be a problem and I will also touch up the adjoining white - it will be delicate work but I reckon that as long as I take my time I will be able to do it. Besides, I need to get some figure painting practise in!

As a footnote to this I am reminded of the time back in the days of WRG 6th edition Ancients when I purchased a 25mm Carthaginian army from Mr Hardman - a real cross section of available figures ranges contained therein for sure - and had a similar issue of some figures that needed renovation and refurbishment. I never thought that some forty years later I would be doing something similar!

Friday 17 April 2020

A Napoleonic Addition

Minifigs French Napoleonic Line Chasseurs a Cheval. These rather jaunty fellows were supplied by Mr Fox and painted by Mr Rousell. My contribution was limited to basing, touching up and varnishing - and organising a flag!

One of the problems I have touched upon previously concerning the Del Prado Relive Waterloo range is that the range of figures available is rather limited. A good example is that the French army does not possess any line or light cavalry other than Cuirassiers in the case of the former or Guard for the latter. I have a unit of Dragoons from the Relive Austerlitz range but this was not released in the UK so finding figures is rather tricky.

You may recall a short while ago that my old friend, Mr Fox, kindly donated an old Minifigs Dragoon  unit painted for him way back in the late 1970s but another old gaming friend, Mr Hardman. This is a 20 figure strong unit which is very nice looking but for the green paint that had gone bad over time and had badly worn. By virtue of the contents of this post I have moved the Dragoons renovation to the top of the painting pile simply because I am feeling suitably inspired!

The unit you see above began life as a box of unpainted metal in the collection of Mr Fox and lurked for many years in his very own Area 51. Whilst having one of his periodic clear outs - occasioned in this instance by his recent use of Rebels and Patriots for Napoleonics - they were deemed to be surplus to requirements so the deal was struck and they passed over to me.

Enter stage third left, that well known Bon Vivant, Wit and Raconteur - the great Ray Rousell of Postie’s Rejects fame - who very kindly took them off my hands to paint them.

There is a long and involved story behind this in that I had been discussing some painting with him for some time but the goal posts (my own ideas) changed with bewildering rapidity as projects came and went. I can only assume that he has the patience of a saint!

Anyway, to cut to the chase he turned these fellows round in record time and so all I needed to do was to add them to their bases, paint them and then apply industrial quantities of gloss varnish. I have not subjected them to the varnishing as yet as there are a few little bits of touching up to attend to.

I am really pleased with these as the paint job is very much in keeping with the main bulk of the Del Prado collection - Ray really had to dial down on his usual technique which is of a much higher standard - and as my praise was so effusive I have managed to talk him into painting a further three eight figure Minifigs cavalry units for me in due course!

P.S. Don’t tell anyone but Ray HATES painting Minifigs....

Thursday 16 April 2020

“Quelle Affaire”....Reflections on Game Number 55

Whilst the Duke surveys the retreating French whilst planning the next moves for the army, Hyde-Bowned ponders his potential knighthood and the prospect of cutting a dash during the forthcoming season. 

The battle was fought, the figures returned to storage, the terrain packed away and the after action report written. So how did it feel?

It was really good getting the figures out on the table for the first time and I was very pleased with how they looked. The game went well and felt like how a Napoleonic battle would feel with all the right ingredients - skirmishing riflemen, charging cavalry, columns, lines and gallantry galore. From the perspective of the spectacle it ticked pretty much all the boxes.

Yet it was not perfect.

I was forced to use the 3” grid playing area and whilst the overall area - 12 x 8 squares - was OK with the movement trays the unit footprints were a little on the unwieldy side. With this in mind I have taken the decision to restrict the use of my 3” grids to 15mm figures or the block armies.

The movement trays will need painting - I had intended to do this at some point anyway - and I will also need to get some more in once Warbases are back in production. I am particularly keen to get a 75mm by 50mm base for the cavalry.

I need to rebase my trees as the bases I used (from a game called ‘Bottle) are a little too large. The only problem is that I glued the trees to the bases using superglue so removing them is going to be a challenge! they will also need painting.

Much as I am attached to my collection of ‘Town in a Bag’ buildings they are now going to be used for games scaled at 15mm or smaller, together with the block armies. Stylistically they are ideal and so I intend to produce something broadly similar but in a larger scale.

I am perfectly content using units based on the sizing from Command and Colours: Napoleonic - typically  3 to 5 infantry, 3 or 4 cavalry and 2 or 3 gunners and a gun - which suits the collection better at present as I am short of certain command figures to build conventional units with.

As far as the rules go I was using Bob Cordery’s Portable Napoleonic Wargame Brigade level rules. These worked perfectly well and gave what felt like historical outcomes in given circumstances. There were a few things I had to ‘make a call’ on but that can, and frequently does happen with most sets of rules in my experience.

I have a few tweaks that I shall employ with these rules over time but as they are they give an excellent game.

The scenario was rather hastily put together and as a result the action was dictated by the size of the village. Near as I can see the end result came across as something akin to a Napoleonic version of Stalingrad!

Taking all of this into consideration I have come to the following conclusion.

  1. The figures work better with a 4” grid so the 3” versions will be retired
  2. The trees need rebasing
  3. The buildings need upgrading
  4. The movement trays need expanding in terms of the selection I have as well as painting
  5. The rules need some ‘personalisation’ 
It was tremendously chaotic fun in many ways and so I would like to thank both Bob Cordery and Old Painter Bob for making it possible.

Tuesday 14 April 2020

The Battle of Chimay, June 1815....Game Number 55 Part 2

The Allied force makes its way cautiously forward - the Rifles in the foreground whilst the infantry and artillery reach the outskirts of the village.

Clad in their uniforms of Rifle green the two detachments of the 95th trotted at the double to secure the irregular tree line to the right of the village. Once in position they would be able to cover most of the approaches on the far side of the village. Hyde-Bowned had deployed his cavalry on the left flank to perform a similar function to the 95th, albeit at arms length. He directed his artillery to the village supported by a single battalion of British infantry. The Belgians were for the most part in reserve and so he planned to feed them into the action as required although he had grave misgivings about their competence, so much so in fact, he resolved to stay in close proximity to them.

The artillery deployed facing the village at close range whilst the infantry cautiously took up positions on the far side of where the French were likely to appear.

The French begin their rather haphazard advance towards the village

Despite command bungles and delays Enstarr managed to get his troops moving and immediately threw two battalions straight dozen the main road into Chimay whilst he also occupied the small farm  on his left. His artillery, although located on a hill and just able to reach the village were too far away to be useful as were his cavalry.

It would be a race to see who could secure the village first.

The situation after the initial manoeuvring to secure an advantageous position.

The Allies were first into the village but they did not have to wait long until their erstwhile adversaries announced their imminent arrival with much drumming and shouts of ‘Vive L’Empereur!’ Meanwhile, the Rifles began to take up their positions in the edge of the woods, ideally placed to support the village and to watch the approaching French columns.

An overview of the situation as the battle for the village is about to begin

The first detachment of the Rifles about to open fire on the advancing French columns

Both commanders knew that the battle for the village would be decided in the village and so this proved to be correct as the fortunes of war ebbed and flowed back and forth. The dash and elan of the French columns was first blunted and then shattered against the resolute defence conducted by the men of the 30th foot and the supporting artillery but at a heavy cost. At one point the French had reached the edge of the village and had not only defeated the British infantry but had also forced the artillery back. It was too late though as by this time events had moved on dramatically on either flank.

The battle for the village gets underway as losses are suffered by both sides

Meanwhile the Belgian infantry starts to move up to support the 30th in the village and the cavalry takes up a watching brief on the Allied left flank just as one of the French guns limbers up and moves ahead supported by a unit of Dragoons. More French infantry approach the village.

Both sides rush to reinforce the village but the advantage appears to be with the French at the present.

The overall situation with the Allied cavalry moving to stem the developing French combined arms attack

Whilst the battle raged in the village the Allied cavalry had observed enemy movement to their front and so with their usual aplomb and technical skill immediately launched two charges - the Lifeguards headlong at a French column whilst the Scot’s Greys looked at the French limbered artillery with eager eyes. Unfortunately for the cantankerous horsemen they had misjudged the distance to the artillery and were in full flight when their charge was checked by the French Dragoons.

More French infantry move into the village whilst the Lifeguards threaten an approaching French column. The Scot’s Greys, in full flow, fail to reach their intended target

Both detachments of the Rifles are in action and causing niggling casualties to the approaching French columns whilst the Belgians move up in support. The Lifeguards fall back as the advancing French form square. The French artillery quickly unlimber and engage the onrushing Scot’s Greys but fortunately for the onrushing horsemen their fire is rushed and ineffective.

The overall situation as the Allies hang on in the village but are successfully blunting the French attempts to reinforce their assault force.

The Rifles continue to cause discomforting casualties whilst the Belgians step in to support the artillery against the onrushing Frenchmen. The 30th foot are finally pushed out of their position after a long and gallant fight. With the French virtually in possession of the battered village the battle heads towards its climax. The Scot’s Greys trade blows with the Dragoons and quickly gain the upper  hand. Only the Belgians remain to turn the tide as the rest of the British infantry are too far away to lend assistance in time.

The furthest French advance in the village with the Belgians already in action and reestablishing the Allied hold on Chimay.

The end in sight. The French attack on Chimay is spent with the Allies well placed to reinforce their foothold in the village.

Hyde-Bowned knew that the crisis of the battle had arrived. The Belgians fought ferociously and quickly chased the few remaining Frenchmen from the village whilst the Rifles continued to harry and harass the milling columns. 

The Belgians push on through the village

Enstarr knew that the end was near. His attacking infantry had been ground down by intense musketry and well directed artillery fire. There was more infantry moving up as well as two regiments of Cuirassiers but he knew this was an empty gesture. At least it would enable his troops to be able to fallback and regroup.

As the remnants of the French are chased from the village the Allies prepare to advance to consolidate their position on the field. The French Cuirassiers are moving up to provide a rearguard and to support the infantry currently in square.

The Rifles advance, harrying the retiring French whilst the victorious Belgians consolidate their position in Chimay.

Across the field the French, with the exception of the Cuirassiers and the infantry still in square, are falling back to their start line. Enstarr still had a useful force available but his troops were exhausted. He would regroup and consolidate whilst awaiting fresh orders but the first nagging seeds of doubt had been sown about the fallibility of his Emperor.

Hyde-Bowend was jubilant as he surveyed the wreck of the French army streaming from the village back the way they had come. Despite some rather desultory command decisions his forces had done all that he asked of them although it was a close run thing. 

The Duke confers with Hyde-Bowned whilst the gallant Belgians consolidate their hold on the village

As he trotted into the centre of the village to the hitherto unaccustomed cheering of his Belgian troops he felt well satisfied at a job well done. It was only when he turned to accept the raucous adulation that he realised it was in fact for the Duke who had ridden up to see how the day had gone.

His time would come.

Monday 13 April 2020

The Battle of Chimay, June 1815....Game Number 55 Part 1

The opening positions. The French are on the right whilst the Anglo-Dutch are on the left. The small Belgian village of Chimay is closer to the Allied start line than the French which should serve to help offset the small numerical advantage Napoleon’s men enjoy.

This is very much a cobbled together effort. In order to get a game in I had to use my 3ft by 2ft square grid with 3” squares (12 x 8) as my usual gaming table was occupied by various boxes and to be honest, it would have been a major hassle rearranging the man cave to accommodate a larger playing surface. I am planning on using the Brigade level rules from the Portable Napoleonic Wargame as written - mainly because I want to see how they work on a ‘clean’ basis before I start tinkering with them. I have some ideas of how I would be tweaking them - also a few other ideas I have seen on the net - so using them as written may well alleviate the need for any amendments or additions.

For the purposes of this action I have needed to adjust how the units are actually represented as my basing is different to that suggested in the rules. I am using the following:

Infantry - a single 50mm square base with four figures deployed 2 x 2
Cavalry - a single 50mm square base with two figures deployed side by side
Rifles - a single base 25mm x 50mm with two figures deployed side by side
Artillery - a single 50mm square base with a gun and two gunners
Command - a single 25mm by 50mm base with a mounted commander.

I will be removing individual figures to represent casualties but there are two caveats. The first hit a cavalry unit takes I will instead turn one of the figures around to face backwards. The second hit I will replace the movement tray with the single remaining figure. The Rifles will work in the same way.

The forces engaged represent small reinforced divisional sized formations. The French enjoy a superiority in artillery (2 guns to 1) and infantry (8 to 6) although the Allies also have 2 detachments of the famous 95th Rifles. Both sides have 3 units of cavalry - the French have 2 units of Cuirassiers and 1 of Dragoons whilst the Allies have 1 each of Hussars, Scot’s Greys and the Lifeguards.

The aim for each side was simple. They were to seize and hold the village against enemy action.

The Battle of Chimay, June 1815

The Anglo-Dutch initial deployment. The right flank has 3 units of British infantry and the two detachments of Rifles. On the left is a the artillery, 3 units of Belgian infantry and the cavalry


1 x Command - General Ignatius Montgomery Hyde-Bowned (1 x 6)
6 x Infantry (3 x 4 British, 3 x 3 Belgian)
2 x Rifles (2 x 3)
3 x Cavalry (3 x 3)
1 x Artillery (1 x 2)

Total Strength Points: 44, Exhaustion Level 14

The French. The artillery has taken up position on the hill with the Cuirassiers to their rear and in reserve. The two brigades, each of 3 Line and a Light infantry unit, are deployed either side of the small copse next to the farm in the foreground.


1 x Command - General Michel Enstarr (1 x 6)
8 x Infantry (8 x 4)
3 x Cavalry (3 x 3)
Artillery (2 x 2)

Total Strength Points: 51, Exhaustion Level 17

In the early light of dawn General Hyde-Bowned was tired but relieved with the progress his small command had made since it was hurriedly ordered to break camp and march out into the night. His objective was to secure the small but strategically important village of Chimay. The orders, direct from the Duke himself, had arrived shortly before midnight and so a frantic, disorganised stumble across largely unfamiliar territory had resulted. The Duke had emphasised the need for urgency and had neither the time nor the inclination for lengthy explanations - “Dammit Sir, let my order be obeyed!” He testily admonished Hyde-Bowned when he queried a point of detail. With that he hurriedly set to work to get his command moving.

After a long night of endless marching, grumbling, stumbling and cursing, Hyde-Bowned finally stared out at the small and sleepy village of Chimay, his immediate objective, that of arriving before the French, achieved.

Or was it?

General Michel Enstarr had originally been given very similar orders to his soon-to-be opponent but a combination of order, counter order and and counter counter order coupled with the threat of a court martial and possibly a firing squad, had left him cursing the inefficiency of senior commanders and staff officers. It had never been like that when Berthier was around but he was dead. 

His force finally got underway some four hours later than it should have but as the sun came up the small village of Chimay was thankfully on the horizon. Enstarr had no desire to fall foul of the Emperor.

The two sides arrived at more or less the same time but it was clear to both commanders that the Anglo-Dutch had the advantage. Enstarr immediately issued the requisite orders to commence the attack in the hope that he could secure the village before the cursed ‘Rosbiffs’ could settle in as he knew from his experiences in Spain that they would be very difficult to dislodge.

Hyde-Bowned saw the familiar blue columns in the distance and knew straightaway that he needed to act quickly or all was lost. With commendable speed he issued a flurry of commands to invest the village. 

Both sides moved into their respective starting positions as hurried final preparations were made, weapons checked and last minute instructions issued. The grumbles of a missed hot meal and a lack of sleep were subsumed instead into thoughts of the deadly business at hand.

To be continued....