Thursday, 4 July 2019

Franco-Prussian War 28mm - French Generals

Some projects are easy, and others evolve and take on greater complexity.  This particular project started off as the former and ended as the latter as small details became more apparent during test basing.  Until in the end I finished up with this!

This is the Foundry 28mm French command pack for the Franco-Prussian War.  I have always loved this set. It was the Perry's at their most imaginative.  You can see that they loved their subject as they sculpted these figures.  The animation is first class and the body language just talks.

Having painted several brigade command stands (see earlier posts), it was time for the big one.  My plan was to base these on a large circular stand (or maybe rectangular) with the usual fare of scatter grass and be done with it. I painted more details I became more aware of small details.

a.  There is nothing holding the map down.  Anyone who has tried to lay a map down on a table knows how difficult this is!   You need weights on it..unless you are indoors.

b.  In addition The table and bench is quite large, more like household or barn furniture rather than something to be dragged outside off of a wagon.

c.  Finally the Carabinier of the Guard is putting his coat on. One really only tends to put a coat on if going outside.

So there were three reasons why I could not go with my original idea of the round grassy base.  I had to have the generals indoors.

Then I was left with the despatch being handed to the Guide of the Guards by his officer.  Well they couldn't be indoors really - who would ride a horse into the General's quarters(?!) Nope - it had to be more imaginative.  Several different ideas were tried and dry runs and drawings until I finally found a diorama style which seemed to tick all the boxes for me.

The door is made from thin slices of wood, whittled with my penknife.  Wire, plastic tubing (for door handle), card and plasticard formed the door furniture with tiny cuts of wire forming the large metal nails.

The walls were made of packing foam coated in Polyfilla household plaster.  The door furniture on them was from cut plasticard and paper card.

The floor planking was also made by applying a coating of Polyfilla and inserting the figures into pre-planned positions.  I then used a sculpting tool to cut in the planking.  I wanted the overall effect to be of a French provincial Farmhouse/Barn.  I wanted it to have lots of rustic charm and look servicable but somewhat neglected.  I had lots of fun looking at pictures of old decayed paintwork and wood and trying to replicate the appearance.  Applying washes is always a risky business, but it was a lot of fun and there are all sorts of colours in those walls.

I was tempted to add a partial roof but this would have obscured essential detail.  I think the method used allows the imagination to 'see' the building as it should be.

Just to finish off, here is a wider overview of the whole diorama.  I used to be a keen modeller in my teens but other than some minor fettling of small scenic items, I have not tried anything diorama-like for many years, so I am pleased with the way this turned out.

Next on the painting table... I have no idea!  I have so many plans and wishes, it could literally be anything!

Friday, 31 May 2019

Franco-Prussian War - French Brigade Commanders - 28mm

Here we have two command stands painted and based for use as Brigade Commanders for my French Army.

Brigade Command Stand 1

Here we have the Brigade Commander with another senior officer and a rather animated senior NCO of French Line Battalion.  The Brigade Commander looks rather nonchalant about things, but there is an air of tension!  Perhaps the SNCO has had enough his men being marched and counter-marched with little enough to eat and the sound of the nearby guns being ignored.

All of the figures are by Wargames Foundry and each one is a lovely sculpt and were very enjoyable to paint. I have always really liked the equipment packs on the infantry figures.

The cigar is a really nice touch, though it was always rather loose and bent on my figure and despite adding glue and varnishing it, the cigar snapped off before I had even put the stand to join their comrades in the plastic container box!  I decided to make a new cigar out of florists wire. This necessitated drilling into the hand with a pin vice and fitting the 'cigar'.  I then had to create a new finger to hold the cigar. I used 'green stuff' from Games Workshop to make the finger.

Brigade Command Stand 2

I wanted to use a different mounted figure for this stand.  There was a good reason for this.  I have never seen the mounted French Commander with cigar in the Foundry range since I bought mine!  It is a lovely figure and I have raised the matter with Foundry when I visited their shop, though I can't say that I received much interest in my suggestion to re-release it.  It is not in their catalogue or on their website and hasn't been for many years.

This mounted figure is from the Maximilian War range. I don't know what I'll do with the sombrero clad figures who were in the same pack but this was the one I was really after.

I combined him with another French officer and an SNCO shouting orders.

Well, my Franco-Prussian Command project is coming along - more work to do yet - and yet I hear the call of other projects. Hopefully I can stick with this project a bit longer to really feel like I have made progress.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Franco-Prussian War - 28mm Prussian Brigade Commanders

After so many years without command stands for my Prussian Army, I finally decided to get to work.

 Brigade Command Stand 1

I think one reason why I went so long without commanders was that I used to use the 'They Died For Glory' rule-set, which was great fun and perfect to get me into the period over 20 years ago.  There was not really any focus on command (other than in the optional rules as I recall).  These days I am much more command and control focused, so I prefer rules which reflect this.

What is clear from the Franco-Prussian War histories is the decisive element of the command and control over all other factors. It could be argued, that command and control had greater effect than the differences in army sizes or differences in weapons. French failures in command and control lead to greater numbers of Prussians running rings around French armies. With this in mind, moving to a rule set which would allow me to use more command and control and 'tweak' elements to make it more period specific became very desirable.  So to Black Powder rules I turned, and thus the need for Brigade and Divisional commanders.

The figures are by Wargames Foundry and are a lovely range.  They are though hamstrung by a lack of a range of command figures and weird packaging.  The mounted general is sold in a packet of identical mounted generals and is the only mounted Prussian commander produced. So unless conversion work is your thing, having the mounted commanders on the same base is going to be weird (or appear very disciplined!).

The officers on foot are sold in Infantry command bags, which include rather animated infantry officers and drummers and standard bearers. One tends to want an infantry command set to have one officer, and not a number of them.  However, this is the way that Foundry have packaged them so it's a good job that I needed lots of infantry command...this way I got senior officers on foot too.

That was the first base of a Brigade Command stand.  I now had to vary the mix a little!

 Brigade Command Stand 2


The same type of General figure casting but painted with a different coloured horse and new comrades.

Great sculpts and still some of the Foundry's best, but they really deserved to be in a dedicated senior command pack.  It is a small moan though.  I really do like these figures.

So on to the third and final command stand for now.

Brigade Command Stand 3

To add some more variety, one of the more animated infantry officers was added to the base. This time vocally passing orders from the Brigade Commander on  with some urgency!

 Wide eyed and giving plenty of verbal instruction over the noise of battle!

The mounted commander is not a teutonic blonde in this instance!

I could have made one post for each one of these three stands but I thought I would hit them all at once as I painted them together.  It's rare enough for me to sit down and make a blog post, and there are other things that I would like to post next time.  More Franco-Prussian War next time I think.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Franco-Prussian War 28mm - Prussian 12th Dragoon Regiment

Sometimes having to work away from home for a couple of weeks means having the opportunity to do the only things that you have brought with you in your leisure time.  Fortunately for me I decided to take three travelling bags of paints and tools and a regiment of unpainted cavalry.

These are the 12th Dragoons (2nd Brandenburg) who were part of the Prussian 2nd Army.  I rather like the deeper carmine distinguishing colour compared with red.

The figures were made by Wargames Foundry who still even after over  quarter of a century of having brought out their Franco-Prussian War range, still have one of the most comprehensive 28mm ranges out.  Unfortunately their are many gaps in the range, not least in commanders, but also in trumpeters and standard bearers.  I could have performed conversion work but did not feel inclined to do so - partly because I would then have to do the same for every cavalry regiment.

The figures were mostly painted with the Foundry triad range of paints but with a good smattering of Vallejo and some 'Miniature Paints' -particularly No.81 Leather Brown which all the reins & bridles  were painted with.

 The ground virtually thunders with the weight of the charge of the Prussian Dragoons.  They certainly have a presence about them.

Unfortunately and despite my very best efforts I wasn't quite able to complete the figures when I was away. I still needed about 4 hours worth of touching up of detail and then the basing work when I got home.  As usual with 28mm figures, I just can't stop trying to improve my work. It is no wonder that after starting this collection over 22 years ago, this is only my third Prussian cavalry regiment in my collection.  Future ranges will be in a smaller scale for sure!

In many ways I wish I had started my Franco Prussian range in 6mm (or 10mm). The reason being is that the battles tended to be huge and there seemed to be little in the way of brigade battles as such.  Certainly the English source material only really mention the larger battles, though no doubt there were many skirmishes. There just doesn't seem to be much written up which would provide good material for a Division vs Division action - unless taken as part of one of the large battles. 

I am trying to read what contemporary memoirs I can to try to create some scenarios which would fill this gap.  Although not a memoir, I finally got around to reading Emile Zola's 'The Debacle' which I understood contained detailed and atmospheric descriptions of a Bavarian attack near Sedan.  If you plan on reading this book (and I read the Penguin version), DO NOT read the translator's notes at the beginning - it gives away the entire plot and what happens to all of the key characters including the big twist at the end (which came as no surprise to me as I had read the Translator's notes!).

Also avoid listening to 80's bands such as The Smith's and The Cure whilst reading the book, as it is darned depressing and just swims in a thick sticky treacle of tragedy. A combination of the music and the book cannot be good for one's health.  Admittedly the description of the Bavarian attack is pretty good though!

Having just looked at the photos again, I think that even if I had collected FPW figures in 6mm, I would still have got these figures. There is something about the 28mm Foundry range which is magnificent. From the French infantry in their massive packs to the great sculpts of the Prussian cavalry, these figures inspire the imagination.

As if I wasn't obsessed enough with my painting, I have been making labels to go on the magnetic bottomed stands of my figures.  I used PVA glue to attach the labels then coated a thin coat of PVA over the top of the label to give it strength. This seems to work well and the magnetic base only seems to lose about 10% of it's ability to cling to the steel floor sheets of their box, so well worth doing.

So what next? I am sat here asking myself the same question. I have painted a number of things in the last few weeks which I will post up in due course. But as for what I shall paint next - we shall see- it could be anything!