Monday, 21 August 2023

28mm - Napoleonic Spanish Guerrillas - Perry Miniatures


My mission to build up forces for 'Sharp Practice' continues.  Here we have Spanish Napoleonic Guerrillas by Perry Miniatures.

The figures are up to the usual very high standard of the Perry's and I really enjoyed painting them. There was lots of scope for colour and to just be imaginative with them.

The challenge was to get them looking like rough and ready guerrillas and yet have them dressing with elements of national/regional dress and also add some of the fashionable military brighter colours.

Brown wool seems to get a lot of mentions in texts, this being from the native brown sheep, so it was often left undyed.

The assortment of weaponry allowed me to use brass on the barrels of the blunderbusses.

It was also fun to experiment with unshaven faces with a few days stubble!

The only thing that caused me any real issue was trying to work out what they were wearing on their feet.  Googling 'Espadrilles' brought answers and pictures of how they would be worn what colours they were.

My painting method with these consists of white undercoat followed by basic shades of all of the main colours. When this is dry I use Army Painter washes.  This gives plenty of depth.

Once the washes are dry, I usually put the basic shades back on (avoiding creases etc).  More detail can then be applied, until highlights for each colour are added.

I then black line is as necessary before touching up.  I like to very lightly dry brush Vallejo Iraqi Sand as desired too.

This method seems very successful for combining speed with depth of colour and and accuracy.

Bases are from warbases and have a small magnet at centre for holding them down to the magnetic sheet in their boxes, or to movement trays.

The rocks are cat litter, glued on with UHU glue (though this seems to react and give glue bubbles - which I deal with with a sharp blade).  Grass tufts are by Mini Nature.  I dry brush Iraqi sand over the tufts too.

I'm very pleased with these.  This year is turning into the year of Sharp Practice.  The Peninsula War is one of my favourite periods yet I have never wargamed anything from it.  I am looking forward to changing this soon! 

Thursday, 27 July 2023

28mm French Voltigeurs - Peninsular War - Perry Miniatures


Were you expecting this? I'm not sure that I was to be honest. My last few blog posts have hopped around time and continents like the Dr Who Sci-fi character. From Victorian Sudan, Sassanid Persia and now to this...the Napoleonic Peninsular War.

Napoleonics - an early wargaming interest of mine.  My teenage years seem to have spent largely painting and converting the basic Airfix and Esci sets of 20mm plastic Napoleonics. Trying to ignore the paint flaking off and of course all figures based individually on bits of card.  I would write my own sets of very basic rules... basic but my goodness it was fun.

As I got into metal figures I realised that I wanted big armies and so I tended to go for things easier to paint. English Civil War was another early interest, so Minifigs gave a way to get big fairly easily paintable armies. Napoleonics just took too long with all that lace.

I'm sure I have given a brief background to this dilemma before.  I do really like Napoleonics but I can paint up 30 Sassanid Persians in the time it takes to paint 6 Napoleonic figures.  The scales have always perplexed me too. I always wanted big battles, but surely 6mm would be the way to go.  

I enjoy wargaming but I must confess that I don't get anywhere near the same satisfaction of painting smaller scales, as realistic as they look on the table.  6mm and 10mm look great en-masse and I know they can be painted quickly...but for me I get immense satisfaction out of just looking at 28mm figures painted as best as I can (without going to excess). Not painting to competition standard but to a point where I feel that any further work will be wasted time.  

I digress.  I recently discovered the Too Fat Lardies rules 'Sharpe Practice.  I used it for French Indian Wars recently and it is superb. This is a game changer for me, quite literally.  I realised that with these rules I really don't need that many troops painted up. So a few groups of French Voltigeurs and some Line and perhaps some Spanish Guerrillas, Portuguese Cacadores and of course British 95th Rifles and this will give a superb game and let me play a period that I find fascinating.

I decided to base the figures in pairs. This has several advantages.  It seems that fighting in pairs seems fairly standard for skirmishers for the French and British so this will be a normal formation.  In addition the larger base gives the plastic figures more protection.  I have tried to make angled muskets incline in towards the centre of the base. Firing figures have been set back to protect the musket and bayonet as far as possible.  This should hopeful protect the figure in normal handling. 

In addition, if I can keep my interest going in this period without deviating ('Impossible' I hear you say!) then as I play larger games with Black Powder it will be easier and quicker to move figures as I look at getting Brigades and Divisions on to the table. This is a long time off perhaps!

The figures are from the Perry's Elite Companies French Infantry 1807-14 plastic boxed set. This is a lovely boxed set with a lot more than just these Voltigeurs in the box!  Assembly is straight forward with nice simple large pieces - just what I like!

The painting guide in the box is superb. It folds out to a double sided colour A3 sheet with lots of illustrations for French and their allied troops and flags too. It is an immensely useful guide, one of the best I have ever seen with a box of figures.

I'm using 6 figures for each group for skirmish gaming. When I play Black Powder rules the 6 figures will represent a Battalion's entire Voltigeur Company.  I have so far based just one officer on a single base as he will be a senior leader in the skirmish games.

There are small differences between the 2 groups that I have so far painted.  The 26th Regiment were at Busacco and their Voltigeurs have green plumes with yellow tips.  Their epaulettes are green with a yellow crescent.  

The 63rd were at Fuentas d'Onoro and Vittoria and their Voltigeurs have yellow plumes with green tips. Their epaulettes are yellow with green worsted fringes.

After painting 2 x groups of these I can now add them to the group of Victrix Voltigeurs that I already have and some Line troops...and that is my French contingent ready to play!

I have 3 groups of Spanish Guerrillas on my painting desk right now.  I shall probably place an order shortly to the Perry's for Cacadores and the 95th and that should be enough to get me playing for a while. 

I am sure I once saw some 95th characters based on the Bernard Cornwell/TV Series'Sharp' characters - that would be good fun to play some scenarios with.  The opportunity to say various phrases from the TV series show during play would be irresistible too!  

So that's the plan anyway. Lets see how long I stick to it!  A few more photos below for the fun of it!

Until next time!

Sunday, 25 June 2023

28mm - Spartans - Wargames Foundry and Victrix Miniatures

Figures are being completed thick and fast at the moment.  The reason for this is that I had nearly finished some units and then got side-tracked on to new shiny things.  Finally they are all coming into fruition!   These Spartans were painted in May but basing has just been completed.

I decided to add some more troops to my Greek collection.  I started off doing Thebans, then Athenians and now on to Spartans.  I tend to just do whichever ones I fancy doing and add them to their respective boxes.  My Greek project is more of a Marathon than a Sprint...which I guess is appropriate! 

The Spartans can be a little more straightforward to paint than the Athenians in that most sources seem to indicate clothing and cloaks in red and simple shield designs.  This suits me.  The Victrix Spartans do wear linen armour so I put some different colours in to represent captures from Athenians etc.

Whilst painting up the Spartan infantry I decided to paint up some 'Brigade' leader stands too.  I really enjoy using Hail Caesar rules (much modified over the last decade), so leader stands are needed. I normally neglect leader stands so the policy of doing them at the same time as the troops seemed a good way to get them done painlessly.  

The leader stands used Wargames Foundry figures.  These are really nice and it was a pleasure to just have to just de-flash them and they were basically ready for painting. This is a nice contrast to the plastic figures which seem to take ages to build and prepare.

Having said that, I don't help myself.  The one issue that I had with the Victrix Spartans is that most of them are wearing footwear of various types.  One thing that seems to appear in sources was that the Spartans had a contempt for those who wore shoes/sandals etc.  So it did irk somewhat.  I wondered if a sharp scalpel would work to scrape the shoes off and make more into feet shapes.  It actually worked really well and I was able to do this quite quickly.  Basing also covers many sins too!

The Victrix figures are very nice. I find I do have to read the instructions carefully, and practice putting things together (usually cloaks etc). I had to bend the hair a little to get the heads to fit on necks, but I am sure that is from me doing something amiss.  The finished result was pleasing.

A few more pics below to finish off.

There are lots of outside distractions going on for me at the minute which might affect output, so I am not sure what to do next and indeed when I will finish the next unit.  It has got very warm here now.  The UK is not great in the summer heat.  The air is humid, people outside are noisy and paint dries too darned fast (might need to use a wet palette). .  I am also extra tired from work.  Air con is not really a UK thing but I think it will be the way it seems to be getting hotter year on year...maybe I should paint some more desert stuff! 

Sunday, 18 June 2023

28mm - Sudan Campaign - British Infantry - 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers


It's a new project and a whole change of period!  What madness is this!  Yes, of all the many projects that I have unfinished, I have decided to start a new one. This time it is the Sudan campaign, one of the many colonial campaigns in Queen Victoria's reign.  It is also another involving really interesting uniforms, fascinating characters, and enemies who are colourful and very dangerous and determined (and with amazing hair in the case of the Bija!)

I have been drawn into the Victorian period again, largely sparked by using my Martini Henry rifle in a competition based on the service rifle shooting of the day. This event required accurate shooting on true copies of the original targets, but it also had a time element and the requirement to shoot from different positions.   This shoot was fascinating and the results showed for me what an excellent rifle the Martini Henry was as a combat rifle of it's time (and my goodness doesn't that barrel get hot after 6 shots in a minute!).  

With this enthusiasm still burning I dropped everything else and started work on these wonderful Perry's miniatures from their plastic boxed set.  I also bought as many good source books as I could and started reading and learning more about a campaign that I previously knew little about.

One thing that struck me was the wide variety of uniforms and clothing (on both sides), and how it all evolved during the 15 or so years of the war.  Even the Ansars changed their dress following the Mahdi's decrees, the 'Fuzzy Wuzzies' having to shave their hair off near the very start of the war, and the purposely patched 'uniform' becoming formalised.

It seems that this particular British uniform (as per the figures) was only really worn like this by the troops who arrived via India (actually on their way home to the UK from India until they were recalled and diverted!).  The 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers seems to be the only regiment that I have so far found that wore the equipment and uniform pretty exactly like this.  One battalion, The York and Lancaster Regiment, came via Aden but illustrations show them not wearing the pugree  and having the chin strap wrapped across the front of the pith helmet at a diagonal . They also seem to be shown wearing the blanket roll across the body.

So it might be that I can only really use the plastic boxed set for this one regiment in Sudan, if I'm really pedantic about it. I would love to hear of any other units who wore the unform exactly like this with Martini Henry Rifle.  In the meantime I will buy the lead troops from the Perry's who are modelled to match the York and Lancaster's and the many grey clad regiments.

I do realise that the plastic boxed set will be perfect for other colonial wars such as Afghanistan and NW frontier etc, so will see if my interest spreads out that way probably will!

Back to the figures themselves, the troops assembled really well and the poses are wonderful. I really really like these figures, and I enjoyed building them. This is not something that I say about all plastic figures. I really am not keen on putting loads of bits onto a figure and thankfully these do not require too much assembly. One has just enough choice to make it really interesting and add variety.

Painting involved using Army Painter washes of different hues and thickness to get the desired effects. I wanted lots of shadow and for shades to be a touch lighter than they would be in Europe. For instance, I made the blankets a little lighter to show the effect of the brighter sunlight. In Europe I would have used a slightly darker shade.  

I decided to go back and use black to line in and used a Pigma Micron 04 black ink pen to draw the lining in.  This proved effective I think, and seemed to be quicker and easier than using a brush.  I must remember to do this more often.

The basing required some thought.  I wanted to try to capture the right look.  One really useful acquisition has been the book 'Go Strong into the Desert' by Lt Col Mike Snook and sold by the Perrys.  This book is so well laid out and is perfect for the wargamer.  It also has many colour photos of the battlefield (so much unchanged it is amazing!). One thing of note was the contrast of sand and greyish rock.  

I had feared making the bases too 'sandy' and losing the figures in the sand as they might blur in.  With more confidence from the photos in Lt Col Snook's book, I used some thinned AP strong tone in patches and other shades before dry brushing with Vallejo Iraqi Sand and a top layer mixed with white. A few tufts, AP washed cat litter and static dead grass put on sparingly finished the effect.

I finished the figures last night and put them on the Barrage Miniatures desert mat. I must say that I am really pleased with the overall look.

To finish off I did my usual thing of printing a label and naming the unit. It just helps to tie them into history more for me and make that connection.

So what to do next?  I should do my box of Mahdists, but then last night I had a great game of Sassanid Persians vs Late Romans with Ian using 'Hail Caesar' rules and I want to fill in some army gaps...oh choices, choices!  😀