Thursday 23 November 2017

Anglo-Zulu War British - 24th Foot

So, it happened again!  The change to a new historical period, messing up plans of completing other armies, and yet an exciting and interesting change that enlivens the hobby and keeps it ever interesting. 

I blame the new period on getting to fire my Martini-Henry rifle at the range for the first time last month.  I have owned it for about 3 years but never got around to getting the ammo or the kit to make the rounds up. When I finally had made some ammo, off to the range I went...and I don't think the smile left my face for a week!

So enthused in spirit I purchased a copy of the Warlord Games 'Zulu!' book for their Black Powder rules.  I have to say how impressive these are too.  Each scenario seems to have a completely different approach to the game, from using small sections for Rorke's Drift to companies for Isandlwana and to battalion units for the final large battles.  I really like the thinking behind it and it got my imagination racing even more.

I placed an order for Perry's Anglo-Zulu War British Infantry and I have to admit to stopping another project on my work bench to throw myself into making and painting these.  I even took the figures with me to construct and start to paint when I had to spend a week working away from home.

I have started with a 16 man unit instead of my usual 24 - the idea being that I can now downscale the number of Zulu's I need by 1/3rd on this ratio.  There are already going to be plenty of Zulu's but I do want some room on the board for figures to move! 

As usual with plastic figures from the Perry's, the troops were a joy to construct with not too many parts and nothing especially weak.  A couple of bayonets did get clobbered by my clumsiness during construction, but nothing broke or bent.  There are 38 figures in the box including casualties which gives a great mix.  I'll make and paint the standard bearers at a later date. They are in the box too along with the Colours for four regiments on the printed sheet supplied.

The commander of this unit (for it will be a company or battalion depending on scenario) is not of the Stanley Baker/Michael Caine clean shaven appearance but has the full 'eating a bear' beard popular of the time.

As a small digression I should mention that these are the first 'proper' colonial period figures that I have...which amazes me! The history of this period is just so incredibly interesting and the redoubtable British Soldier was active all over the place with his trusty Martini-Henry.  I do have Esci 1/72 Zulu War plastic figures in the attic but it has been a long long time since they were painted and saw daylight.

I used the Foundry Triad colours particularly useful using British Napoleonic colours mostly and the French Dragoon greens for the cuffs and collars.


I really wasn't sure how to base the troops and gave this a lot of thought.  The casualties were always going to be based on Warbases casualty stands which give space for a small dice to be placed to show 'excess' casualties, as well as a numeric dial.

To give the greatest flexibility I decided to use circular single figure stands, again from Warbases, but in addition I purchased 4 man skirmish type movement bases and 5 man close order bases. 

I chose the bases which could be fitted with their 'rare earth' magnets.  These little magnets are great fun on their own! Prising them off each other was a great challenge and trying to drive two opposing tiny little magnets together was a real test on something so small!  Amusingly when setting these photos up I discovered that one magnet was the wrong way up.  The figure was ejected from the movement tray to my bafflement until I realised what I had done!

I had never used the magnets before and wondered if they were sufficient to hold the figures safely in their movement bases. I can safely say that the figures are well held. As a test I held the base upside down and shook it and there was no movement whatsoever from the figures.

It took me 6 weeks to get these chaps painted up. This involves research and doing lots of other things at weekends and I am now ready to paint something else!  In my early enthusiasm I ordered a huge battle set of Rorke's Drift from 4Ground with many boxes of Warlord Games Zulus. I decided that I would keep this box as my gift to myself at Christmas so I have yet to open it!  I am sure I will be ready to paint more British Infantry then...and Zulus........... 'Tharsands of 'em!' 

Friday 10 November 2017

Early Imperial Roman Legionaries

More Romans!  These are more 28mm Romans from Wargames Foundry which I purchased 2nd hand many years ago. They needed a serious re-paint and and they have patiently waited their turn as I have got round to them (they have seen many new figures queue jump of course as new goodies were bought at shows!).  I have always found it more satisfying to paint new shiny silver figures than repaint painted/semi painted 2nd hand figures.

The Early Imperial Romans which appear in earlier blog posts (of several years ago) were painted when I believed that each cohort would dressed in tunics of different colour for each cohort.  I decided then (without evidence) that for command and control purposes it would make sense for a commander to be able to see who each of his cohorts was by the easy method of colour identification.

This theory makes some sense but given the number of cohorts in a Legion, and the sheer logistic monstrosity that a large military formation is, it just makes little sense for commanders to be burdened by ensuring they had massive amounts of 9 or 10 different colours of tunic stocked (ok they could have kept different colours of dyes in store but why would they if they could avoid it).  You would then have issues of men transferring between cohorts, promotions, demotions and men just being transferred because they were just hated by their fellows (seen that before in the regulars!), and the whole tunic swapping thing starts to become a nonsense.

My understanding from books so far is that evidence in painted sources and finds at Vindolanda and elsewhere seem to favour white or red as the tunic colours in this period.  Between the two colours I made the choice of red.  The reasons for this are:  Red is known as a historic martial colour, going back to the Spartans and beyond.  Red hides blood nicely (the old Royal Navy ship interior method).  There is another reason for me which one rarely reads about and that is rust.  I can only imagine that the poor Legionary sweating on his long forced marches with heavy load and wearing armour in the pouring rain of Britain, would have been covered in rust in a very short space of time from the rust blooming on the inside of his armour.  Red would hide this much better than white which would surely have been ruinously stained in a few days of such treatment.  White would have made a nice parade uniform, especially in Rome, where cleaning would surely have been easier.  Red also just shouts out 'Imperial Roman Legion!' from our conditioning from movies and illustrations so the subconscious is already making the connection.

So red it is!  However, I still want my units to look different from one another and be identifiable.  I decided that shield colours (and helmet crests) would be a uniform colour for each cohort. Given the amount of work which went into the painting of surviving Roman shields, I think it reasonable that a lot of effort could have been made back in the day to make these unique.  I have no evidence of this, merely a feeling that this is reasonable and also a desire to make each cohort unique.

So - I will repaint my other Roman Legionary Cohorts in due course - hopefully within the next couple of decades!  Priority will be given to new units until I get at least a legion on the board, then I think I will go back and carry out the re-painting.

Painting Romans is always such a rewarding part of the hobby.  Little says 'Power' like the sight of an armoured cohort on the march!

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Imperial Roman Auxiliaries

Just when I start making progress with one period of history and decide that I must work on commanders and only commanders...I find another project really interesting!

Here we have Imperial Roman Auxiliaries from the Wargames Foundry range.  These were sculpted by the Perry's probably over 20 years ago now and I think they are still some of the best available.

I bought these second hand many years ago but never quite got around to giving them a complete re-paint and re-base.  Well finally I have.  Because I have a unit already with green shields I decided to make these grey. Actually I put the grey on as a base as I was going to make the shields white and then keep the edging around the laurel leaf decals.  I thought I had run out of the decals so was determined to be really careful.  In the end I really liked the grey so kept that and kept a tickle of the original green around the yellow decal to accentuate it.  Amusingly I also found a big bag of the decals just after I finished painting the unit!

The dull basing bit and an explanation about 'the gap'

I traditionally based my figures singly for Warhammer Ancient Battles and for this I liked 24 man units in 2 ranks of 12 .  The problem I now have is that I like deeper units for Romans- they weren't the thin red line after all - so 3 ranks gives a good solid look to them without them being as deep as a warband (usually 4 ranks deep).  Suddenly this leaves me 3 men short for 3 complete ranks.  I could get round this by basing them in 4's and 8's instead of 3's and 6's.  But a stand 4 men wide tends to look too wide for march columns for my liking. 3 wide looks just right (as above) I think I will be buying an extra 3 men for each of my cohorts to fill that gap which just irks me!

On the close ups the green edging can be seen around the yellow decals just giving an interesting accentuation of the detail. It seems to work for me.

I have decided that if I can get away with having eyes hidden by shadow then I'll do that. Life is too short and I have too many other projects that I want to do. I started a whole new period of history last month...The Zulu War...more to follow!