Thursday 29 April 2021

Anglo-Zulu War - umCijo Regiment - 28mm Perry Miniatures


I don't know what happened. One minute I'm there happily painting Greek Hoplites and the next I find myself reaching for the boxes of Perry's plastic Zulus that I bought last year.  I must have imagined that I heard the drums of an approaching Impi, or perhaps it was taking my Martini Henry rifle to the range last week for the first time for a couple of years, but either way I was inspired and before I knew it I had finished painting the whole box!

The figures really are very well designed.  Unlike a lot of plastic sets from some other manufacturers, it is possible to be imaginative and create a lot of different positions.  The arms and heads are separate from the warrior's bodies so allow a lot of creativity.

I thought I would try to use washes extensively with these figures, using the main colour as the base coat and applying a wash and a final highlight. This worked very well and sped the process nicely.  There was no escaping the need to add some detail and carefully highlight the skin to avoid the figures looking too plain though. 

I decided to go for a regiment that was in the thick of some of the major actions of the Zulu War.  The umCijo regiment were heavily involved so I opted for these. As an unmarried regiment, the warriors do not have the head ring.  

Some manufacturers show unmarried warriors wearing a whole plethora of exotic head-dresses.  This does not appear to be borne out by historical records.  King Cetshwayo ordered his troops to muster without ceremonial accoutrements prior to the first engagements with the British.

I have chosen to have each stand of 8 figures represent an amaviyo, of company strength.  There is one leader of each amaviyo who has slightly more exotic head-dress to show his status.

I have to say that it was great fun to try to make each figure into a real character.

One time consuming part was having to paint on all of the white strapping on the shields which holds the leather hide to the central spar.  There was no getting around this. I have tried dry brushing but the raised surface texture always catches half of the paint and extensive touching up is then necessary.  It was better to pick my time, put on some good mellow music and just hand paint each line as carefully as possible.

A nice touch was the figure falling backwards from being shot. This is a great figure that the Perry's give instructions for on how to assemble.

A sepia photo below - straight from 'The Graphic' newspaper of the time (!)

The Zulu's had quite a lot of firepower and the Perry's give a good number of muskets and spare arms to make more shooting troops than I chose to do from this box.

Also really useful are the casualty figures which make superb markers.  I avoided putting blood etc on, it's clear enough what the figure represents and our imagination can fill in the rest.

I have the Rorkes Drift set currently on my table being finished off and I will hopefully do a post on this soon.  I'm hoping the enthusiasm stays with me to do a number of boxes of Zulu's as I do need rather a lot of them.  I shall take my Martini Henry out on the range this weekend and see if it helps to keep me focussed on this fascinating period of history.

Tuesday 20 April 2021

Peloponnesian War - Spartan Command - 28mm Wargames Foundry

This was a delight to paint up. This vignette is from the Wargames Foundry Spartan Officers set, with one figure from one of their command sets.  

I have never painted up an animal sacrifice scene before so this was something new for me!   According to the Osprey books that I used as reference material, the Spartans placed great importance on the pre-battle sacrifice.  One of the Osprey books has a wonderful illustration of such a scene going on  with a  storm of arrows landing around them!  

Given the importance of the scene, I decided that this had to be Senior Command stand and they had to be fully engaged in watching the outcome - no matter what else is happening on the battlefield!

The drably dressed Helot slave boy provided a nice contrast to the powerful figures in the scene.

The  relative simplicity of the Spartan clothing and equipment meant that I could invest a little extra time in texture, highlighting and lowlighting.

The officer above is clearly a little more concerned about something and with sword drawn and shield ready, he is prepared to defend the ceremony attendees - perhaps he has seen the Athenian light troops drawing nearer and preparing their bows and slings.

I used the Victrix dory/dorata instead of the Foundry supplied wire spears.  The two were a world apart in detail and for a vignette like this I really wanted the best for the figures.

A few more photos of the whole composition are below.  I often see command stands as a necessary evil.  I always like to use commanders in games with command and communication taking central importance.  However, I'm always short of troops and I normally find that I would rather be painting lots of troops instead of a few commanders (who need extra time investment in details).  

These Spartan's were a lot of fun to paint and to experiment with the composition and I didn't regret the time spent on these one bit.

Stay tuned for the next instalment!  I'm working on several things at once and I've no idea which to post up next!


Tuesday 6 April 2021

Peloponnesian War - Athenian Hoplites - 28mm Victrix


I have been busy painting Ancients since my last post. This time it is the turn of Phalanx's and Hoplites!  As usual I jump around with different time periods like a time traveller, paint brush in hand.

I have had small collection of Thebans, Spartans and Athenians in various states of incompleteness for several years.  I thought it was about time I emptied those boxes with figures still on sprues.  

The Athenians are especially colourful, the men being responsible for equipping themselves and bearing the cost.  With this freedom, the wealthier citizens no doubt took the opportunity to make themselves stand out from their fellows.

Just recently I became aware of how much unpainted lead and plastic I had stored away awaiting their time for painting.  I realised that I spend too much time painting and not enough time completing units.  I decided to try to speed things up with the Army Painter washes and just experiment..  I have used the 3 shade 'triad' method for a number of years over a black undercoat.  This time I opted instead to go for a white undercoat and do things differently.

I painted a fairly light shade of all of the basic colours and then applied the Army Painter washes over the top, taking care not to overpower colours that really needed lighter washes, or even dark washes of their own colour (such as the blues).  This proved very successful, and helped things to speed along.  What I found happened was that this method gave me a little more time to focus on colour choices and patterns on the linen armour and take some care with details.

I was unsure about the Foundry bronze colours that I used as they look quite light, and I wondered if the bronze should be of a deeper reddish hue.   It is possible that it was, but I read that great care and pride was taken in polishing armour to get it to shine.  With slaves on hand to clean and polish and short campaigns, I would have thought that a clean bright finish would be quite realistic.

 A wash with Army Painter 'Flesh Wash' over skin and bronze armour at the same time provided a nice reddish brown lowlight prior to highlighting.

Shield designs (thank goodness for decals!) are by Little Big Man Studios.  Mine were the best part of 10 years old and appeared to have adhered to the plastic sheet.  I found I had to pull the entire sheet off and then cut around the sticky transparent design.  Trying to peel off the cut out design simply was not going to happen.  I suffered sevearal losses with the decals.  I shall know now to try to use decals soon after purchase (ie. not leave it a decade!).

The troops have lots of character about them and a certain presence.  I really enjoyed painting them, though was glad to finish the box!  I split them into 3 groups to paint completely or it would have seemed hard work to do them all in one go.

The only criticism that I do have is the number of bareheaded figures.  They look nice for sure, but when some of the men are in full fighting order, it can look a little odd for other men to be taking their ease with their helmets off.  There is sadly no choice to use armoured heads instead.  You get what is in the box and the choice isn't there.  A bit of a contrast to the multitude of options usually found in a box of Perry Miniature figures.

The troops do have a look of momentum about them.

A few more photos to finish off.  I took quite a number of photos as I'm also doing a short photography course and wanted to try some settings on these figures and use these as examples of work on the course (combining my hobby with coursework!). 

The first photo on the blog of the Hoplite with Medusa shield and the photo below have both had some processing work to get rid of static grass left inadvertently on figures and also improving light and contrast of the image.

More Ancients to follow!