Sunday 17 December 2023

28mm - Napoleonic Portuguese - 9th Cazadores Battalion


The latest work from my painting table. This is the 9th Cazadore Battalion, one of the very fine Portuguese light infantry battalions raised during the Napoleonic Wars.

The figures are from the wonderful Perry Miniatures range.  I did wonder how best to base these; skirmish order, or in line or in threes, so I can send some out to skirmish?  In the end I opted to base the musket armed men in Line but for the rifle armed company, the Atiradores to be in skirmish order.

I'm not too fond of having too many figures on small bases. I find that muskets and bayonets get damaged too easily, especially when forming close order again.  If I really needed to deploy the main musket companies in skirmish order I can always space the stands out and declare them to be skirmishing.

I opted for the 9th Battalion. The main reasons for this being that they were in a lot of the actions of the Peninsular wars (as were the other Battalions), and also I just liked the combination of black cuffs and red collars lined with black.  It was fun to paint.

Despite fairly sombre brown uniforms made from local wool, there is enough detail and colour to make them interesting.  I like to add a few different trouser shades to reflect the hardships of campaigning.  The white summer uniform trousers being worn in some instances and browns and greys among the remainder.  

The brown lent itself well to lightening with dusty shades on knees and elbows, in a measured way. Enough to suggest these are men professionally happy to use cover and get down and dirty when they need to.

I think one of the most difficult things about them was deciding whether they are called Cacadores or Casadores!  Different books have different spellings.  I lean towards the latter as it appears that this is how it is pronounced. I think the 'c' in Cacadores misses the accent in English script, hence the confusion (but I know little of languages).

The poses on the Baker rifle armed Atiradores are very much to my liking.  To my mind these really suited being on Skirmish bases.

As I'll be using different rule sets, I wanted a commander on  a single stand just to be able to use for 'Sharp Practice' skirmish rules.  These characters come in very handy and indeed, in last night's game (the first we have played of 28mm Napoleonics despite many many years of dabbling in the period in this scale!), this particular battalion gained glory by taking key ground in the centre of the field.  The Sergeant controlled his men wonderfully!  It has to be said Sharp Practice is a great set of rules to play without the need to paint hundreds of figures. It actually made having fun with them attainable without a further 15 years of painting before I can begin to play with them!

So what's next?  I'm in that position of not having made my mind up. I'm currently gathering source materials to see what I feel like doing...I think it will still be Napoleonics though!

Thursday 9 November 2023

28mm - Napoleonic Portuguese - 9th Line Infantry Regiment


Well, this is a happy moment. The fruition of two months of work. Napoleonics are a real joy to see completed and they are an immense and enjoyable challenge for me, but they do take so much longer for me to paint than just about anything else from any other period.

These are the 28mm Portuguese Line Infantry from Warlord Games. Well I say that but in fact there are 6 interlopers to bring their numbers up.  Warlord put 24 figures in a box and I wanted to have a battalion 30 figures strong.  I wasn't sure whether to buy another box of Warlord or go elsewhere for the remaining 6 figures.  In the end I found that Perry Miniatures also produce Portuguese Infantry but in lead.  They fit in pretty well...See if you can spot them!

I must say that the Warlord figures didn't seem like the poorer cousin. They are really nice plastic figures, very cleanly moulded and nice distinct detail. This, unfortunately, was more than I could say for the other 6 figures which took a lot of blade work to get them devoid of flash and blobby detail.

I really do like the Portuguese infantry. Their uniforms have a distinct look with their own style of the British stovepipe cap (replacing the  Barratina, that very smart piece of headgear which some believe lead to the design of the British Belgic Cap (trying not to say 'shako' as I have been picked up for this by British Napoleonic re-enactors). It was always referred to as a cap in contemporary sources apparently).

The flags are by the wonderful GMB Flags. In this instance, they had the very flags that I was after. The 9th were in many of the Peninsular War battles and there is a very nice colour plate in the Osprey book on Portuguese uniforms (first book of the series).

Below we have the Grenadiers of the line battalion. Their identifying features are moustaches, Sabre Briquets and yellow and blue shoulder laced wings (at least in the 9th).  As I decided to expand my unit size I added two of the line figures (with moustaches - non-regulation for non- Grenadiers), I used Vallejo plastic putty to make the laced wings. Plumes seem to be the same colour for an entire battalion and did not follow the British model.

Some of my newly transferred Grenadiers didn't have sabre briquets, but I could live with that, I could imagine that supply shortages meant that uniformity was really a dream for almost any unit during that very hard war.  

As can be seen, I went for a mixture of trousers; winter, summer, locally produced and grey overalls.  I can only imagine how quickly these would wear out on campaign.  I still kept a general uniformity as I wanted my units to look nice.  A true campaign uniform figure might make an interesting large figure vignette, but for wargaming it would make it pretty unappealing in my eyes.  Uniforms of rags are not much fun to paint for whole armies.

I based the unit in close order on 50mm x 50mm bases. The exception being the command stand that had to be on a 60mm x 50mm as it was the only way that the flags were going to fit on there as well as 6 figures.  The drummer is slightly obscured alas, a shame as so much detail went into him and his drum!

My plan is to use these for just about all of my Napoleonic rules; Black Powder, Sharpe Practice and Valour and Fortitude when I get those play tested.  

As usual, I tried to give my unit a bit of personalisation with a decent unit label printed and glued beneath the magnetic sheet under the base.

So what's next? I have about 3 units on my desk from different periods that I'm de-flashing and undercoating. It could be any of them...I'm just awaiting the inspiration!

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!