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!  😀