Friday 12 January 2024

28mm - Napoleonic British - 14th Light Dragoons


It's been a good while since I painted a cavalry unit. In fact its been a good while since I painted a Napoleonic Cavalry unit, in would probably have been about 1987 and that would have been 20mm Airfix or Esci. 

I can now see why it's been a while.  Painting these was a labour of love that has taken about 4 weeks including 2 weeks where I did nothing but paint every day.

Was it worth it?  At times I wondered if the Sistine Chapel might have been an easier painting task.  The sheer amount of detail to go on Napoleonic cavalry is never ending.  Yet, there was a joy in seeing that detail come together and create something greater than the sum of it's parts (to use a slight cliche).  Once finished there is something magnificent about Napoleonic cavalry that little else compares with.

These figures are painted as the 14th Light Dragoons.  A regiment that saw action throughout the Peninsular War.  They retained their beloved Tarleton helmets throughout the campaign and still wore it even when the new French style uniform was being introduced for British light dragoons.

I was particularly taken with the orange facings, which also meant that the Trumpeter was going to wear an orange coat in the reverse colours.  Orange frequently has difficulty in being quite a thin paint, so a certain delicacy and accuracy had to be used with it. A black line on it would take several touch ups of orange to hide it.

The figures are from the magnificent Perry Miniatures plastic range.  The British Light Dragoons boxed set give 14 figures with horses and options to use the '1815' French style uniform with Shako or the earlier Peninsular Hussar style uniform with Tarleton helmet, as well as mixing to make transitional uniforms.  This flexibility of options is really good. One box gives a lot of choice.

I moved away from using Micron Pigment pens for the lining in. I had used this recently but found there were just to many inaccessible parts that a brush could get to and a pen couldn't.  In addition to this, I found I had to keep going over bits with the pen and this removed paint from the figure...not good!

The brush just flowed nicely and I could thin the paint as necessary too to aid the lining in flow.  This was an interesting experiment to try the pens but the old methods of the brush and thinned black came out as supreme.

You might notice one omission after all the effort put in to get the detail right.  Yes, I have not put the regimental numbers on the saddle roll or water canteens.  I nearly did but I find that unreadable hieroglyphs done in a scrappy way undo the detailed work done on the rest of the figure.  

Napoleonics seems to be getting a renewed popularity.  There seems to be more rules, blog posts and You Tube videos relating to the period (and some darned awful movie!), and I think that someone will bring out canteen, back pack and saddle roll regimental numbers as decals/transfers.  I have seen them years ago but they seem unobtainable now.  

I think this absence will be picked up on soon and a manufacturer will fill the void (or at least I hope so!).

So is there anything about the figures that I don't like?  Not much. I had to do a little bit of filling with plastic putty on the joins of the saddle rolls.  I think the only thing I would change would be for the Paget carbines to be slung from the carbine belt rather than being stowed on the horse. I just can't imagine that in action the carbine would be stowed and with the lock cover left on.  I also like to see the carbine...I own an original and look forward to trying it out sometime soon.

So what's next.  Well I don't know. I actually have sore elbows which I think was caused by too much painting and supporting my elbows on the arms of my painting chair. A short break would therefore probably be sensible!  I noticed that I have actually removed the plastic stippled texture on the chair arms and they have become smooth and polished by this very motion (rather like the wooden tools of the old timer's where the handles reshape to their hands)!

I do have more cavalry to paint - Chasseurs a Cheval and this is tempting. I also did the crazy thing of buying a boxed set of the Warlord Games epic scale Prussians with an eye to playing Placenoit with General d'Armee rules.  This Christmas madness was compounded by me also buying myself as a present the Warlord Games, La Haye Sainte set in 28mm!  Same period in different scales...crazy!

Something simple to paint - Ewoks for Star Wars  or something similar is also awfully tempting! Dry brush, big teeth and eyes - job done, no dolman's, Tarleton's or Shabraques! We will see!


  1. Brilliant Light Dragoons Jason!

    1. Thanks Cyrus, I'm glad you like them :-)

  2. Beautiful work Jason. Well worth the effort.

  3. These are stunning Jason - did the 14th take part in the War of 1812 - I have a feeling I painted the same figures as that regiment but with the shako.
    (I went and checked - I did - here !

    Coincidentally, I have also just this evening ordered another box of these from a local retailor, so I should have them in my hot little hands early next week - this time, I plan to paint the earlier Peninsula uniform, as that is where most of my British Napoleonic collection resides - I do not think I will risk doing the 14th, though - my paint work would not stand up to comparison with yours!

    1. Hi Keith, Yes the 14th Light Dragoons did go to the US after they finished in the Peninsular. I'm sure you will enjoy making your Perry's in the Peninsular uniform too - though I must say I did take a look at your blog and your troops in the later uniform look absolutely splendid!

  4. Excellent unit Jason, you have done a much better job on your dragoons than I have with my Bavarian hussars (pics should be up in a week). I like the orange facings too.

    1. Thanks Chris, I'm looking forward to seeing your Bavarian Hussars when they are done, but I can understand you delaying while you have such intense excessive heat there at the moment. Painting in that sort of heat is just not enjoyable!
      Best wishes,

  5. Utterly gorgeous light horsemen!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks Iain, Got more cavalry on the go at the moment! It's hard work! Best wishes, Jason