Monday, 31 May 2010

Contemplating paint shades etc.

Having returned to painting more French infantry I decided to try to pin down the actual shade of the coat worn during the period. I see so many variations on the French coat colour, and there is no doubt that wear and tear and fading would have produced such variation in the original uniforms. But I wanted to find a reliable match for the colour as a guideline. Back in my re enacting days we used a company called 'The Sutlers Stores' to provide accurate ACW uniform items as the guy who ran it was most meticulous in his research, ordering cloths from the states that matched precisely the originals, he would accept nothing less. His Napoleonic uniforms are also incredibly accurate and based upon surviving museum items for the cut as well as original patterns and cloths. I thought some might enjoy browsing through the companies catalogue at the amazing quality uniforms they produce. I found a French coat c 1810 (below) and decided that my GW 'Midnight Blue' is the closest match I have for it. The whole site is a wonderful mix of uniforms and accessories that I'm sure any military enthusiast will love.

On the subject of colours I am also thinking of going back to Games Workshop paints as some of my old Foundry paints begin to run down. I've tried most makes and have come to the conclusion that I like the GW range the best. They cover very well and are quite thick, but I can thin them down and they still hold the shade well. I find with Foundry that I'm wasting money as I only tend to use the 'mid' colour of the three, plus maybe a little of the 'light' shade. I'd also say the Foundry paints are also not as thick as GW. I did at one stage seriously consider using the old enamels over white as in the brilliant 'Unfashionably Shiny' blog, but I just did not feel confident that I could match that high standard and style, much as I love it. I have also tried other makes of acrylics such as Coat d Arms but again I found they just did not cover quite as well as GW.

Next I need to research the shade of the legere uniform coats as I believe that it was a lighter blue than the line? I hope my Osprey books will give me the correct shade for the later period.

Pics show my paints plus the 8 figures currently being painted. You can see how I like to put a thin (and rather messy) wash of black over the unpainted areas of undercoat that will be painted white, as I find it gives more definition. I need to try this with a black ink as I'm sure it would work better.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

British Generals completed.

Here are the 3 Mtd Generals from the Perry set BH3. Tried different lighting this time and the pics are somewhat dark. I have enjoyed painting the officers as a distraction from line infantry.

Next small fortnightly order going in to Perry is:

BH5. British/KGL command advancing. (To complete the 12 figures already painted)
BH11. British foot artillery firing 9pounder.
FN17. French foot artillery firing 6pounder.
FN72 Light infantry battalion command. (For the Legere unit planned next).

As you can see I have another 8 French line white undercoated which will complete French unit number 3, before I begin the Legere unit. That will still leave me another full 16 figure plastic line unit from the last box to paint.

Total figures painted so far is 152. Once I reach the 200 mark I hope to get a test game set up using THESE rules that I have been getting to grips with.

After the above I'm deciding between a box of the Victrix Old guard OR some Perry metal British cavalry.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Completed French Generals.

Got some time off so decided to complete the 3 generals of Division this morning. Again the blue coats appear far lighter in the pics for some reason but that maybe the strong sunlight outdoors where I took the pictures or my very old camera! I wanted them to match the retro style of the rest of the collection so resisted the temptation to overwork them but I'm very happy with the results. If I'm honest I'm struggling more with the horses over white undercoat but they're not too bad but maybe not up the standard I could achieve over black, however I'll persevere with it.

I also finished basing the 12 KGL infantry this morning. Next week I will add the command stand to complete British infantry unit number 5.

The 3 British generals are undercoated, I'll probably make a start later today if I get time.

Next up: 8 French line to complete unit number 3 then a Legere unit.

I'm still a fair way off being able to have a test game but I'm getting a good feel for the Division/Corps level rules I intend to use by following the battles at Paul Leniston's site HERE.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

A hot days painting! French Generals.

Phew, its a scorcher today and my little painting corner in the back room has become a welcome sunny place to sit and escape the crowds who have arrived in the village to spend the day on the beach. My Perry order did indeed turn up yesterday and some were undercoated within an hour! I chose to start with the 3 French generals of Division, beautiful little castings. I dont know why the blue always appears lighter in the pics than it actually is but here's some shots of them at about midway. Also a shot of the KGL battalion just awaiting a command stand.

I'll do both the French and British generals packs first, then bang into loads more French line infantry. Next weeks order will be for some metal guns and crews.

Just started reading Napoleons Marshals, I've had this book for several years at least but never got round to reading it before, a very good read so far.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Perry v Victrix question?

I have been looking around to find examples of some of the Victrix Old Guard figure set painted up. You can't deny the superb quality of this set and for the 2 x 16 figure battalions that I will want (in march attack pose) for £20.00 these will be hard to beat I think. Found some superb examples HERE at 'saxondog's' blog, well worth a look!

Any comments regarding the match of Perry and Victrix? I did read that the Victrix were slightly larger but I could get away with that for the Guard. Any comments on this please? I just want to keep a consistent scale within my collection but those figures look SO damn good.

One comment I have re Victrix..... why do they produce a separate box set for flank companies? why not do as Perry do and include them in the set. This puts me off buying the Highlanders as I would need to buy 2 boxes to complete the units and be left with a pile of unusable figures which is a shame I think.

Still awaiting the arrival of my last Perry order, have completed the 12 figures of the first KGL battalion and will add the metal 4 figure command group from my next order.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

4 British battalions completed!

The first 4 British units are finished and I'm now working through 12 more figures towards unit number 5, a KGL battalion with blue facings. Will just need to add another metal command group to complete them. Took them outdoors for a few pics in the sun. Put some French cavalry in too.

Awaiting delivery of my next Perry order, another box of French infantry and the following command packs:

BH3 British Major generals & FN14, French generals of Division.

It feels good to have now passed the point that I got to in 15mm when I started this blog back in 2007! I'm far happier with these figures. I was going to order the Victrix british artillery set next but when I checked on the Perry site I found that a gun with 4 crew in metal is only £8.00 so there would be little difference in price for 3 guns and crews, plus I wanted to keep this project perry as far as possible so I think I'll now just stick with the Perry metal range in future.

BH3 and FN14 (below) from the perry website. Lovely castings.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Dymchurch 'Day of Syn' 2010.

Our village 'Day of Syn' is a held every other year over the August Bank Holiday. It celebrates the novel of Russell Thorndike who's central character is the Vicar of Dymchurch 'Dr. Syn', who is also a notorious smuggler known as the 'Scarecrow' and feared leader of the 'Marsh Men'. Set at the turn of the 18th century, the vicar lives a secret double life until the Kings men suddenly arrive in the village and his secret is discovered.

We celebrate this by holding what is probably one of the best FREE days out in Kent, featuring Napoleonic re-enactment on the sandy beach, as the Kings men battle against the local smugglers led by the Scarecrow himself! The Napoleonic Association members give an impressive display over the weekend and English heritage open up our village 'martello' defensive tower to the public. Part of an extensive Napoleonic line of defence, these towers sit right on the seafront and this is one of the best preserved and is well worth a visit. The revolving cannon can still be seen on the top of the tower and inside you get a real feel for what it must have been like for those soldiers who had to man the place day and night. Even the circular musket racks remain intact. What it lacks are displays of any kind so I am going to contact EH and suggest that I set up some sort of display or wargame in the tower over the weekend, this will give real impetus to my project over the coming months. I have long felt that much more could be done to bring the tower 'to life' and I intend to get fully involved in attempting to do just that this year.

Meantime heres a link for anybody interested in spending the weekend here in August. This area is rich in Napoleonic history, from the remains of the old school of musketry in Hythe, the Royal Military Canal and the Martello defensive system of towers and forts. The events are FREE (thats pretty rare in itself these days!) and there are plenty of B&B's and places to stay. The village itself is decorated to reflect the theme with many locals dressing the part. The battle is held on the bank Holiday Monday with infantry, artillery and mounted officers etc taking on the musket armed 'Marsh Men' as they attempt to escape with the contraband. We have 3 nice pubs in the village, morris dancers and other free displays, all in all a great family weekend.

Dymchurch online is full of useful information:

Back soon with more pics of the figures!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

British infantry progress.

Well, been working away at more British line as I want to complete the first 4 battalions as quick as possible. 3 are now complete and the 4th has just another 8 figures to finish them plus painting and sticking on the knapsacks etc which I do on the sprue for ease. I also painted the 4 extra 95th Rifles included in the box. Took a few pics of the assembly stage of the Perry plastics, they really do go together very well, the fiddly bit I suppose was the officers coat tails (you have a choice of long or short tails depending on campaign), but they all go together in minutes if you use the correct glue. The 8 figures just assembled will give me a total of 70 British painted so far so things are moving along nicely now.

I'm placing the next Perry order now: Another box of French line, a French generals pack and a British generals pack. I'm plodding through making fortnightly small orders so I don't get a mountain of figures sitting waiting to be painted!

Plan is now to complete the 4 French units of 16 figures, 3 line and one legere. They wont have those nice pre 1812 uniforms with fancy boots but at least they will still stand out from the line battalions. Once those are done and the mounted generals are painted (I'm looking forward to doing those) I will do either some British cavalry (metal) or foot artillery (Victrix) followed by the Victrix Old Guard box.

I wont add flags until I reach this phase 1 stage of a small balanced force for both sides. At that stage I'm thinking about investing in some TSS terrain blocks, hills etc.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Nostalgia part 2!

Well, the order from Perry has arrived and the next batch of British line are undercoated. To recap on the Brits so far I have 2 x 16 figure line battalions plus another 8 figures completed as well as the 4 x 95th rifles. The sergeant painted in the last post has also now been given a spontoon so just 7 figures are needed to complete battalion number 3. After that its another 4 of the 95th rifles then one more full British line battalion, all plastic. So I have just another 27 figures to paint which will give me 4 x 16 figure battalions plus 8 x 95th Rifles. I plan to add a metal command to the rifles later to make them up to 12 figures. After that its back to more French.


I was thinking back to when I used to be able to visit wargaming shops in the South London area where I lived. With everything so readily available online now days it seems odd to think that there were quite a number of wargaming businesses around back then! All are now gone which is a bit of a shame really I think. Thought I'd share my memories of a few with you.

John Tunstills ' Soldiers' was in Lambeth and I met him several times over a number of years. His shop was my first experience of seeing metal figures when on a school trip to the Imperial war museum the teacher took as across to the shop as he was also a wargamer and ran the after school wargaming club! I remember being astonished at what I saw there. He had a table in the centre of the shop and a game was in progress. In the display shelves were hundreds of painted figures, the full minifigs range on display. John himself was always polite and friendly even to a coach full of snotty school kids! This would have been around 1973 -ish!

A few years later I was introduced to a shop in Lewisham SE London that also carried the full range of Minifigs although I only went there a couple of times as I subsequently saw an ad in Military Modelling for the 'Rye Stamp and Hobby shop' in Peckam. By then I was working and driving so one saturday morning I set off to find the shop run by Bill Brewer. I recall getting lost but eventually managing to find a car park behind Peckham High Street, a bustling multi cultural place, very noisy and colourful. After much searching I came across the shop right at the top of the High Street... it was TINY. I hesitated before going in as I could see little sign of toy soldiers from the outside but knew it had to be the right place. Once inside it was very narrow but covered in display cases of some of the most beautifully painted figures I had seen. I'd say Bill was years ahead in his painting style and basing methods, they were staggeringly good. Over the years I made regular trips to Bill's shop and must have bought hundreds of figures there. My one issue was that he didnt stock Hinchliffe figures which I had come to like.

Another ad in military Modelling bought me to another tiny shop behind Charing Cross station in Villiers Street, London. I often would stop in there while waiting for my train home and always ended up spending some money. My biggest single purchase there was 45 ECW cavalry from Hinchliffe, a mountain of lead. (I later sold off my large early ECW collection to John Tunstill who offered me a very good price for them, far more than I had anticipated, although they later went up for resale in his shop at a staggering price).

A more local shop 'Eltham Models' began to stock the Hinchliffe range later and so I had a local source for my figures. Something about those neat blue boxes always got me excited and the castings seemed just incredible. I began to build my first 25mm Napoleonic collection.

Fast forward a few more years and yet another shop opened up in Dulwich, not too far from Bills shop in Peckham but a very different kind of area. This was 'Battle Honours' who sold, well the complete 15mm Battle Honours range as it was then. A lovely old Victorian double fronted shop with the windows full of painted units. That started my 15mm ACW collection. The shop sold only 15mm figures and lasted for a couple of years only sadly before closing down, I believe due to legal issues over the production of the figures which were cast and packed behind the shop.

Of course the explosion of the internet and online shopping later killed off the small high street hobby shop, and it was good to be able to choose from many manufacturers; but it was sad to see them go. John Tunstil of course moved into 54mm traditional toy soldiers and still sells them today from his home home in Italy. Today I'm told 'Hamleys' the huge toy shop in Oxford Street still has wargames figures on display in its store but I've not been there for many years.

With so many 'retro/vintage' dedicated blogs a round today I hope some followers will find the above of interest, I have to admit that it was something I always thought I would have liked to do as a means of making a living! if anyone can add to the list or visited any of the shops I mentioned please leave a comment and share your experience.

Back soon with more Brits! Meantime here's 'Bump' the cat refusing to budge from my painting chair!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Interlude! - paint method illustrated.

Here are some pics that I hope will illustrate my white undercoat/retro paint job! I had these 3 figures left so thought they would make good subjects; the pioneer and the sergeant will be added to the next British line battalion and the casualty may find its way onto a command base later.

You can see how well the thin washes work over that undercoat. I started with Foundry red shade ( 15A ) thinned down so it ran just where I wanted it and left no visible white. After that a quick touch of red middle shade ( 15B) to highlight. Then take GW brown ink and let it flow around the faces, necks hair and hands. Thin it slightly over the face. The again a quick touch of 'flesh/light' ( 5C) to highlight and done! I now use the same brown ink for muskets at this stage, this takes seconds per figure to do and gives a great wood effect. After that I thin pure black (34A) and wash over shakos, packs, boots, cartridge boxes etc, again then pick up some stronger thicker black and work those areas. The grey trousers were also washed lightly at that stage with thin black then highlighted with grey ( 33A) this colour also highlights the rolled blanket. Then its white, I thin it just very slightly so it flows well and quickly work over belts, straps, lace etc. I DONT line the white! I decided from the start not to do this as I prefer them this way, I think it can give an exaggerated look but that's just my opinion. The pioneers apron was washed with the brown ink then worked in with foundry leather brown ( 7b ) and highlighted by adding a touch of white. Finally I add metallics using foundry 'metal' (35B) and 'shiny ' (36C).

Finally I ALWAYS go back over and touch up where I need to. usually the paints on the palette are still good to use for this so I don't need to reopen pots etc. I do try to be economical with my paints and use toothpicks to put only what I need onto the palette.... I hate waste! I touched up the pioneer ( oh err missus!) around the beard and face to finish him.

You can see in the finished shot (top) that I had to give the sergeant a musket as I couldnt find his spontoon! In the heat of battle his spontoon has broken so he has picked up a musket :-)

What I enjoy is being able to keep the paints open so that any mistakes can be quickly corrected, but I'm not looking for perfection, just a good overall standard that will look good as part of a larger unit. I have always believed that good basing makes the biggest difference to this effect.

Back soon with more British line infantry. I have an order due soon and I'm now going to order my first box of victrix.... the French Guard Grenadiers. I hope to get just 2 x 16 figure battalions both in 'march attack' pose and I think this can be done. I'm also going to order the British Foot Artillery set from them.