Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blast from the past - my foray into 40mm Napoleonics

Back to Napoleonic subjects - a brief foray into 40mm.  Going through old stuff I came across a series of shots I took for a job I did for my old Kriegspieler magazine partner in crime Doug.  One of Doug's many enthusiasms was one for 40mm figures, inspired by the beautiful Perry's range.  Ostensibly for skirmish-type games for the Peninsular campaign, Doug lent me some of his great Spanish buildings so I could record the finished job with the right 'atmospherics'.  The units are the 63rd & 28th Ligne in campaign and dress uniform respectively.

Colour party and grenadier coy of the 63rd Ligne (apologies for the 'orrible flash)

Most of the French I made up and painted were Sash & Sabre - very nice figures from the US and a bit more affordable compared to Perrys.  For the French I did up two battalions and a regimental colour guard.  For the Brits (mainly Perry figures) I did a battalion of the Buffs.  Note the Colour Party are S&S figures.

To finish off the project I did French 3rd Hussars - again mostly Perrys and some of the most beautiful figures I have ever seen.  The officer is simply magnificent.  Unfortunately my photography wasn't and I did not do a very good job of recording them before they were passed over to Doug and sold on - more's the pity.

3rd Hussars - elite coy & 3rd Hussars - charge! Officer figure is Perrys, the others are S&S

3rd Hussars, command

Well that's it for the 40mm - they've been sold on to a collector in the UK I believe.  They are great figures and with attractive scaled up scenery, make for good skirmish games - just the economies of that scale that defeated us - couldn't afford both these AND the 28mm collection!

Anyway, hope viewers of this blog enjoyed my little trip down memory lane - just while I struggle to finish the Victrix Italians off.

A Happy New Year to all.


New Mast

Regular visitors may notice some changes to the blog title & mast.  This is due to my deep envy of really, really good one's like Robert's 'Serrez les Rangs' etc, and a telling comment from my youngest who thought the title of quote, 'my nerd site' unquote to be, quote again 'too much - you should just call it 'Doc's!'

The nerd jibe aside ( I can hardly argue with that), I agreed with the observant little ... chap.

So I've changed it yet again to something more esthetically pleasing and making better use of some of my own artwork 'Grognard' - which my son suggested I keep in the title, although he didn't approve of the pipe-smoking (and neither do I, as bad for your health as a Russian musket ball as it too will make your eyes water, give you bad breath and a nasty cough).

Thank you all for putting up with my constant faffing about with the blog and, as always your comments are most welcome.


PS: Here's a nice pic of some GW Renaissance mercs - 'Dogs of War' - to make up for my faffin' about.

Arrrg - if he changes the @#$%&y blog once more we will keeel him!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My other collecting passion - TYW Poles

After posting my TYW guns & emplacements I was hunting through some old shots of that collection and found what used to be the pride of the lot - my Polish Winged Hussars.  While they don't quite look as good now as when I first did them, the old pics do come up a treat and there was a sequence which I posted on an earlier attempt at a blog on Polish Winged Hussar tactics (

The Poles formed one of the dominant military forces in Eastern Europe from the late Renaissance and still had an effect up until the Seven Years War - a period close to two hundred years.  The Poles came up against every type of army - both Eastern and European - during this period and borrowed heavily from both.  The most spectacular and successful of Polish arms developed during this time were the cavalry, in particular the famous Winged Hussars who in 1683 rode with Jan Sobieski to defeat the Turks at the Gates of Vienna.   Because of the large variety of exotic types - mounted and foot -  the Polish army during these years is a fascinating and challenging one to build.

 Basically they dominated the Eastern European battlefield and at the height of their prowess they were regularly charging and breaking the usually cavalry-proof pike and shot formations.  The trick was not only their superb horsemanship but the 18 foot long lances they carried which, from the advantage of horseback outreached the longest pike then in use.

When attacking they used a checkerboard formation so that they arrived in over-lapping waves against the target - making it extremely difficult for the shot with their slow rate of fire to reserve that fire for just the right moment.  Historically, it appears they were rarely able to do so against the Polish hussars.

The first ranks were armed with the sarissa-like lances up to 5 & 1/2 meters long - but made out of hollowed ash which made them very light to handle (ending with a 10" wickedly sharp metal spear point) and incredibly expensive, being all hand crafted.   The second ranks were sometimes pistol or carbine armed and would trot in behind the lancers and discharge their weapons at point blank range before wheeling about caracole fashion.  If the first rank failed to penetrate the pike block they returned to the rear rank where their retainers carried spare lances for them.  After the musket-armed ranks had 'softened' the target for them they would charge in with the lance again.  Note all this required expert timing and the cavalry version of the passage of lines to enable each rank to attack the target. More often it was just the lance that was used - up to three times - with the final 30 meters or so delivered at a canter.

The second rank discharge muskets and pistols at close range - the pike formation becomes increasingly disordered.

If required (and not that often) the second lance charge would be made - the impact would drive large gaps in the formation into which the hussars would press.  They dropped their lances and/or discharged pistols and took out the 1.5 meter (4 foot) two handed straight blade known as the Palasch with which all hussars were armed.  You can imagine the result! Very nasty for yer Swedish pikeman!

The first rank return and charge full-tilt with fresh lances into the by now disintegrating pike formation.

For a full description of these tactics and how they did it, the following link may help:

This is all translated from original Polish language documents, so I think a pretty accurate description of what happened.

My favourites of the hussar figures are the Games Workshop Kislev Lancers, which needed little conversion.  I'm told the originals are worth a fortune as they are scarce as hen's teeth to collect - although maybe less so since GW re-released them in 2008(?)  Whatever they're worth, they are great figures to collect and paint anyway.


I've since traded these long muskets for more lances - again some nice Foundry figures with a mace-armed hetman in command.

In addition to the cavalry, the Poles produced some ferocious looking infantry for the period - Haiduks.  The figures I have here are converted Foundry with some wicked Old Glory(?) choppers.  The Poles didn't use pike formations much until towards the later part of the period - perhaps witnessing what their hussars regularly did to pike was all they needed to know!  In any event their Haiduks (at first Hungarian mercs, later mainly Poles) had no fear of Western European cavalry.  Just the look on their faces is enough to frighten the horses!


There's plenty more Poles and TYW figures in the collection but perhaps that's enough for now.  As usual, please feel free to leave a comment.

Napoleonic affectionados will be pleased to hear my Victrix Italians (2nd bttn) with skirmishers and some casualty markers, is proceeding at pace.  I promise my next post will show the results of the 1st Regimente, 1st and 2nd battalione. Salute!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Merry Christmas posting!

I hope I have not disappointed the Napoleonic era fans who look at this blog but I had a think about what I'd post and decided that its waaaay too much hassle to create separate blogs - and maintain them - to cater for all the other aspects of my collection and hobby.  I have had some pages I did previously for the Thirty Years War (Wonchangers - Thirty Years War - the Poles  ) and Franco-Prussian War armies (Wonchangers - The Franco-Prussian War - the French ) but being my first attempts  they weren't very good and now appear to be corrupted so I've decided to post everything on this blog.  Hopefully it will eventually include my 20mm collection as well - if and when God/spouse, home and work allow!

To start things off I've posted some TYW stuff I just completed.  While I do not have the artistry of a Phil Olley (The Breitenfeld Blog), I figure some of my TYW stuff  may be worth showing.  So first up is some gambions I recently bought - those woven embrasures used to protect the guns - and have just mounted them up for a pair of my Culverins.  The figures are my usual mish-mash of Foundry - Old Glory - Perrys, with a Warhammer Empire artillery bits and bobs of  powder barrels, linstock, shot and locker. To finish I added a little wiff of smoke to the linstock with some cotton.

The embrasures on either side are some earlier attempts at earthen works made from plaster, toothpicks and matches mounted on heavy card. I made them for my 20mm figures but at a pinch they fit in OK with the bigger figures. 

This just gives a taste of some of the other stuff I enjoy about the hobby.  Eventually I will include links to historical articles I've published and artwork like the figure in the blog masthead - which I will now have to re-do after seeing Robert's superb blog masts on his!  ( 

Like I say in my blog-blurb - its the 'art' of it I enjoy as much as anything else, so I'll start to get it together and post a bit more of those aspects.  It will not distract (too much) from my other projects like painting up the Victrix - the second group of Italians are now nearly half done - and I am still champing at the bit (pun intended) to do the Perry's Cuirassiers!

In the midst of this all I will be doing the Master of Celebrations for Christmas at home with four great kids, my gorgeous and very patient wife, two fish (lazy beggars - they get nothing this year!) and the dog, Nachos (breath like a Turkish toilet but a very cute little guy nonetheless).

So to all who view my blog - a Merry Christmas to you and yours from Doc and his tribe.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Victrix French based and finished

 1st Bttn, 1st (Italian) Line
As predicted, the basing presented some challenges due to the size of the figures and the bases molded on as part of the figure.  In the end I cut the plastic bases back as far as possible, smoothing edges and rounding them off with the Dremel tool - fair amount of mucking about but it solved the problem of fitting them on my WRG basing system.  For this battalion I chose a command stand (60 x 20mm), a three-figure (45 x 20mm), a single (20 x 15mm) and two 2-figure stands (45 x 20mm) for the elite companies.  I used combination s of the hard plastic green bases that come with the Perry's French box as even with the adhesive magnetic sheet on the bottom, they were still about 3mm thinner than the standard MDF bases.  With these thinner bases, the 30mm+ Victrix don't tower as much over the 28mm Perry figures.

1st Bttn in column

Rear detail, bttn cmd.

Cmd & Grenadier Coy.

Detail: back of Grenadier Coy - note all the gear strapped to their packs.

Detail: Bttn in double column

Detail: Bttn in double column - Port Aigle and Bearer
Well that's it - one battalion down and another one to go! I'll have to decide if I turn the other two battalions into Italians or Legere and there are the kneeling skirmishing figures to do too (2 per bttn) Plenty of holiday painting to do before I even get to my Perry Cuirassiers.

But hat's off to Victrix - bloody nice figures.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Victrix French: final painting stage

Finally the painting is finished.  The flag for the 1st Line Regiment is courtesy of Alan Pendlebury's great Napflag site.  The pennant for the Port Aigle's polearm is my license - I've made it a good Italian green with 'Napoleone' - the Italian rendition of his name - in gold lettering.  A bit of additional dirt around the trouser legs and cuffs with weak fleshwash and all is finished bar the basing and varnishing.

And the rear view...

Next will be the basing - which will present a challenge given these figures are 30mm+ from toe to top of head i.e. huuuuge!  The standard WRG basing system that I've used till now will be challenged - particularly with the four figure command stand on a 60 x 20 mm base. You can fit four 28mm Perry figures on it no worries but the Victrix with their large molded plastic bases...   I dunno.  We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Victrix French: final stage of painting (before finishing and basing)

Finally finished the uniforms and everything save for a few bits and pieces like the drum.  Time to get the faces right, then last but not least, the flag and Port Aigle pennant.  Nearly there.  Strengthen a few of the washes to pick out the shako cords detail etc, before finally adding a bit of trail dirt to the trouser cuffs.

Apologies for the lousy photos - insufficient lighting.  Will fix this by photographing the finished figures outside in natural light tomorrow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Painting the Victrix - 2nd stage

The white uniforms virtually complete, the second stage is the facings, piping, any plumage and the equipment including various bags, sacks and bottles hanging off.  I've finished off the greatcoats by highlighting in my 'Horizon Bleu' over the black wash, which only leaves the white straps to be picked out - I usually save these till last.  The green facings on the drummer and the plumes on the voltigeurs are done in a dark apple green I made up originally for Russian artillery.  This is then 'highlighted' by Citadel 'Goblin Snot' green  - nice name and it gives an even nicer gradation of a bright colour without using a wash.  I use the standard approach of using a darker under-colour with the lighter shade over to give depth - the shako covers are 'Bubonic Brown' undercoat with a watery (i.e. less opaque) 'Bleached Bone' over it.  The only other thing is the black over the black undercoat on the shakos, boots etc.

2nd stage with coloured facings and base colours for the equipment done

On this occasion I've also done a metalic - although I usually leave them until all the other colours are done.  This is for the shako plates, sword handles etc, and its a base colour - called Tin Bitz it can be a dark/dull bronze and gives a nice lustre as the undercoat to an opaque gold finish which I will then highlight with Coat d'Arms 'Bright Gold'.

Rear detail - note the green piping on the turnbacks -aaargh! What a rotten job!

One thing I've noticed is that nice raised detail on the Victrix figures makes it easier (or rather it should make it easier) to paint.  Unless of course you are getting older and more doddery, obviously with eyesight failing. That's my excuse for being a clumsy bugger.  I'd knock 'em out at less than half an hour a figure I'd reckon if I didn't spend an hour on each just tidying up splotches and other 'accidental' painting along the way!

Nonetheless there is progress of sorts.  Some washes on the packs and equipment and touching the black up and some more white on the shako pom poms and the Port Aigle's plume.  Most of the literature I've got gives them red plumes and epaulettes but there was a great deal of  variation historically so I think a nice white one to match the uniform - I'll give him a nice bright green 'Napoleon' pennant on his pole-arm to finish. 

Hmmm... still a bit patchy, but starting to come together.  Do all the metals next and then the faces last of all.  Then repeat this formula for the next 12-figure battalion.  No worries!!!  Should be completely blind by then!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Painting the Victrix - 1st stage: the white uniforms

After a bit of faffing about and the usual end-of -year madness, I've managed to kick off the painting of the Victrix figures.

The last post was about setting them up with base-coating.  Now I've decided to do them as an Italian regiment, this post shows how I've started off.  Base colours first.

I actually started with the faces and hands using Dwarven Flesh (I use Coat d'Arms and Citadel paints mainly) I usually leave them until everything but the metalics have been done but because these are predominantly white I've done the lighter flesh bits first as I'm hoping there will be less touch-up required.  Then a nice Bubonic Brown sandy yellow colour for the covered shakos and a Wood Scaven tan brown for packs and gunstocks.  I use my own mix of Shadow Grey to which I have added dark blue to create a darker 'Horizon Grey' for the greatcoats on the backpacks and across the body of the 'Port Aigle' Colour Guard. I then add a weak black wash to this to accentuate the folds and tone which I will lighten up later on.

To do the white uniforms I have devised a system starting with Space Wolves Grey - which is a very light powdery blue - which I then apply a blue wash.  Again the wash is one I make up using a touch of black, Regal Blue and a few drops of Rotring blue-green ink (pure pigment, not much is needed) all watered down at 20:1 (or thereabouts).   This all runs into the folds and darkens up the figures into a nice deep tone light blue.   Then I apply the first coat of white - almost dry-brushing: taking care not to make it too watery or run into the creases and folds.   After this I apply a very watery black wash.  This creates fine lines for the equipment belts etc and blends the shades into the deeper folds.  The second coat of white is added after this, picking out the higher relief detail including cross belts, buttons etc, and the musket straps.  That completes the white until the final touch-up after the rest of the detail is done.  The first picture here shows the progression from figures right to left, of the four steps doing the white uniforms on one stick of figures from powder blue undercoat to (2nd) coat of white.  

And the same from the back, showing how the detail is picked out with careful application of the black wash

The same stick of figures all finished up to the 2nd (black) wash

It took about an hour & a half to do the white for all 12 figures for the 1st battalion

The next stage will involve the equipment and picking out the facing colours, which I will post in due course.