More Soldiers of the Sun King

After a brief hiatus, I’ve been dipping into the Strelets Lace Wars figures once more by adding the Sun King’s army with another French Regiment. Introducing the Regiment de Poitou, which in the Blenheim campaign consisted of a small battalion in Prince Isenghein’s Brigade.

They wear the usual white-grey coat with blue cuffs, white gaiters and a tricorne with yellow trim. I think they make a nice contrast to their sister regiment, the de Montfort.

Regiment de Poitou
Regiment de Montfort

I’ve used the other loading and firing figures which came with Strelets French Fusiliers (Early War) box, using the same two figures to further emphasise the regimental distinction.

I’m pleased with my officer figure who carries a spontoon. This figures fully justifies the “Lace Wars” label with his exuberant wig, frilly white neckerchief, white fur trim on the tricorne and lacy sleeves. Unfortunately, I seem to have yet to paint his white gloves which remain a distinctly less-than-foppish-dandy shade of black. I’ll reach for the brush soon to put that right!

I’ve not fussed with the shade of grey-white worn by the regiment and I think they look better for it. At John of Just Needs Varnish suggestion, I’ve staggered the two ranks in the firing line, front firing rank to the left and rear loading rank to the right, so the bases still line up;


The loading pose:


The firing pose:

I know that Strelets are working hard on the production of more WSS boxes including the very recent release of French grenadiers and marching musketeers. Some British cavalry masters have already made an appearance on their website too. Distribution in these troubled times remains a problem however, so modellers and wargamers may have to be patient for a while yet.

Girl Soldier: Women of the Future!

I’ve recently been reviewing a website which covers the collectable postcards of French printer/publisher Albert Bergeret. Bergeret was a former soldier serving between the years of 1879 and 1884. Developing his knowledge in modern printing techniques, he launched his own series of popular postcards and established a thriving company in a career that lasted until he died in 1932. Early on, he covered contemporary subjects such as the disastrous Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition and the controversial Dreyfus Affair.

‘Zoavettes’: “In the distance the enemy advances, but we know how to stop it!

One of the series in particular caught my eye however, as it seemed to chime with my previous Girl Soldier series of posts on the imaginary depiction of women soldiers. As a former soldier, I wonder how much Bergeret himself was directly involved in this series.

A French NCO holds a ticket for lodgings. She wears a kepi, full pack and a dark, braided sleeveless jacket.

The series in question imagined what “women of the future” would look like in a series titled Les Femmes de l’avenir.

#9. 2nd lieutenant

Presumably, this series was intended to be quaintly amusing, in the same manner that Ellam’s Girl Soldier series of postcards were. Today, some of these ‘future women’s roles’ now sound amusing only by dint of their being so commonplace to modern ears – females as a doctor, a lawyer, an artist, a student, a mayor?! Oh là là!

A female doctor? Sacré bleu!

As predictors of future fashion they are amusingly inaccurate, and yet as prophets of social change are curiously prescient at the same time. The series of trade cards envisaged military roles for women to include:

  • A Zouave
  • An NCO
  • A general
  • A marine
  • A drummer
  • A ‘garde champêtre’ (a sort of French local police)
  • A master of arms

Unlike the original Girl Soldier series of illustrations which I posted on, the ladies’ dress owe little to real military uniforms and seem to borrow much from pantomime and fancy dress. The shapely costumes and bare arms may have been an early 20th Century appeal to the erotic (‘the right to bare arms’, perhaps?!). That said, if we are to accept literally that these are ‘women of the future’ then, I suppose a degree of fantasy and creative license can be granted on that basis. Bergeret clearly imagined that sleeves would become very unpopular and that swords and bicorne hats would be back in vogue…

A Marine

Bergeret also produced a separate two-card only series also on the topic of female soldiers, called “Zouavettes”:

Salut! These Zouvettes here make reference here to the visit of Edward 7th to France in 1903, a popular Francophile whose efforts led in part to the Entente Cordiale.

As with the Girl Soldier series of postcards, however patronising these images might have been intended to have been received by the public, there must have also been a degree of unintentional empowerment and liberation inherent in the sight of women fulfilling these roles. And after all, many roles such as these for women really were the future!

Another Marrion’s Man?

My “Marrion’s Men” series features 54mm yeomanry figures whose sculpting appears to be based closely on illustrations by the great military artist R.J. Marrion. All of these illustrations are featured on the covers of a series of books called “The Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1794-1914”, all of which were published between 1980 and 1992.

It now seems I may have discovered another 54mm yeomanry figure seemingly inspired by Bob Marrion’s illustrations from this series. This figure could be said to have been hiding in plain sight, being still freely available for sale from Tradition of London! The figure is of a yeoman from the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry.

Officer, Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry by Tradition of London.

Number 6 book in the series is on the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry by L. Barlow and R.J. Smith. Bob Marrion’s illustration of this officer appears on the back cover, alongside a sergeant and a mounted kettledrummer.

The authors state simply that it depicts “an officer in Field Dress in 1900”. The illustration itself is based on a photograph appearing inside on Page 14 showing a Major J. Rutherford wearing the same uniform while mounted.

“Fig. 14. Major J. Rutherford in Mounted Field Dress at Hightown Camp, 1900. He wears the new felt hat and the original pagri is just visible. The 1896 serge frock is worn with Undress white belt and slings and the pantaloons have gold stripes; knee boots. The sabretache with gold ornament, introduced about 1895, can also be seen.”

The pose on Tradition’s 54mm figure is not identical but is very similar and the uniform appears to be the same in all details. There’s no sabretache and sword (not to say any cigarette in hand either), also the stone distance marker on which the officer nonchalantly places his foot has been replaced by Tradition by a wooden box.

Despite all that, I think the clear and unmistakable similarities mean that for me it still qualifies as a newly identified “Marrion’s Man”.

Order placed with Tradition of London! 🙂

Mounted (and Unmounted) Infantry

This is just a short update being as this is the very last day – indeed the very last hours – of the ‘paint what you already own’ challenge by Ann’s Immaterium blog. I’ve not completed them to deadline, but considering they were started after I’d first finished Napoleon’s Old Guard mid-month, I’ve made good progress.

Detail on these HaT figures is a little vague here and there, but I’ve done my best to pick out as much as I can. Never HaT’s strongest point, the horses sculpting are acceptable rather than great, but they’ll do.

The Imperial Mounted Infantry would have looked a little rough and ready. In a muted painting style, I’ve tried to hint at this dusty and threadbare chic and also aim to add a little dust on to their boots when basing.

A private of the 90th Foot in the uniform of the Imperial Mounted Infantry.

Retaining his regimental tunic, he wears corduroy riding breeches, a leather bandolier instead of a belt, riding boots with spurs and carries a Swinburne-Henry carbine.


In my squadron, I’ve included representatives from some of the different regiments which supplied 1st squadron, Imperial Mounted Infantry with troops: mostly the 24th Foot (green facings) and the 80th, (red with yellow collar tabs), but also a few from the 3rd Foot (buff), and the 13th Light Infantry (dark blue).

The mounted poses look perfect for vedettes and scouts, a key role of the MI. Virtually all of their fighting would have been done on foot as infantry, so it’s good there’s some nice dismounted poses too.

This rediscovered old box of figures seems to be missing five horses and until I find replacements, some will have to remain ‘unmounted mounted infantry’:

“Which way to the remount depot…?’

So, they’re not based yet and I may even stall that process until I find some extra horses for them but I’ve glued some on to spare off-cuts of plastic card ready for when I do! At least, after nearly a decade, these accidental equestrians have finally been painted!

Hopefully, an improvement from my first attempt?

Foot Soldiers on Horseback

Sorting through my piles of unpainted plastic men in the loft, I came across a box of figures which I’d forgotten about completely. These were amongst the very earliest figures I’d bought when I first decided to attempt painting 1:72 scale plastic figures back in 2011/12.

It was a box of HaT’s British Mounted Infantry of the Zulu Wars. I’d clearly had a little go at putting some paint on some of them but had abandoned progress at some point, possibly when I moved house. Some paint was more or less in the right place but there was none of the painting techniques which I’d gradually developed since then – no black lining, no shading and no highlighting either.

I’d also been a bit lazy with the colour of my facings, opting solely for the 24th Regiment’s green. In reality, the Mounted Infantry drew its men from across many different regiments and the troops retained the tunics and buttons of each meaning their individual regimental facings could be any colour.

Mindful of the April challenge by Ann’s Immaterium, I thought it might be about time to have a proper go at this neglected box. Whether I’ll get them painted by the end of the month is now very debatable but at least I’ll be making a start on them. I seem to be missing a horse from the set, but otherwise it’s all there.

Coincidentally, I had been re-reading some of my many books on the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879:

  • “Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift” by Ian Knight
  • “Blood on the Painted Mountain” by Ron Lock (about the battles of Intombi, Hlobane and Khambula)

From these books, I had been refreshing my knowledge of the Imperial Mounted Infantry before I’d even discovered these HaT figures. The formation had a tough time of it during the Anglo-Zulu War. With a chronic lack of regular cavalry available in South Africa, they were much in demand, being active in many encounters with the Zulu all over the country. 1st Squadron suffered particularly badly at the disaster of iSandlwana.

First off, I needed to prime them. For years I’ve painted with Vallejo Acrylics but with these figures I was still using the old Humbrol enamel tinlets. So, I attempted to remove any loose enamel paint (which by and large seemed very well attached to the figures). I then painted them in PVA white glue to a) act as a primer and, b) cover over the enamel. I’ve heard that acrylic paint can react badly to enamels. I’m not sure of this at all but I thought that the PVA would also at least form some sort of a barrier between them.

After that, it was on with the black primer paint and I’m ready to finally finish off what I’d started nearly a decade ago! I’ve made some real progress over the weekend so a report will follow…


For those who may be interested, here are some of my other favourite books on the Zulu War which I’ve collected over the years and which I’d recommend:

  • “The Washing of the Spears” by Donald R. Morris. The seminal work on the conflict which brought it to 20th Century popularity. Never intended to be an academic work, it has been eclipsed now by modern research but is still an astonishingly rip-roaring read throughout all its hefty 672 pages.
  • “Zulu Rising” by Ian Knight– Ian Knight’s most recent book on Isandlwana/Rorke’s Drift and packed with the detailed knowledge and passion of many years research. It is particularly strong in its understanding of both Zulu and Natal’s black history and culture.
  • “Fearful Hard Times” by Ian Knight. Focusing on the less well known actions of Number 1 Column including the battles of Nyezane and Gingindlovu, and the siege of Eshowe.
  • “The Zulu War: A Pictorial History” by Michael Barthorp. The first book I read on the conflict including many great contemporary photographs. I met Major Barthorp a few times – a wonderfully kind and very generous man to this teenage history geek.
  • “They Fell Like Stones” by John Young. Detailed lists and information on units and casualties for each battle. Great for data nerds like yours truly!
  • “Black Soldiers of the Queen” by P.S. Thompson. About the Natal Native Contingent in the conflict, providing a great understanding of these seriously undervalued and overlooked African soldiers who fought and died for the British cause.

A Portrait of the Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry

Being always interested in the colourful array of Napoleonic yeomanry, I recently noticed a striking painting up for sale. It’s a contemporary oil painting of an officer of the Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry which I thought pleasing enough to share.

Portrait of An Officer & His Mount, Surrey Yeomanry by Augustus S. Boult

In the distance can be seen the whole regiment lined up as well as a separate group nearby. They wear white over red plumes while the officer wears red. One of this group is presumably intended to be a trumpeter wearing a darker (navy?) coloured coat, a Tarleton possibly with its crest being topped with red, and also being mounted on a grey. His instrument might possibly just be discerned being held in his right hand.

From the heavy pall of smoke to the left distance, a significant battle seems to be in progress – a fanciful invention for a regiment whose duties were principally limited to policing civil unrest!

Pattern 1822 Light Cavalry Sabre and scabbard

I was initially unsure of the year it was painted but the sale description suggested the officer has drawn a Pattern 1822 Light Cavalry Sword. This trusty weapon was to remain in use in the British army up until 1896 and in some yeomanry regiments well into the 20th century.

The regiment was disbanded briefly at the end of the 1820s. Given the sword pattern, the Napoleonic-era uniform and Tarleton helmet, it seemed likely that it must have been mid-1820s, prior to any subsequent uniform change. Yeomanry could be slow to adopt changes in military fashion from the regular forces as the cost of adopting new uniforms would usually come from the regiment’s own colonel and benefactor. A portrait of a quartermaster from the Leicestershire Yeomanry, for example, shows him still wearing a Tarleton helmet in the 1850s!

Portrait of an Officer of the Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry
 , 1823–1823

A little research soon threw up another Boult painting of a Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry officer. This portrait is dated 1823. Presumably both the paintings being commissioned together and is therefore likely the same date as the first canvas. This painting depicts the officer in a more dynamic pose, firing his pistol, seemingly as he rides hurriedly back towards his lines away from the enemy! To the distance right, another line of light blue Surrey yeomen can be seen. Notably, the trouser on this officer is of a light blue or blue-grey colour rather than the apparent black in the first portrait.

Also in the saleroom is this 100mm Die-Cast figure of Colonel Lord Leslie of the Surrey Yeomanry Cavalry, the regiment’s founder. Dying in 1817, this is not the same as the officer in the painting.

And the painting of the Surrey Yeomanry continues to this day as seen on this pub sign (depicting a later incarnation of the regiment). On Dorking High Street is a pub which was named in honour of Lord Leslie back in the early 19th century, the Lord being a former neighbour.

About the artist:

I can’t find much information about the artist Augustus S. Boult beyond what appears on auction sites. It appears that he specialised in painting equestrian, country and hunting subjects and painted at least some other cavalry portraits. It appears that he had a relation (possibly a son), Francis, who followed in the same tradition, painting very similar subjects but seemingly non-military. Augustus Boult died in 1853.

Strelets Standing Soldiers: Napoleon!

Having showcased the Old Guard figures in my last post, as promised I’ve now painted the head honcho himself – L’empereur Napoleon Bonaparte!

It’s my submission for Ann’s Immaterium’s April Painting Challenge!

You’ll notice that I’ve thrown some sand down to act as an ersatz parade ground and pressed my 18th century country house into action once again (last seen acting as a St. Petersburg palace).

Forming a hollow square, my Old Guard are waiting to listen to him say a final farewell, prior to leaving for exile on the island of Elba.

Eventually, he appears before them, wearing his traditional bicorne hat and long grey coat. The emperor is visibly emotional. His voice, passionate and breaking, echoes across the parade ground as he begins…

You can now view the epic scene in this YouTube movie what I made:

Alternatively, the non-video version of my scene is below:


“Soldiers of my Old Guard, after 20 years I have come to say goodbye!”
(a dramatic pause ensues)
“France has fallen! So remember me!”
Très dramatique, non?
“Though I love you all, I cannot embrace you all...” (now, you wouldn’t catch Wellington saying that!)
“With this kiss, remember me!” (relief all round – it’s just the flag he’s snogging)
“Goodbye my soldiers!…”
“Goodbye my sons!…”
“Goodbye, my children!!!!”

The scene was brought to you with apologies to Orson Welles, Dino De Laurentiis and Rod Steiger. Any resemblance to actual films, past or present, is entirely intentional – The original, and in my view vastly inferior, scene is viewable on YouTube.

To help my painting of Strelets’ Boney, as a guide I settled on some portraits of him wearing a grey overcoat and the uniform of a colonel of the Chasseurs a Cheval. He seems to be consistently shown wearing a silver medal with a red ribbon, so I’ve reproduced that too.

Is it me, or does my Napoleon have more than a passing resemblance to Marlon Brando?

There was also the small matter of finishing my pioneer sergeant. Admittedly, it looks a little like he’s wearing a skirt with an apron but, given the size of his axe, I won’t be saying that to his face.

And with that, this submission for “Paint the Crap You Already Own” is complete. Needless to say, there’s plenty more I could get my teeth into and with some days left yet of April, I may yet even have a go at something else.

Until then, I say – goodbye my followers, goodbye my visitors, and goodbye my children!!!!

Strelets Standing Soldiers: The Old Guard

Following the issuing of April’s challange by Ann’s Immaterium to stop buying new shiny things and paint up some of our backlog of figures – I’ve made solid progress with my 2018 box of 1/72 scale Strelets Old Guard figures. Nearly complete, there’s 28 of them in total, including a pioneer sergeant, an officer and Napoleon Bonaparte himself.

I’ve so far just concentrated on the rank and file plus the officer, so I’ve still got the sergeant to finish off and Napoleon himself still to paint. I’ve based them very simply on a kind of parade ground type of surface.

One of the things I thought was great about painting these figures is the facial features which seem to give each pose character. Perhaps my favourite is this fella below who seems to be casting a quizzical glance askew.


Eyes right!


The officer:


Apparently, the Old Guard did not have buttons to turn their coats back. Whether that’s true or not, I like the look.






Boney (and his Pioneer Sergeant) will be reviewing his Old Guard in a future post…!

Regiment de Montfort

Presenting the Regiment de Montfort, a Walloon/Spanish auxiliary regiment consisting of 2 battalions of upwards of 1200 men. Part of the Marquis de Montfort’s brigade, the regiment was present at the battle of Blenheim.

My first French Infantry regiment makes uses of two poses from Strelets new French Fusiliers (Early War) figures. The title on the box is something of a conundrum as the uniform is perfectly serviceable for the entire duration of the conflict!

The box also contains two other firing and loading poses similar to these figures which I will use for another French regiment. Also in the set are some command, advancing and kneeling figures. Knowledgeable people may point out that French infantry at this time fought in three ranks, not two. In terms of basing, I just based them all individually, forgetting previous good advice to stagger the figures on the bases – which was more than a bit dim of me!

This officer figure carries a spontoon but lacks a gorget below his neck, an essential device of rank for the time. Nonetheless, a lovely figure in a great pose.

My loading figures are cleverly pictured biting off the end of their cartridge ready to pour powder down their musket. A very effective pose with good facial features to boot.

The French at this time wore coats of Pearl-Grey, a light coloured coat in an off-white hue. I’ve seen many interpretations of this shade and in the end simply went for a very light grey which I hoped would work. I admit that my feelings vary between “a little too grey” and “satisfactory”, but I shan’t lose any sleep over it!

I won’t be pitching straight into another French regiment for a little while as I’ve recently signed up for Ann’s Immaterium’s April challenge to paint up some of my other many, many unpainted figures from the pile.

The Grumblers

Ann’s Immaterium has issued forth a challenge for the month of April – “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” The aim is to pitch into some of our collectively large pile of unpainted crap (aka our precious collections) and the restrictions of national lockdown are providing the perfect conditions to do just that.

Strelets Polish infantry on the march.

Rifling through my excessive mountain of unpainted kits, I randomly picked up one of a number of the Napoleonic ‘standing’ sets by Strelets that I own. There’s lots of these type of sets available from Strelets. They feature anything from Highlanders to Prussian Landwehr, all in poses which range between ‘order arms’, ‘shoulder arms’, ‘at ease’, ‘at attention’ or ‘on the march’.

I painted one of these sets last year, Strelets’ British Infantry Standing at Ease, painted as the 37th Regiment and, at my friend Pat’s suggestion, a platoon of the 95th Rifles;

Painting figures which are just standing around waiting seems a strangely appropriate choice in while in ‘lockdown’…

A little more space between these ranks I think to satisfy the criteria for social distancing.

So, I’ve picked up my “Old Guard at Attention” box which I bought in 2018/19.

So here they are, les Grognards – about 30 ‘grumblers’ – currently all standing to attention and stoically awaiting some paint.

Cleaned, primed and blue base coat applied…

I notice that Old ‘Boney’ himself is included in the box, so perhaps i will include him also? I think the aim was to provide the painter with the means of recreating the scene where Napoleon takes his leave of the Old Guard prior to going into exile for the first time on the island of Elba.

Soldiers of my Old Guard, I bid you farewell. For twenty years you have been my constant companions on the road to honour and glory!

NAPOLEON’S ADIEUX TO THE OLD GUARD AT FONTAINEBLEAU, 20 APRIL, 1814

So, here I go. I hope to post some progress reports if time allows.

“Au revoir, mes enfants!”