Using time off over the Bank Holiday period, I was emptying out some old magazines when I made a wonderful discovery. Let me explain…
About two years ago, my parents handed me a small metal figure in a little plastic bag which they had discovered deep in their loft. Knowing that it was probably one of my old model figures from my childhood, and furthermore well aware that I’m always painting soldiers nowadays, they brought it over.
It was a 54mm figure from Dorset (Metal Model) Soldiers Ltd, which I presume is the same company still going today but under the name The Dorset Model Soldier Company. I guess I must have purchased it from a Victorian Military Society fair in the mid 1980s. The bag also contained a square wooden plinth and a little green baize to mount it on. The figure was from a series called “Armies of the World” and represented a Trumpeter in Drill Order from the 3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) during the period 1902-1907.
I was particularly pleased to rediscover this figure as Yeomanry is a great interest of mine. Having (naturally…) the entire fifteen books from the terrific Ogilby Trust series; “The Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1794-1914″, I pulled out my copy of the 5th book in the series on said regiment to do some research.
There on the cover was the very figure I was researching – and, what’s more, in exactly the same pose! I guessed that the sculptor must have used the excellent Robert J. Marrion image on the far right of the cover as a guide, such is the similarity. Furthermore, the illustration in kind must have been based upon the trumpeter seen in the above photograph.
Finally, the figure came with a hand-written painting guide which, confirming the inspiration behind it, indeed recommended that for further details and colours I should see “No.5 in the series “The Uniforms of the British Yeomanry Force 1794-1914”.
And then it was lost.
Gone. Disappeared. Vanished. The figure was last seen in a generic plastic bag. I threw the bag out but took care to remove the figure first. I’m sure I did. Didn’t I? All that remained was the little wooden plinth that the figure would have been mounted on. I searched everywhere for the figure, fruitlessly turning the house upside down for days. Appalled, I finally became convinced that I must have thrown it out by accident. Two years passed by…
…Until I discovered it yesterday! It turned up secreted at the bottom of a magazine rack. Heaven knows how or why it got there, and how it evaded my searches for so long. Now it has returned, I’m tempted to finally have a go at painting it. Heaven knows, I’ve got enough on at the moment, so it may be a little while yet before I make a start.
Trouble is, not only have I already clumsily broken the plume off (hastily re-glued), but I am now unable to locate the wooden plinth which ironically has possibly been thrown out after the figure was given up as lost. Never mind; I’ll fashion a replacement!
I now want to end by saying some words about R.J. Marrion, the artist who inspired the Trumpeter figure and illustrated for the entire British Yeomanry Force series. Bob Marrion was a former police officer, firstly a dog handler and then latterly, after injury, a police draftsman. He illustrated dozens of books and articles on the subject of military uniforms including the entire Ogilby Trust series on the British Yeomanry Force.
Sadly Bob Marrion passed away in 2015 to the great regret of many with an interest in and appreciation for military history, uniforms and artworks.
From Carryings on up the Dale blog:
From French Revolutionary Wargames blog;
From Planet Figure forum:
Tantalisingly, from this forum it is suggested that in the 1970s Bob Marrion even sculpted, or at least designed, his own Victorian-era figures under the name Olive Figures. Something to look out for, perhaps?
So painting this figure becomes, perhaps, a kind of belated personal tribute to the late Bob Marrion and his essential contribution to the hobby. What more appropriate way for me to do this than bringing to life a sculpted manifestation of one of his illustrations? Having not painted anything greater than 28mm, 54mm scale is something very different and so should be an interesting challenge.
Currently, I’m still finishing off the Zvezda Saxon Cuirassiers, which should be definitely finished some time this week, I reckon. After that, following what has been over 3 decades of being lost and found, I’d say it’s about time this lost sharpshooter – one of Bob Marrion’s artistic visions – was finally brought to life!