Strelets French Army Sledge Train (set 1)

My Strelets French Army Sledge Train is now finished with snow freshly dusted over the scene. The end result looks suitably cold, I think. Or maybe it’s just the deteriorating weather outside having that effect on me?

In the sledge there is a driver wearing a Polish Czapka, an officer wearing a cocked hat and another man wrapped in a luxurious fur coat. This chap holds a keg and is sitting on a locked casket. Notably, he wears a pair of spectacles. His hat is a bit of mystery to me. If not a specific piece of military headdress, it could be anything stolen or purchased simply to keep his head warm, so I’ve just painted it blue.

I mentioned in my previous post that the driver figure could in no way be made to ride the horse or sit in the sledge without something to sit on. Imperial Rebel Ork suggested I made something out of green stuff, sculpting anything is always a risky strategy for me! At the last minute, I decided to use a 1/72 scale wooden box from my childhood collection of Napoleonic French Artillery. The box was perfect but the driver still didn’t sit well as his legs were too far apart, even after I rashly cut his toes off (which I now put down to frostbite, you see…). He’s leaning a teensy bit far back for my liking,  but as he’s about to wield a whip, I can just about say ‘he’ll do’.

Those walking behind include (from foreground to background below):

  • An infantryman in great coat wearing a Polish Lancer’s discarded czapka.
  • Another infantryman carrying on his back a small drummer boy and his drum.
  • A dragoon with a blanket around his shoulders and without any footwear.
  • At the back, a Chasseur of the Guard amputee using a staff as a crutch.

You may just be able to pick out the sledge tracks in the snow? It looks a little more convincing to the eye!

There’s a convincing sense with these figures or struggle and hardship, particularly now they’re painted and in the snow. Little things that I was pleased with are lost to the camera in these pics; the wooden floor of the sledge and the casket, to name but two.

I think my favourite figure is the soldier carrying the drummer boy and drum on his back. It’s quite a complex piece of sculpting which comes out very well after applying some paint. All the figures look good, though, I think. The barefoot dragoon is convincingly cold with the blanket, for example.

Napoleon himself adopted the use of a sleigh when he abandoned the remnants of the Grand Armee on its retreat from Moscow, so it really was the best way to get around in the snowy conditions.

“It’s a long way to Lithuania…”

I mentioned how much I liked Strelets emaciated pony. The suffering endured by the horses taken on campaign with Napoleon was truly appalling. Virtually all of Napoleon’s 200,000 horses died from starvation, wounds, injuries, exhaustion or, increasingly during the terrible retreat, at the hands of starving men desperate to use them for food.

Even in the opening weeks of the campaign, many thousands of horses died in a great storm. The outlook for this poor, struggling pony in my scene is probably as bleak as for the men walking on behind.

You may notice from the pic below that the horse is moving off to the left. This is simply a feature of one of the poles connected to his harness being longer than the other! But if anyone asks – the horse is very deliberately turning left…

I’ve also added another dozen men to my growing collection of painted Strelets Marching French infantry figures, currently now over 50 strong. It’s a long-term aim of mine to finish both boxes in the coming years and build a 100-man marching column to accompany the sledge train.

Settle down, grab your popcorn – it’s time for a short movie:

Watch a feline Cossack attack my marching column of French infantry!

There’s a second set of the French Army Sledge Train with different figures which I may source for next year’s wintry hobby painting. And finally – just a few last pics showing the marching column making its way across the icy wastes of my lounge carpet:

Featured Figures: Chasseurs d’Afrique (Crimean War)

It’s been a long while since I showcased some of my Strelets Crimean War range, so I thought I’d dig some out.

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The Chasseurs d’Afrique (aka the “Chass d’Af”) featured memorably at the Battle of Balaklava, assisting the charge of the Light Brigade by clearing the Fedyukhin Heights of Russians.

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Phillipoteaux’s painting of the Chasseurs d’Afrique clearing Russian artillery from the Fedyukhin Heights during the battle of Balaclava.

As with many Strelets figures, the sculpting is an acquired taste. The figures have lots of life and character to them, but undoubtedly lack the finesse and anatomical accuracy of some other manufacturers, particularly with the horses, I think.

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Furthermore, these were painted about 4 years or more ago, about the time I really took up figure painting properly as a hobby, rather than the occasional rough daubing of paint I had been doing. So my painting was still very much evolving at the time I painted these and I think it shows.

 

Strelets always have my gratitude for covering the Crimean War conflict in such detail and these Chasseurs d’Afrique make for a wonderful addition.

Featured Figures: The Coldstream Guards (Crimean War)

The prime purpose of this blog was originally painting figures rather than military history, but it seems that museum visits and assorted militaria has taken up the bulk of posts lately. So, I thought it maybe about time to show some figures that I’ve been working on these past couple of weeks or so.

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The Coldstream Guards, Crimea, 1854.

And it’s another set by Strelets. I am continuing to plough through my boxes of figures from this series. This set is named “British Grenadiers in Summer Dress”, which differentiates the other set of guards produced featuring the figures wearing greatcoats. However, Strelets are incorrect because these are not grenadiers, they are guardsmen! They are Coldstream guardsmen, in fact. I can be this specific because the other Guards regiments in the Crimea (the Grenadier Guards and the Scots Fusilier Guards) did not have plumes on the right of their bearskins.

It’s hard work to get these figures looking reasonably OK but I think they are just about worth the effort. I’ve managed to paint about half of the box now and will probably take a break from Strelets for a little bit to do something else. Although, that said, I’ve still got those Royal Louis Regiment figures to finish…

And finally, continuing the trade card theme of late, here are some depictions of the Coldstream Guards that I found, below:

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Regimental Colour and cap badge. Players Cigarettes.

Featured Figures: Strelets Russian Infantry (Crimean War)

I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches to two of my Quiberon Expedition regiments. As I’ve been doing this, I realised that it’s been a while since I had a Featured Figures post, so I thought that it’s about time to dig out some figures from storage and showcase them here on the blog.

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Strelets Russian Line Infantry (Crimean War)

Let me tell you, I have lots of Strelets Crimean War figures to paint, especially Russians. I have painted up a number of their infantry already, though. Strelets produced two sets of Russian infantry, one being listed simply as being ‘line infantry’ (and wearing grey greatcoats) and the other described as ‘grenadiers’ who simply appear without the large grey greatcoat. I think the description of being either grenadiers and line infantry is simply an alternative way of differentiating the “with” and “without” greatcoats sets. I also understand that, in practice, the average Russian soldier would wear his greatcoat virtually all the time in this campaign. Having the grenadiers set at least lets us see the classic Russian infantry green uniform in all its glory as well, but it’s the ‘line infantry’ boys that I’m looking at in this post.

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As with all Strelets figures, the sculpting may not be to everyone’s liking. What these figures may lack in elegance, they often more than make up for in character and expression. The Russian Line Infantry set has a different pose for every single figure. Consequently, we see Ivan the Soldier either calling out to his comrades; reaching into a pocket; carrying his musket in a bewildering variety of ways; in the process of tearing off his coat in frustration(!); or even just contemplating the hideous folly of war while leaning wistfully with chin on musket (in a manner liable to blow his brains out if he’s not careful)! With such a wide variety of poses, not to say dizzying variety of sets released for this campaign, painting Strelets is often great fun. And fun is surely what it’s all about with hobbies, after all!

I do plan to finish the whole box of these guys – one day. Maybe then I can get on with the painting all my Urak Cossacks, the sailors and cannons, the ‘grenadier’ infantry, the Don Cossacks, the general and hospital staff, the hussars, the dragoons, the Terek Cossacks, etc., etc.!

But it’s back to more Strelets for now, as I’m doggedly pushing on with my Quiberon Expedition Project.

54th (West Norfolk) Regiment of Foot

I’m learning more about how to paint at the 28mm scale each time I tackle some figures, but I can’t say I’m totally 100% content with these final figures. I’ve had to make a few minor compromises on the uniform shown in the postcard which first inspired them, and the shade of blue in their trousers is darker than I intended. Nevertheless, I think they’re looking okay and make a nice spectacle marching in step.

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54th Regiment of Foot

I’m already thinking about my next challeng which will be a return (at long last!) to some of my piles of 1/72 (20mm) figures. I think I may finish off my Quiberon Expedition project, which I began last year after returning from holidaying near to Lymington. It was a visit to the town’s museum which inspired my interest.

Speaking of holidays, I’ll be shortly off to this years destination and taking a necessary sabbatical from all things related to military modelling. Did I say a sabbatical? Well, not entirely as my intention is to make a visit to a regimental museum there while I’m away, to be featured on this blog as the next ‘day trip’ report…

Anyway, until then, here are my men of the 54th (West Norfolk) Regiment on a stifling hot march through the jungles of the Arakan during the First Anglo-Burmese War in the year of 1825:-

 

2nd North British Dragoons – Scots Greys (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #15)

Earlier last year, I painted some Esci Scots Greys for the Bennos Figures Forum Famous Waterloo Project. This sparked my enthusiasm for painting Napoleonic cavalry leading ultimately to my Napoleonic Cavalry Project. For some reason, I never showcased the finished regiment but I think they fully deserve a place in the project they inspired, hence this post.I’ve included a section for them on the Nappy project page too.

Looking back, with all I’ve learnt in painting horses in the project over the year, I might have painted the greys a little differently. The hooves should not be black on a grey horse. Secondly, I would have painted the grey colour a little differently or perhaps even tried some different types of grey (e.g dapple or steel). Perhaps some of the horse manes would have been grey too. Otherwise, I think they stand up pretty well.

I should point out that these are my original Esci Scots Greys figures from my childhood collection! So here they are: regiment #15 in the (ongoing) Nappy Cavalry project!

‘Pride and Prejudice’ Soldiers

The Warwickshire Yeomanry horses have been shelved for now and the Bennos Forum Group Build figures are awaiting some essential paints to be delivered. Instead, I’ve been rapidly painting figures for a friend’s son this week. Whenever she visits with her son, he has previously shown a great interest in my model soldier displays. Consequently, a couple of years ago, I painted some Strelets Cuirassiers that I had lying around and posted them off to him as a Christmas present.

My wife, struggling for an idea for his latest birthday present, asked me if I could paint some more. Unfortunately, these friends have moved away and so I’m not sure what era he’s into, although my daughter suggested he used to like medieval knights. That’s a little out of my comfort zone, so I was relieved to hear my good lady suggest instead I paint some British Napoleonic infantry, preferably flank companies and sporting a mix of Belgic and stovepipe shakos. Actually, she didn’t quite say that. What she actually suggested was that I paint some “Pride and Prejudice” type soldiers…

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A “Pride and Prejudice” soldier…

One of my ideas for 2016 painting was to tackle some superb Waterloo British Infantry and Highlanders by Italeri, so happily I had some Nappy soldiers lying around all ready to start some time this year. Curiously, despite the core of my childhood 1/72 scale armies being made up of British Waterloo infantry, I’ve never painted them! I’m not sure why I haven’t turned my attention to them previously, but here I am finally tackling some for a young lad who, perhaps, might go on to really develop his own interest in the topic. It would nice to think that these figures spark an interest in the same way that (in their unpainted guise) they did for me.

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Officer

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Sergeant

These Italeri figures are terrific, certainly better than the charming but flawed old Airfix ones that I used to have parading so many times during my childhood. These figures seem to sport a mixture of Belgic and older ‘Stovepipe’ shakos, some being covered in oilskin. The poses are good and very natural (witness the NCO standing nonchalantly).

Time was tight though, I had only been given a week to paint them! There’s lots of tricky detail on the figures and I’ve had to rush them a little more than I’d like in order to meet the super-tight deadline. Nevertheless, I’ve risen to the challenge and here’s the finished figs. At last, after so many years of waiting, my Waterloo British infantry are finally in gloious technicolour! Just a terrible shame I now have to give them away…

 

 

 

Armstrong’s Artillery!

Introducing a detachment from ‘H’ Battery 11th Brigade, Royal Artillery!

My Victorian-era artillery battery from the 1860s is now virtually finished. I really could use a few buckets to dip those sponges into, but I may have to make my own using modelling clay. Being only my second foray into the world of 28mm figures, I’m thinking that, although I am pleased with how they’ve turned out, I would like to develop my technique at this scale a bit further. Nevertheless, I did very much enjoyed painting them.

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‘H’ Battery, 11th Brigade, Royal Artillery, 1860s.

 

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The figures by Perry Miniatures are terrific and I was really attracted by it being one of my favourite historical topics; early to mid-Victorian era military subjects seemingly under-represented by manufacturers (at least up until the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, anyway!). Some detailed and fascinating information on Armstrong and the development of RML artillery can be found on the excellent Victorian Forts website.

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Contemporary photograph of an Armstrong RBL 12 pounder.

And here are my three gun teams. They represent the processes of loading, aiming and firing the weapon.

 1. Royal Artillery loading an Armstrong RML 12pr.

One is lifting the breach block ready for the man carrying the charge to insert it into the breach. The spongeman has already done his job and extinguished any burning embers remaining in the barrel. (I notice I’ve forgotten to insert the handspike with this team…)

2. Royal Artillery aiming an Armstrong RML 12pr.

The cannon is positioned laterally by using the handspike and is set to the required elevation by means of a screw which can be seen being turned under the end of the barrel.

3. Royal Artillery firing an Armstrong RML 12pr.

Fire! The charge in the cannon is fired by pulling a cord out of the breach block. A little smoke is seen being emited from the breach block as well as the end of the barrel. (Note: yes – my cotton wool smoke looks a bit dodgy as it fell off just before the camera shoot and I lazily just pushed back on!)

Next post: hopefully some news about this year’s Benno’s Figures Forum Group Build. Last year’s 200th anniversary Famous Waterloo Project was a great success and kick-started my own Nappy Cavalry Project.

Featured Figures: Frederick the Great’s Musketeers

…and continuing with my 7 Years War era Prussian infantry showcase, the final two regiments are the Kalckstein and the Braunschwieg (or Brunswick to anglicise it) Regiments. Being musketeers, these are all sporting the tricorne hat (the third option of headgear that came with the HaT sets). Again, all uniform and flag information came from the excellent 7 Years War Project website.

Firstly: the Brunswick Regiment:-

 

…and the Kalckstein Regiment:-

 

Featured Figures: Frederick the Great’s Fusiliers

Gah! That winter cold is still lingering! Never mind – here is the second regiment in my Prussian 7 Years War project from 2014; introducing the Munchow Fusiliers. As fusiliers they are wearing the fusilier mitre, shorter than the taller grenadier version. These were supposed to be made up of smaller men but, aside from their caps, in every other respect they were essentially the same as other infantry musketeers.

This fusilier regiment was raised by Colonel von Münchow in 1740. As with all the other regiments, I’ve shown the regiment flying its Colonel Colour (or Leibfahne). My painting technique for white uniforms has changed slightly and so I would have done them slightly differently now, but I think they look alright. I struggled to find any concrete information on the colour of the drums other than general guidance that they could be any colour, so with considerable artistic licence I opted for purple.

Next regiment to be showcased will be the Brunswick Regiment of musketeers!