A Little Laurel and Hardy!

After receiving bad news this week, I had a much-needed pleasant surprise this week when a parcel came through the post with a postmark of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I do have a Brazilian sister-in-law but she lives in the UK now, so I was unsure what this could be.

The parcel contained two tiny figures sent as a gift from the sculptor, a figures forum member from Brazil known as Jaques. Last September, he showcased his handmade 1:72 scale figures on the forum and with a few others, I expressed admiration.

Jaques’ picture of his handiwork on Benno’s Figures Forum.

The figures are recreations of the comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in their 1931 Beau Geste film pastiche known as Beau Hunks.

Beautifully handmade, the figures come in parts with separate guns and packs, while Stan Laurel’s head is plastic rather than metal. I hope to get around to converting these ‘silver screen’ lilliputian legionnaires to full colour paint at some point in the hopefully not-too-distant-future.

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!

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?

Ave, Senatus Romanus!

Whilst I’ve been painting up my latest War of the Spanish Succession regiment, through the post here at Suburban Militarism has recently arrived a bag of small wooden cubes.

I posted recently that I’d received a box of Strelets Roman Senators for Christmas. My friend and fellow blogger Pat also admired the set but posed the same very good question that was on my mind – what the heck can be done with them?

I quite liked the daft notion of Suburban Militarism having a senate, squabbling and scheming over my latest painting plans or raucously debating the acquisition of the next model kit. But I needed some means of basing or presenting them and then I had an eccentric idea…

Get on with it, Marvin!!!!!!!!

I thought I could maybe base each senator on a kind of marble plinth, like Roman statues somehow brought to life. Hence, I found some perfectly sized wooden blocks for mere pennies…

Plinthy the Elder…

…and – sparing me the task of attempting to paint a marble effect – I found some perfectly marbled masking tape online.

I aim to paint a few characters every now and then, adding to my senate slowly over time. These are the first three senators:

Thanks to Roman Name Generator, I’ve put some names to each senator too:


Hostus Volusenus Iulianus

Gaius Gellius Severus

Flavius Velius Lentullus

So, watch out for a series of cod-Latin post titles related to these figures which sound like spells from Harry Potter. In the meantime, I’m pushing on with my Lace Wars figures. The next regiment is approaching completion…

Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company

Justus Freiherr von Liebig was a German chemistry professor who, amongst other achievements, developed a means of manufacturing beef extract. This beef extract was commercially manufactured as Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company leading eventually to their Oxo cube. The company went on to manufacture Fray Bentos pies with factories in the Uruguayan city and also in Colón (presumably “Colon Pies” being a marketing non-starter in the UK). His extract process is even considered to have made possible the invention of Marmite (hurrah!).

So what does this have to do with Suburban Militarism?

The answer is that Leibig’s Extract of Meat Co. also produced a wide range of collectable trade cards whose subjects included historica and military topics.

Admittedly, ‘extract of meat’ might not sound too pleasing, but some of the illustrations here are! Here are a brief sample of some of the 100 (mostly Belgian) that have found their way to Suburban Militarism’s store of military artwork:


From “Belgian generals from the 16th to the 18th century”:

General Clerfayt, a Walloon Belgian, leads the Austrian forces to victory over the revolutionary French at the battle of Neerwinden in 1793.
Jean-André van der Mersch commands the Belgian Patriot army against the Austrians at the Battle of Turnhout during the Brabant Revolution in 1789.
The 1732 Spanish conquest of Algerian Oran included regiments of Walloon Guards and was led by a General Bosseau. He was of humble orins and a veteran of Marlburian wars including playing a key role in the battle of Ramilles.

From “Combat Formations”:

5. “The French infantry square against the Cossacks”
6. “Modern infantry attacking the trenches”. Interesting to see that the Belgian idea of modern infantry includes the wearing of felt hat with a black feather in it! These look like WWI Italian Alpini moutain troops.

From: “Belgian Expeditionary Corps”

The concept of a Belgian Legion within the French army had a long precedent and this set of cards details the Belgian Expeditionary Corps, a force sent to Mexico during Napoleon III’s ill-fated invasion in 1860s.

“The volunteers of Maximillian in Mexico”; The Belgian Legion (as it was known) looking like the more famous French Foreign Legion.
2. “The Papal Zouaves” – These troops consisted of mostly catholic volunteers from very many different nations, Belgium itself being very well represented.

My Christmas Cornucopia

I always enjoy seeing some of the gifts and presents that other bloggers get for Christmas, so I’m sharing some of mine too.

First off, this box of Marlburian British Infantry in Advance from Strelets wonderful new foray into the War of the Spanish Succession. I’m delighted that Strelets have begun this series which has been woefully neglected by in 1/72 scale plastics. What’s more, the figures are beautifully sculpted, too.

At my suggestion, I’ve also received from kindly relatives a box of these unusual figures, also by Strelets:

Strelets’ Roman Senate 1 box is about five years old now and as the name suggests had a sister box (number 2) also issued, which features many of the same figures. Two sprues contain senators all standing in their togas and alternatively listening or debating. A final sprue contains senators armed with knives, a statue, and Julius Caesar, all of which are designed to help you recreate the infamous assassination in the senate. A step out of the usual horse and musket era and into ancients; I’ve already been developing my plan for these which I’ll share in due course!

In another step away from 18th-19th century warfare, I’ve received a set of my favoured 1/72 scale plastics by the increasingly impressive Red Box. Last year, I developed my Ottomania project using their well-sculpted Ottoman Turks. As a kind of adjunct, I can now dip a toe into their late middle ages Duchy of Muscovy figures with these “Pishalniki” (arquebusiers).

What’s this? Wargaming?!

Earlier this year, Man of Tin blog, The Grand Duchy of Stollen and others paid tribute and mourned the passing of a deeply respected figure in the wargaming world; Stuart Asquith. Never having wargamed before, I was interested to read about the man and his achievements which included a book I’d had buried in my loft since my childhood; his Military Modelling Guide to Wargaming. His guide to solo wargaming was unwrapped on my birthday and together, who knows, I may investigate putting some of those figures of mine to use…

Of course, I need somewhere to keep all my crap, I mean precious hobby items and these boxes will do the job nicely; one with the grenadier from the sadly closing local discount hobby shop and the other from stationers Paperchase and featuring the Nutcracker which has been curiously popular this Christmas.

And finally, an amusingly appropriate stocking-filler…

I’ve already been busy working on some of my new figures and I’ll share progress shortly.

Until then, I wish a happy, productive and peaceful New Year to all Suburban Militarism visitors and friends!

Strelets French Army Sledge Train (Set 2)

These are dark nights and short cold, wet days here in the UK. Winter can seem a little like something to be endured at times but my latest painting venture puts it all into perspective. Strelets 2nd French Army Sledge Train set includes yet more scene of tragic suffering from the Grande Armee’s retreat from Moscow in 1812.

Once again, as with Set 1, the sledge is being driven by a man wearing a polish czapka, possibly a Polish lancer missing his mount. Cracking a whip, he is seated in an impresive half-lotus posture! The previous driver didn’t fit on the sledge well, so this yogic flexibility at least helps me fit him to the sledge more easily.

Also seated in the sledge are a hussar and a lady holding a baby. This lady is sitting on top of a barrel and wrapped in a shawl. A nice little figure and a poignant one too.

The hussar meanwhile cradles a horse’s leg and hoof, possibly the last remnant of his beloved mount, now a source of food in these desperate circumstances.

Bringing up the rear of this vignette are two comrades in arms. I think that Strelets has again produced impressive and moving figures here. Badly wounded, relying on one’s comrades would be the only slim hope of making it home alive.

Likewise with another pair of Napoleon’s soldiers. Although sculpted separately, these two seemed to go together nicely to me. The blind grenadier’s outside outstretched hand found a natural home on the backpack of the other soldier carrying a heavy sack. Together, they stumble through the Russian snow back to Vilnius.

Whilst others hobble homeward, one character is sprinting to catch up with the sledge. A senior officer, I like to think there’s a backstory to his running; catching up after answering the call of nature; or recovering from a rude awakening when falling face first off the sledge into the snow having dozed off; or maybe he’s seen Cossacks approaching…

Laden with desperately needed provisions, the final figure from the scene is trudging alongside the poor imaciated horse.

Here are the two French sledge train sets, 2018 and 2019 versions of the winter retreat together.

As a reminder, here are last year’s retreat figures. Below: a soldier carrying a small drummer boy and his drum, with a barefoot dragoon looking appallingly cold.

Above: the figures in the sledge; another officer in a bicorne and a mysterious bespectacled gentleman who wears a luxorious fur coat and cradles a locked casket which possibly holds the source of his securing a fur coat and a ride in the sledge – money!

There are two other sledge train sets produced by Strelets for the Russian army. These make for a nice contrast to the French ones, being far better dressed for the cold and well fed too. I’ve kept these back to continue the tradition next winter.

Well, I’m feeling very cold now. Reckon it’s time for drop or two of something to keep out the cold…

Suburban Militarism’s 5th Anniversary!

Come on in, the party’s in full swing! Pour yourself a drink and mingle…

Five years ago, my first post on WordPress was published. I’ve since maintained regular blogging for five years. I wasn’t at all sure what I was doing when I started – or why, but I seem to keep on painting figures and blogging away.

Ooh, that Cossack balalaika version of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” is going down a storm…

There’s Capitaine Dubois and General Fournier indulging their Gallic love for fine wine by quaffing sauvignon blanc…Looks like both Major Donaldson and Ferik Ibrahim Pasha prefer a nice cup of tea, though…

Oh dear, Private Atkins, has disgraced himself by drinking far too much and practising his dance moves…

Well, here’s to the next five years! Salut!