Yellow Fellows

Prussian Cuirassiers 1b (3)

I’m about 80-90% finished on the 16 riders for Italeri’s Prussian Cuirassiers kit. They are certainly nice figures and look splendid in yellow. On the debit side however, the heads are a trifle oversized and the hats always seem to face the front of the body regardless as to whichever way the head is facing – which is a bit weird! To bypass this, I’ve chosen exclusively those figures whose hats are worn on the head at roughly the same angle.

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However, I resorted to a drastic head-swap operation for the officer figure. I cut off a trooper’s head and used a tiny section of pin to hold it all in place. I got a bit carried away with a hot pin resulting in – ahem – some slight melting! But I think he looks okay, nonetheless.

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Painting my chosen regiment, Von Beeren’s 2nd Cuirassiers, has been an unexpected challenge so far. Firstly, getting the yellow to look bright yet still vaguely akin to a natural fabric colour has been a learning curve. Secondly, some depictions of the regiment show a white crossbelt with red edges; my reproduction of this feature tested my painting skills considerably!

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The trumpeter had some variation in details requiring a red crest on his bicorne, a red tip to his plume and some shoulder detailing.

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I’ll be turning my attention to the horses soon. Curiously, I’ve painted these Prussian Cuirassier horses before in this project, having used them as modified replacements for the lamentable horses which came with Italeri’s Prussian Dragoons set (5th Prussian (Brandenburg) Dragoons (Nappy Cavalry Project Set #6)).

In addition to working on these figures, I confess I’ve been musing on other diversions and topics to explore. Heaven knows, I’ve got enough kits to turn my attention to, should I want to take a short breather from Napoleonic cavalry. More on this perhaps in a future post as my ideas start to take shape…

Bye for now,

Marvin

‘Star’ Wars: More Zvezda Figures!

Zvezda is a Russian manufacturer of model kits and figures, their brand name meaning ‘star’ in the Russian language, and it certainly is a star of the Napoleonic cavalry figure world in my opinion. Having already contributed the Lifeguard Cossacks, Red Lancers and French Cuirassiers; and now I’ve just finished their Russian Hussars.

All of these have been consistently amongst the very finest of figures in the entire project. I’ve already a couple more kits by Zvezda stored and ready to paint for the project but yesterday I received another one. This is a set over which I’d prevaricated somewhat; Zvezda’s Russian Dragoons 1812-1814.

 

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My young assistant kindly presents my latest purchases.

It seems that Zvezda have in recent years abandoned the traditional 1/72 box of figures and moved into the production of smaller sets of figures for the purpose of their ‘Art of Tactic’ board game rules. The consequence is that an individual Napoleonic cavalry box now features a mere 3 riders and horses!

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Zvezda Napoleonic Russian Dragoon

There must be a market for this new approach, I suppose, but I confess to being a little mystified as to why anyone would prefer to buy 3 Russian Dragoon figures for the eBay price of commonly around £6.00 (@ £2.00 per mounted figure) as opposed to spending – let’s say – £8.99 for a whopping 18 Russian Cuirassiers (@ £0.50 per figure)! The overall price is admittedly lower than for the traditional kit (sometimes selling for as little as £4.00) but generally it makes the price-per-figure far more expensive. Consequently, building a contingent of a dozen or more figures becomes almost prohibitively costly, that is to say nothing of the cost of painting an entire army.

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By the way, this is not my attempt at a diorama – the ‘landscape’ is purely coincidental!

What’s not in doubt, is that Zvezda make decent figures. If I was to be hyper-critical then I’d say that these dragoons and horses appear a little more stiff and less fluidly animated that in other sets. I’m also a little concerned that they mostly snap together as parts rather than being moulded in one piece, which may cause some issues with painting. Yet they still look good enough to be included in the project. Zvezda’s Napoleonic Russian Dragoons are only available in this new mini-set format and so I’ve purchased four boxes in total (x3 standard Dragoons boxes and x1 Command box) to have enough for one regiment of 12 figures.

It is no surprise therefore that I announce that the 23rd regiment in the Napoleonic Cavalry Project will be another Russian regiment; the Lifeguard Dragoons (in Russian Leib-gvardii Dragunskii Polk). Following on from the extremely detailed and ornate Hussars, Dragoon regiments are conversely much more simple uniforms. No complex braiding or fur-lined pelisse with these troops, just a plain green jacket with grey overalls. I reflected that perhaps it was a little too plain and so opted for the Lifeguard Dragoon regiment rather than one from the line, as the guards at least had the addition of a red plastron on their chest.

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Russian Lifeguard Dragoon 1812

Watch this space for developments, until then Suburban Militarism sends best wishes for the Easter break.

Musings on the Napoleonic Cavalry Project

As work continues steadily on the horses and men of the Soum Hussars, my 22nd regiment in the Nappy Cavalry Project, I’ve been thinking about possible future regiments to tackle also. There are plenty of other 1/72 scale plastic Napoleonic cavalry kits still out there, but they are of varying quality and style.

HaT are wonderfully prolific in their coverage of Napoleonic subjects, and their excellent range of figures are of a consistent standard. Whilst decent sculpting, I confess that they seldom excite me enough to include them in the project. I certainly can’t disparage them – they’re fine – but neither can I say they demand inclusion. They are somewhat lacking for me in some manner and are more suited to creating an overall wargaming spectacle, rather than my emphasis on detail painting.

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Nice enough – but not quite Nappy Cavalry Project material: HaT chasseurs a cheval

Strelets are another manufacturer who are prolific in their Napoleonic range. Now, I do love Strelets figures, indeed I have ‘far too many’ of their sets in their Crimean War and Russo-Turkish 1877 War ranges. Yet, I’ve not included any of their Napoleonic cavalry in my project and neither am I likely to.

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More ‘corpulent carthorse’ than ‘elegant equine’: a Strelets horse

The reason is that first of all, Strelets’ style is perhaps just a little too unique to fit easily into the project. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, while their riding figures can be good, their horses are relatively disappointing. I’m not sure I could comfortably ‘stable’ their stocky equines with some of the more finely sculpted horses as provided by the likes of Zvezda, Revell, Italeri or Waterloo 1815.

Yet despite a number of other cavalry sets in my possession awaiting attention, one new set came through the post only yesterday:

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Mars Austrian Uhlans (1805-1815)

Mars is a manufacturer that I’ve never painted before, so this should be interesting. Furthermore, Austria is a nation not yet included in the project either. It’s a little eccentric this set; there are three figures standing and holding a rearing horse which has not been specifically provided (presumably the other horses might suffice if one were to ditch some mounted riders instead).

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A Uhlan struggling to lead an invisible horse…

Despite being lancers, there’s only one figure shown holding a lance while the lances themselves are swamped in flash and lack any pennants. Indeed, flash is something of a problem with this set. It seems that the quality of Mars output is a little varied, but this one slipped under my radar a little and on close analysis I still like the sculpting and think they are worthy of inclusion.

Like their riders, the horses are certainly in dramatic poses. They are also afflicted by some flash which I will have to carefully remove, but anatomically I think they look pretty good.

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Plastic surgery required: Mars’ horses look good despite some flash on their faces.

Despite some reservations then, I think there are still enough good sets out there to provide me with possibly another 6 or 7 regiments. There are also a number of figures that I’ve previously tackled which I’d love to revisit and paint up as an alternative regiment (more Prussian Hussars or some Polish Lancers, anyone?). All of which means that there could be up to a dozen more regiments in the project to come in the future.

Well, you have been warned…

Some Soum Hussars – A Painting Update

This is just a quick progress report on my Zvezda Russian Soum Hussars, the latest regiment in my Nappy Cavalry Project. I’m rapidly getting all the details added but there is so much of it on these figures that it will take some time to get it all painted, that’s not even to mention all the pelisses, lances and horses still to do!

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Sculpting is excellent by Zvezda (as usual) but it isn’t always revealed post-mould in as crisp a detail as it deserves, I feel. This makes for a tricky paint, but perseverance is rewarded by some great looking figures.

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Adding to the time it takes to paint this regiment is the fact that Zvezda provide an astonishingly generous 18 figures per box! Contrast that with HaT’s more usual 12.

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I have to admit, time isn’t an issue as I’ve been enjoying painting these hussars so much I’ve been idly wondering if I could buy some more boxes and maybe paint another regiment, or a whole division, or even all 12 regiments!

But then a check of the internet reveals that this kit is now very difficult to source indeed, no doubt a victim of its success. So perhaps it will just have to be the one regiment unless Zvezda reissue the set!

Plenty still to do, (pelisses, straps, facial hair, stirrups, etc. etc.) before I tackle the regiment’s mighty herd of 18 horses!

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Crimean Cannons and Russian Reports

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An article recently published in the local paper was of particular interest to me. It brought to light the history behind two Crimean War Russian cannons that currently reside in my home city. I am well familiar with these cannons and indeed commented on them during a post about my visit to the Leicestershire Regiment museum in November 2015. The newspaper article about the cannons is here – Crimean Russian cannons brought to Leicester.

In the article it reveals how they arrived in the city;

“On January 23, 1858, almost two years after the Crimean War, a train pulled up in Leicester bearing two trophies in the form of Russian guns. They had been captured at the Battle of Sebastopol by the 17th Regiment of Foot – which later became the Leicestershire Regiment.

On the request of the mayor, shops, banks and major businesses had closed their doors. A great crowd gathered, lining Leicester’s main streets to see the captured booty. And the cannons, mounted on richly-decorated drays, with an escort of Yeomanry, were paraded through the streets to the museum.

And there they stood, a symbol of the military might of the Empire.

At one stage, there used to be a wooden plaque next to the cannons explaining their capture and the fact that they were presented to the city to commemorate the marriage of Princess Victoria – the eldest child of Queen Victoria – and Prince Frederick William of Prussia, the parents of Kaiser Bill.”

The reference to the 17th Regiment of Foot is a nice coincidence given my very recent figures of the regiment (albeit depicted in a guise 100 years prior to the Crimean War). Interesting too to read of the Leicestershire Yeomanry’s involvement. Having painted the Warwickshire Yeomanry, I’d like to depict the Leicestershire version sometime. It would be particularly nice perhaps to produce a diorama of the two Sebastopol cannon’s parade back in 1857, but that will have to remain just a pipe dream for now…

Meanwhile, continuing on a Russian theme, work continues slowly on the Napoleonic Soum Hussars regiment. I’ve already posted about the lengthy preparation required for these figures. Well, further retarding progress, I’ve decided to repaint all the hussars breeches as the original red colour that I’d painted, shaded and highlighted just looked far too light. Nevertheless, the process of painting these is very pleasurable. The figures are beautifully sculpted, it’s just a shame that the mould doesn’t reveal them in quite as crisp detail as I’d like. But I’m quibbling, painting these has reminded me of how much I enjoy painting hussars.

Here they are so far with their dolmans, plumes, breeches and a little of the braid already painted.

Updates to follow!

 

 

Hussars of the Tsar

This year, I have added a regiment of Russian Astrakhan Cuirassiers to the Nappy Cavalry Project and also finished painting the 17th Regiment of Foot for the 2017 Benno’s Figures Forum Group Build project.

What to tackle next? Why, more Napoleonic cavalry, of course! So, I’ve picked up my box of Zvezda Napoleonic Russian Hussars which are my 22nd Nappy Cavalry Project regiment. I originally intended to have a go at these before Christmas, but there was something of a problem with these figures, so let me explain:

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My daughter kindly holds up my latest box of Napoleonic cavalry!

Now – I find Zvezda figures need special preparation before painting, which I forgot to do. I charged on carelessly! Without some pva glue as an undercoat, I find my careful paintwork can just fall off the figures at the slightest touch. Having neglected to do this before spraying my primer, I now found I had the problem of removing all the flaky paint again. Although the paint flakes off easily, it does so unevenly, such that I struggle to completely remove it. I’ve tried scrubbing the figures with toothbrushes and also leaving them to soak for days in both Dettol antiseptic and bleach; none of these techniques were entirely successful. I’ve now tried blotting the figure with sticky Blu-tac which does indeed lift the paint off – but it’s hard and slow work.Finally, I’ve managed to clean up the last few figures ready to ‘begin again’.

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Zvezda Russian Hussars – primed and ready to go (finally…)

All fairly dull stuff, I’m sure anyone will agree who’s reading this! So, a far more fun thing to do, I find, is to decide upon which of the many colourful Russian hussar regiments I want to depict. I was pointed in the right direction very kindly by “matgc“, a talented Brazilian painter on Bennos Figures Forum (and I urge anyone to visit his excellent blog ‘My Ever-Growing Armies’ and view his own wonderfully vibrant Zvezda Hussar figures).

There were 12 Russian Hussar regiments in 1809, each wearing their own unique array of colours which is just what I love about Napoleonic cavalry. Out of these choices, I whittled them down to these preferred options (with their brief uniform descriptions):

  • The Pavlograd Hussars – Dark Green dolman / Turqoise pelisse / Yellow braid / Dark Green trousers
  • The Elizabethgrad Hussars – Grey dolman / Grey pelisse / Yellow braid / Dark Green trousers
  • The Soum Hussars – Grey dolman / Grey pelisse / White braid / Red trousers
  • The Izoum Hussars – Red dolman / Dark Blue pelisse / White braid / Dark Blue trousers
  • The Olviopol Hussars – Dark Green dolman / Dark Green pelisse / Yellow braid / Red trousers

Hmm, choices..choices… Of the other regiments, some wore black or brown dolmans which look terrific, including the said matgc’s chosen regiment,the  Akhtyrsk Hussars. However, having previously painted Prussian Hussars wearing both black and brown dolmans, I fancied a different colour for my cavalry collection. So, my choice is…

The Soum Hussars! These hussars are in grey with red trousers (see contemporary prints below). Perfect – I’ve not got a cavalry regiment in grey and red! I’d better shake up my bottles of grey paint in readiness…

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A Soum Hussar
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Russian Hussars – Left: Akhtrysk Hussar; Centre: Izoum Hussar; Right: a Soum Hussar.

Russian Hussar regiment info courtesy of the very splendid “Blunders on the Danube” blog – visit it here.

HM 17th Regiment of Infantry

I’ve now finished the 17th Regiment of Foot for the 2017 Benno’s Figures Forum Great Miniature Figures Parade. Lots of detail on the figures required lots of careful work. Thankfully. I had lots of time these past few days and only a few chores, furthermore I’ve really enjoyed painting them. The RedBox figures are very impressive, perhaps not the greatest I’ve ever seen, but with lots of character and crisp detail nonetheless!

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RedBox is to be also commended for tackling the topic of the mid-18th century British army. This era was incredibly important for British infantry as it began to learn how to fight in conflicts right across the globe for the first time in its history. From the Carnatic Wars in India, to the French & Indian War in North America; from the port of Havana, to the coast of West Africa; and from the Philippines in Asia, to Silesia in Europe, the British army was soon to find itself pre-eminent on a global scale (although the American War of Independence was around the corner…). It seems unjust that figures on this era remain very few indeed at 1/72 scale.

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Sergeants, drummer and flag bearer of the 17th.

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I’ve bought a few boxes of these RedBox figures and I intend to keep dipping into it to build up a force in time. For now, my 17th Regiment (just like their real forbears) are also about to travel for service overseas. Instead of North America or the West Indies, however, the are making for Germany. There they will be incorporated into a parade diorama by a talented fellow called Jan and then to ultimately make their way with the rest of the marching force over to Arnhem in Holland for display at the FIGZ convention!

Finally, on a related topic, I draw your attention to a US re-enactment group who are dedicated to bringing to life the “The 17th Regiment of Foot” as they were at the time of the American War of Independence (a decade or so later than the era depicted with my figures). Their excellent website states that it was;

“…established in the early 2000’s with the mission is to provide for its members and the public the experiences of the common British soldier throughout the conflict, and more specifically at historic sites from the Hudson River Valley to Virginia.”

In particular, they have an excellent study of the regiment’s finest hour at the battle of Princeton and in the successful defence of a baggage train, both against overwhelming odds. They conclude:

“Their conduct at Princeton and at many other battles throughout the American War made the 17th Regiment one of the truly outstanding British units of the war.. “

And this Leicester man says”hear, hear” to that!

Romaika, 1772 and a Hunting Call

This is a progress report on those RedBox figures I’m painting for the Bennos Figures Forum Group Build 2017. The theme this year is for marching figures which represent the painter’s local area or country. For my part, I’m submitting 18th century British infantry figures painted as the 17th Regiment of Foot, which later became The Leicestershire Regiment.

There’s a lot of details on these figures and they’re not an easy paint. My approach is to just have fun and do the best I can. And the are fun to paint, despite the challenging detail. I’m hoping to paint the regimental flag (now that will be tricky!) and a drummer too. Aside from the contemporary painting by David Morier, I’ve been aided by the detailed description of the regiment at the time of the 7 Years War provided on the Kronskaf website. Inevitably, I’ve had to make some compromises due to the figure’s sculpting and scale, (not to say my abilities) but hopefully it will still provide a reasonable portrayal.

Today, I’ve added the ‘greyish white’ cuffs and turnbacks, the former being lined with a delicate blue edge. I’ve worked hard on that greyish white colour – not that you’ll be able to tell the difference from white on these photos! Here’s how they are looking so far, with lots of details still to attend to…

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So why have I called this post “Romaika, 1772 and the Hunting Call”?

Well, I thought it would be nice to provide a musical accompaniment to the images of these figures; specifically I mean some of the regimental marches associated with the Leicestershire Regiment of which “1772”, “The Hunting Call” and “Romaika” are but three. The Royal Leicestershire Regiment website has this to say on this trio of quick marches.

This combination of three tunes has been in use since at least the beginning of the 20th Century: ‘Romaika’ is believed to be a Greek country dance tune and was authorised in 1882. ‘1772’ was an adaptation from an old English air of that period. ‘A Hunting Call’ is an old Leicestershire hunting song, originally used by The Leicestershire Militia.

Leicestershire is indeed renown, in England at least, for being a traditional fox hunting county which would explain the presence of the latter tune (formerly of the county’s militia). On YouTube, the Coldstream Guards can be heard playing these three Leicestershire Regiment marching tunes. Considering it includes a tune dating from ‘1772’ – what better music could there be to listen to whilst painting figures of the 17th Regiment from the very same period?

 

The BFFGMFP…

It’s that time of year when a German gentleman named Jan from Benno’s Figures Forum announces the theme for this year’s ‘Group Build’; a collaboration in which Forum contributors from across Europe, nay – the world, collate their figures for display at the FIGZ convention in Arnhem. It is officially known as (take a deep breath) the Bennos Figures Forum Great Miniature Figures Parade (BFFGMFP)!!!

Last year, I sent some WWII Dutch cyclists and Napoleonic Dutch Infantry to join the many entertaining scenes of historical figures travelling “on the road to Arnhem”. In 2015, I sent four figures (including a Scots Grey, a Hanoverian Hussar, a Prussian Jager and a Nassau Grenadier) to join a large diorama commemorating the 200th anniversary of Waterloo. Importantly, two of these figures were Napoleonic cavalry, which kick-started my ongoing Nappy Cavalry Project…

For this year, the idea is to assemble a huge column of marching figures. The figures involved can be from any historical period and the intention is to build up a parade which travels through all the ages. We’ve been encouraged to paint a unit from our own countries or regions and with this in mind, I’ve come up with the following idea:

This year, my contribution will be –

The 17th Regiment of Foot, circa 1740!

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Soldier of the 17th Regiment, 1742 (contemporary print)

The “17th Regiment of Foot” became the “17th (Leicestershire) Regiment of Foot” in 1782, and then simply “The Leicestershire Regiment” following the Childers Reforms of 1881. Being a Leicestershire man myself, this certainly fulfils the brief to send figures representing my own country or region.

The figures I’m going to use have been lying around unpainted for a couple of years now. The figures are from Ukrainian manufacturer RedBox, specifically their British Infantry (Jacobite Rebellion 1745) set. It contains lots of marching figures, perfect for the BFFGMFP! Not having painted any RedBox figures before, I’m keen to try them out. At first glance, without being worthy of the description ‘sublime’, I’d say their figures look promising.

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RedBox British Infantry (c.1745)
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On the march: Leicestershire joins the “BFFGMFP”

I have until May to produce my contribution of what I hope will be around 15-20 figures, so there’s plenty of time. I have other things demanding my attention in the meantime. I’m still putting together the next post in my equine painting tutorial as I develop my Russian Cuirassier horses, hopefully this should be posted in the coming week, work duties allowing.

Bye for now!

Marvin.

Distractions…

Happy New Year one and all! OK – it’s eight days late, I know, but I’ve been seriously distracted by another blog I’ve been working on.

It’s a project featuring a fictional 18th century Imagi-Nation and its army called The Duchy of Charnwood. I’m using 28mm metal figures and generally having a bit of fun setting up a fantasy nation with its colourful troops. I envisage it will be a slow-burn project and therefore not be taking up too much of my time. However, in the rush to get it set up over Christmas, I’ve neglected Suburban Militarism a little and, therefore, also my Russian Cuirassiers as a consequence.

Anyway, if you want to check out all the nonsense of my absurd new blog and pay His Grace the Duke of Charnwood a visit in “The Duchy of Charnwood” click here

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I’m back on to the plastic Napoleonic cavalry now, though. Those Astrakhan Cuirassiers are well into their paint job albeit with lots of details still to attend to. They are a joy to paint, I confess. The Zvezda figures are really good and it’s a real shame that the manufacturer has seemingly abandoned full 1/72 scale Napoleonic kits. I’m looking forward to seeing these Russian cuirassiers completed and displayed in my brand new display cabinet (a Christmas present!) up on the wall with all the other Nappy cavalry regiments.

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Napoleonic Russian Cuirassier

I’ll update with new pics (hopefully soon…) once those riders are finally finished and I’m ready to start on their horses.

I sincerely wish a happy and peaceful New Year to all visitors to Suburban Militarism.