They are, of course, the iconic comic double act Laurel and Hardy, seen here reprising their role as Legionnaires who have joined to ‘forget’. Their first film in this guise was the 1931 sound-short film “Beau Hunks“.
These figures are handmade by a Brazilian friend from Benno’s Figures Forum. Jaques recalls being a fan of these films for many years since childhood. It’s notable how their comedy endures over time and translates across different cultures and languages.
Our desert duo remade their original Beau Hunks feature in 1939 with another French Foreign Legion caper called “The Flying Deuces” which ran at a longer hour and 7 minutes.
I hope that Jaques will be pleased with my attempts to realise these heroes of black and white comedy into full-colour with my brush. I reckon his handiwork is terrific and is a great tribute to them.
Another Mitrecap Miniature, as promised in my last post.
I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of painting this one. The challenge chiefly lay in getting the colour of the tunic right.
Here’s why: the tunic is a shade of blue that seems to be difficult to define. The Barlow and Smith book on the Sussex Yeomanry Cavalry has the following description:
“The tunic was a double-breasted Indian Army pattern in a special bright dark blue superfine cloth – virtually the same shade as the facings on the obsolete khaki Full Dress which showed up the black braiding more distinctly.”
Yes, a special bright dark blue. Sounds a bit like describing ‘a dull, shiny green’ or ‘a vivid, drab yellow’! R.J. Marrion’s artwork uses a palette which further beguiles. It seems to be a dark blue but with a velvety green tinge, the highlights themselves being turquoise.
Some assistance came in the form of a single photograph I discovered of headgear worn I believe by the Sussex Yeomanry historical reenactment group. One of these caps is a dead ringer for the cap seen on my figure and Marrion’s cover illustration. Sure enough, the colour appears to be a green-tinged blue – something approaching a dark teal colour. So, I went with that in mind and mixed my own colours.
This cap is described in the following way:
Officers wore an army blue forage cap with black patent leather peak and chin strap; the peak was edged 3/4 inch in gold embroidery for field officers and 1/2 inch for troop officers. The cap had a gilt badge and buttons, a yellow band and yellow piping in the crown seam.
The braid threw up another puzzle. Marrion appears to clearly show it as being a lighter version of the same greenish-blue as the tunic, but the text by Barlow and Smith very clearly state it to be ‘black’, describing “five loose loops of black plaited chain gimp cord across the front, with olivets and Austrian knots at the outer ends“. I’ve gone with Barlow and Smith on this as they seemed very clear on this point and painted them black.
The overalls appear to be more simply a dark blue; “Blue overalls with a single broad yellow stripe…“. Marrion’s illustration also seems to reflect this blue colour as being distinct from the ‘special bright dark blue” of the tunic. All this fussing over the colour might seem ridiculous as I’m aware that under the camera lens, the blue of the tunic and the blue of the overalls look the same. All I can say is that they do look like the subtle but distinctly different shades that I intended them to be to my naked eye!
The collar was very unusual. It was described as being yellow, which even a quick glance will contradict. It appears to be totally dark blue or black. However, this is a consequence of lots of black braid; “Yellow collar, edged all round with similar (i.e. black) braid, traced inside with black cord to form 16 eyes on the yellow centre.” I confess, I didn’t paint the full 16 eyes, I managed 13 in total, all the tip of my 00 brush and my unsteady hand would allow!
“A gold oak-leaf lace pouch belt on blue Morocco leather with gilt buckle tip and slide (no breast ornaments) black leather pouch with gilt Royal Cypher and crown on the flap.” Unfortunately, the pouch belt had none of the engraved patterns of the Tradition South Notts Hussar that I painted in 2019, so it appears as a plain yellow-gold. Likewise the pouch itself, so I’ve vaguely approximated the cypher and crown design.
This Full Dress uniform was approved by royal submission on 3 April 1909, rejecting, incidentally, a previous dragoon design created by the renowned military artist Harry Payne. White wrist gloves complete the uniform which was reserved for Levee or ceremonial occasions only.
This figure came in an attractive little red box, although my other Mitrecap figures are in a bag instead. A particular challenge I perhaps could have done without however is that Mitrecap figures are cast without a ‘peg’ under a foot to assist with standing or fixing on to a plinth. Consequently, I’ve drilled the leg and inserted my own improvised metal peg for stability – he’s not going anywhere! Otherwise, I’ve been most impressed with this Mitrecap Miniature and I look forward to painting more.
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.
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.
Described by C.S. Grant’s “Armies and Uniforms of Marlborough’s Wars” as having light blue stockings, cuffs and collars. With wide variations as to what ‘light blue’ could be interpreted as, I’ve chosen a shade I simply liked the look of.
At Blenheim, under Tourouvre’s Brigade, the Regiment de Toulouse consisted of two battalions in a total of 1000 men.
The officer looks pretty relaxed, but then his large wig could probably stop a well-aimed musket ball or two.
His sergeant looks a little more animated, bellowing orders at his men.
Pleasing figures once again from Strelets. I was a little concerned that being sideways on the sprue would make them less effective to painting, but I think they’ve come out very nicely.
I may boring regular visitors with these figures, but I am enjoying this project very much. My desire is to continue with another regiment but something tells me that I should go for some variety and do something else for a bit. So, I’m at that pleasurable stage of wondering what to paint next. I’ve certainly plenty of figures to choose from, so I better go and check out my enormous unpainted pile!
It’s a Field Day for my Lace Wars legion! At the suggestion of Suburban Militarism friend and follower Markus Sharaput, I thought I’d parade my 2020 vintage War of the Spanish Succession troops as an indication of overall progress:
Well, the good news for the French is that reinforcements are on their way! As I type this, another regiment of white-coated Gallic infantry is already well advanced with paint. More on that anon…
I’ve been happily painting up another French infantry regiment from the War of the Spanish Succession. As these near completion, I’ve also been casting my eye over some other figures from the same Lace Wars period which could nicely enhance my collection.
The figures I have in mind are from Strelets’ Court and Army of Peter the 1st (aka the Great), some of which (above) I used for this year’s FEMbruary challenge which included the Empress Catherine, two ladies of court, an officer and some guards.
“Another senior government minister who became a privy councillor. He successfully negotiated a treaty with the Ottoman Empire but eventually fell from grace.“
‘Officer of Cavalry’
“Carrying a very short, stubby sword and apparently wearing a cuirass under his coat, so perhaps an officer of cavalry?“
You may note that I’ve removed his odd-looking “very short, stubby sword” so that he simply stands to attention. Helpfully, the end of his scabbard is hidden under his arm, so the absence of a sword won’t be a problem.
To accompany these ‘bigwigs’, I’ve assigned some additional guards to be painted also:
Part of the attraction for painting these personality figures is that they offer some possibilities for creating personalities of an imagi-nation of some sort. I’ve been thinking of how my burgeoning collection of early-18th century armies could be used to game the military travails of such an imaginary nation. Indeed, I have a specific nation in mind, but more on this perhaps in a future post…
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.
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.
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’:
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!
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.
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:
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!!!!