Feztive Fuzileers

“We are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”

Laura Ingalls Wilder
Captain de Winter of the 1st Noel Regiment of Foot rides his trusty mare “Tinsel” through the snowy town of Advent…

As December looms; here in the UK the days get shorter, the nights get darker and, what’s more, I turn to my hobby with its little rituals and traditions. Once such tradition is my preparation for December’s Christmas decorations. This primarily takes the form of yearly expanding my ‘Christmas Corps’ of festive figures.

Every year since 2013 I have paraded 1/72 scale soldiers, specially-painted with a seasonal twist, on the mantelpiece in the living room. Forming part of our Christmas decorations, these colourful 18th Century-style regiments have Christmas-themed names and commonly feature holly in their helmets, tinsel in their tricornes, and snow on their shoes. And in the case of last year’s artillery group, known as Cracker Battery, even a snowman and snow cannonalls can feature too.

So far, the Christmas Corps is made up figures representing the following:

Figures suitable have been limited to Revell’s classic 7YW range which thankfully have been recently reissued albeit with the disappointing exception of their very wonderful Austrian artillery set.

Cracker Battery with snowman

HaT meanwhile have reissued their own hitherto out-of-stock Prussian 7YW infantry range and also released a new Austrian infantry range to boot. Great news for fans of the 7YW in 20mm and I naturally wondered if I could make use of these impressive HaT figures in my Christmas Corps alongside the existing Revell versions.

Finally, Zvezda some years ago also produced a box of “Prussian Grenadiers of Frederick the Great” which featured their usual very high standards of sculpting and production. That box is increasingly hard to come by nowadays but I had a box in storage and was also fortunate to discover a seller on eBay who was getting rid of some second-hand figures – most of which were those posed either marching or standing to attention. These poses are perfect for any regiment whose martial intentions are limited to merely standing on the mantelpiece during Christmas – so I secured them at a very reasonable discount.

A Carolling Hussar with red tinsel in his mirleton.
Gold tinsel in the tricorne for this Christingle Dragoon.

So it comes as no surprise to say that I’ve been hard at it lately with these figures with the intention of raising two more infantry regiments for the Christmas Corps. With the 1st Noel Regiment and the Yule Grenadiers as the 1st infantry brigade, I intend these two new ones to form the 2nd infantry brigade. First off, I’ve been using HaT’s Prussian infantry Marching set to raise some fusiliers. The HaT Prussian infantry box comes with a choice of headdress; grenadier mitres, fusilier caps or musketeer tricornes and I’ve opted for the fusilier caps to create the first regiment in the new II Infantry Brigade.

Presenting

The Midwinter Fuzileers!

The Midwinter Fuzileers (note pretentious antique spelling) wear grey coats with flat-blue waistcoats and breeches. Their gaiters and facings are white. Fusilier caps have silver plates with a red fabric backing.

With the 1st Noel wearing dark red, and the Yule Grenadiers wearing white, I wanted a very contrasting uniform. Designing a new uniform is one of the great pleasures of the Christmas Corps project and after a few false starts, the neutral grey / mid-blue/ white combination seemed to work nicely – very smart!

Their officer, Colonel Hoarfrost is from the HaT Prussian Command set and is mounted on a faithful steed whom we shall call “Blitzen”. Since these photos were taken, Blitzen’s saddle cloth has been decorated with a yellow star to mimic the motif on the regimental flag. In his tricorne, this Christmas dandy wears some evergreen foliage decorated with pink tinsel:

He is ably supported by an NCO carrying a spontoon.

Their flag, carried by an ensign, has been designed by my daughter. This is a service which she has faithfully provided me with since designing the flag of the 1st Noel Regiment back in 2014!

Flag of the 1st Noel Regiment designed by my (then) 6 or 7 years old daughter.

Hitherto, any festive figures have simply been placed loosely above the fireplace in a group. This year, I’ve decided to provide a more formal presentational platform which I’m currently gluing, painting and varnishing like some deranged Geppetto. More on this soon.

I’m also now working on the other regiment – something which I confess to being quite excited about! This regiment will be presented when they’re ready to take their place on the mantelpiece on their own platform hopefully within a week.

Christmas Crackers

Yes, I know it’s only just turned November, but I want to talk about Christmas, dammit! Just like the painfully over-eager High Street shops, for me early November is a time of preparation. For Suburban Militarism it is also the time when a handful of figures are painted up to join their brethren in the Christmas Corps in readiness for a seasonal duty.

Carolling Hussars (6)
A Carolling Hussar

This prestigious group of model soldiers take their turn for a tour of duty on the mantelpiece as part of the household’s December Christmas decorations. In previous years, the following troops have been created:

With the Christmas Corps now comprising two slowly growing regiments of infantry and two also of cavalry, I thought it about time to add some suitably seasonal artillery to help the season go with a bang. Therefore, I am introducing:-

  • Cracker Battery of the Christmas Artillery!

I’ve remained consistent with the range of figures that I’m using. Revell’s sublime Seven Years War soldiers have provided all the figures so far. Up to about a year ago, the cavalry and infantry sets were becoming extremely rare until Revell reissued them in combined boxes of either Prussian and Austrian infantry or cavalry. This terrific development has pleased many. However, Revell only ever produced one set of artillery figures; the Austrians.

revell austrian artillery.jpg

And what a set it was! Superbly detailed sculpting and terrific poses. Unfortunately, Revell have not reissued this set, nor I believe have any plans to, leaving 7YW wargamers desperate for artillery support. The old 1994-era boxes of Austrian artillery are now as rare hen’s teeth and going for a tidy sum whenever boxes do crop up. So I’m very lucky to have sourced this box for a reasonable fee for the Christmas Corps.

Revell Christmas Artillery (1)
Men of Cracker Battery awaiting paint.

The Austrian artillery wore a light brown uniform but I wanted something with a just little more colour than that but different to the other regiments in the . So, I’ve elected for navy blue coats, red turnbacks with straw-coloured waistcoat and breeches; coincidentally this is also the colour of Prussian artillery during the 7YW.

Here’s how they are looking so far (with a biography of each man in the battery).

Revell Christmas Artillery (19)


Cracker Battery; Christmas Artillery:

1.Captain Rupert Fortune-Fisch

The officer of the battery is well-educated and the perfect gentleman. A keen interest in mathematics greatly assists in the accuracy of his guns. His tricorn hat is adorned with a sprig of Broom, a feature particular to the Christmas Artillery. This is a tradition which goes back to when they were said to have ‘swept away’ the enemy at the Battle of Broombriggs Farm. At this action, low on ammunition, their cannons famously took to firing off brandy-lit Christmas puddings at the enemy.

Revell Christmas Artillery (8)

Revell Christmas Artillery (9)

Revell Christmas Artillery (10)

2.Battery Sergeant Major Fred Cheaptoy

A stalwart of the battery and the Captain’s most dependable man. No one knows gunnery drill better than Cheaptoy. Although he knows the drill, BSM Cheaptoy sees his role as purely supervisory, seldom getting involved with any actual physical work.

Revell Christmas Artillery (2)

Revell Christmas Artillery (3)

3. Corporal Frederick Faketache

This is the man trusted with the lighted portfire (well, once it’s painted…). No one else in the battery can be relied upon so dependably to actually fire the cannon when told to do so, and NOT beforehand…

Before he does apply the fuse, Corporal Faketache cries out “have a cake!”, at which point new recruits take a bite out of their regulation ration of Christmas cake only to scatter crumbs in shock as the gun noisily discharges. Old hands know better and cover their ears. Traditionally, the warning call was “have a care!”, but years of standing near loud cannonades has badly affected both his hearing and his memory. It is precisely this deafness which prevents any premature firing of the gun.

Revell Christmas Artillery (11)

Revell Christmas Artillery (12)

4. Bombardier Joseph Partihatt

Bombardier Partihatt can be seen below engaged in his favourite duty, carrying the ammunition over to the cannon. This involves much strength but little brain; a task in which Partihatt is perfectly suited. What’s that in his hands, you enquire? A white cannonball? Not so; the Christmas Artillery only ever fire snowballs, of course!

Revell Christmas Artillery (7)

Revell Christmas artillery (26)

Revell Christmas artillery (13)

5. Gunner William Dredfuljoak

Good old Bill Dredfuljoak is the battery comedian, always ready with a quip or an amusing anecdote, even (or especially) when limbs are being severed and heads are being detached by counter-battery fire. Below, he adopts a nonchalant stance so typical of the man. When in action, if the battle reaches a crisis point, he can often be heard being implored by his Captain to “shut up, man and for pity’s sake get a move on with that bloody sponge!

Revell Christmas Artillery (4)

Revell Christmas Artillery (5)

6. Gunner Johnny Tweezers

Johnny has a stick. Johnny likes to use his stick to move the cannon left or right. That’s about all there is to say about Johnny Tweezers. However, as a bass-baritone, Gunnar Tweezers sure holds a good note during the singing of any Christmas carols. His loud vocal is said to ‘boom like mortar fire’.

Revell Christmas Artillery (14)

Revell Christmas Artillery (15)

7. Wheeler Thomas Plasticfrogg

Wheeler Plasticfrogg might appear at first sight to be adopting a super-hero pose below. He is in actual fact rehearsing his key role in the battery which is basically wheeling the gun into position. Plasticfrogg takes his job very seriously and the sight of him exercising by stretching and moving imaginary cannon wheels about is a common sight during off-duty moments. BSM Cheaptoy considers him “a bit too-bloody-keen.”

Revell Christmas Artillery (16)

Revell Christmas Artillery (17)

So that’s the men of Cracker Battery. The Revell set still leaves me with enough figures for two more similar sized batteries to add to the brigade in future years and even provides some horses and drivers delivering ammunition.

In other news, I have purchased and extremely cheap lighted church model to also appear in my seasonal display on the mantelpiece with Cracker Battery. I may paint this up to appear more visually appealing too, perhaps a coloured roof or white walls.

Revell Christmas Artillery (21)

Although Captain Fortune-Fisch is pleased as punch with the location of his new billet over the Christmas period, the local parson may not be quite so enthusiastic…

Talk Christmas artillery2

Talk Christmas artillery

No artillery battery is much use without a cannon, so I’ll post an update on that once that’s been painted and assembled. I am also making plans for the final display, which I will also post on at a later date.

Once more – my apologies if this ridiculously early Christmas-related nonsense has made anybody queasy…

Revell Christmas Artillery (18)

Christingle Dragoons and Carolling Hussars

I need to talk about Christmas. I know – it’s far too early to do that, but I need to make some preparations, you see? A feature of the season, for Suburban Militarism at least, is the tradition of painting some suitably seasonal soldiers to parade on the mantelpiece among all the tinsel, Christmas cards and decorations.

christmas-infantry-1
Yule Grenadiers in a snowy scene

christmas-infantry-10
Men of the 1st Noel Regiment of Infantry

In previous years, I’ve exclusively painted soldiers from Revell’s Austrian Infantry of the 7 Years War. These troops have been painted purely for decoration in bright colours and the seasonal army so far consists of two infantry regiments. The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot were the first figures I produced some years ago. The Yule Grenadiers followed a couple of years ago. I’ve been quietly adding a handful of men to each of them each Christmas time.

carolling-hussars-1.jpg
The Carolling Hussars

Carolling Hussars (6)

This year, I thought I’d expand the seasonal army with the addition of another arm; the cavalry. Using Revell’s 7 Years War Austrian Dragoons and Prussian Hussars, I am creating the beginnings of two Christmas cavalry regiments;

  • The Christingle Dragoons
  • The Carolling Hussars

For the past week, I’ve been working on four figures from the Carolling Hussars using Revell’s Prussian Hussars. The uniform I’ve chosen is based upon a real regiment, the Puttkamer Hussars of the Prussian army. Originally named the White Hussars, they took on the name of their colonel Georg Ludwig von Puttkamer (who was subsequently killed at the brutal battle of Kunersdorf).

Puttkamer_Hussars_Knötel
A Puttkamer Hussar

I thought the Puttkamer Hussar’s all-white pelisse looked suitably wintry for my seasonal hussar regiment. For the ‘light blue’ dolman and overalls, I selected the colour turquoise. To add a little festive cheer to that all-black Mirleton headgear, I’ve glued on a little piece of tinsel!

carolling-hussars-20.jpg
A Carolling Hussar in full charge, tinsel plume catching the sunlight…

carolling-hussars-10.jpg

I haven’t painted Revell’s Prussian Hussars of the 7 Years War before now. They are as finely sculpted as other Revell cavalry I’ve painted such as the Napoleonic Life Guards.

carolling-hussars-21.jpg

Finally, as with all my other Christmas figures, I’ve depicted them riding in snow (…deep and crisp and even)! My 11-year-old daughter has previously designed flags for both the Yule Grenadiers and the 1st Noel Regiment. On seeing my Carolling Hussars, she immediately requested that she design their colours too. To do this, I might need to attempt a conversion of one of the figures (not a skill of mine!), as Prussian hussars didn’t carry colours into battle during the 7 Years War and therefore don’t appear in Revell’s kit.

With Advent looming, I’ve already begun four more figures for the other Christmas cavalry regiment; the Christingle Dragoons. More on those figures soon. Hopefully, they should be ready in time to take their place on the mantelpiece here at Suburban Militarism, alongside hand-picked representatives of the Carolling Hussars, the Yule Grenadiers, and the 1st Noel infantry.

Who once said “Christmas isn’t Christmas without model soldiers”? Well, it might have been me…

Carolling Hussars (7)

“The First Noel…”

On a snowy December’s night, Colonel de Winter rides his trusty horse ‘Tinsel’ through the streets of the small town of Advent. He is returning to his lodging at the Manor House. Indeed, all the men of his regiment, the 1st Noel Foot Guards, are billeted in the town for the Christmas season.
‘No doubt’, thinks the Colonel as Tinsel trudges dutifully on through the snow, ‘most of the lads are already enjoying the delights of the local public house; a most disreputable tavern named ‘The Holly and the Ivy’…

As stated in my previous post, I’ve retrieved my Christmas Infantry Brigade from storage. Two regiments take turns to parade on the mantelpiece over the Christmas period. Whilst for this year it is the turn of the 1st Noel Regiment of Foot Guards, I’ve been busy painting a half-dozen figures to add to my under-strength Yule Grenadiers.

Using, Revell’s increasingly rare “Seven Years War Austrian Infantry” set, this year I’ve added a drummer, five marching grenadiers and am just finishing off a mounted officer.

The Yule Grenadiers are now 17 strong. The flags of both regiments was designed by my young daughter on computer. The 1st Noel have a nice red flag with lots of baubles, the Yule Grenadiers have a flag featuring a Christmas pudding on a green background!

For this Christmas, my daughter has received an innovative advent calendar which builds daily into a snow-covered town using pressed out card for houses and trees. I thought this might prove to be a nice backdrop for parading both regiments (scale notwithstanding) and she kindly let me borrow it for these photographs.

christmas-infantry-16
On a snowy December day, the Yule Grenadiers take up their right to march through the streets of Advent, the regiment enjoy the honour of having the ‘freedom on the town’.

christmas-infantry-3
An NCO and musketeer of the 1st Noel Regiment of Foot, pieces of tinsel in their tricorns.

The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot:

The Yule Grenadiers:

Great news those with access to British television, the very wonderful Time Commanders returns after an absence of about a decade. The series features hour-long episodes dedicated to wargaming battles from ancient history. Episode one will feature the Roman-Cathaginian battle of Zama, 202BC. Previous episodes included such battles as Cannae, Gauagamela, Chalons-sur-Marne, Tuetoburg Forest, Qadesh and Stamford Bridge. It’s all done using virtual figures rather than painted versions, but makes for great television nevertheless!

Clip from the series Time Commanders

Best wishes for the season to everybody!

Marvin.

Festive Forces

Ah, did I mention Christmas in my previous post?

Yes, it’s that time of year again where seasonal decorations go up in the house and I parade one of two regiments comprising my Household Christmas Infantry Brigade up on the mantelpiece. I usually paint a handful of these figures to add to the growing regiments as well, just to get me properly in the Christmas spirit. Last year, the elite Yule Grenadiers took a tour of duty.

Yule Grenadiers (1)
Men of the Yule Grenadiers

This year the honour of taking a tour of duty on the mantelpiece returns to the 1st Noel Foot Guards; photos of their latest seasonal appearance to follow in the coming days / weeks.

 

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

With Christmas Day barely 2 and a half weeks away, I thought it was time I started to do some traditional activities. No, I’m not talking about decorating the Christmas tree or rooting out the seasonal decorations. I’m referring to my annual painting of my 1/72 scale Christmas regiment!

In recent years, using Revell’s Austrian 7 Years War Infantry, I’ve painted a fictional regiment of 18th century soldiers in suitably festive colours, basing them in deep snow and even adding a little tinsel to their tricorn hats. The painted figures then take a ‘tour of duty’ guarding the mantelpiece for the duration of the Christmas period.

Christmas Infantry (5)
Men of the 1st Noel Foot Guards regiment.

The regiment that I’ve painted hitherto has been dubbed the 1st Noel Foot Guards (bad pun, I know), sporting a deep red coat, gold facings and holly-green coat lining and turnbacks. My 8 year old daughter even designed them a flag last year on computer, which I printed and attached to the ensign.

Christmas Infantry (8)
Flag of the 1st Noel designed by my daughter

 

This year, however, I’m painting a new Christmas regiment for a change. Still using the Revell Austrian 7YW Infantry, I’m selecting grenadiers only to form my Yuletide Grenadiers battalion. I’m opting for white coats with gold caps. Not sure about the trim yet, possibly a red or green combination. Here they are below after the first (as yet unshaded) lick of paint as a basecoat for their coats and caps.

Better get my daughter on to designing their flag. No more time to waste for me on these figures though, I’ve got to get back to Napoleon and his escort so as to complete this year’s Nappy Cavalry Project.