Advent Army Generals

The Army of Advent are now formally under the command of senior officers! I’ve been a somewhat distracted from hobbies and painting in recent weeks by the irritating and insistent demands of the ‘real world’. This latest group of soldiers are in truth still only 99% finished but, as it’s been a few weeks since I’ve shared anything even near to complete, I’m showing what I’ve got anyway!

Introducing… General Rudolf St. Nicholas and two of his senior staff:

Figures are by the wonderful Hagen Miniatures, They’re not being used quite for their originally intended purpose as Prussian generals of the 7 Years War but they nonetheless find a very welcome home in my Army of Advent. Rather than place them in ‘deep and crisp and even’ snow drifts, as I’ve done with the rest of the army, I’ve situated these senior officers in a landscape dusted with a fresh seasonal snow flurry.


The first figure is of the Commander-in-Chief himself. I’ve used Hagen’s figure of Frederick the Great, ‘Der Alte Fritz’, raising his hat aloft to his adoring troops. General Rudolf St. Nicholas is riding his magnificent grey stallion, Pandepascua. The figure came with a choice of three alternate upper torsos and I chose this hat-raising one, it being the most visually distinctive.

His Chief of Staff, Major-General Minns-Pye rides Striezel. For the Army of Advent’s General Staff, I’ve placed them in the dark red uniform similar to that worn by the 1st Noel Regiment. A yellow sash and gold trim on the tricorns are indicative of their rank.

Finally, we have Maj-Gen. Stockingfiller bestride his easy-going Trakehner stallion, Bredele.

I was going to include Lt-Col. Figgypudding on his Lusitano stallion, ‘Panforte’. I realised belatedly that I had still to attend to a number of things before he’s ready (saddle cloth, riding gauntlet gloves, spurs, etc. etc.), so maybe I’ll present them both later.

Stable Personalities: Horses of Advent

Horses. They can get a little overlooked in modelling, and I know some people positively hate having to paint them, which I get. I like to give my horses their due, however. In fact, I seem to have developed the convention of naming the noble steeds of Advent army officers after Christmas puddings and seasonal cakes from around the globe. In my officer’s stables, for example, I already have a dun stallion named “Panettone” and a tough little Arabian called “Pandoro”. So, continuing on in that tradition, I introduce to you the Commander-in-Chief’s extremely fine – and rather pampered – grey stallion, Pandepascua!

General St. Nicholas on Pandepascua. The General, along with the rest of his staff, are still a work in progress.

Chief of Staff, Major-General Minns-Pye prefers his elegant and black stallion while on campaign to anything quite as fancy, and as physically delicate, as some of the other thoroughbreds he sees ridden by certain other headquarters staff. Introducing his trusty Hanoverian warmblood – “Striezel” (‘show’ name – Allerheiligenstriezel!).

Maj-General Minns-Pye on Striezel

Next, I have Bredele, Maj-Gen. Stockingfiller’s chestnut-bay Trakehner. A good-natured equine with a tendency to lazyness, much like (it has been said) old Stockingfiller himself!

Maj-Gen Stockingfiller on Bredela

And finally, completing this show of officer’s horses, we have a stallion every bit as spirited and forward-going as his own master (St.Nicholas’ zealous military secretary, Lt.Colonel Figgypunding). “Panforte” is the name of this feisty dark-bay Lusitano.

And finally, Lt-Col. Figgypunding on Panforte.

The scale of these figures is perfect for my Army of Advent and they seem to go nicely with other 1:72 sized plastic figures I’ve used so far, as can be seen by the photo below.

Above: Maj-Gen. Minns-Pye on Striezel is closely followed by Colonel Giftrapp of the Yule Grenadiers on Pandoro – ahead by a length going into the final furlong…

I’ve been working on painting from the hoof up with these Hagen figures, so next in my list after the saddleblankets and pistol holders are done will be the riders themselves. As you can see, I’ve made a start with the coats but there’s plenty more to do before they’re fit to command the Army of Advent.

General St. Nicholas and Staff

As mentioned in the last post, after a call for some suggestions of figures which could represent the staff officers of my Army of Advent, John at Just Needs Varnish came up with a corker of a suggestion that I should check out Hagen Miniatures of Germany. A quick look at their extensive range of 7YW Prussian staff convinced me that I’d plump for them.

They’ve come through the post super quick from Deutschland and they’re glued ready for paint. First up, I have the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Advent:

1. General Sir Rudolf St. Nicholas

The figure is actually ‘der alte Fritz’ himself, King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Pleasingly, the figure comes with three alternative top halves including choices of a raised sword, a lowered sword and a raised hat. I wanted General St. Nicholas to be as distinctive as possible so have gone with the dramatic raised hat pose. The other two redundant poses are below:


2. Major-General Minns-Pye (Chief of Staff)

The most senior member of General St. Nicholas’ staff is Adjutant-General, Chief of Staff and effective Second-in-Command, Major-General Minns-Pye.


3. Major-General Stockingfiller (Quartermaster-General)

The figure below will represent the QMG, Major-General Stockingfiller. The horses are quite distinctive; rather skinny with long faces. I like them, perfect for the project, being full of character. They remind me of the cartoon character Lucky Luke’s horse, Jolly Jumper


4. Lieutenant-Colonel Figgypudding (Military Secretary)

Finally, we have the General’s dependable right-hand man – the energetic Military Secretary, Lt.-Col. Figgypudding.

All in all, a nice little group for the General Staff of my Army of Advent!

The Mysterious Re-emergence of Colonel Giftrapp

I’ve been busy quietly painting my Yule Grenadiers, one regiment from my (admittedly eccentric) Christmas-themed army. The grenadiers are virtually completed but in the course of some painting duties, I was delighted to discover the regiment’s long-lost CO, good old Colonel Giftrapp!

Colonel Giftrapp and his Arabian bay stallion, Pandoro.

He was last seen back in 2015 in a state of being incomplete. I fixed him with a little Blu-Tac for a photo atop his chestnut charger, Pandoro (who was also only partially painted). I took a snap as the Yule Grenadiers marched through the streets of the town of Advent during the Christmas holidays.

I confess I have a history of losing important soldiers only to rediscover them some years later. This was the case with the lost Sharpshooter. Thankfully, I seem to rediscover them again, eventually…

Happily, both rider and horseman have now – quite separately – appeared. Pandoro the horse emerged first tucked away in a tin of random, unfinished figures. Of Colonel Giftrapp, however, there was no sign.

This week however, in the process of tidying, I opened the cupboard door to my painting bureau and there he was lying at the bottom, plain as day. He must have somehow dropped down from wherever he’d been secreted. A little paint was missing here and there, suggesting they’d had a few adventures along the way. They both just need a little work here and there (stirrups, sash, etc.) to get them fully parade-ready.

This is all excellent timing, of course, as his regiment has only this week taken receipt of it’s new uniforms. As obliquely indicated in my last post, the old Revell figures are being updated using new HaT Austrian Grenadier figures. I’ll be sharing the subtle new-look to the regiment in the next post soon.

The Army of Advent

Having been mired in a lack of enthusiasm for any new painting assignment, I started rifling through the piles of soldiers in storage in the hope that something, somewhere might eventually inspire me to pick up a brush. I eventually pulled out a box of HaT’s Austrian Infantry from the 7 Years War. These are figures intended for the Christmas Corps, which I’m increasingly labelling the Army of Advent.

Followers of this blog may recall a certain Christmas tradition involving the formation of this Christmas-themed imagi-nation army (because nothing says “Christmas” quite like military conflict…). Glibness aside, although hopelessly out of season (August highs of 31°c+ here yesterday), reviewing these figures for the Army of Advent suddenly re-inspired me. I usually paint such figures nearer the time, but it doesn’t really matter so long as they are ready for mantelpiece duty on the 1st day of Advent. So I’m going with these HaT marching figures in an attempt to get my paint juices going again.

This army currently consists of specially painted troops in their bright and colourful uniforms, created for one purely ceremonial purpose – the duty of standing guard on the mantelpiece during the Christmas season.

The newly-raised Mistletoe Guards on their plinth during last Christmas.

Each year, two regiments from the Army of Advent take a ‘tour of duty’, being displayed on a plinth amongst all the mantelpiece decorations. The Army of Advent currently consists of;

General Staff:

Commander-in-Chief Major-General Noel St. Nicholas and his staff.


Infantry Brigade:

Colonel Hoarfrost (Midwinter Fuzileers) commanding, Major Incense (Mistletoe Guards) ADC.

  1. The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot
  2. The Yule Grenadiers
  3. The Midwinter Fuzileers
  4. The Mistletoe Guards
Colonel Hoarfrost and Major Incense ride out on their respective chargers; Blitzen and Panettone.

Cavalry Brigade:

Colonel Mulled-Wyne (Christingle Dragoons) commanding, Captain Wassail (Carolling Hussars) ADC.

A Carolling Hussar.

Artillery:

Captain Fortune-Fisch commanding.


I’ll be sharing news of some progress very shortly on this project. In the meantime, I’m looking to develop a general staff for the festive force. If anyone knows of 20mm / 1.72 scale figures which may be appropriate for 7YW era commanders aside from HaT’s versions, I’d love to hear your ideas.

Bombarding in a Winter Wonderland

And in other snowy news, the expansion of the base for Cracker Battery is finished. To expand the scene, I added some fir trees, a holly bush and a rickety old country fence.

The white modelling clay I’ve used is a slightly different shade to the original stuff but hopefully isn’t too noticeable.

They were not slated for a tour of duty as part of 2019’s decorations but when my wife saw me taking it back upstairs into storage she insisted it went out with the rest. So, Cracker Battery is also on display, their 7 pounder (that’s a seriously heavy snowball) points menacingly at my two other Christmas regiments…

The Mistletoe Guards

Having showcased my Midwinter Fusiliers last week, I’m now in a position to share the other regiment which is also due to take its place as part of this year’s household Christmas decorations. Introducing the newly raised Mistletoe Guards!

The figures are 1.72 scale from Zvezda’s Prussian Grenadiers of Frederick II set. There are only three of these figures in each set but I got lucky in finding a seller on eBay who had clearly bought a number of boxes but had no use for the standing or marching poses. For soldiers intended to simply stand to attention over the fireplace during December, they were perfect.

The Mistletoe Guards’ uniform is closley based on another regiment I’ve long-since admired. The Grand Duchy of Stollen blog has a beautifully painted regiment known as the Leib (Grand Duchess Sonja’s Own) Grenadiers. I’ve long been an admirer of this fabulous and venerable blog and this particular regiment’s brightly coloured uniform always impressed greatly.

So, in humble tribute to that wonderful Stollenian regiment, my festive Mistletoe Guards have been carefully painted to mimic their B Company (with yellow pompoms).

As usual for the Christmas Corps, the Guards are deep in snow (courtesy Woodlands Scenics) and the pennies upon which they are based have bright blue glitter around the edges for added seasonal decoration. I was planning on adding a little mistletoe to their grenadier caps but thought that would only cause untold havoc in the ranks should any ladies visit during the festive period.

As with all the regiments in my Christmas project, my daughter Eleanor has designed a fabulous regimental standard. It features mistletoe on a pale green base, the name of the regiment underneath, and is all edged with light blue and red. The figure of the ensign is from HaT’s Prussian Seven Years War Infantry Command range.

The mounted officer is also from HaT’s Prussian Command set, the Midwinter Fusiliers’ mounted colonel being from their Austrian box. The officer, a gentleman altogether more reliable than the rest of his command, has a sprig of misteltoe in his tricorne hat. Colonel Hoarfrost of the Midwinter Fusiliers was mounted on a horse I named ‘Blitzen’. I think the Mistletoe Guards’ officer (Major Frank Incense), rides a fine, forward-going, dun stallion of Italian pedigree known as “Panettone”…

Finally, there is an NCO of the guard keeping the ranks in order with a large spontoon.

So my newly raised regiments are intensively drilling for their decorative role on the fireplace. As soon as the Christmas decs are up, I’ll post them in situ on their specially made and labelled plinths.

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.

Cracker Battery in the Snow

Nothing says ‘Christmas’ quite like a 7 pounder artillery battery in the snow. My bizarre and distinctly unseasonal Christmas decoration is finished with this display showing Cracker Battery, Christmas Artillery of the Christmas Corps.

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You may notice that Cracker Battery have taken time out of their gunnery practice to build a snowman. The Snowman was crudely and quickly made by yours truly but I think it looks decent enough. The carrot nose was made out of the end of a cocktail stick.

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“Nothing like a bit of team building” as their officer Captain Fortune-Fisch advises.

You may also observe that there’s also a small pile of snowy projectiles ready for loading; these are somewhat over-large calibre snowballs. No doubt Bombardier Partihatt will carefully sculpt them to size before loading.

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You may notice that I’ve painted their cannon a nice light shade of blue. I must say that Revell’s sprue was perfect. The cannon came together so perfectly that I didn’t even need to apply any glue, it just snapped together with engineered perfection.

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Oh, wait. Looks like it’s started snowing again…

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It’s a suitably seasonal scene, I like to think. I promise not to bring it out until at least early December! In the meantime, I’m adding a handful of Carolling Hussars as well, so I may share progress on those in due course.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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’.

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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.”

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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.

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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…

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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…

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