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 Frenderick 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 spring 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 and 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.

Scarecrows Assemble! Queen Vicstrawia and her Grainadier

Queen Vic-straw-ia and her Grainadier Guard, my family’s submission to a local village scarecrow-making competition is complete and ready for the crowds of people that visited the displays last year. My wife and daughter created Her Majesty (a very fine job indeed, I’m sure you’ll agree) and I made the guardsman (naturally enough).

In my last post I had finished making the head out of papier mache. Next, I stuffed his uniform with straw and stuck his head to a cardboard tube.

For a belt, I’ve stuck some white paper on to one of my old belts. I notice that the buttons on my uniform are grouped in threes which therefore makes it a Scots Guard! No plume is worn by that regiment, just a bearskin, so that made it easier for me.

That bearskin won’t pass parade at that rakish angle! I need to attend to that before the big day.

For the rifle, I’ve borrowed some (toy) military hardware from the young son of a friend – on the understanding that it is returned to him in the same condition. So, as some temporary modifications I’ve used some brown paper to cover what was a bright green plastic stock. I’m intending to make it less like a lime-green Space Marine’s assault rifle and a tiny bit more like a .303 Lee-Metford or Short Magazine Lee Enfield. The orange end of the barrel seen in the photos above I’ve since covered in black tape.

Straw ankles in tights and beach shoes? The Sergeant-Major will have your guts for garters, laddie!

The hands were a late addition. I was hoping for skin coloured marigolds or maybe white gloves but they’ll have to do. A couple of sturdy wooden poles up the legs and hammered into the ground will, I’m hoping, keep the whole thing upright and standing to attention!

My daughter and I with our handiwork.

Wait a minute – what’s this just around the corner from our pitch…?

Goddammit! Another one! And we’re gonna need a bigger bearskin! I’m seeing four buttons on the tunic and yet there’s no blue plume? Pah! Clearly these amateurs don’t know the Irish Guards uniform very well… 😉

As a final flourish, I’m planning to play “Soldiers of the Queen” on repeat from my military band music collection. Hopefully, Queen Vicstrawia and the Guardsman might even attract a few votes from the visitors to the competition? Wish us luck!

And I thought the sun never set on Victoria’s empire?

Queen ‘Vicstrawia’ and her ‘Grainadier’ Guard

My in-laws live in a village which holds a scarecrow competition each year. This year the girls and I thought we’d help out and make our own for them. For those unfamiliar with this kind of competition – see this example. Bad puns for the scarecrows are a feature of this kind of festival. The theme for the scarecrow contest this year was “Best of British”.

We elected to help out the in-laws and create this year’s scarecrows. My wife and daughter thought they might create Queen Vicstrawia in her iconic seated pose from late in her reign. I immediately suggested she needed a military escort, her very own Grainadier Guard!

Luckily, I managed to pick up a child’s Guardsman costume for only £5. Dating from the 1960s, it’s in perfect condition and is fabulously well made using quality materials (no plastic buttons here – metal only).

There’s some nice detailing on the back too…

First off, I needed to make a head. So a bit of papier-mâché, using a balloon as a template, I hoped would do the trick. Not done this before and my first attempt was a bit of a let down – literally! The balloon had a slow puncture and gradually went down leaving the head ended up all shrunken and wrinkled…

My second attempt came good. Getting into my papier-mâché stride, I added a rudimentary nose, brows and ears…

I slapped on a little poster paint and then started to think about hair. A trip into town to the charity shops allows me to track down some cheap, black felt material from a rags bin. I also find a thin, feathery, black boa which will do for facial hair. Et voila, we have a guardsman’s face!

I see my scaling for the head has – ah – somewhat overestimated the much smaller bearskin! Never mind, I’m pleased with it and ‘comical’ is what I’m after. But now I’ve got to somehow attach that head to the body… but before that I’ve also got to create and stuff the arms and legs… and then the whole thing will need to magically stand to attention!

This scarecrow building is harder than I thought it would be. Wish me luck!