While I’m finishing off the latest set of Prussian hussars for the Nappy Cavalry Project, I thought that it might be time for a “Featured Figures” post. And, I have to confess, it’s yet more cavalry…
Last year, I dedicated a good portion of my time to tackling four regiments (nearly 200 figures) of Frederick the Great’s Prussian Infantry of the 7 Years War. Once I these were complete, I considered that it was maybe time to paint some adversaries too, so I tackled Revell’s Austrian 7 Years War Dragoons set.
They are a nice looking set, delicately sculpted in the familiar style of Revell figures. They are perhaps just a little too delicate for my personal taste. I do like a little more distinct detail to hang my paint on, but painted with care there’s no doubt they make a very reasonable cavalry set.
The Austrian dragoons of this period were blessed with an astonishing array of brightly coloured uniforms, each regiment being different from the others. I chose to depict the Prinz Savoyen Dragoons regiment which wore an all red uniform with black trim. I decided to mount them all on greys for some reason or other! There is another set of these figures waiting somewhere in my collection ready for me to depict another Austrian dragoon regiment, whenever I get around to it…
In a break from the Napoleonic cavalry theme, (here on the blog at least), I present a complete change of era. Until the other year, I’d never attempted what they term in soldier painting circles “ancients”. These usually encompass anything from Ancient Egyptians right up to the medieval period. I’d become interested in the history of the late Roman empire period and attempted most of HaT’s wonderful range of late Romans such as the heavy infantry. I’ll post some photos of these on the blog at some point.
Of course, when the western half of the Roman Empire finally ended, it left the eastern half still very much intact with its capital at Constantinople. Historians call this the Byzantine empire, Byzantium being the former romanized Greek name for Constantinople (which is now called Istanbul – clear?).
But I’m not happy about that. It seems to me to be a bit of a convenient label applied by historians in the West. You see, the “Byzantines” called themselves “Romans” and their Persian, Slavic and Islamic contemporaries, who would eventually overwhelm them, also called the state Rûm. But the West had its own ‘recreated’ Roman empire after the original one collapsed; the Holy Roman Empire. It also had a separate church, the Roman Catholic one centred in Rome, as opposed to the Orthodox one based in Constantinople. So politically, geographically and theologically speaking; there has been controversy surrounding this Empire: is it a new successor state which we could call Byzantium, or the surviving continuation of the remaining half of the Roman Empire? It appears that the ‘Byzantines’ and their regional neighbours certainly seemed to consider themselves to be the latter.
Whatever it was, it had a fascinating history that survived many threats and crises for a thousand years after western Rome fell. In a Romantic finale, the final ‘Roman’ Emperor (appropriately called Constantine) was apparently last seen joining the final desperate fighting as the Ottoman Turks poured through a breach in the walls of Constantinople.
This blog’s about my plastic soldiers, you know. And here are some I’ve painted from the 10th – 13th Century era. Orion produces two more eras, earlier and later, to span the 1000 years of Byzantine history during which time its soldiers had changed from Late Roman legionaries to medieval soldiers becoming increasingly familiar with the introduction of early cannon and even handguns. Orion produces lovely sculpting but the sprue comes with horrendous flash (the plastic edging that leaks out of the mold). It was so bad, that they were barely salvageable and took a long time to get them vaguely presentable. You’ll notice that in my efforts to improve the figures I managed to chop the end off of an axe. He now wields a particularly nasty looking pointed stick…no wonder those Ottomans won…
The Featured Figures on this occasion are Strelets British Light Infantry of the Crimean War. More correctly, these are the Rifle Brigade, one of two ‘green jacket’ regiments the British army had. It was formed in 1800 as the Experimental Corps of Riflemen by the wonderfully named Colonel Coote-Manningham, before being called the 95th Rifles. Wearing green jackets instead of the more usual scarlet, the riflemen made use of the Baker Rifle which was far more accurate than the infantryman’s Brown Bess. Their chief characteristics were to skirmish, scout and snipe, a function made more practical by their green jackets. The regiment’s participation in the Peninsular War and the battle of Waterloo was brought to popular attention in the 1990s by the Sharpe TV series, featuring Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe of the 95th. (I really ought to try and buy some DVDs of this sometime…)
By the time of the Crimea, the regiment had been renamed “The Rifle Brigade”. It took part in the battles of Alma and Inkerman as well as the lengthy siege of Sevastapol, in the process winning more Victoria Crosses than any other single regiment during that campaign. After WWII, the regiment was merged to form the Royal Green Jackets alongside the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Regiment and its sister Rifle Regiment; The King’s Royal Rifle Corps. I had my first visit to the mighty Royal Green Jackets museum in Winchester in 2013 which featured much about the Crimean War and was quite possibly the best military museum that I’ve ever visited!
Anyhow. This is a blog about little plastic soldiers. So bring on the figures! Note that some wear the despised Albert Shako but the remainder have opted for the Kilmarnock cap.
As a means of introducing some of the types of soldiers that exist in my ‘army’, I thought I’d begin a regular feature to the blog whereby I showcase some of my figures I’ve painted up over the past few years. I thought I’d begin entirely randomly with some French Napoleonic Line infantry of the period of 1808-1812 by HaT that I’d discovered lying about.
I only painted a few examples of this box, and I did those a couple of years ago now. The HaT box covers three different types of troops; Grenadiers, Voltigeurs, and Fusiliers, together numbering a total of nearly 100. It was a bit of a struggle getting the white parts of the uniform presentable and indeed I think at the time I found it to be such hard work that I quietly put them aside. A couple of years on and I have yet to come back and paint any more but looking at them now, I think I did a very reasonable job. My painting style has sped up a bit over the past couple of years which means more soldiers to display but, perhaps, a subsequent teeny tiny reduction in quality? Repainting them now, would they look the same? I’m not sure.
Either way, now I see them again, I do like them. These were the first French Napoleonic infantry I’d ever painted and, given that Waterloo Airfix versions had made up such a large part of my unpainted armies of youth, it was most certainly not before time!
So, now I’m finally getting this blog up and running, you might expect more examples of my little guys appearing soon!