Erm… a belated ‘Happy New Year’. Seems like we’re back in lockdown – and for a long time too. Hope everyone is staying safe and looking after each other. In my spare moments, I have very slowly been adding some paint to the remaining figures in my Russian Sledge Train project. I previously had a few figures painted in December (see forager posts parts one and two for these), but I still had about a half dozen remaining.
The remaining figures include the following:
The Prodding Peasant:
This figure goes together with ‘The Peasant Pummeler’ figure I painted a month ago. I suggest that this irate yokel is unimpressed with the quantity of livestock that the Tsar’s troops are carrying off!
The Scarfed Supervisor
He’s the one with a list, an officer’s bicorne and a gesturing hand, so must be the man in charge of the foraging expedition. The green scarf around his neck is a nice touch by the sculptor.
The Barrel Bringer
This Cossack is rolling a barrel up to the sledge train. Plastic Soldier Review were somewhat confused about this figure, suggesting that it “…might be a Cossack doing something (our best guess is pushing the sledge, but it could be anything).” The barrel included in the set is the clue, the two seem to go so nicely together that I believe this was the sculptor’s intention.
The Rabbit Raider (or maybe, The Balalaika Burgler)
He could even be called The Hare Holder, certainly PSR seem to think it’s a hare. From his helmet, I can tell he’s a dragoon in winter dress. In his other hand is a balalaika which confuses me a little (although PSR seem unquestioning about it!). I’m wondering why this dragoon might have it. It’s unlikely that he’s taken it with him on the foraging expedition, so presumably it is – like his hare – booty taken from a peasant household to be enjoyed back at camp.
The Calf Carriers
These two characters can be seen from their dress to be some type of warrior from the Steppes, most likely Kalmyks or Bashkirs. They are carrying a pole tied to which is some type of an animal which I decided is probably a calf. I’ve had little opportunity to develop my cow painting skills, so I’ve just done my best here. PSR point out that the legs are tied somewhat impossibly underneath the pole!
And finally, the man left waiting around, whip in hand, for all these foragers to finally return with their food is…
The Dallying Driver
Another nice character, I painted his hat red as I thought there was a little something of Santa about him.
Those other finished figures again:
Just the sledge and horse to paint next and then – at some point – I will be putting the whole lot into some sort of scene (I could really use some of Pat’s diorama expertise here, but the plan ultimately is to use lots of snow…).
December, 1812. Napoleon’s army may be struggling against pursuing Cossacks and the cold Russian winter during their infamous retreat from Moscow, but for at least one French infantryman there’s something to look forward to…
My ‘Russian sledge train‘ figures are progressing nicely. Because they’re such varied characters, I’m splitting them up into painting batches so that I feel a sense of making progress. Here’s the first batch:
The Peasant Pummeler
This fellow above is angrily wielding a big stick. Collectively, the figures in the box lend themselves to an overall narrative which will hopefully make sense when I put them together. Suffice to say, he might have something to do with settling the dispute taking place in the next group of figures…
“The other piece is also a pair, and also includes one of the eastern irregulars, this time with a bow and quiver on his belt. He holds a fowl of some sort, as does the other figure, who is a woman. Whether they are capturing it, attempting to kill it, or perhaps fighting over it we cannot say – all seem reasonable possibilities. Whatever is going on it is bad news for the bird but quite an appealing piece for us.“
It seems clear to me that they’re fighting over it, the Central Asian warrior (a Bashkir or Kalmyk perhaps) is taking it away to the sledge as fodder for the army. I doubt a dead bird would not be handed over by the legs like that (being all floppy and all) and what’s more they seems to be engaged in a tug of war, pulling away in different directions. Finally, I think the peasant woman’s face is shouting. She has good reason to protest. In winter, the seizure of livestock like this could mean life and death to peasant folk.
The Sheep Stealer
The next character is carrying a dead sheep across his shoulders. Again, PSR were unsure as to the nature of this animal, but the fleece (which doesn’t come out very well under the lens) seems to be a giveaway.
I’ve placed this Cossack in a tan coloured coat rather than the usual blue, just for a bit of visual variety.
The Pig Plunderer
This Cossack has his hands full with a pair of piglets. I’ve got to attend to their trotters and snouts but otherwise I think they look OK. Nice work from Strelets with the Cossack’s face, which is full of character.
More to come from these with another ten figures still to do including, of course, a sledge! Later, I aim to combine them all in some kind of a final scene.
Presenting 2020’s platoon of French marching infantry!
These figures are on the retreat from Moscow back to Vilnius in Lithuania, victims of Napoleon’s vain ambition. They slog through the cold Russian winter snows, harrassed by cossacks and dogged by gnawing hunger every step of the way.
They join their colleagues to form a company currently numbering 82. Another 64 figures are still left unpainted in two remaining boxes.
In what is, in itself, becoming an annual tradition, I present the lovely Strelets characters I’ve painted for this year’s group;
And it’s not time to put away the jar of fake snow just yet. I’ve got another Strelets ‘Retreat from Moscow’ set to tackle, a series which I’ve been painting around the same time of year in both 2018 and 2019. From that set, this bored-looking fellow below is awaiting his turn with the brush. Now I come to think about it, he does look a little bit like Santa…
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…
I have now completed my submission for the 3rd Annual FEMbruary Challenge! I posted on my FEMbruary figures recently and promised that I’d share something which ‘would complete the scene more fully’. Well, I went a little further than planned…
Entirely coincidentally, Catherine the first is the 2nd Russian empress called Catherine that I’ve painted for a FEMbruary challenge, Catherine the second (the Great) being painted back in 2018:
I had some real trouble with basing. At first, I just glued the figures to pennies with modelling clay as usual without thinking of what Catherine and the ladies of court might be standing on. Then I spent time, filing down the clay and adding some PVA glue to smooth the surface. Next I painted a tiled floor which looked great apart from being hopelessly uneven!
So I scrapped that and went back to the drawing board. I found some cheap HO scale mosaic card floors which I though might look the business in some kind of a stately garden.
Adding some hedges and flowers, the palace garden idea took shape. My Capability Brown talents in full flow, I made a gravel path alongside a hedge. Helpfully, my Strelets Roman Senate set also came with a roman statue which I added to my design. I wasn’t sure how to paint a marble statue but a little cream colouring with satin varnish seems to have worked well enough?
Aside from the statuary, there are the two court ladies I presented previously; one a lady glancing with a fan and the other patting her lap dog.
The other characters that I was planning to introduce are also from Strelets’ “Court and Army of Peter I” set. The Russian general is bending to kiss the hand of Empress Catherine, a fact correctly identified by a commentator on my last post.
There’s also some guards from the same set, veterans of the Great Northern War, which I’ve painted up to watch over her imperial highness. I know the early Strelets figures aren’t to everyone’s taste, but I do love the expressions on these guys.
Finally, you may have noticed the large house in the background. This is courtesy of Paperboys on Campaign 18th Century buildings book, which I had purchased recently anyway with a view to placing some of them on the wargaming table, their scale apparently being far more suitable to my 20mm figures than the 28mm they’re originally designed for.
The building is unfinished but I only needed the rear facing the garden. It’s far too small for any of the grand St. Petersburg palaces of course, but perhaps it will stand for a wing or even a little ‘out-building’ in the grounds of one?
And with that, like a genuflecting general, I bow graciously out of FEMbruary. Don’t forget to check out the other varied and fabulous work being created across the blogosphere for Alex at Leadballoony’s FEMbruary by checking out his original post here –
I’ve been making swift progress with my FEMbruary submission. In the first FEMbruary challenge back in 2018, I chose Bad Squiddo’s 28mm figure of Catherine the Great. One of the most remarkable rulers in history, most people are familiar with her name, the monarch being the subject of recent TV miniseries in the UK (2019) and Russia (2014-19). While Catherine II of Russia is famous, less familiar is Catherine I, mostly because she only reigned for three years after Peter I’s (her husband’s) death.
Born of very humble beginnings as Marta Helena Skowrońska, she was nonetheless to become a remarkable and very capable empress. In a happy marriage, the “energetic, compassionate, charming, and always cheerful” Catherine proved to be the perfect partner to support and manage the tempestuous emperor Peter. With no successor named by the dying Peter, popular Catherine took power with the support of Peter’s best friend, Prince Menshikov, and the Guards Regiments.
I was interested to discover there was an equestrian portrait of Catherine I in a Guards uniform riding a grey charger, closely resembling (perhaps not coincidentally) the later painting of Catherine II by Eriksen which had inspired my 2018 figure. So, it seems that the Bad Squiddo figure could stand for either Empress Catherine?
I am very unfamiliar ground painting 18th dresses but thankfully the fashion of the early 18th century was for plainer designs:
“In the beginning of the (18th) century…a plain style was preferred, without too many ornaments. This style was strongly influenced by Françoise d’Aubigné, the wife of King Louis XIV.”How did women dress in the 18th century?
This seems to be born out in contemporary portraits and it made things much easier for me. My Strelets 1/72 scale figure wears a dress which I’ve painted in a similar shade to her portrait by Jean-Marc Nattier. A red sash and an ermine-lined velvet cloak is all that’s missing. I may brush on a little satin varnish to imitate silk.
The above painting most probably was the inspiration for Strelets’ sculptor too. The dress design being remarkably similar and there’s even a tiara on her head closely resembling the one she wore (making some allowance for the complications of sculpting such a thing in 20mm scale)!
The other two FEMbruary ladies at court are also nearly completed. This charming figure is using her richly decorated fan and gazing into the distance:
The other lady has a small dog at her feet which she is reaching down to pet. I thought that it looked a little like a King Charles Spaniel (a breed, incidentally, particularly popular with the 1st Duke of Marlborough), so I painted it in that fashion. This is the figure for whom I had to resort to some serious flash removal. To conceal her disfigurement, half of her face I’ve hidden under the locks of her hair.
So, these three courtly women are nearly completed but not quite! There’s more to come – the Empress Catherine is reaching her hand out in front of her and I’m also painting something which will make sense of this gesture and complete the scene more fully. So, ‘stay tuned’!
FEMbruary has been declared! For the 3rd year, I’m formally throwing my hat into the ring for FEMbruary 2020. Begun in 2018, this cracking idea by Alex at Leadballoony blog invited modellers to share their work on female miniatures or otherwise join in as “part of an ongoing conversation about how women are presented within our hobby”. In previous years, Suburban Militarism has submitted:
This year, I’m turning to my preferred 1/72 scale. The figures I’ve chosen are from Strelets’ “Court and Army of Peter the 1st” ‘big box’ set which I’ve had for a little while now in my far-too-large pile of unpainted items. It features soldiers and guards from Tsar Peter I’s newly formed professional Russian army, and also contains a number of unusual and entertaining court figures, including Peter the Great himself.
For FEMbruary, I’ve taken from this set three aristocratic ladies in fine dresses, one of whom is the Empress, Peter’s wife. I’ve already glued them on pennies and PSR’s description of each is below:
“Empress Catherine I (1684-1727) – Peter’s second wife, whom he married in 1707 and was named Empress but only really had power after his death. The marriage was a very happy one.”
“Court lady – In ‘German’ or western dress, with a large wig as required by Peter.”
“Court lady – As above, but this one pets a small dog at her skirts.”
Much of the court personalities from this set will of course fit the era for my new War of the Spanish Succession project. As such, they could as Plastic Soldier Review state; “work equally well at the court of Louis XIV or any other monarch, so the potential is quite considerable. However a top quality paint job is about the only hope for these otherwise rather unsatisfying figures.” Gulp! The pressure is on to meet that challenge, and I hardly need confess that I’ve not painted 18th Century ladies dresses before, never mind a dog…
The figures seem to show those early Strelets characteristics of imagination and fun, with a distinctive sculpting style which divides opinion. In the main, I haven’t found flash to be a particular issue with Strelets figures but these courtly ladies underwent some serious plastic surgery with my scalpel. In the case of the lady and dog, her face quite literally went ‘under the knife’!
Always up for a challenge, I’ll share my progress, good or bad, in due course. In the mean time, do pop over to Leadballoony’s blog for more on other FEMbruary figures and participants!
I have been reviewing my collection of Strelets Crimean War figures of late. These are 1/72 scale and are some of the figures I painted during the years before this current WordPress incarnation of Suburban Militarism came into being. I may blog a little more about these at some point, but in the meantime I’ve been tidying up my old Strelets Crimean War page and adding more images of them.
In the process of this, I’ve rediscovered some of the unpainted figures of the Strelets Large Boxes issued on the conflict. These were basically collections grouped together by theme and which included figures available in individual boxes as well as additional special edition figures. These large sets were titled; “Into the Valley of Death“, “Heavy Brigade“, “Last Assault on Sevastopol” and “Russian General Staff and Hospital“. It’s some of the special figures from the latter that I’ve been working on.
The box cover artwork (above) is more clever than many perhaps realise. I can find no reference to it, but it appears that the artist has based the illustrations on known portraits of Russian General Staff. Foreground on the box artwork from centre-left, I can clearly identify – Admiral Nakhimov; Rear-Admiral Istomin; Lieut-Col. Totleben; and Vice-Admiral Kornilov.
Seems to me that Nakhimov even makes a reappearance on the cover of Strelets’ Russian Naval Artillery box below?
So, here’s my painting efforts on a small group of these Strelets Russian Crimean War personalities from the “Russian General Staff and Hospital” set, (I’ve included a brief explanation of who’s who):
1. Archbishop Innocenti (Borisov)
The Holy Hierarch Innocenti or Innokenty (secular name – Ivan Alexeevitch Borisov), was the Archbishop of Kherson and Tauride, governates which included the Crimean peninsula. He was born in 1800, in Orel Province, in the town of Eltz.
In 1819, his father also being a priest, the then Ivan Borisov studied at the Kiev Theological Academy where he apparently “devoted himself to his studies with such fervour that he sometimes spent his nights immersed in his books“.
During the Crimean War, the Archbishop “played an extremely active archpastoral role” providing essential spiritual succour and care for the Russian troops. A Russian Orthodox cathedral website describes his work:
“Holy Hierarch Innokenty’s greatness of soul was evident as well in his visits to wounded soldiers in field hospitals, where typhus was rampant and where one could be an eyewitness to all of the great sorrows, all of the sufferings inflicted by war. During battles, he would go about the army ranks, encouraging the heroic soldiers. Here as well the courageous father and pastor, he was also an angel and comforter to the suffering.”
It seems that the harsh and insanitary conditions of the siege, coupled with the effort required of his great exertions, eventually took its toll on him. During an allied assault on Sebastapol, the Holy Hierarch Innocenti suddenly became unwell and he died on 25th May 1857 while travelling to the port of Odessa. In 1997 he was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church as a saint.
2. Admiral Pavel Nakhimov
Admiral Pavel Nakhimov became a hero to Russian nation for leading the defence of Sevastopol with great inspiration and courage. Entering the Naval Academy in St Petersburg, outstanding gunnery performance in his first major action won him his first captaincy, achieved ironically while fighting alongside the British and French fleets that would become his foe decades later.
Destroying the Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Sinope won him great acclaim but did much to bring his former allies into conflict with the Russians in what would become known as the Crimean War.
During the siege of Sevastopol, he and Admiral Kornilov hurriedly organised a very effective defence of the port city, which was also the home to the Black Sea Fleet. Nakhimov was the effective head of Sevastopol’s naval and land forces when on the 10th July 1855, while inspecting the Russian defences along the Malakhov-Kurgan ridge, the Admiral was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper, succumbing to his injuries two days later.
3. Vice-Admiral Vladimir Alexseyevich Kornilov
Like Nakhimov, Vladimir Kornilov was also present in the battle of Navarino, Kornilov as a midshipman. He acquired great acclaim for his ship engaging and eventually capturing an Ottoman-Egyptian steamer called the Pervaz-i Bahri in 1853 – being the first action in history between steam ships.
The defence of Sevastopol was led by Admiral Pavel Nakhimov with assistance from Vice Admiral Kornilov, the duo ably assisted by C-in-C Menshikov’s chief engineer, Lieutenant Colonel Eduard Totleben.
On 5 October 1854, an artillery dual began between the allies and the Russian guns. British artillery fire found its mark in the Malakoff redoubt’s magazine, with the resulting explosion killing Kornilov,
4. General Prince Mikhail Dmitrievich Gorchakov
I’ve painted General Gorchakov in a naval officer’s uniform, but in reality Gorchakov was a general of artillery. The sculpted uniform looks indistinguishable from the other naval officers I’ve painted, so it may be Strelets (and myself) are mistaken. With his balding scalp and spectacles, the sculptor has certainly captured something of Gorchakov’s physical appearance.
Gorchakov entered the Russian artillery as a cadet in 1807. Thereafter, he took part in campaigns against Persia and France (he was present at the great Battle of Borodino, 1812). Further experience was gained in wars against Turkey and then Poland and he rose to the rank of Lt-General.
After first commanding Russian troops in the crossing of the Danube at the start of the Crimean War, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Russian forces in the Crimea, replacing the sacked Prince Menshikov. His defence of Sevastopol, and withdrawal from the southern half of the town were characterised by competence and skill.
He died in Poland in 1861 and, as with other a number of other senior Russian staff I’ve painted, was buried at Sevastopol.
5. Rear Admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Istomin
Vladimir Istomin was another veteran of the Battle of Navarino, having only just graduated from Naval College. His career led him to participate in the Battle of Sinope, commanding the battleship Paris.
Rear Admiral Istomin was in charge of the defense of the renowned Malakov redoubt, setting an example of bravery and tenacity. He was killed by a cannonball on the Kamchatka redoubt on March 7, 1855.
He was later buried inside the Admiral’s Burial Vault in Sevastopol, alongside Admirals Kornilov and Nakhimov.
6. A Deacon.
I’ve also painted a few unnamed characters. The first is a what is described by Plastic Soldier Review as a Deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church. From his open mouth, it appears that he might be intoning some hymn or prayer. He carries an ornately engraved book of the gospels in his left hand with a metal thurible (incense burner) in the other. A little cotton wool threads make for the wisps of incense escaping the chamber.
I must say, I love this figure, Strelets doing a great job of sculpting.
All my Crimean War Strelets figures are mounted on pennies.
7. A Lay Acolyte or Soldier parading a Religious Icon on a Banner.
Religion was hugely important to the Russian soldier, a key part of his motivation and consolation. The display of religious banners was used to inspire the troops before battle.
Strelets supply two banner carriers in this set with Plastic Soldier Review describing them as “acolytes (altar boys) carrying banners”. I chose one of them to paint but on close inspection, this ‘altar boy’ is clearly dressed as a Russian infantryman. He wears a military coat and even has the infantryman’s sword. Is this a case of a soldier filling in for the lack of church staff and acting as a lay acolyte? Perhaps this was common practice in war? Answers on a postcard – or in the comments section.
8. A Wounded Naval Officer in the Hospital
And finally, a figure from the hospital. He appeared from his coat to possibly be another naval officer, so I’ve painted him as such. He has received some medical attention with a bandage around his head and his arm in a sling. At the last moment, I added a little extra blood, head wounds being known to make a mess. Sitting on a crate, the man appears calmly resigned to waiting a long time for further treatment (well, they’re not called ‘patients’ for nothing…).
I confess I’ve really enjoyed painting these figures, so I intend to plough on with another batch soon.
For my final submission for FEMbruary, I’ve been tackling Bad Squiddo Games’ WWII female snipers. Bad Squiddo do an amazing range of soviet soldier women including all-women infantry squads with rifles or SMGs, scouts, medics, tank riders, heavy machine gun teams, mortar teams and even flame throwers.
Bad Squiddo also do sniper teams like mine, including other non-winter duos. Coincidentally, Mark at Man of Tin blog has been tackling Bad Squiddo’s female soviet command set for FEMbruary too, whilst also setting himself a FEMbruary challenge read that resonates perfectly with my sniper women figures – The Unwomanly Face of War, an oral history of Russian women in WW2.
The two figures fit well together, with one lady calling out and pointing, while her comrade stands poised ready to act on her advice.
Svetlana the Spotter:
Individually, I like this figure’s face with her hair falling out from under her fur hat. She holds a pair of binoculars by which she has clearly identified a target. I painted the eyeglass parts for these in silver, in a rare use of bright colour.
Over her shoulder is a sub-machine gun, which I’ll tentatively identify as a PPSh-41 (aka “pepesha”) with a drum magazine.
Lyudmila the Sniper:
Lyudmila is depicted holding her weapon as if in readiness to select a target. The rifle could be anything under that wrapping so I’ll randomly call it a Tokarev SVT-40 (aka the “Sveta”), which I know the female soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko once used.
Lyudmila Pavlichenko was the most successful female sniper in history. Her memoirs entitled “Lady Death” have been very recently published in English for the first time by Greenhill Books. A well-educated lady who later became an historian, Pavlichenko was eventually withdrawn from combat because of her growing status. She was subsequently fêted by the allies (touring both the US and Great Britain) as well as being honoured by her mother country.
Lyudmila’s SVT-40 rifle appears to be smothered by some covering which may have acted as some sort of sound suppressor, or at the very least I would have thought, camouflage.
These two sculpts are so good that even a guy not at all used to painting WWII figures, never mind female snipers in 28mm metal, finds himself terribly tempted to build up my collection of these soviet women even more. As I’ve already got a huge army of unpainted figures – I don’t need more temptation, dammit!
And with those completed figures, I bow out out of FEMbruary 2019. I must say that I’m very pleased with my submission of figures; the locally made M.J. Mode 54mm Wrens and these fabulously sculpted Bad Squiddo snipers. Imperial Rebel Ork and Man of Tin have been busy also and I urge you to keep an eye out for more updates on Alex at Leadballoony blog for his and other submissions!