Monday, 13 July 2009

Hougoumont: The Farmer's House

I took delivery of my first piece of the Hovel's Hougoumont today. It is, as they state, really scaled for 25mm figures (in fact it would work well with my old Airfix figures) and looks a bit small next to my Perry Miniatures 28s but I'm not too worried as I'm sure it won't be too noticeable when the whole thing is put together. One thing that is a bit disappointing is the very poor fit of the roof on the main body of the house. It is, quite simply not long enough for the base unit and makes you realise how very good the Grand Manner offerings are by comparison. Never mind I am sure it will look better painted. I'm not allowing myself to buy another bit of the Chateau until this is fully painted (probably about 2012!)

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


I asked on my main blog whether anyone made a model of Hougoumont suitable for 28mm figures and someone kindly pointed out that Hovels do. I've never been a big fan of Hovels as some of their buildings are a bit caricatured; like some of those miniature villages that people collect (compared with, say, Grand Manner).

I have to say, though, that the Hougoumont looks pretty good and for around £200 isn't that expensive (I paid that for my Weathertop piece from Forge World). Whilst I will continue to aim to do bits of Quatre Bras for 2015 I am quite tempted to start getting bits of this, as a game set around the chateau would be quite limited in the troops you would need (no cavalry or artillery). I could also use some of the individual buildings to represent some of the farms on the Quatre Bras battlefield.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Waterloo: the film programme

The programme cover

The recent purchase of a number of new books for my military library this week has meant I have had to have a radical re-organisation of my bookshelves. In addition, I brought a number of books back from my mother's house this weekend. Whilst looking for these in the loft I found my copy of the programme for the film Waterloo (1970).

It's a long time since you could buy a souvenir programme of a film at the cinema! I went to see Waterloo in the Odeon Cinema, Walton, which is no longer there.

The 32 page programme is full of great photos from this massive Italian/Russian production. It tells the story of the 100 Days and also has a little about the making of the film. Nowadays, of course, they would turn this into a £19.99 paberback book.

Proper squares!

As a film it has dated somewhat and suffers from Italian dubbing syndrome but you cannot fault the way that the battle scenes are done. We will never see the like of these again. No-one will employ 20,000 extras when they can computer generate lots of little people for a fraction of the price but the effect just isn't the same.

Box loads of Highlanders! A bit mountainous for Belgium (actually the Ukraine)

Talking of little people it was the photos in this book that made me go out and buy boxes of Airfix Highlanders. Here is half of a full page spread where you can count 300 men in the Highland regiment in the forground. A bit of a contrast to Sharpe!

Dutch 27th Jaegers

Well, I continue to try to clear some of the part-finished backlog on my painting table. Today I finished four more Jaegers. The two Flank company ones complete my first company of six. The two centre company ones start off my next company. I really like the uniform of this regiment which is why I started my Napoleonics with this rather than French or British line.

I'd really like to get a few more on the go but as I am trying to clear myself some space I will work on some French line which have been sitting on the table for months.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

British Napoleonic Uniforms by Carl Franklin

I have just started painting some Perry plastic Napoleonic British Infantry and I was in Foyles today when I spotted this book. It's just come out (about ten days ago) after some delay, I gather. It's subtitled The First Complete Illustrated guide to uniforms, facings and lace and that is exactly what it is. Every numbered British cavalry and infantry regiment gets a full page colour plate detailing uniforms and lace covering both the earlier periods and the Waterloo period. So on a typical page there will be about ten pictures of jackets (officers, men and musicians) with details of lace, officers' breast plates and buttons. The Cavalry section gives all the shabraques and harness details as well. This is just a tremendous resource for the figure painter and I know that I will be using it for years to come.

There are no artillery uniforms presumably because these have been covered by the same author's companion book British Napolenic Field Artillery, which I have just ordered.
I am at the point where I have to decide which regiment to model first (one from Picton's Division no doubt) and this will help a lot. The only thing which would have made it really complete would have been illustrations of the regiments' drums and flags but then it is really a uniform book so that can't really be expected.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Perry plastic v metal Napoleonic French

Plastic on the left, metal on the right

Metal on the left, plastic on the right

Well, I have started work on my first French unit (100th Line) and have actually completed two figures this weekend, which is not bad as I had to go around a possible school for my little boy and attended the Barry Gray 100th anniversary concert at the Festival Hall.

I did two figures in greatcoats so I could get them done quickly. A few observations. The plastic figures have better faces, more inscale rifles and bayonets but less fur detail on their packs (I had to paint a fur effect rather than dry brushing). There is only one small bit on the left coat turnback where the figure is indistinct because of the moulding process (not visible on the greatcoat figure). The detail on the rifle is not as crisp as the metal figure but then it doesn't bend either!

The main difference is that the plastics have the round pom poms of the first battalion whereas the metals have the flat discs of the subsequent battalions. This only applies to fusiliers, of course, the flank companies had the same shako plumes.

100th Line so far. One of the first two units to engage the Dutch 27th Jaegers at Quatre Bras

This has an effect on my first unit. The 100th Line had 3 battalions at Quatre Bras and at 1/33 the regiment comes out as 3 battalions of 12. I think a 36 man unit should be fine for the Charles Grant rules. I need another drummer and a mounted Colonel for this unit so will send off an order to the Perries next week. I also need a flag so will look at GMB for that.

With my left over plastics and metals I have started to base some figures for the 4th light, the other regiment in Jamin's 2nd Brigade of Foy's 6th Division. This will be a bigger unit with 48 figures (he says casually).

The next three French are under way along with a couple more Dutch Jaegers and a cuirassier. I can't believe I am painting Napoleonics again!

Perry Napoleonic French: assembled

The contents of the box, based.

I sat down and put these together over the weekend. It took about an hour and a forty-five minutes to get them into this state.

My first impressions are very, very favourable. Apart from the six skirmishers and the command figures, where you have to stick on their arms, the figures are complete, except for their packs. The separate arms don't fit perfectly and will need a tiny bit of filler. I have started to paint one figure and experience has shown that it is much easier to stick on the pack after you have painted the figure (avoids poking a brush into small spaces to paint belts). I also, stupidly, stuck on a backpack with greatcoat to a figure wearing a greatcoat (there are two sorts of pack: with and without greatcoats) so I had to prize it off and start again. There are many spare heads but I just used the (attached) shakos (all the figures come with shakos the other headgear is only on the spare heads) for the first set (oh dear I am already contemplating another box). Swapping heads may be quite tricky as the rifle is so close to the head so I will need to be careful.

There are a few mould lines (no flash) which can be scraped off in seconds with a sharp modelling knife. In fact I would say that preparation is quicker and easier than metal figures. I only cut my fingers twice (the plastic is hard). There really is little or no loss of definition compared with the metal figures and the size is spot on next to the metals (why couldn't Warlord Games manage this with their Romans?). I have nearly finished painting one of each metal and plastic figures so I will post them soon.

I reckon that at 1/33 ratio the box pretty much represents a two battalion regiment for Quatre Bras or Waterloo. I think I will start with the 3rd line who were one of the first units engaged at Quatre Bras. I reckon I need a mounted Colonel and another officer and drummer for the second battalion. Only the first battalion carried an Eagle, of course. The figures have round pom poms on their shakos so represent the first battalion of a regiment. The metal figures all have the flat discs of the subsequent battalions (I found that I have a number of these already). The Perrys reckon you can squeeze the pom poms to make the flat discs. I think I might try and cut them instead (more cut fingers). Something for the second box and, anyway, if you mess it up you can just bung on a new head! I also remember reading somewhere that the first battalion was likely to have had a better uniform issue than the others who were more likely to have just had greatcoats issued so I will make sure my first battalion looks a bit smarter. The chaps in any third battalion are going to look very tatty!

I think I will keep them as one unit as I don't think units of 15 or 16 will be that viable using the Charles Grant Rules.

I am so enthused about these figures that I resumed work on the two Dutch jaegers I need to finish my first company of the 28th (the first allied unit really engaged on the day of Quatre Bras). I'm also now thinking about finishing my first cuirassier!

Could a Napoleonic Blog be that far off?

Perry Plastics

Proper model soldiers, these!

I popped into Orc's Nest today (it's only 400 yards from my office!) to look for a few more Copplestone Ngoni and saw that they had the Perry French Plastic in, so I just had to buy a box. They are absolutely gorgeous; far superior to their rather disappointing ACW figures. Now I can see that I will be basing up French during Strictly Come Dancing tomorrow!

This however, gives me a problem. The figures come with pre cut bases that contemplate 6 Figures on a 40mm base (which I beleive is the norm for General de Brigade). I absolutely prefer to mount my figures on individual bases and make movement trays for them. Especially as I am interested in skirmish gaming for Napoleonics using the Sharp Practice Rules. The rules I used to use for Napoleonics in my Airfix days were the very old school Charles Grant ones which first appeared in Military Modelling in the seventies. These contemplate individual figures (in battalions of 48!) and I suspect that this is what I will go for.

I have always wanted to do portions of Quatre Bras as a wargame and did a lot of research as to the units involved and the numbers of figures you would need (hundreds and hundreds). General Brigade works out at 1/20 but I was thinking about 1/33 which would give French infantry battalions of about 12-14 figures, far too small for the Grant rules. If I combined battalions so that I had four units in, say Bachelu's Division that would give units of about 30: about right.

The great thing about this box is you get 42 figures for £15.00 plus loads of alternative heads and other bits (compared with Warlord's rather stingy 20 Roman Veterans for £17.00).

Now, realistically I have painted exactly five Perry Napoleonics in three years but could this just get me painting them on the production line? I gather that many of the French units for The Hundred Days only had a uniform greatcoat and this would make painting them a lot quicker (about half the figures in the box are so equipped). Can't wait to get home and put the soundtrack to Waterloo on!

Alban Miniatures Sharpe and Harper

I just took delivery of my Sharp Practice set of rules from The Two Fat Lardies (ghastly name!).

The rules look pretty good although they need an umpire which is slightly off-putting but maybe someone at the club might want a game. I like the fact that you only need a few dozen figures a side. Lots of Quatre Bras skirmish possibilities, so an excuse to buy more Perry Miniatures (especially now they are planning plastic figures!).

The real reason I bought the rules was for the (not) Sharpe and Harper figures given away with the first 250 sets. There have been otehr S&H sets in the past but I haven't like any of them. I thought they looked a little odd to start with but that is because these are anatomically correct figures. This is a welcome initiative although it does present the problem of what figures will be compatible with them. Hopefully there will be more Richard Ansell sculpted figures for this range (there are some more generic riflemen promised, although I would like to see some with caps rather than all in shakos as illustrated on their website).

I have lined them up next to a Perry sculpted Foundry Rifleman and a Perry Miniatures Frenchman. The Frenchman is not as anatomically right as the Ansell figure but is close enough for me I think. So we can see Sharpe and Harper skirmishing around La Haye Sainte at some point!

There are many nice things about the figures not least of which is the fact that Harper is taller than Sharpe. They have also sculpted Sharpe with his French backpack! I have just based and undercoated them and this brings out the detail which is very crisp indeed. I am not sure they look much like their TV counterparts and in fact I think they look more like the paintings from the UK paperbacks of ten years ago. Given this I will probably paint my Sharpe with black hair!

I have been off painting for a bit as the work involved in getting ready for my new high-powered job has been taking all my time but I am really keen to start these two; always a good sign. In fact while waiting to finish this post I have started on their skin!

I have wanted to do some Peninsula figures for ages and if this range grows it could give me the excuse I have been waiting for to buy all those lovely Grand Manner buildings!
In looking up the height differential between Darragh O'Malley, who plays Harper, and Sean Bean (6 inches) I noticed that there is a new Sharpe TV film in Post production, Sharpe's Peril, which like the last one is also set in India.

For a long time I have wanted to get back to painting some Napoleonic figures. I've wanted to do the Peninsula, largely because of Sharpe, but I haven't really found any figures I like, except the Anthony Barton 15mm ones which are too small for what I want to do which is large skirmishes. However, another possibility was Quatre Bras because the battle could, in many ways be broken down into a group of skirmishes. When the Perry twins came out with their 1815 French I knew I had to paint a few units. Like all Napoleonics they are very slow to paint but I have finished my first four Dutch flanquers from the 27th Jaegers. They were the first allied troops engaged on 16th June and held up a much larger force of French when the battle proper started.

The Napoleonic rules I have are Charles Grant's which are very old school and use battalions of 48 or 36 for light infantry. JC in his excellent, if intermittant, Quatre Bras blog reccommends General de Brigade which uses a 1/20 scale. This is pretty scary but the two rule sets would give similar sized units so I am going to go for 1/20 which would mean 40 figures for this unit. If I can finish two more this holiday that would at least be a company!

Perry Miniatures figures, of course.

My first Perry Napoleonic figure

Actually, it's the first metal Napoleonic figure I have finished since 1971 (a Hinchliffe Imperial Guard Grenadier). I did paint quite a few plastic 20mm Napoleonics about 11 years ago but never really was happy with them. I haven't liked the proportions of any of the metal manufacturers until the Perries started their ranges a few years ago. These are fantastic, though. Whether I will ever get enough done for a force is debatable. I am going to start a fusilier in a greatcoat and a voltigeur to see how they go.

Perry 1815 French

Picture shows: L to R: Perry French Fusilier, Foundry Royal Marine (from B142), Perry Dutch-Belgian Jaeger (from DB32), Foundry British Rifleman (from B80) and Foundry British Early Infantry (from B8).

I have decided to transfer all my old Napoleonic blog entries from my main site to this one.
I bought one pack of the Perries new 28mm French Fusiliers at Salute yesterday as I had picked up some Dutch-Belgians at Colours. I had a few Foundry British and had also picked up, in the past, some of their newer Royal Marines and landing parties as "pre-casts". The Marines were quite a different size from the older British Infantry but match up better with the new Perry French (although the Perry figures have better proportioned heads). At last the Napoleonic beach skirmishes I bought the Marines for will be possible without terrible scale mis-matches.