Sunday, 30 August 2009

Command stand painted!

Even if the base has not yet textured, but I'm happy with the result.  I've been steadily working on a lot of French infantry over the past week whenever time permitted, and in between various impoverished and decrepit Marie-Louises, I've been adding the final touches to these gentlemen. 

These two have taken a while to complete- ten years in fact!   As I mentioned in a previous post, the general's overcoat and cape are made of epoxy putty, and the feathers and cockade were also added from the same material.  I started him before Front Rank released their general officers, but as he is a unique miniature I'm quite proud of him. 

His ADC is sporting a non-regulation white greatcoat- in part practice for me, as some Austrians are on the horizon.  I actually painted him about six years ago, but I had to use Tamiya paints at the time which really don't work all that well for miniatures painting.  So I have heavily retouched the figure, particularly the face and the trimming around the front of the coat.

I added a broken gun carriage wheel, and once the glue has set later this evening, I'll get out the wood putty and artists trowels and start on texturing the base, along with a number of other light infantry stands I've been working on. 

The bases are from Litko, as are all my bases.

I've also commenced work on one section of a 6pdr. artillery battery for the French. I'm going for a mix of pre- and post- 1812 uniforms, as I did with the infantry and which seems appropriate for the 1813 campaign.

Two figures are being painted "as is", but I decided it would look interesting for the rammer to be modelled as if he was in the process of sponging out the gun.  So I clipped off the end of the ramrod itself and drilled out a hole in the gun muzzle to receive it.  While I was at it, I thought I'd replace his shako with a forage cap, just for variety.  

Now this meant that I also needed to have a gunner with his thumb covering the vent- this was necessary so as to prevent draughts of air from igniting any unconsumed powder in the barrel (and sending the rammer to the Great Sutler's Tent in the Sky).  

Front Rank don't do a mini in this pose, so I took a gunner holding a match at his side and did a bit of surgery to his arm using a razor saw, a small drill, and a paper clip.  Once the epoxy has cured, I'll build up the arm again with putty and know one will know the difference!

On a sour note, a wrong move with an elbow resulted in me accidentally knocking two centre company infantrymen off the table- broken bayonets and crushed plumes meant they were damaged beyond repair.  And of course, they happened to be two from the group that was nearest to completion, and one in particular had a very nicely painted face that I had spend some hours on.  

Also sent into free-fall was one figure- a wounded infantryman for use as a casualty marker- that I had not yet spent much time on, and which had just recently been undercoated in black.  

He, of course, survived the plunge without a scratch.  Not one.  Of course. 

I'd like to say I took it all manfully with stoic acceptance- but I'd be lying.  Big-time.

(And I have to say, I like's new version of their blog editor!)

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Humbrol Authenticards, and Progress!

These were a godsend for the indigent wargamer of 1975!

When I first seriously started gaming in Napoleonics way back in time, and I mean WAY back- 1975 or so- it was no easy matter for a boy of fourteen- with an allowance of $1.00 Canadian a fortnight- to find painting references for the buckets of Airfix miniatures (with a smattering of Minifigs) that I was using to game with.

The local library had a limited selection of illustrated books on the topic, and while specialist book stores carried some of the Blandford colour series, they were much too expensive for my limited budget.

Great was my adolescent rejoicing, then, when I came across the
Humbrol Authenticard series on Napoleonic uniforms at my local hobby store. These were cheap- a dollar each as I recall- and had illustrations by Norman Swales of the figures based on those in the Hinchliffe catalogue on on side, with brief written descriptions and basic facing colour charts on the other.

I have the whole series packed away somewhere at my parent's house in Vancouver, but when I came across these images of the cards that were for sale on eBay, it made for a great trip down memory lane.

For a newbie getting into Napoleonic gaming in 1975, compared to one wanting to do the same in 2009, things have changed. Some for the better, others for the worse.

In 2009, there is an absolute embarrassment of riches for the gamer; figures in every size and in a variety of sculpting styles, rules set after rule set after rule set dealing with every level of command and army size, and a huge amount of assorted information on Napoleonic uniforms and tactics in both print and on the Internet.

And that can be the deterrent as well- where to start? What figures and what rule set? How do I organize my units, and how do I base them? What are those guys with the funny plumes on top? And what IS Napoleonics, exactly?

There is in fact not a lot out there for someone getting started, and some of the comments on TMP, for example, are not exactly encouraging. Lots of criticism of general works on the topic, and a lot of prescriptive- and conflicting- advice on how to do it "properly". Many a commentator will say how a given source may be full of "dangerous" errors- but yet can not go on to recommend any -affordable- alternatives.

I say just point a newbie in the right direction; suggest some basic books that explain the difference between a
voltigeur and a Kurassier. Sure there will be errors, but basics are basics, and as our would-be Nappy enthusiast reads more and more, the greater the understanding will develop. And being of the species Homo Sapiens, chances are that he (or she) will be able to draw his or her own conclusions as the rest of us did.

The Humbrol Authenticards were not a comprehensive resource by any stretch of the imagination; the information was absolutely basic, with the focus being on the French, British and Prussians of the Waterloo campaign (some things never change!), but with a few token cards on the Russians and Austrians available as well.

But in addition to being motivationally eye-catching, the series presented essential information for the raw beginner in a way that was concise as well as being very affordable. The cards provided a starting point which allowed me some degree of firm footing from which to start climbing the mountain of information which is part and parcel of Napoleonic wargaming.

They served me well.

I suppose the nearest equivalents available now would be the Peter Bunde plates, or the excellent online resource which is the Mont St. Jean site.


On another note, some good news that may see me actually gaming again!

I was recently contacted by a long-term resident here in Tokyo who is also interested in historical miniatures gaming
, and who had found out about me after coming across one of my blogs. And as luck would have it, it turns out that he lives no more than a twenty minute walk from my house.

This bearing in mind that Tokyo is a huge, sprawling city of 12,000,000 inhabitants, with a handful of people having even so much as heard of the hobby. Such is coincidence and/or Karma- and further evidence of the value of having a blog.

Giovanni mainly plays Renaissance games using DBR and the excellent Venexia range of miniatures- and it is an era in which I also have a great interest. But he also expressed an interest in trying out Napoleonics, so it looks like I may be looking at doing a few DBN games at first, as this is a system with which he is familiar.

The start of a flourishing club here in western Tokyo if we're lucky!


Finally, It's been a productive period on the painting front here at Chez Stavka. Here is a shot of a completed voltigeur company.

And I finally painted up a mounted colonel for the command stand- M. le Colonel Claude-Julien St. Peur of the 1/28e Regt. Legere.

I still have to texture and paint the bases, but I'll do that all at once when the rest of the battalion has been finished. I've been making great progress on the centre companies this week, and have been working on cavalry too, so I can't complain about the way the hobby is going for me right now!

Monday, 3 August 2009

"La Bricole"

"Rat innards stew...AGAIN?!?!

Care for a chat around the campfire?

Iannick Martin, a fellow Nappy enthusiast who shares pretty much the same approach to the hobby as I do, has set up a discussion forum on his Clash of Empires blog- La Bricole!

Just click on banner to reach the forum.

If you are into talking about painting, uniforms, and generally having fun with wargaming the Napoleonic Wars, come on by and register.

And we promise you that the only reference to bricoles of any sort will be in the title!