Wednesday, March 20, 2019

My New Favorite Wargame Unit

71st Highlander Regiment- Fife and Drum Miniatures 

I finished the basing and flagging of the new 71st Frasier's Highlanders, which will join Lord Cornwallis' army in time for the Guilford Courthouse game that I am hosting at this year's Seven Years War Association convention in South Bend, Indiana. The flags are from GMB Designs. I think that they look rather nifty.



I think that these fellows look rather dapper in their uniform of shortened jackets, white overalls and bonnet. The regiment did not wear kilts in the North American campaigns of the American Revolutionary War. The figures themselves look very elegant, sculpted in 1/56 scale, and so all of the body proportions look realistic to my eye. The animation of the figures looks very natural, rather than forced exaggeration with arms flailing about in rather unnatural poses.

The 71st Regiment in the field.


Putting all of these elements together gives me a Wargame unit that I find very appealing, and as such, it is now one of my favorite regiments in all my various wargaming armies.




Monday, March 18, 2019

71st Highlanders-WIP

71st Frazier's Highlanders.

Note the plaid overalls on some of the figures, per the Don Troiani painting.


I recently finished painting a 32-figure battalion of the new Fife & Drum AWI Highlander figures. The unit is the first battalion of the British 71st Regiment or Frazier's Highlanders. I used largely the figures from the command pack and the firing/skirmisher pack to create a firing line. The marching poses are still being cast hence the decision to paint the firing line.

Fife and Drum Miniatures are sculpted in 1/56 scale by the talented Richard Ansell. Since everything is done to a scale, the proportions of the head, torso and equipment look realistic and look like real people, only done to scale. So no oversized heads with these figures. If you like the F&D figures, you probably will also like the Minden SYW and the Crann Tara Jacobite Rebellion figures too. Why? Because all three figure ranges are sculpted by the same person, Richard Ansell!

I painted six figures with plaid overalls, noting that the regiment initially converted their plaids into the more practical overalls for the North American campaigns, however, these were eventually replaced by cotton white overalls.

The unit will be flagged with a set of GMB Designs flags, which are the best commercial flags in the hobby, IMHO and you can't go wrong if you use them on your units.

Finally, the bases will be terrained and then the Highlanders will be ready for their first action at this year's SYW Association convention in South Bend, Indiana at the Waterford Estates Lodge on April 4-6, 2019. I hope to see some of my blog visitors at the show, even if it is for a drop in visit for on of the days.

Friday, March 15, 2019

New AWI Highlanders


An ad hoc skirmish vignette of Highlanders.

I have been busy painting samples of the 12 new Highlander figures that have joined the Fife and Drum Miniatures AWI figure range. I have to say that these may well be my favorite figures in the whole Minden/F&D figure ranges. I am partial to Highlanders in the first place, but I also think that the campaign uniform that they wore in North America is one of the niftiest I've ever seen. The bonnet hat of course is different from all of the other troops type that sport tricorn hats. The overalls (the pants) and the shortened coat look nice together.

Or maybe it is the animation that the figures have (see below). I particularly like the firing and biting cartridge poses. And now for something completely different, we are adding Highlanders carrying their muskets at the trail. This was actually the most common way that the soldiers carried their weapons as they advanced.

The Highlander Skirmishers (the two figures on the left) BA021 and
Highlanders Advancing at the Trail (the two figues on the right) BA020

Highlander Command Set (BA-018)

After working on all of these samples for the catalog photo shoot, I decided to gin up a battalion of 32 figures using the firing and command figures. They are being painted as the 71st Highland Regiment, a well travelled outfit that fought nearly everywhere in North America. Their record in the Southern Theater is particularly notable: Charleston, Stono Ferry, capture of Savannah, siege of Savannah, Cowpens (oops!), Guilford Court House and Yorktown.


Close-up picture of the 71st Highanders - work in progress.

71st Highlanders battalion work in progress.

View of the whole battalion - 32 figures.

My plan is to have the 71st ready for my game at this year's Seven Years War Association convention on April 4-6, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Washington, Greene and All That



George Washington (left) and Nathaniel Greene (right)


I have been painting samples of the new Fife and Drum Miniatures AWI Personalities and Highlanders. We have just added four new AWI personality figures to the range, and these include George Washington and Nathaniel Greene for the Home Team (Continentals) as well as Lord William Howe and Lord Charles Cornwallis for the Visiting Team (British). There is also a mounted Highlander officer that could stand in for Simon Frasier at Saratoga.

The new Personalities product codes in the web store are as follows:

AC-004  General George Washington
AC-005  General Nathaniel Greene

BC-005 Lord William Howe (not available yet)
BC-006 Lord Charles Cornwallis
BC-007 Mounted Highlander Officer


The above personalities are in addition to the ones already in the range including Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox), Banastre Tarleton, and Lt. General Knyphausen. 

Clicking on the link will take you to the home page of the web store. From there, click on the pull-down menu "American Revolution" and then select "British Infantry" or "Continental & Militia" and scroll down the page until you come to the figure that you wish to select.

George Washington (AC-004)


The picture that was the inspiration for the George Washington figure.


All of the personality figures except Lord Howe are now available for purchase through the Fife and Drum Miniatures web store. Probably Howe has gone AWOL with Mrs. Loring for a little sojourn. His lordship is being cast at Griffin Moulds and should be available by early April 2019.

Nathaniel Greene (AC-005)

Lord Charles Cornwallis (BC-006)

Highlander Officer (BC-007)
I plan to use him as Lt. Colonel Archibald Campbell.

Richard Ansell's sculpting prowess really shines with the personality figures that he makes for Fife and Drum, Minden and Crann Tara Miniatures. I really had a lot of fun painting all of the figures shown in these pictures. George Washington was particularly fun to paint, what with his leopard skin shabraque, something that I don't get to paint very often. I also liked the mounted Highlander officer figure - he is perhaps my favorite figure of the lot.


Next up: pictures of the painted AWI Highlander figures.



Thursday, March 7, 2019

Saxe-Gotha Horse Grenadiers


Sachsen-Gotha Horse Grenadiers in Austrian service. Minden Miniatures.

 Click all pictures to enlarge


I recently completed the painting of some new Minden Miniatures Austrian Horse Grenadiers. The 12-figure unit represents the DR8 Saxe-Gotha dragoon regiment. There was one company of horse grenadiers (half a squadron) in each dragoon regiment. These were typically converged with other horse grenadier and carabinier companies to form an elite cavalry regiment.


Sachsen-Gotha horse grenadiers
The flag was downloaded from the "Royal Fig" website and then painted over so that it looks like a hand-painted flag. You can find the link to Royal Fig in the links column on the left hand side of this page. It is a very good site for uniform information on French, Austrian, Dutch and Spanish regiments during the mid-18th Century wars.

Sachsen-Gotha Horse Grenadiers

The Saxe-Gotha dragoon regiment (DR8) was raised on January 29, 1718 by Margrave Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg Anspach at his own expense, according to Stephen Summerfeld's book Austrian SYW Cavalry and Artillery (2011, Ken Trotman Ltd). On February 6, 1760 it was converted into a Chevauleger unit. The figures shown in the pictures are the new Minden Austrian Horse Grenadier figures, recently issued within the past month.

Each horse grenadier company was comprised of:

1 x Rittmeister (Captain)
1 x Oberlieutenant (1st Lieutenant)
1 x Fahnrich (standard bearer until 1760, renamed Unterlieutenant)
1 x Feldwebel (company sergeant major)
1 x Fourier (quartermaster-corporal)
4 x Corporal
88 x Grenadiers
1 x Farrier
1 x Saddler
1 x Trumpeter

In 1760 the company standard was removed and stored in the regimental depot. As a result, the Fahnrich no longer carried a standard, but he was still an officer rank of Unterlieutenant.

There is a gentleman on TMP who vociferously insists that there should be no standard bearer in a horse grenadier company, but my sources of Dr. Summerfeld and Pengel & Hurt indicate that the Fahnrich did carry the standard until 1760. I prefer to go with my known sources rather than the unnamed sources (not even cited) by the other gentleman. In any event, if you want to use the standard bearer, then fine; if you don't want to use a standard bearer, then that's fine too.

I'm going to go a little bit Frank Hammond here and say, "I don't care #!*%$!!" LOL.

I really like the way that this unit turned out. I went to a three-color method for the red and like the way that the final red highlight really pops on places like the shoulders and elbows.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Behind the Scenes at Fife & Drum Miniatures

The Fife & Drum Miniatures "shipping center" - where it all happens.

I thought that I would share some pictures that I took of the Fife & Drum Miniatures Shipping Center. The picture at the top of the page is a view of the "Shipping Center" 😄 as one enters the room. You can see the packing table on the immediate right. Beyond that, still on the right, are the inventory bins for the "finished goods" products. I color code the bins by Country for the Seven Years War and AWI periods.

Finished Goods Inventory


A close up view of some of the storage bins for Hanoverians (orange) and British (red, of course). 

When I purchased the Minden figure range in 2013, the number of different castings was a bit overwhelming, so I decided to pre-package the figures by "command packs", "infantry packs", "cavalry packs" and single packs of artillery & equipment pieces. For example, an infantry command pack with 3 to 5 figures gets a bit tedious to pick and ship if the shipping department personnel have to hand pick each individual component that goes into each pack. Instead, they can simply go to the finished goods bins and pick the product code and get it shipped to the customer more quickly. What might have taken 10 to 20 minutes to pack can now be done within 5 minutes.

Blue bin labels represent the Prussian army product codes.

Green - Russians; Bright Red - British; Orange - Hanoverians, Dark Pink - Civilians; Yellow - Austrians; and Salmon - French.
The great advantage of using this open bin system is that it is easy to see how much finished goods inventory is on hand. If I see that an item is getting low in the bin, then I can make new figure packs and replenish the supply.

Loose Stock Components
The components bins, shown on the left side of the room, are where I store all of the different castings. Each casting has its own storage bin so that is a lot of bins on hand. Each casting comes from a unique mould ( we have over 500 moulds) , so the mould number is affixed to a label that I stick to the front of the bin. This enables me to easily view the component stock so that I can re-order casting inventory that is dwindling down. The idea is to order the castings and have them in stock before the finished goods packs are out of stock. SEE PICTURE BELOW:


The components bins (individual castings) are stored on the left hand side of the  shipping room, although the AWI finished goods can be seen at the front (with the red and blue labels)
I recently finished my annual inventory of every single casting and you can see some of the various color stickies on each bin. These tags show the year-end inventory count and the date of the count. I will eventually replace the stickies with a 3 x 5 inch card that records the stock information. Thus next year, when I do the inventory count, I can get an idea of how much stock moved during the year and helps with determining amounts of stock to order in the future.



Looking back towards the entrance door you can see some of the component castings bins with the orange and yellow stickies posted.
Whenever I order new castings stock, I write the mould number and the number of spins ordered onto the white board. I can readily see what has been ordered and how the stock situation is. For example, "did I order any FH4 Prussian Musketeers castings?" I can look on the white board and see that I did indeed re-order the castings.

Packing Table


The packing table where the orders are picked, collected and boxed for shipment.
There is nothing interesting or spectacular about the packing table, where the orders are boxed for shipment. Shipping supplies, mostly flat boxes and bubble wrap, are stored beneath the packing table.  Sometimes I use this surface for preparing figures that I use for painting my own figures, which explains why there is a cutting mat on the table surface. The guillotine, err paper cutter, can be seen on the right.

When an order is placed in the web store, I print out a copy of the customer's order and then pick the individual finished goods packs and place them on the packing table. Then I determine the size box that is needed to ship the order and pack the order. The the package is weighed and taken to the post office for mailing. 

Shipment Tales

You might laugh at this, but the U.S. Postal Service does an excellent job of shipping the packages and getting them to the customer within about 3 days for domestic orders and between 5 and 10 business days for international orders (these arrive closer to the 5 days end of the range). Did you know that I have NEVER lost a single package in international shipments. Once in awhile, a package will seem to be lost - I send out free replacement orders if the package hasn't arrived within 4 to 6 weeks. Several packages seemed to have been lost, but they have always been returned to me 6 months later, complete with lots of postal stampings on the box.

On two occasions, I have had a package to Australia and one to Greece go on a world tour. The Greek package first went to Australia for some reason. Then it decide to visit Dubai and then it finally made its way to Greece. The Australian package took the reverse trip of the on mentioned above: Dubai - Indonesia and finally Australia. I sent out a replacement box to Greece and it arrived before the original package was delivered.

Conclusion
Well there you have it, the tour of the Shipping Department of Fife & Drum/Minden Miniatures. Of course the "staff" consists of one person - me, but I have to wear many hats in this little enterprise. Now that I am retired I have more time to spend on the business and can ship the orders faster to my customers. When I was working, most packages went to the post office on Saturday, but now I can ship them every couple of days. There are some days when I spend the whole day packing orders and taking them to the post office, but thankfully this is not a normal day in the business.

I hope that you have enjoyed this little behind the scenes look at Fife & Drum Miniatures. We have come a long way since the business was started in 2011 and things take on a more professional look the longer I am doing this. It sounds like a lot of work, but it is fun for me. I particularly like the international orders as it is interesting to see the various destinations for the packages.

If you have any questions or comments, then please feel free to make them in the Comments box at the bottom of this page.



Thursday, February 28, 2019

French Personality Figures: Broglie & Chevert



Lt. General Chevert (left) and Marshal de Broglie (right)

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE

I commissioned the painting of some of the new Minden Miniatures personality figures to use for advertising and trade stand purposes. Normally I paint my own figures, but I wanted to go the extrea mile for display figures so I went with a very good professional figure painter.


Another view of Broglie (left) and Chevert (right)



Grenadiers de France mounted officer (using the French officer in bearskin cavalry figure)

French Kettle Drummer
I am very pleased with how these figures turned out, both in terms of sculpting by Richard Ansell and by the professional painter. The painting really brings out the best in Richard's sculpts.

I guess that I will have to start building a French army for these gentlemen to command.