Monday, June 28, 2010

Croats Are Completed

Minden Croats representing the Karlstadter Liccaner regiment. Building by Ian Weekley and tall trees by Herb Gundt. You can see some RSM Croats in the background to the right. click pix to enlarge the view. Double click pix to really, really enlarge the view. 8^)

I finished basing my unit of Minden SYW Croats this evening and set up a few photo shots to post on the blog this evening. I hope that everyone likes them (well, everyone except der Alter Fritz himself, no doubt).

Closer view of the Croats. Take a good look at that "standing firing" pose and standing loading pose. I think that these are two of the best figures ever sculpted. Kudos to Richard Ansell, a most talented sculptor who has designed this range of figures.

I really like the animation and sense of action that sculptor Richard Ansell put into these Croats. These may well be the best figures in the whole Minden range. Croats have a little more detail on them in terms of hussar style lace, put they are a dream to paint and I really whistled through them over the course of several days.

They seem to demand some creative basing, so I obliged by placing rocks and scrub brush tall grass and few logs here and there. Then I positioned the figures so that they appear to be hiding or taking cover behind the little terrain items that I placed on each base.

Another view of the Croats out in the open. I'm sure that they can't wait to find some cover, because you never know when some Prussian cavalry might come bursting on the scene.

I give these figures my highest recommendation because they have it all: realistic and elegant poses, correct anatomical proportions, accurate equipment, a sense of "action" to them, and finally, they are just simply fun to paint and look fantastic when they are completed.

On the Austrian front, I grey primed a regiment of fusiliers in tricorn and hope to get a good start on painting them over the upcoming holiday weekend (July 4th) in the United States. My Austrian regiments will have two battalions of 30 figures, the same as my Prussians, and will also have six figures on five stands measuring 60mm wide by 40mm deep. I will eventually have one each of red facing, dark blue facing, green facing, pink facing and one Hungarian regiment. So that's five regiments or 10 battalions plus one or two Croat battalions and one or two converged grenadier battalions. I will paint the grenadiers as if they were part of the other five line regiments and simply converge them into a couple of battalions.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Croat Terror Has Begun

I completed my first unit of Minden Austrians for the SYW Project -- a battalion of 30 Croats painted as the Carlstadter Liccaner regiment. I based the figures this evening and will let the spackle compound dry over night before applying the brown ink, dry brushing and the static grass that I use to complete the terraining of the bases. I will post a picture of the full regiment, bases completed, on Monday night.

Since the Croats are light infantry, I have based them three figures per stand, instead of the six figures used in a line battalion of figures. The bases measure 30mm deep by 60mm wide. The lesser number of figures per stand allows me room for creating mini-dioramas with the Croats hiding behind rock walls, trees, boulders and tall grass. You can really let your imagination go wild with these figures.

This evening, I also glued 30 Austrian musketeers to cardboard bases in preparation to prime the figures tomorrow night. Thus, July 2010 will be Austrian Painting Month in Hesse Seewald. I have enough Prussians to fill my 12 foot long wargame table, so common sense decrees that it is time for me to switch over to the painting of Austrians. The Croats were the first step.

More tomorrow - it's off to bed for me now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

OK Damnit, Reinforcements Are Arriving!

Seaforth Highlanders (renamed the Royal Banffshire Regt for this scenario) try desperately to fend off the Dervish and Beja warriors of Osman Dinga in the Sudan.

To paraphrase Miss Scarlet O'Hare, "as God is my witness, I shall never, ever be wiped out again!".

After the shocking news of the destruction of the Royal Banffshires at Jebil Obeid on June 19, 1885 filtered back to London, His Grace, the Duke of Sunderland, patron sponsor of the 78th Seaforth Highlander Regiment, decided that such a dreadful thing should never happen to his beloved regiment. With that in mind, he sent a telegram to Gardiner & Sons Armourers, requesting the purchase of a brace of Mr. Gardiner's famous machine guns, for delivery to The Port of Cairo in Egypt. From there, the equipment shall be shipped via the Suez Canal, through the Red Sea, and on to the port of Suakin, in the Sudan. The new equipment shall await the arrival of the 78th Regiment as it is redeployed from Fort Grant, in Northwest Tranjipour, to assist General Graham in his campaign to restore order in the Eastern Sudan, near Suakin.

At the same time, His Grace authorized Colonel Archibald Sinclair of the 78th Foot to raise two more companies of men to augment the Seaforth's rolls up to 8 companies (96 figures). The new recruits should arrive within the month, wherein they will undergo training and equipping, with a goal to be ready for action in September.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the Imperial authorities, Osman Dinga too was reassessing the performance of his army at Jebil Obeid and decided that he needed more cavalry. Orders were placed to find sufficient Beja and Ansar recruits to fill out a 24 figure unit of camelry to add to his army. An additional rub of warriors was recruited from the distant province of Sidi al Perry to make up for the losses at the recent battle.

Gentlemen, the game is afoot!

Last evening I remembered that I had at least one Gardiner gun packed away, unpainted, in a box of Connoisseur figures that I had ordered a couple of years ago. Sure enough, there was one gun set. So I ordered a second Gardiner so that the Seaforths will have a battery of 2 or 3 machine guns to augment their firepower. The addition of 24 more Lee-Metford rifles should also increase the quantity of lead that will be flying in the direction of the Dervish the next time that Osman Dinga goes on the warpath.

All of the figures ordered will be from Connoisseur Miniatures, which are available from Bicorne Miniatures in the UK. When we set up our Sudan forces, we realized that we did not have much in the way of Dervish cavalry or camelry, so I figured that I might as well address that deficiency while I was placing orders. I also have an three unpainted units of Perry Beja and a small unit of Beja riflemen that I hope to paint before the next battle, which probably won't be until later in the year. That's about 180 Perry figures in all. Yikes!

For now, it is back to painting SYW Minden Croats. That makes me happy indeed. As much as I enjoyed this little interlude in the 19th Century Sudan, tricorns and turnbacks are what really does it for me.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Disaster in the Sudan!

"A Company" 99th (Banffshire) Regiment of Foot man a lonely outpost in the Sudan. They await the changing of the guard in the morning as Colonel Alexander Erskine brings "B and C Companies" from the fort to relieve them.

On Saturday our group convened in Brown Deer, WI to fight a colonial battle in the Sudan between the Black Beja warriors of Osman Dinga plus reinforcements from some Arab tribesman. In all, they outnumbered the Imperial forces by about two to one. A company of Highlanders (the mythical 99th (Banffshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot was manning an outpost on the perimeter of the British supply base at Jebil Obeid, on the Nile River. Colonel Alexander Erskine was accompanying two more companies of Highlanders that were going to relieve and replace "A Company". A squadron of the 10th Hussars accompanied Erskine and patroled in the direction of a ridge to the east of the redoubt. The supply base was garrisoned by the Royal Berkshires, the Bombay Pioneers, a regiment of Egyptian regulars and a regiment of Sudan regulars, plus assorted Imperial cavalry and some Royal Artillery batteries.

General Pettygree, commanding officer of the garrison, ordered Colonel Erskine to take two companies out to the redbout and return if any trouble was brewing. Pettygree promised to send out several reinforcing regiments if Erskine got caught up in serious trouble.

Our story, as told by The Guardian correspondent, Harry Pearson, follows below:

All is safe and quiet in the supply depot at Jebil Obeid, on the Nile.

Workers unload supplies at the Nile River port of Jebil Obeid

But Arab dowhs sneak up the Nile to attack the depot from the waterside.

A hussar patrol under the command of Major Trevillian takes a morning ride to see what is over the other side of the ridge. Well, we have our suspicions about what they might find, don't we? I mean, it is like a horror movie, why does the beautiful girl always go down into the dark basement to see what that noise was? Why are the British hussars checking out the other side of the ridge? Well, we need a macguffin for this game, as Hitchcock would say.

What the hussars saw on the other side of the ridge. Did you have any doubts?

The patrol hurries back to the redoubt manned by Coy A of the Banffshire Regiment, at least what is left of them return. Only 3 of the 12 hussars made it back to the redoubt, the rest were cut down by Beja riflemen.

"Mark your targets men, aim low!" The replacement guard of Coys B and C quickly form line and prepare to open fire on the Beja and their Arab allies as they converge on the redoubt.

They are coming closer. Ulp!

...and now they are a bit too close as they rush the redoubt. The first ranks of the Banffshires have fallen back to the second line of mealie bags after several volley fires. In the background, you can barely make out a regiment of Sudanese regulars extending the Banffshires line to the right.

The first wave of Beja are thinned out a bit, but not enough to prevent them from charging into the redoubt.

An aerial view of the action so far: two rubs of Beja converge on the redoubt while a third rub melees with Companies B & C outside of the redoubt. The Sudanese regulars provide some helpful fire support to the right of the Highlanders. Guardian correspondent, Harry Pearson, can be seen mounted on his horse observing the action by the supply cart.

Colonel Alexander Erskine looks back toward the supply depot at Jebil Obeid, wondering where are those reinforcements that General Pettygree promised him.

Desperate hand to hand fighting inside the redoubt. If only the Highlanders can win this one melee, then the routing warriors will disrupt the pile of Dervish reinforcements that are bunched up behind them. Colonel Erskine orders Correspondent Pearson to ride back to the fort and convey the bad news to General Pettygree. Pearson gladly obliges.

Alas, it was not to be. A and B companies make their last stand inside the redoubt, while most of C Company is cut down just outside the redoubt. The Sudanese repelled one rub of Fuzzies, but they made the rash decision to pursue them and they in turn were cut down by Arab reinforcements. The survivors fled back to the supply depot.

So three companies of the 99th Foot were wiped out in the redoubt and half of the Sudanese regiment perished as well. Colonel Erskine and three of his men were the only survivors of the Highland contingent in the battle. Erskine claims that he was trying to rally the Sudanese and found himself carried away in their route. I leave it to you, dear reader, to make your own judgement on our dear Colonel Erskine.

It is very clear to me though, that I need to place an order for about four Gardiner machine guns from Connoisseur Miniatures so that this does not happen again. Nevertheless, I had fun getting wiped out and a good time was had by all.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Black Hussars Part III

Five squadrons of Minden Black Hussars. Click pix to enlarge. Double click the pix to supersize the image. This is probably the best picture that I was able to take, in terms of proper lighting, focus and depth of field.

I cranked out another dozen of these bad boys over the weekend, working in groups of six hussars. I had a good start on friday evening and nearly completed the first six, but I stayed up into the wee hours of the next morning and as a result, got a late start on my Saturday painting.

I got a decent start on the second batch of six on Saturday night, blocking in most of the basic colors and getting all of the white trim and lace painted in. Once figures reach this stage, one can start to have fun with the figures as you add in the highlighting and details such as the eyes and buttons, etc. This is the fun part of painting figures. The unfun part for me is having to paint the horses. This is kind of tedious to me, but the Minden horses are so nicely sculpted that I almost forget about my aversion to painting horses.

Here they are lined up in a 2 rank line, as they would probably appear on the tabletop. You can see an immediate problem with 30 figures based two per stand, if you use them in two ranks -- you have one leftover stand. Consequently, I will probably increase all of my cavalry units to 32 figures in order to fill in the last stand gap.

One problem with black figures is that they are hard to photograph. Everything looks dark, for good reason and I don't have proper lighting available in my game room, now that I am back on my smaller side of the basement. My daughter gets the larger side, which unfortunately, has overhead flourescent lighting, which would have been perfect for shooting pictures of the Black Hussars. Sigh...

Hussars did not fight in three ranks, so this picture is posed merely to get all 30 figures into the camera frame. Notice how I have generally mixed the two different horse poses, legs bunched and legs stretched, to create a greater sense of movement and frenzy with the hussars.

I will probably add two more hussar to this regiment and bring it up from 30 figures to 32 figures in order to have two equal lines of 16 figures. I would have had to base them three per stand in order to make a 30 figure regiment fill out two full ranks. With 30 figures, you have one leftover stand of two figures that looks a little out of place. Of course, I could paint 10 squadrons as the HR5 von Reusch (Black Hussars) was one of the 10 squadron hussar regiments in the Prussian army. However, I think that I have had enough for now, nice as they are, I'd rather be painting foot figures because they are faster to paint.

I have to take a short diversion and paint a dozen Connoisseur Seaforth Highlanders to use in next weekend's colonial game at Bill Protz's house on Saturday. Since my Seaforths are taking semi permanent residence in Brown Deer and Fort Grant, I thought that I had better complete the last dozen figures and deliver them to Bill so that he can replace some of the casualties that the Seaforths have taken in the Tranjipour Campaing this year.

After painting Minden SYW figures for so long, I am not enjoying painting the Connoisseur colonials, but I feel that I must get these figures done and out of the way. There is nothing like a pending battle to concentrate one's mind.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Altenzaum Parade Ground

A view of the Prussian encampment from the eastern edge of the town. Note the larger trees next to the Gasthaus and in the far background. Also note how the several Austrian battalions in the far right background only look like light, very un-Prussian like blocks of color. I would imagine that this is how approaching troops must have appeared to the generals in the field.

I have been playing around with the layout of the Prussian encampment at Altenzaum, somewhere in Silesia, by gradually adding some more scenic elements such as larger trees and some unpainted camp personnel to sort of see how things will look once everything is painted. I have posted several pictures of the "upgraded" camp for you to view. Eventually, I will have a large population of civilians and support troops roaming around the town and the encampment, giving things a look of hustle and bustle as they do their jobs to support the army.

Please click the pictures once for a larger view and twice for a really close up look at what is going on.

A view of the town from the western side. Again, note how the larger trees look more realistic. These were made for me by Herb Gundt using rubberized horsehair and pieces of driftwood.

IR5 Alt Braunschweig marches through the town under the watchful eye of the King and Major General von Winterfeld.

A closer view of IR5 as it marches through the town. The civilian figures are from the Front Rank 18th Century range, the Prussian infantry are Minden Miniatures, and the officers are RSM figures. All buildings and trees were made by Herb Gundt.

I really like the look and proportion of the larger trees that I have added to the tableau. They look more realistic, like mature trees that are as tall or taller than the buildings. This looks correct to my eye.

Now that the Chicago Blackhawks have won the NHL Stanley Cup, I will have more time to devote to painting and modeling as I build on and expand the behind the scenes aspect of my Minden Project. Next on the list: the Prussian field forge which I primed the other day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Black Hussars Part II

Minden Prussian hussars - HR5 von Reusch Hussars, or simply, "The Black Hussars". Please kindly click the image to enlarge the view and enhance your viewing pleasure.

I am beginning to think that I might have "cracked the code", so to speak, on quickly painting the Minden SYW Prussian hussar figures. I cranked out six of them on Sunday and managed to get the spackle compound applied to their bases. Meanwhile, the first dozen hussars that I had completed earlier in the week received their final application of static grass. Both sets are depicted above.

The hussars come with two different horse poses: legs bunched and legs stretched. I decided to place one of each horse type on my 2-figure stands to enhance the look of movement and motion. Think about Lady Butler's painting of the charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo for an example of what I am trying to achieve.

A view from the side and rear of the Black Hussars. Some Minden Croats cower in fear in the background.

The key to fast hussar painting is to select an easy unit to paint! Like black, what can be easier than that? Seriously though, after black priming, I apply a coat of acrylic black to cover the rough surface of the primer with a smoother coating of acrylic paint. This also serves the purpose of covering the little nooks and crannies that did not get a good coating of primer.

I decided not to paint the scharwarden and kit the hussars out in buff colored breeches, such as the ones shown in one of the Knoetel uniform plates. So I just painted the whole leg tan, save for the cavalry boots. The "van Dyke" pattern of the shabraque edging can be complicated and tedious to outline. However, it occured to me that I could simply paint each little triangle (they are engraved on the shabraque to make it easier for you) white. Then I come back and place a small dot of red in the center of each triangle. The end results appears that I have painted the triangle tooth of the van Dyking red, and then outlined it in white, but I didn't. If you have ever painted hussars before, then you will know what I mean.

King Frederick and his generals all agree that the Black Hussars will make a wonderful addition to His Army. Various makes of figures including a Suren Fritz, Stadden Zeithen and Seydlitz, some Front Rank and Foundry lesser lights fill out the tableaux. Camp tents and furniture are from Herb Gundt of HG Walls.

I assembled the remaining dozen hussars that I need to bring the regiment up to 30 figures and plan on priming them this evening. Then I should be able to start the painting process all over again tomorrow night and get them finished by the weekend.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Black Hussars

Minden Miniatures Prussian Hussars by Der Alte Fritz (click pix to enlarge).

Here are some quick pictures of the first dozen Minden Prussian Hussars that I painted as the HR5 von Reusch, or Black Hussars, so called for obvious reasons. I will apply the textured basing tomorrow night, let it dry overnight, and finish the grassing on Saturday.

They look very nice charging through the hamlet of Altenzaum, which was created by Herb Gundt (HG Walls).

The horses come in two poses: legs bunched together and legs stretched with both depicting a charging horse. They actually look better if you mix one of each horse style on the stand. This conveys movement and action and sort of reminds me of Lady Butler's painting "Scotland Forever", showing the 2nd Dragoons Scots Greys charging at Waterloo.

Another view of the Black Hussars in situ.

Now that I've painted a few of these fellows, the rest of the batch (30 to 36 in total) should be easier to paint, now that I've figured out all of the painting pitfalls. The painting of the white edging on the shabraques (the "Van Dyking") was giving me fits at first as it was tedious painting all of that edging with a fine brush. Then it occured to me that I could simplify the process by first painting a white triangle tooth on the edge and then come back and dab in a dot of red inside the triangle. This gives the appearance of having painted the white edging by hand. It is much faster too. By the way, the Van Dyke edging is sculpted onto the shabraque, making the painting that much easier.