Category Archives: Eighteenth century

Pics of my visit to Les Invalides in Paris – museums and Napoleon’s tomb

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During my family’s recent trip to Europe, I was able to spend a morning by myself at Les Invalides in Paris. I spent several delightful hours wandering around looking at the huge range of artifacts, paintings and models from French military history, culminating with a visit to Napoleon’s tomb.

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L’Hôtel National des Invalides (to use the correct name of ‘Les Invalides’) is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. The building’s original purpose when Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670 was to provide accommodation and hospital care for wounded soldiers – and it still contains a hospital and retirement home.

But it is for its military museums and the burial site of some of France’s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte, that most visitors come to Les Invalides.

Musée de l’Armée

The Musée de l’Armée was created in 1905 with the merger of the Musée d’Artillerie and the Musée Historique de l’Armée.  The museum’s seven main spaces and departments contain collections that span the period from antiquity through the 20th century.

I spent much of my visit in the Modern Department, covering from Louis XIV to Napoleon III, 1643-1870.  I also had time for a very quick scoot through the Contemporary Department which tells the story of the French Army from 1871 to 1945.

The displays include uniforms, artifacts, paintings and computerised battle reports.  They’re housed in glass cases in dramatically-lit rooms and galleries.  While this lighting makes everything look splendid, one downside is the difficulty in photographing the exhibits.   But here goes …

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I also photographed one or two dioramas that were part of the displays.

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In the museum foyer were these wonderful displays of large-scale model soldiers, all about a foot high, and clothed in real material uniforms.

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Musée des Plans-Reliefs

I made a point of not missing the Musée des Plans-Reliefs in the attic space of Les Invalides, having read that it was well worth the climb. And so it was – at the top of the stairs you enter a door and find yourself a long low and very dark attic gallery, in which moodily-lit models recede into the distance in both directions.

These are all three-dimensional models of fortified cities for military purposes, known as ‘plans-relief’. The models gave particular attention to the city fortifications and topographic features such as hills, harbours, and so on.

The construction of these models dates to 1668, when initially the models were constructed in the field, by military engineers. In 1743 two central workshops were established for their construction in Béthune and Lille. A large number of models were built during and after the War of the Austrian Succession (1741-1748) to represent newly captured sites.

In 1774 the collection was nearly destroyed when its Louvre gallery was re-dedicated to paintings, but was in 1777 moved to Les Invalides.

All told, some 260 plans-reliefs were created between 1668 and 1870, representing about 150 fortified sites. The museum displays 28 plans-reliefs of fortifications along the English Channel, the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, and the Pyrenees. It also contains presentations on construction and use of the plans-reliefs.

Unfortunately whilst I was busy photographing some of these spectacular models, I forgot to record which fortifications they represented. So you’ll just have to guess …

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One interesting part of the Musée des Plans-Reliefs was a display of the equipment and materials used by the model-makers. Most wargamers would be totally familiar with much of what was on display here!

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Cathedral of Saint-Louis des Invalides

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In 1676, the Secretary of State for War, Marquis de Louvois, entrusted the young architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart with the construction of the chapel, which the architect of Les Invalides, Libéral Bruant, had been unable to complete.

He designed a building which combined a royal chapel, the “Dôme des Invalides”, and a veterans’ chapel.  This way, the king and his soldiers could attend mass simultaneously, while entering the place of worship though different entrances, as prescribed by etiquette.

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Tomb of Napoleon

One of the highlights of any visit to Les Invalides is of course to see where the body of Napoleon lies entombed.  First buried on St. Helena, Napoleon’s remains were exhumed and brought to Paris in 1840 on the orders of Louis-Philippe, who wanted to return the emperor to French soil.

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On entering the church, you come to a balcony surrounding a hole in the floor looking down at the tomb. Some say this is a trick to ensure that even in death Napoleon’s enemies would have to bow their heads to him.  In fact I read a story somewhere that an Englishman was advised to use a small hand-mirror to view the tomb without bowing his head!

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The heavy bronze door down to the crypt is forged from cannons taken at Austerlitz. Above the lintel is an extract from Napoleon’s will: “I wish my ashes to rest on the banks of the Seine among the people of France whom I so much loved”.

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The sarcophagus lies on a green granite pedestal and contains a nest of six coffins: one made of soft iron, another of mahogany, two others of lead, one of ebony and finally the last one of oak.

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Filed under Eighteenth century, Napoleonics, Uncategorized, WW1

An Antipodean view of SELWG

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When this official photograph was being taken of the winning game at the recent SELWG (South East London Wargames Group) wargames show at Crystal Palace in London, little did the guys know that the chap standing alongside the official photographer and sneaking some distinctly unofficial shots with his little camera was probably the furthest travelled visitor to the show.

The following article and pictures portray the impressions of the show from that far-flung visitor.  As such, you’ll probably find this posting displays a rather naive wide-eyed enthusiasm of an Antipodean abroad, in contrast with more restrained reviews from British gamers for whom attending such shows is almost just a routine part of the hobby.

This report might also be one of the most delayed, as it is already nearly a month since SELWG took place. But the posting had to wait until I finished my holiday and got back home to New Zealand.  I’m hoping people will still find this article of interest, as it is from the point of view of someone who has never before attended a big wargames show.

Getting there

I had flown from New Zealand with my wife and daughter for a five week holiday in the UK and Europe.  I had always yearned to visit a big show such as Salute or SELWG. So finding that I would be in Rye, less than a couple of hours away from the SELWG venue, meant that I just had to more heaven and earth to ensure no family events got in the way of my being able to attend.

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Luckily my evil plan succeeded, and I duly received a ‘day leave pass’ from my family!  I had initially planned to take the train from Rye to London. But then a few days prior to the event  I thought of asking online to see if there were any UK gamers who would be driving up from somewhere close to Rye, and whom I could join for the trip. My reasoning for this was to a) not get lost; b) have a chance to chat with some fellow gamers during the drive; and c) have some company during the event itself.

In the end this worked out better than I could ever have expected. Robert contacted me and offered not only to get me to the show without losing my way, but also invited me to accompany him to a restaurant afterwards for a meal with some well-known faces of the hobby.

First impressions

The day was rainy, but that wasn’t a problem for an indoor event, other than a bit of a soaking during our walk from the carpark to the Crystal Palace sports centre. Inside, once the fug of soaked raincoats had dissipated and the spots of rain on my glasses had cleared, the weather outside was easily ignored.

My first view of the event took my breath away. The huge sports hall was filled with colourful game tables, and surrounded by two levels of trade stands. And what a mass of people – I’d never seen so many wargaming enthusiasts gathered in one place. Who would ever have believed that there were so many people interested in my rather odd hobby of moving little toy soldiers around on a tabletop?

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Buying and selling

I decided to begin at the bring-and-buy, thinking that if there was anything interesting there, I should get in fast. But unfortunately all those other wargaming enthusiasts seemed to have exactly the same idea. So I experienced my first-ever bring and buy scrum, with the tables packed three to four rows back. The end result was that if there had actually been anything of interest to me on the table, it was well-gone by the time I managed to fight my way through the ruck.

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My next port of call was a quick round of the trade stands to see who was there, and in particular to see if I could meet in person some of the traders I had only ever dealt with online from New Zealand.

I quickly found one of my favourite suppliers – Empress Miniatures, who produce the wonderful figures I use for my colonial New Zealand Wars armies. It was great to chat with them, and especially to learn that there will be some new releases in this range next year.

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As a wide-eyed Antipodean, it was fantastic to wander round all the stalls and see in real-life all those miniatures that I had only ever seen as photos in magazines or online. The hall was a huge cornucopia of every type of figure and piece of terrain I could imagine.

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Despite what looked to me like every trader under the sun, I learned there were actually several big names who were absent.  For example, I would’ve dearly loved to meet up with Front Rank Miniatures, whose figures are the mainstay of several of my armies – but sadly they weren’t at SELWG this year.

In a remarkably restrained manner, I bought only one thing all day (a small resin sampan for my latest samurai project). But before traders get upset at wasting their time at shows for such measly purchases, I must add that I took note of quite a few items I’ll probably be buying through mail-order once my current project is completed.

Meeting fellow gamers

Another thing I was really keen to do was to meet up with some of my fellow wargamers whom I had only even known from the online word.  To help them recognise me, I wore my Kapiti Fusiliers name-badge, clearly emblazoned with my name ‘ROLY’.

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This didn’t quite work as well as I hoped, partly because most of my online wargaming friends know me more as my nickname Arteis, and partly because most people assumed the name-badge meant I was just a trader.

So it was up to me to go up to people I suspected I might know (which for some puzzled gamers, will account for the rather pushy New Zealander accosting them at their games).  With so many people at SELWG, in the end I wasn’t too successful meeting up with people by this cold call strategy, and so didn’t find too many I knew (though I heard later there were plenty enough of my friends there, if only I had recognised them).  

One meeting that did succeed, however, came down to my Dutch heritage.  At one point my ears pricked up to hear some Flemish being spoken behind me (almost the same language to the untrained ear), and so I turned round and introduced myself with a ‘Goede dag!’ – and so was very pleased to meet up with a couple of the guys from Antwerp.  

And of course, the games!

The other anticipated excitement of the day was to view all those luscious games, and I was not disappointed. Every period I could think of was covered in one scale or another – except sadly my current obsession with samurai, which was surprising considering the excitement at the moment about the new ‘Ronin’ rules.  Though this was partly assuaged by some magnificent large-scale samurai figures on a painting demonstration table.

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Most of the games were fabulous, and the painting and terrain were simply superb. But I did note a lack in using the third dimension (height). Photos I’ve seen of previous shows depict dramatic games set on mountains, hills, tall buildings and other high terrain. The time and effort involved in producing such lofty terrain means they tend not to occur in normal club gaming (in my experience, anyway), and so are usually only seen at big shows like this.  But with only a few exceptions, the games at this SELWG were pretty flat, and none at all blew me away with any exciting use of the height dimension.

But apart from that minor disappointment (which, after all, was only my opinion), the games were otherwise stunning. And not only with their terrain and figures. I also noticed the lengths to which some clubs went to give their games period character, such as using appropriate props to decorate the sides of their table, or by judicious wearing of uniform items.

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Also evident was the readiness of the players to engage in conversation with bystanders, rather than being too engrossed in their own gaming. It was fun to chat with quite a few of the players, especially where the rules were a bit out of ordinary.

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An aftershow treat

The hours sped by very quickly, and all too soon it seemed it was time to leave this bulging palace of wargaming treasures. But the excitement of the day was not yet finished. My host’s offer of a dinner out with some of the luminaries in the hobby came true, and I was soon chatting over a yummy meal with a friendly group of people I had only ever seen in the wargames magazine world. I had to pinch myself to find myself dining with the likes of Mike Siggins and Bill Gaskin …

And so that was it – SELWG! As I mentioned at the start, some of the local reviews of SELWG seem to regard it as a commonplace event. But I urge UK wargamers to never take such events for granted. Remember that for many of us, these big shows can only be a wishful dream. It is just a lucky few of we Antipodeans (and other such far-flung gamers) who can ever attend a big UK show in real life, as I had the pleasure to do.

Many thanks to my host Robert; to my dinner companions Mike, Bill and his charming wife; and to all the wonderful people I met during the day, who all made SELWG so memorable for this wide-eyed Antipodean visitor.

More pics of the games

Let’s take a closer look at some of the games that particularly caught my eye.  Don’t forget to click on the pics to enlarge them and see all that lavish detail.

Southend Wargames Club won the show with their depiction of the War of 1812 Battle of Cryslers Farm.  This was one of the few games at SELWG that I felt made some use of the third dimension, height.

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Here’s one of my favourite games of the show – and I’m not even usually a fan of WW2 (though to be exact this is a post-war game – just!). It is the Deal Wargames Club’s rendition of the Russian attack on the Japanese-held Shumsu Island.

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The South East Essex Military Society (SEEMS) put on a War of the Spanish Succession game as their ‘Tabletop Teasers on Tour’ display.

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A deceptively simple-looking table, but one that nevertheless caught my eye, was the Maidstone Wargames Society participation game called ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Floating Machines’. The idea was that smugglers in balloons had to get their contraband to the British coast, pursued by other smugglers and the local constabulary (or rozzers).

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The Shepway Wargames Club put on a very nicely-done game of the Battle of Nobovidy, 1422. The snowy terrain was particularly well-done.

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Loughton Strike Force used the Panzergrenadier Deluxe rules to play their eye-catching WW2 Kursk game, the Attack on Ponyri.

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Ancients are not normally my thing, but who could resist Simon Miller’s magnificent depiction of the Battle of Thapsus, 46BC?

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Finally, here’s a look at an early WW1 game called Crush the Kaiser. It included something often missed in wargames, namely the effect of the civilian populace – something to make us remember that playing wargames is (thankfully) a great deal different from making war.

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Filed under Eighteenth century, Empress Miniatures, Medieval, Uncategorized, Warlord Games, WW1, WW2

Tricornes and lashings of rococo gilt – Austrian staff

Austrian generals by Minden Miniatures

This photo shows my entire 18th century Austrian army.  Yep, these three generals are my Austrian army – all of it!  There is not one solitary Austrian infantryman or cavalry trooper amongst my miniature armies for them to command. Yet I have these three – so what’s the story?  

Why I bought these Minden Miniatures figures, I’m not entirely sure.  Whilst my ‘Barryat of Lyndonia‘ imagi-nation army is fictional, it is still based on the movie Barry Lyndon, and that movie isn’t exactly known for containing Austrians.  British, yes – French and Prussians too.  But Austrians, nary a one.

The answer is that Minden Miniatures don’t make any French generals (yet, I hope!).  They make a lovely set of Prussian general staff, which I’ve featured in an earlier post.  But they have no leaders for their French range to oppose the Prussians – only Austrians.   So, that means if I want some leadership on hand should I wish to split my Barryat army into two halves to fight each other for a game, Austrian generals it’ll have to be.

Of course, I could’ve gone for another maker, of whom plenty make French general staff figures.  But Minden Miniatures are so individual, being true 1/56th scale replicas of the human anatomical proportions, rather than the more caricatured (albeit charming) look of most other 28mm/30mm ranges.

Don’t get me wrong, I love other makes – after all, I own and treasure entire armies of them.  But for me, no other makers’ figures match in with Minden figures.  So for this particular part of my collection, it has to all be Minden or nothing.

So, there it is.

Now, imagine some strains of Mozart in the background, and meet my Austrian A-team:

  • General Franz Leopold Nádasdy
  • Field-Marshal Prince Charles of Lorraine
  • General Gideon Ernst Loudon

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Filed under Eighteenth century, Minden Miniatures

Military review in the Barryat of Lyndonia

Barryat of Lyndonia army on review

A military parade of the entire army of my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia, has been long overdue.  But today a combination of being on childcare duty at home whilst my wife works, and some lovely autumn light for picture-taking, inspired me to set out all the 1/56th scale Minden Minatures figures I’ve painted so far.

To fill in those who don’t know about the Barrayat of Lyndonia (ie nearly everybody in the world), it is an imaginary nation – or ‘imagi-nation’ – I’ve created for my wargaming army, based on the Stanley Kubrick movie, Barry Lyndon.  

The Barryat does not recruit its own army, but instead contracts regiments from other states in Europe – which provides the backstory to allow me to mix and match whatever real-life nations’ units I wish.

Instead of pursuing historical accuracy when painting my figures, I’ve attempted as much as I can to depict my soldiers as they appear in the movie, historical inaccuracies and all.  Therefore when some expert in military history tells me that the turn-backs on my Prussians should  be red, not white, or that they can’t possibly have those three flags together in one regiment, I can point out my figures aren’t representing real Prussians, but rather Kubrick’s take on them.  

So, for your delectation, on with the photos of the military review (don’t forget to click on the pics to see them in their full glory):

Austrian and Prussian staff,

The guests of honour are some famous personalities from nearby real-life countries, including the Prussian King Frederick the Great and the Austrian Prince Charles of Lorraine.   Also present are a number of the local gentry and their ladies.

Gale's Regiment of Foot

A long line of red emerges from the trees, as Gale’s Regiment of Foot, a fictional regiment from the movie, approaches the parade ground.  By the way, I think that the above picture is especially cool when clicked on to bring it up to full size.

Gale's Regiment of Foot

After having marched onto the parade ground in line, they’ve now deployed into column of companies (my infantry regiments have three companies per regiment). Headed by Lt Colonel Charles Gale, the officers include the Irish adventurer Captain Grogan, the foppish Lieutenant Jonathon Fakenham and his ‘particular friend’ Lieutenant Freddie, whose surname is not disclosed in the movie.

The movie depicts the drummers wearing tricornes instead of mitre caps, but I’ve kept to the latter because I like their mitres so much – and because that is the way the Minden drummers come.

Gale's Regiment of Foot

In the movie, the regiment has no grenadiers, but I have added these, again simply because I like their colourful and intricate mitres so much – and what better reason could there be than that?!  They were tricky to paint, but I think the final effect is worth the effort, and they’re my favourite figures in the whole army.

Gale's Regiment of Foot in the movie 'Barry Lyndon'

Somewhere in the ranks will be Private  Redmond Barry, the main character in Barry Lyndon.  He joined Gale’s Regiment of Foot after being tricked into a duel back home in Ireland. Captain Grogan has now taken young Barry under his wing, and Lieutenants Jonathon and Freddie will later provide him with an intriguing opportunity for Barry to improve his status in life (you’ll need to see the movie to find out exactly how this happens!).

Royal Cravattes

Following Gale’s Regiment of Foot,  the Régiment de Royal-Cravates enters the field.  In the movie, this is the French regiment that Barry faces in his first taste of battle, “only a skirmish against a rearguard of Frenchmen who occupied an orchard beside a road down which the English main force wish to pass”.  The narrator in the movie goes on to say that though this encounter is not recorded in any history book, it was memorable enough for those who took part.  

The drummers in their royal livery were tricky to paint, with all that red and white lace.  But I’m pleased how they came out in the end.

Royal Cravattes

Whilst un-named in the movie, in the original 1844 William Makepeace Thackeray novel, the French regiment that Barry marches against is called the Régiment de Royal-Cravates, so that is who they are in the Barrayat of Lyndonia.

Royal Cravattes

The Barryat of Lyndonia’s French regiment replicates the incorrect facings and flags as per the movie.  The flags are actually those of two real French regiments, the Grenadiers Royaux and the Régiment de Flandre, yet the uniform facing colours are incorrect for both.

Kubrick Regiment

The last foot battalion onto the parade ground is the Kubrick Infanterie Regiment, led by Captain Potzdorf on his distinctive white horse.  The movie doesn’t name this Prussian regiment, which Barry is forced to join after being captured as a deserter.  So in the Barryat army it is named in honour of the movie’s famous director, Stanley Kubrick.  I hope he looks down on this with approval! 

Kubrick Regiment

OK, so the movie doesn’t have any grenadiers in mitre caps.  But, like Gale’s Regiment of Foot, I really wanted some of those smart-looking guys, so I’ve conjectured how Kubrick would have shown them, had he wanted to.  Basically, they’re the same as his somewhat inaccurate Prussian musketeers, but wearing mitre caps instead of tricornes.

Prussian column led by three flags

 The movie’s inaccuracies are all faithfully recreated!  The soldiers’ coats have the wrong coloured turnbacks, they wear incorrectly coloured straps, and carry mismatched flags (the orange, black and white flags in the movie are actually from three different real-life Prussian regiments).

Prussian dragoons

The sound of jingling bridles and trotting hooves announce the arrival of the only cavalry regiment in the Lyndonian army, the  Truchseß Dragoons. This regiment is the first unit that veers away from the movie.  While there were some small numbers of rather plainly-dressed Prussian cavalrymen in some scenes in Barry Lyndon, I went for the real-life Prussian Truchseß Dragoons merely because of their splendid light blue and pink uniforms.  Another perfectly good reason!

French battalion gun

In the finale, the whole army masses behind the two guns of the Barryat of Lyndonia army as they prepare to fire a salute.  The French gun in the foreground is modelled on one that appears briefly in the  movie.

French cannon

The gunners in the movie wear the standard white infantry coats rather than the blue and red French artillery uniforms.  This is actually correct, because small battalion guns such as these were manned by men assigned from the regiment, not Royal Artillery gunners.  I’ve done the same with the British gun, manning it with crew assigned from Gale’s Regiment of Foot.

Minden Prussian staff

The visiting Prussian king, Frederick the Great, is so impressed with the turnout of the Barryat of Lyndonia army that he has instructed his hussar general, von Zeithen, to write a note of congratulations, which the latter is now handing to a courier to convey post-haste to the Lyndonian palace.

Barryat of Lyndonia army

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Filed under Eighteenth century, GMB Design flags, Minden Miniatures, Uncategorized

Minden Miniatures and the end of the hobby?

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Just to prove I haven’t been doing absolutely nothing of late, here is a quick progress shot on some general staff figures I’ve been (verrrry slowly) painting.

These are some more of the fabulous Minden Miniatures range of 28mm figures, depicting some of the real-life military leaders from 18th century Prussia and Austria.

On the left are the two Austrians –  Field Marshall Prince Charles of Lorraine and General von Loudon, in their spiffy white and gold uniforms with acres of gold rococo trim.

On the right are their Prussian opponents, in somewhat more muted uniforms – Major-General von Seydlitz and (most recognisable of all) King Frederick II ‘the Great’.

I now only have a couple of other staff figures from these two sets to finish painting, and then that is it – I’ll have reached the bottom of my lead mountain!  (For those visitors to this blog who aren’t wargamers, ‘lead mountain’ is the common nickname for the backlog of figures waiting to be painted, in many cases quite huge.)

True, I do still have a box of various miscellaneous bare-metal figures stashed away, but none of them are particularly required for any project.  And so with no desire on my part to get them done, they’ll no doubt languish forever in the bottom of my cupboard.

So, what now?  Well, to keep me from the reputed consequence for a wargamer getting to the bottom of his lead mountain (ie dying), I do currently have two Renadra plastic buildings on their way from the UK for my colonial New Zealand Wars armies.  These are their brand new ramshackle barn kit (isn’t “brand new ramshackle” an oxymoron?) and their wooden church.  OK, not lead, I know – but they’re still wargaming projects, so hopefully should count …

After that?  Well, truth to tell, I have lost my painting mojo so much of late that, truly, I am not really keen to start anything else at all.  I’m actually enjoying life without feeling the pressure of a painting queue.  

Plus in recent years I don’t feel I’ve been painting as well as I used to.  I’m not sure why – maybe aging eyes?  But overall I don’t feel as satisfied with my painting results as I used to.

Hmmm, does that mean I’m coming to the end of my tenure in the hobby?  After all, the other hobbies I’ve had during my life have generally lasted ten years before I got itchy feet – and I’ve been wargaming several years beyond a decade now.  

Anyway, let’s see what happens.  Maybe Empress Miniatures might come out with another release of figures for their superb New Zealand Wars range, and that’ll probably save me …  

 

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Filed under Eighteenth century, Minden Miniatures

Old Stuff Day

old stuff

March 2 is Old Stuff Day.  OK, so I’m a day late here in New Zealand, but as it is still March 2 in some parts of the world (I’m looking at you, America!), I think I’m still alright to post this.

So, what is Old Stuff Day?

“On this day, each blogger can go through their history and find posts that they’d like to shake the dust off and present again to the community at large. Some suggestions for content that would be good to post: 

- Posts that you considered special that didn’t receive as much attention as you thought they deserved

- Content that people liked in the past, but haven’t seen recently

- Posts you might have created before your site received much traffic, and now deserve to be reshown

- Or any content you’re particularly proud of!”

So here’s some of the old stuff on my blog that I’m particularly proud of:

Trumpeting on about my forebear

This was the first in a series of posts that I did on my family history. While reading other people’s family histories can sometimes be a little boring, I thought this particular character in my lineage would be fascinating to others besides myself – especially on a military history/wargaming site – as he was a trumpeter in Napoleon’s army.

Uniform of a trumpetter of the 12th Draggons

More on my father’s Dutch war service

As the title suggests, this was the second of a couple of postings about my dad. I thought this might be of interest to my mainly Anglo-centic readers, as my Dad’s war service was in one of the smaller European players of WW2.

My father is on the left of this picture, in the front row.  Note the red cross emblem on his collar, showing his service in the Medical Troops.

A fantastic landscape diorama – and I do mean fantastic

This posting constantly sits in the list of my most visited postings.   It features an amazing diorama in the Netherlands.  I think it is particularly inspirational in showing the effectiveness of the dimension of height in a diorama – so often they are very flat.

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One of the nicest wargames terrains I’ve ever seen

This is another much-visited posting, again on terrain.  It was instrumental in starting one the most popular wargaming blogs around. My posting featured Joe’s amazing Old West town, and it got so many hits that Joe realised he was missing out on something not having his own blog, and thus Colonel O’Truth’s Miniature Issues was born.

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My Minden miniatures finally based

This posting was one of quite a number about my ongoing project to paint 18th century army along the lines of the movie Barry Lyndon. The pictures in this posting came out rather well, I thought, despite just being posed on my old painting board in the garden.

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My Barry Lyndon armies

And this is the post in which I first established my Barry Lyndon ‘imagi-nation’. I refer to this posting quite often to remind myself what I had in mind for this project, and to re-inspire myself with the magic of the movie.

Gale's Regiment of Foot in the movie 'Barry Lyndon'

Photos of finished colonial New Zealand wars figures and terrain

This posting includes some of my favourite shots of my New Zealand Wars armies.  The model kiwi terrain in the background of some of the shots also caught people’s interest.

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A pirate’s life for me

This posting features a niche period I’ve dabbled in, and that has been a lot of fun. Many visitors to my blog obviously also share my delight with pirates (however nasty they might have been in real life!), as this remains a very popular posting.

My favourite battle painting

Another really popular posting. I’m really pleased with the way this one turned out, particularly with the clarity of the detail pictures I took from the painting.

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Is history important?

An under-rated posting?  Well, this posting was my attempt to be a bit controversial. While it caused a little bit of interest at the time, overall it slipped under he radar for most visitors.

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Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Eighteenth century, Empress Miniatures, Family history, Foundry, Minden Miniatures, Napoleonics, Pirates, Uncategorized, Wild West, WW2

Rococo cavalcade -18th century dragoons on parade

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A parade of the newly reinforced Truchseß Dragoons took place recently in my 18th century imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia.    

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Invited guest to the parade included Mr Redmond Barry (a man on the way up – and possibly down again) and Miss Nora Brady (Redmond Barry’s seductive older cousin).

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Also on hand to watch the parade were the Chevalier de Balibari (professional gambler and suspected spy), and the Countess of Lyndon (the beautiful, wealthy and recently bereaved widow of the late Sir Charles Lyndon).

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I painted the main bulk of this regiment some time ago.  But I always felt I didn’t have quite enough of them, as having only 20 troopers made them hard to split into symmetrical squadrons and troops.  I’ve therefore painted another four tro0pers, so that the regiment is now made up of 24 troopers, 2 officers, 1 standard bearer and 1 drummer.

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The dragoons can now easily form into two squadrons of 12 figures each, or four troops of 6 men each, as seen here in column.

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The command figures are all individually based so that they can be arranged as non-combatant figures around the unit.

The figures are all 28mm Minden Minaitures

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Filed under Eighteenth century, Minden Miniatures

Rococo riders, briney sailors and a incapacitated capacitator

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What with a computer melt-down, a blast of hot fine weather, and a slew of overseas guests, slipping away into my study to do a spot of painting has been quite difficult so far this year.    But that doesn’t mean I haven’t progressed just a little on at least a couple of projects.

Firstly, I picked up a few sets of Minden Miniatures figures last year.    These included a couple of sets of general officers (Prussian, and – for some odd reason, as I don’t have any such army – Austrians).  But best of all,  I also got the lovely mounted civilians, the ladies riding sidesaddle.  Exquisite figures, that I couldn’t resist painting straight away.  

I decided to paint them up as two separate pairs. The first pair (seen on the left below) are  ornately attired, and so I could let my rococo urge  go wild. The other two (seen below on the right) are somewhat more plainly dressed.  The young man, in fact, could be young Barry Lyndon himself.  Note that they are still waiting to be based.

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Moving forward 100 years, my most recent purchase has been a naval landing party by Empress Miniatures, the latest in installment in their New Zealand Wars range.  You can see them below, undercoated using my usual technique of black automotive primer, dry-brushed with light grey to make the detail pop for easier painting.

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They are absolutely exquisite, as expected. Fantastic animation and facial expressions. Lovely clean castings (so clean that when I did my usual filing and cleaning prior to their detergent bath, there was nothing to remove apart from one mould-line across the top of one hat!).

The figures depict some cool and unusual subjects. There is an officer (or is it a mate) blowing a bosun’s whistle (top right in the above picture). He wears a Napoleonic-looking long tailed coat and a peaked cap.

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I also like the top-hatted officer in the picture above.  Here you can see his long coat very well.

Another character is the bare-headed guy in shirt-sleeves, running forward waving a cutlass (centre right in the above pic).  Maybe it is Lieutenant Philpotts, who famously ditched most of his naval clothing when charging into his last battle at Ohaeawai Pa?  Though his features look a bit too negroid, so maybe he is an ordinary sailor.

The 32-pounder gun is immense. To think this massive piece of equipment really  was dragged miles through the rugged New Zealand bush.

I was initially puzzled by the two man rammer crew – I’d never before heard of two men ramming at once, as photographed on the Empress Miniatures website.   But it turns out the second rammer figure was actually designed to be handing the ramrod to the first rammer in readiness, and not both of them jointly ramming the gun as the photo on the Empress site.  I’ve set them up correctly in my photos, though the second rammer is bit obscured.

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My problem now is how to paint these sailors. Should they have the light blue neck-cloths with white border that we associate with sailors today, or were the 1840s a smidgen early for such uniforms?

Looking closely at the models, the collar appears to be that of the shirt folded over the jacket, not of the jacket itself.  You can see at the front neck of the figures how the collar disappears under the knotted neckscarf and inside the jacket lapels.

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The paintings of the New Zealand Northern Wars of this period appear to show collars the same dark blue colour as the jacket – though the figures in he paintings are not particularly detailed, so one can’t be too sure.  So if the collar is a shirt collar, but looks in these paintings to be dark blue like the jacket, does that mean the guys in shirtsleeves will have blue collars on their white or grey shirts?

But other period photos of the mid 1840s I’ve seen (not in New Zealand settings, though) show a light blue collar, presumably the colour of the shirt collar over the jacket, or maybe an early form of the traditional detachable sailor collar.   An intriguing puzzle for me to solve …

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Finally, what was it that happened with my computer?  Well, a strong smell of burning plastic led us to find one dead computer in the study.  The local repair shop said a capacitator had failed catastrophically,  taking out quite a few other components at the same time.  Luckily they got my data of the hard drive.

So off to the shop to buy a brand new laptop as a replacement for our old bulky desktop.  Much joy and happiness to have a modern, up-to-date beastie – until we found out that its Windows 8 operating system is indeed a beast – a bad beast!  I just couldn’t figure out how to work it.  For week I soldiered on with it, getting more and more disillusioned

Then luckily a friend told me about a freeware program called Classic Shell.  It downloaded and installed simply, and – hey presto! – has given me back the capability I’m used to from previous Windows versions.

So now all is well.  And my study desk is a lot less cluttered!  Here is the new beastie in place – compare it with the photo of the old one above.

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Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Eighteenth century, Empress Miniatures, Minden Miniatures

Back to the eighteenth century

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After a bit of hiatus in my painting, I’m finally back at it. The first figures that have arrived on my painting desk this year are some wonderful Minden eighteenth century generals, dragoons and civilians. My progress to date can be seen in the pic above – some are partly painted, but most are still in their resplendent black undercoats!  (click on the picture to examine more closely)

Firstly, I’ve bought two sets of generals. The first (front centre) are Prussians, and include a lovely rendition of Frederick the Great himself.

The other Minden generals I impulse-bought were Austrians (left rear) – and this has left me now scratching my head, as I have no Austrian troops in my army, and they don’t even appear in the movie Barry Lyndon that my army is loosely based on. However, they’ll look splendid once painted in their white coats and red breeches, so that is probably as much reason as I need!

There are also two pairs of civilians. I’m painting one pair (front right)  in somewhat muted tones of grey, brown and black – maybe Barry Lyndon and a lady-friend in his younger days.

The other pair (front left) will be much more colourful. I’ve already painted the gentleman in a purple coat with sky-blue cuffs – maybe Barry in his more flamboyant period.

Finally the dragoons (centre rear and right rear) are some additions to my existing Truchseß Dragoons.  I felt that the two squadrons needed upping to a dozen men each, bringing the whole regiment to 24 troopers and three officers/musicians.

I’ve already painted the horses’ coats using the rubbed oil-paint technique, and in the main they have come out well. The lighter coats may need some attention. And I have yet to add some white markings to a few of the horses to give some variety.

I’ve also done all the figures’ faces. I find painting faces a bit of a hit or miss operation that I can never keep consistent in quality. I’m quite happy with the way this lot have turned out, but they are still not my best efforts.

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Filed under Eighteenth century, Minden Miniatures

Truchseß dragoons join the Barryat of Lyndonia

“The dragoons will advance!”  The latest regiment to join my 18th century imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia, are these dragoons based on the real-life Prussian Truchseß dragoon regiment.  Click on the above picture to get the full effect.

The Barryat of Lyndonia is based on the movie Barry Lyndon, of course.  This new regiment is the first unit in the Lyndonian army that veers away from the movie, though.  I’ve mentioned in a previous posting the unscientific method I used when I chose to replicate the pink and light-blue uniform colours of the Truchseß dragoons:

Because when I met my wife back in the 80s, pink and light-blue were the ‘in’ colours – she not only wore (very attractively, I might add) pink and light-blue eye-shadow, but we painted our first house together with pink and light-blue trim.  Despite being well out of fashion now, I still have a fondness of that colour combination, so how could I resist a unit dressed in light-blue uniforms with pink facings?!

The regiment currently is made up of 24 figures –  two officers, one drummer and one standard bear (all based singly) and two squadrons of 10 troopers (based in pairs).  I plan to add a couple more troopers to each squadron, as I’m finding 10 an unsatifying number for arranging my regiment in symmetrical formations!  Note that I don’t organise my regiments  in any historical way – they are merely for playing fun wargames, not simulating history.

And before anyone asks, I don’t base to suit any particular set of rules.  Any rules I will use have to be able to cope with my basing, not the other way round!

The figures are all 28mm Minden Miniatures (the most exquisite 18th century figures around, in my opinion).  The standard is merely printed out from a lovely picture on the Kronosaf website.

The horses were under-coated with rust-coloured car primer, then rubbed with burnt umber or black oil paint.  This oil paint used to belong to my Dad, who passed away in 1984, so it imbues my figures with a touch of personal memories, and also shows you how long oil paint lasts!   Oh, and I had some expert help on painting horses, who is  seen inspecting the results in the picture below.

All the above photos were taken on my mobile phone, as our digital camera is presently on holiday in the United Kingdom with my wife and daughter.  While the picture quality isn’t as clear as with a camera, the photos have turned out adequate enough.

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Filed under Eighteenth century, Minden Miniatures