May ’40 Fallschirmjäger in Holland

For my latest painting project I have returned to World War 2, or the 1940 invasion of the Netherlands to be exact. I have previously built up a Dutch force, which is significant to me because my Dad served in the Dutch army in 1940.

May ’40 Miniatures have recently completed a Kickstarter range of 28mm metal Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) figures. These are specifically designed to be the foe for their existing WW2 Dutch range.

The sculpting and animation of these figures is simply superb. For example, just look at those men running their machine-guns forward!

I don’t intend to build a full German wargaming force. But I thought I would still get some of these figures, mainly so so that the Dutch arrayed in my display cabinet have an enemy to look as though they are fighting.

Painting these paratroops was one of those jobs where you have t start from scratch so far as your own knowledge of their uniforms and equipment goes. I had never painted WW2 Germans before, and knew next to nothing about them. So off I went to my library and the internet.

I must say I was quite amazed at how difficult this research was, considering how recently WW2 took place. There are many conflicting sources on topics as basic as the colours of the helmets and smocks. Even Napoleonic uniforms seems to be easier to research!

Anyway, as I had heard the German paratroops were nick-named the ‘Green Devils’, I decided that my figures’ helmets and smocks would be done in shades of grey-green, with Luftwaffe blue trousers.

As an aside, why do so many armies include ‘devils’ in their midst – Green Devils, Black Devils, Red Devils, etc … and were these nicknames really bestowed by their enemies, or were they actually self-generated in a sense of hubris?!

Over the last year I have really taken to using Citadel Contrast paints. These give an automatic shade and highlight in a single coat, which results in figures that look great from wargaming distance.

As you can see from the photos (especially if you enlarge them), they can look a bit blotchy from close-up compared to the fine finish of more traditional painting methods. But I really like the overall effect. And it is so quick!

And for those who want the exact recipe for my painting:

Undercoat: Wraithbone spray.

Smock: Basilicanum grey with hint of Militarum green.

Trousers: Space Wolves grey with hint of Basilicanum grey.

Helmet: GW arctic grey ( the only non-Contrast paint I used) with a hint of Militarum green.

Weapons: Basilicanum grey with Gore Grunta Fur wooden parts.

Straps and belts: Wyldwood.

Boots: Black Templar.

Flesh: Guilliman Flesh (this really has to be my favourite Contrast paint – it is almost miraculous what it does to faces and hands!)

I finished everything off with a coat of Army Painter’s Quick Shade (strong tone), followed by a Vallejo matt varnish.

Simple display case lighting

My main model display case is situated in our hallway, where it doesn’t get much natural light. So I have always had my eye out for a way of lighting the display to better show off my models!

The display case itself is an old piece of furniture with no fitting for lights. In addition, there is no wall socket nearby so any wired-in lighting would be complicated and require the expensive services of an electrician.

So I was really pleased when this week I spotted a range of Nouveau LED Strip Lights at my local Mitre 10 store (a New Zealand big-box hardware store – you’ll probably find similar products in overseas stores). I snapped up three of them to see if they would do the trick.

Each strip is one metre long, and contains a line of tiny LEDs. The strip has a self adhesive backing so that you can just stick it above the shelf.

Power for each strip comes from a battery pack that contains four AAA batteries. These packs have both a manual on-off button and a motion-sensor – though the sensor only works when it is dark.

I stuck the three battery packs just inside the sliding door of my display case, as you can see above. This way I can easily access the on/off buttons just inside the door. I may later paint the battery packs black to make them a little less obtrusive.

The effect when the three light strips are switched on is incredible. They produce a lot of light, so the miniatures look as if they are in a museum display.

Here are a few pictures showing some of the units in the display case, demonstrating how well they come up under the lighting. First are some 18th century British. The lighting shows off their red coats extremely well, giving the figures a jewel-like quality.

My landsknechts look really brilliant under the lights. The multiple hues of their clothing just pops out! All that colour would be wasted without proper lighting!

Even the dull camouflage colours of World War Two come to life under effective lighting, as you can see here with my 1940 Dutch forces.

And my miniature navies look better under lighting, too. As a serendipitous side-effect, the light from the shelf below gleams up through the translucent blue plastic to make the sea sparkle.

I also bought some LED lights for my other display case. This time I didn’t use strip lights, but individual LED lights. The effect isn’t nearly as spectacular, but still much better than no lighting at all (see the unlit case below).

One neat feature these lights have that the strip lights don’t is a remote on/off switch. So you don’t have to open the doors to turn the lights on. Just like magic!

All in all, I am really pleased with the massive improvement that some cheap battery-powered lighting has made to my display cases.

I can now sit and gaze at my miniatures for hours. And every visitor to our house who wants to use the loo must pass by the display case, so the lighting should attract some attention!

Going Dutch with Printable Scenery

I’ve just finished painting a couple of houses from Printable Scenery, who are based just around the corner from me in Paraparaumu, New Zealand.

These models are normally supplied as STL files, but not having a 3D-printer myself, I got them pre-printed. They’re sized to fit with my 28mm figures.

The buildings both come apart so that you can gain access to each story. They fit securely back together again, with a lug on each corner to line up.

Although these particular models were designed with Normandy in mind (I think), I decided to give them a Dutch look to go with my WW2 Dutch army and my 17th century Dutch pirates.

My efforts wouldn’t fool any student of Dutch architecture. But to my mind they convey the general look, especially when combined with some of my other (Hovels) buildings that are definitely Dutch.

So here we have Landsverk armoured car (made by May ’40 Miniatures) trundling down a city street somewhere in the Netherlands during WW2.

And here we have a couple of Dutch privateers from a few centuries earlier having a discussion outside one of the houses.

The two things I did to give a Dutch look to this building were to paint the walls as rough brickwork, and to add a typical Dutch design to the window shutters and door. The brickwork wasn’t entirely successful, as the house is actually modelled with stone walls. But from tabletop distance, they look enough like bricks.

The interiors are filled with lots of detail, including stairs, rugs, paintings and furniture.

I painted the interior walls with several different shades of dry-brushing, which added to the modelled-in shabby look of the peeling plaster. Easy-peasy to do!

The second building shows its brickwork where the plaster is peeling away. Again, my painting of the bricks is not too realistic close-up, but the effect comes together from a distance.

This atmospheric shot shows a bit more of the wonderful interior detail of these models.

As you can see, I have used a fairly slap-dash approach to my paining, which I think gives a nice shabby-chic impression.

And this time the fireplace was actually modelled as bricks, so it looks right even from close-up!

On parade! The Barryat of Lyndonia’s artillery contingents

In Part 8 of this series of postings in which I am reviewing the armies of my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia, it’s time to take a look at the artillery contingents.

As described in Part 1, rather than having its own army, this imaginary eighteenth century state contracts its troops from real-life European countries of the time.

The artillery contingents come from Britain and France – which has no doubt led to many a fisticuffs argument in local hostelries when carousing gunners from these two habitual enemies run into each other!

The French gun and limber are made by Fife and Drum Miniatures (also available from UK company Crann Tara Miniatures).

Apart from the horses, they are all painted with GW’s wonderful Contrast paints (which have truly revolutionised my style and speed of painting).

I’ve chosen to paint the guns red, which means they are from the mid-part of the eighteenth century, as the French later converted to blue. I reckon the red looks more dramatic!

Whilst the gun crew are all glued onto the base, I’ve kept the gun itself removable so it can be attached to the limber if I wish to portray the piece on the move.

The number of horses is really just representative, as I think this would be far too much a load for just two horses to haul!

And here’s the British Royal Artillery contingent. This model also comes from Crann Tara Miniatures.

Gunners normally wore quite subdued uniforms (maybe due to how they could get so worn and dirty working the guns). But the British bucked this trend, and festooned their Royal Artillery’s uniforms with lashings of lace and piping.

I thought all this decoration would be quite hard to paint, but the Contrast paints almost did the job by themselves, with just the barest modicum of precision on my part!

I particularly like the British officer with his crimson sash, whom you can see on the left of the above photo.

Note the civilian driver on the right. During his period armies hired civilians to lug their guns about. Once in battle, I bet many drivers would’ve scarpered off, leaving the guns pretty well fixed in place.

Again, the gun can be attached to its limber.

British guns were painted a grey-blue. I must admit I didn’t get the shade quite right on the gun, compared to the limber. Maybe the gun is older and has faded in the sun!

Whilst painting the big guns, I also took the opportunity to re-base the smaller battalion guns that I had painted several years ago.

Battalion guns were the small-calibre cannon that formed integral parts of some individual infantry units.

Here we see the battalion gun of Gale’s Regiment of Foot, supporting the advance of the company of grenadiers.

These figures are by Minden Miniatures.

And here’s the battalion gun of le Régiment des Royal-Cravates.

Battalion guns were often manned by infantrymen from the regiment, rather than actual artillerists, which is why these gunners are in white rather than French Artillerie blue.

Go back to Part 7 of this series: the Truchseß Dragoons.

Pirates being sacrificed for sustainability

With retirement looming ahead, I’ve decided my hobby needs to be a wee bit more self-sustaining than it is. So I’ve decided to start selling off some of my figures on TradeMe, the New Zealand version of eBay.

I’ve never been that keen on selling any of my figures, as I feel I’ve invested so much time and care in painting them. So the decisions on what will go and what will stay will be really difficult. If I don’t come up with some sort of system, I’ll probably end up deciding to not sell much at all.

So the system I have set for myself is that if I want to buy any new miniatures, I’ve got to fund at last half the cost from my existing collection. Let’s see if I can make that work!

The first collection for sale are some Foundry pirates and a ship. I’ve rationalised this by putting up only half of my small pirate collection for sale, as I usually need less figures than I own to play skirmish games anyway. And I’ll still be able to sit and admire the remainder of them in my display case.

So here’s how I advertised them:

Arghhhh, me hearties! Here’s a motley crew of 28mm metal pirates from the Wargames Foundry range, exquisitely painted and based – and a fine ship for them to sail the Spanish Main in search of plunder!

These will give you a crew of eleven scurvy pirates to play any skirmish pirate game. Included are Captain Morgan, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny and even the infamous Blackbeard himself.

I’ll also throw in a skeleton pirate and Queen Elizabeth 1, whom I’m sure you could find a way of incorporating as characters into a wacky game scenario!

Of course, pirates need ships. So this sale also includes a natty little brig beautifully converted from a plastic ‘Weapons and Warriors’ play-set toy. Its been re-fitted with a balsa deck and given a realistic wood-like paint-job. The masts and bowsprit are removable, as are the four small metal cannons. She measures 25cms long, 9cms wide and 18cms high – plenty big enough to carry the whole crew!

Note that the scenic background and buildings in the photos don’t come with this sale (but if you twist my arm I could include the three palm trees!).

Of course, there is the problem of what if no-one buys them? But let’s cross that bridge after the auction finishes next Saturday night.

On parade! The Truchseß Dragoons of the Barryat of Lyndonia

In Part 7 of this series of ‘On parade!’ postings featuring the units of my ‘imagi-nation’ army, we meet these dragoons based on the real-life Prussian Truchseß dragoon regiment.  

My imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia is based on the movie Barry Lyndon. But there are only a few cavalrymen in the movie, who are basically in Prussian infantry uniforms with attached plumes, and don’t do anything for me.

So I decided to do a completely new unit, not from the movie at all, but picked for an entirely different reason. 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 white 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 painting a real-life regiment that had light-blue uniforms with pink facings – the Prussian Truchseß dragoons?!

I don’t organise my regiments  in any historical way – they are merely for playing fun wargames, not simulating history. When I painted this regiment back in 2012, it initially had 24 figures –  two officers, one drummer and one standard bearer (all based singly) and two squadrons of 10 troopers (based in pairs).  

However, I later added a couple more troopers to each squadron, as I found 10 to be an unsatisfying number for arranging my regiment in symmetrical formations!  

The figures are all 28mm Minden Miniatures (along with Crann Tara 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.

I was particularly pleased with how this haughty officer came out. As this figure was originally a Minden Hanovarian officer, and not a Prussian at all, he is wearing his sash incorrectly across his shoulder for a Prussian (who wore them around the waist). Even though with an imagi-nation army I’m not bound by accuracy, I decided to paint the sash as a real military decoration ribbon instead – the orange ribbon of the Order of the Black Eagle.

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 from Sammy, who is seen inspecting the results in the above picture!

Go forward to Part 8 of this series: the artillery contingents

Go back to Part 6 of this series: the Lynden Hussars

On parade! The Barryat of Lyndonia’s Lynden Hussars

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In Part 6 of this series of ‘On parade!’ postings reviewing all the units in the army of my wargaming ‘imagi-nation’ (imaginary nation), the Barryat of Lyndonia, here come the Lynden Hussars, looking somewhat Toytown-ish in their blue, yellow and red uniforms.

Although my army is imaginary, I like each unit to match a real-life regiment from any of the warring nations of the mid-18th century. So after I bought these wonderful Minden Miniatures French hussars a couple of years ago, I ummed and ahhed which French regiment to paint them as.

So, were they going to be France’s famous Bercheny Hussars? Or perhaps those cut-throat rogues, the Chasseurs de Fischer? I just couldn’t decide … until the decision was made for me when I found out that the French army really had a hussar regiment named the Aspremont-Lynden Hussars. How could the Barryat of Lyndonia possibly not include this unit in its army?!

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The standard French light-blue hussar uniform looks striking in my army, especially with the colourful yellow facings and red horse furniture.

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I painted the horses using oil paints, which gives a lovely depth of colour and a sheen that makes them look lifelike.

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The regiment consists of 24 troopers, two trumpeters, a standard-bearer (yes, I know hussars didn’t carry standards into battle, but this is an imaginary nation, remember!), and an officer. They’re not based for any particular set of wargaming rules.

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One problem was that I couldn’t find any information on the colour of the Lynden trumpeters’ uniforms. As French trumpeters often wore the livery of their regiment’s owner, I decided to paint them in yellow and red to mach the heraldic arms of the real-life Aspremont-Lynden family.  

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Go forward to Part 7 of this series: the Truchseß Dragoons

Go back to Part 5 of this series: Le Régiment des Gardes Françaises

On parade! Le Régiment des Gardes Françaises

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Some visitors to this blog will have a sense of déjà vu reading this article, as I only posted about finishing painting this unit of le Régiment des Gardes Françaises back in March this year.

But as they are one of the foreign contingents in the army of my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia, they’re re-appearing here as Part 5 of this series in which I’m reviewing every one of the Barryat’s units.

As I’ve previously mentioned (e.g. in Wargaming Illustrated #385), the Barryat’s army is made up of contracted foreign regiments from all over 18th-century Europe.

I chose the first three regiments, British, French and Prussian, because they had appeared in ‘Barry Lyndon’, the book and movie on which I very loosely based my imagi-nation.

But I’ve now exhausted the ‘Barry Lyndon’ units, so any further regiments in the Barryat’s army are based simply on which ones I like the look of – what amazing freedom that gives me!

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My favourite-ever military painting is Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux’s The Battle of Fontenoy featuring Le Régiment des Gardes Françaises.

So when I saw that Crann Tara Miniatures had a range of Gardes Françaises figures sculpted in the same 1/56th scale as my other Minden Miniatures regiments, the die was cast!

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I just had to come up with a good back-story of why a contingent of such a prestigious French regiment was in the Barryat’s army.

Fellow New Zealand wargamer Wayne Stack made the suggestion that they could have been part of the dowry from the marriage of one of the younger daughters of the French king…or possibly one of his favourite illegitimate daughters. That sounds plausible enough to me!

By the way, this particular pic is not of Crann Tara miniatures, but of some old 30mm Willie figures.

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As with the other regiments of foot in the Barrayt’s army, this was quite some painting effort: sixty-six privates, along with four NCOs, three officer, two ensigns, and three drummers – a total of 78 figures!

I painted this unit almost entirely with GW’s Contrast paints. These worked beautifully, flowing well and providing shading with no effort from me. Just look at the officer’s stockings, the wood of the muskets, and the men’s faces – this shading all  happened by itself!

If you want to read more on how I painted them, take a look at this earlier posting on my blog.

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Here’s the massed effect of the whole battalion in line, officers to the front, NCOs to the side and rear, drummers on the flank.

And in this short video, the unit looks pretty impressive when the camera pans along the whole line, with its frontage of nearly half-a-metre.  The accompanying music is the actual march of the Gardes Françaises.

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Before I based these figures for the Barryat’s army, I just had to arrange them to recreate my favourite military painting. You can see more pictures of this recreated painting here.

Go forward to Part 6 of this series: the Lynden Hussars

Go back to Part 4 of this series: Infanterie-Regiment Kubrick

On Parade! Infanterie-Regiment Kubrick

In this fourth posting in my series on the army of my imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia, we review the Prussian contingent.

As I have previously mentioned, the Barryat of Lyndonia is inspired by the novel and film ‘Barry Lyndon’. In the story, Barry is eventually enlisted into the Prussian army after being captured as a British army deserter.

The movie doesn’t name the regiment, but in the book it is called the ‘Bulow’ Regiment, which could possibly have been the von Bülow fusilier regiment that fought at Zorndorf.

But I decided to name the third regiment of the Barryat’s army in honour of the movie’s famous director, so the Infanterie-Regiment Kubrick came into being.

As with the other regiments in my army, the movie’s inaccuracies are all faithfully recreated. The soldiers’ coats have the wrong coloured turnbacks, and they wear incorrectly-coloured straps.

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

They also carry mis-matched flags (the orange, black and white flags in the movie are actually from three different real-life Prussian regiments).

The regiment is led by Captain Potzdorf on his distinctive white horse – in the movie Barry saves Potzdorf’s life, which launches his rise in society. 

The figures are gorgeous 1/56th casting by Minden Miniatures, available through Fife and Drum.

By the way, I’ve been asked where in the social hierarchy a “barryat” might lie, for instance vis-à-vis a ‘barony’.

Well, I’m figuring “barryat” is a (mythical) kind of Western European derivative of the old term “banate”, a frontier province led by a military governor called a “ban” (or in my imagi-nation’s case, led by a “barry”).

Banate provinces really did exist, mainly in South Slavic, Hungarian and Romanian lands. For example, the Banat of Temesvár was a Habsburg province that existed between 1718 and 1778.  

Go to the next posting about Le Régiment des Gardes Françaises.

Go back to my previous posting about le Régiment des Royal-Cravates.