A multitude of Sharpes and Harpers

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This is a sight that would strike fear into the heart of any Frenchman – a whole company of Sharpes and Harpers charging down onto them from oe’r the hill and far away! 

The two figures on the left came free with the original release of the ‘Sharp Practice’ rule-set from Too Fat Lardies. Next to them are foot and mounted versions made by Brigade Games. Beside them are a pair by Chiltern Miniatures, with Sharpe wearing the tatty raincoat from the Sharpe’s Waterloo video. Finally, the 40mm versions on the right are by Sash and Sabre. 

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Here’s a closer look at the Sharpe and Harper figures by Brigade Games. From amongst my collection of Sharpes, I think Brigade Games have best captured Sean Bean’s likeness.

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Brigade Games also make a set of 95th Rifles figures that are very obviously based on some of the characters from the TV series.

First comes Francis Cooper, born and bred in the London slums, where he learnt his trade in thieving, pick pocketing, and housebreaking.

Then there’s Isaiah Tongue, an educated man, but also an alcoholic. He could recite passages from the Bible, and was one of the few soldiers who was able to read.

To the right of Sharpe and Harper is Rifleman Harris, red-haired and ever cheerful,  clever, well-read, amusing, and loyal.

The oldest rifleman is Daniel Hagman, a former poacher who, when caught, was given the choice of prison or the army.

Finally there’s Ben Perkins, the youngest Chosen Man in the 95th Rifles.

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Brigade Games also make a range of other characters from the TV series. Many of them come in both foot and mounted versions. Here is Michael Hogan, the middle-aged, snuff addicted Irishman of the Royal Engineers, who also serves as an exploring officer for Wellington.

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Sharpe married Spanish guerrilla leader Teresa Morales the day after the sack of Badajoz She fights under the nom de guerrela Aguja, or The Needle, a name given to her by Sharpe. 

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One of my favourite characters is William Frederickson, or ‘Sweet William’, a captain of the 60th Royal American Rifles. He suffered serious facial wounds which destroyed his left eye, tore away most of his right ear, and knocked out several teeth. When fighting he takes out his false teeth, and removes his wig and eye patch, to terrifying effect.

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Then, of course, there are Sharpe’s enemies.

Pierre Ducos is a political animal, spymaster, and master manipulator. He was a protégé of Joseph Fouché, the notorious secret policeman of the revolutionary period. Weak and timid when physically confronted, he claims to detest ‘unnecessary violence’ but is utterly indifferent to the suffering of others.

And who can forget the evil Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill. He fears nothing, truly believes he cannot die, and thoroughly hates Sharpe as a man who does not fear him, and as an upstart. In his shako he carries a stolen painting of his colonel’s wife, which he talks to as if it’s his mother.

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c_IMG_0880I have used a pinning technique for the mounted figures, so that the horse can be easily displayed with or without its rider.

The figures are mainly painted with GW’s Contrast paints, apart from Ducos’ jacket (which I wanted in a different shade of green than the Rifles’ coats) and the oil-painted horses.

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Lockdown landsknechts

 

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This pike-block of German landsknechts will always remind me of the Covid-19 pandemic, as they were my main project during our lockdown. I’ve finished them in the nick of time, just as we drop to our single last active case of the virus remaining in New Zealand (touch wood!).

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I didn’t use the plastic bases supplied in the Warlord box, as I thought the figures looked too widely spaced on them. So I made my own cardboard bases 30mm wide and 35mm deep. Each base carries three or four figures, and there are a couple of half-bases for the arquebusiers.

The bases are treated in my usual style, using coarse beach sand,and a mixture of various static grasses and tufts. This time I tried something new, adding some model railway lupins. I was pleased how they add some more interest to this already very colourful unit.

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Here’s the middle rank of the pike-block so you can see the officer in full armour and the halberdier. It’s been really fun coming up with all these zany and different colour-schemes, too.

As mentioned in my previous postings during my painting progress, I have used GW Contrast paints and Army Painter Quickshade (strong). I have made absolutely no attempt myself at painting any shading or highlights on these figures – what you see here is how they turn out painted straight from the pot! I did make up a couple of new colours myself by adding a few drops of Vallejo paint to some Contract medium. 

I was particularly pleased with how the armour came out. It was simply painted silver, then washed with a mixture of black Contrast paint diluted with Contrast ink medium, and finally coated with gloss Quickshade. You can enlarge the picture for a closer look.

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This side view shows the drummer and a couple of the flags. You’ll also see here how my smaller handmade bases make the pike-block look packed together.

temporarily placed the arquebusiers at the front in this photo. In fact, I have ordered a set of advancing pikemen, with which I can add another rank or two at the front of the pike-block if I want.

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I didn’t have quite enough pikemen to fully populate the back rank. So you’ll see there are only three figures across. However, it still looks OK from behind, I think. And, again, all those wonderful colours!

The box only comes with one flag-bearer, so I converted a couple of the figures to take two more flags. The paper flags themselves came with the set. I’m not sure if these patterns would’ve all appeared in the same unit, but I can always easily replace them if necessary.

So there we have it: my first-ever Renaissance unit. Now I just have to steel myself to start all over again and paint another block of them – but let’s hope I don’t need another lockdown to get them done!

Liking and loving Landsknechts

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Well, I think this might be becoming a period for me. In a previous posting I mentioned that I was painting a freebie sprue of plastic landsknechts that had come with Wargames Illustrated, just for a spot of fun.

However, I’ve become more and more entranced with them, bought a full box which I have started painting too, and now I have just put in an order for even more of them. So this is starting to look official now!

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The fun part is dreaming up colourful schemes for each figure, the zanier the better. This does make it a slower job than mass-painting a regiment of uniformed Napoleonic troops. But it sure keeps the interest alive, with each figure being a one-off.

Someone did tell me I should replace Warlord’s lances with 8cm broom bristles, as they are too short and too ‘spear-pointed’. But I think it would be very difficult to cut the existing lances away from the arm holding them. And I’m not too worried about accuracy, to be honest. I know absolutely nothing about this period, so if these figures just have the right feel, that’s enough for me.

I’m using my new method of painting, consisting of GW Wraithbone spray undercoat, GW Contrast paints, Army Painter Quickshade, and then a final Vallejo matt undercoat over all non-metallic areas.

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One thing I did wonder is if the guys wearing front-plates should also be painted with back-plates under their cross-straps, instead of the cloth undershirts I have given them? For example, see the chap in green-and-yellow second from the left (click on the image to have a closer look).

As for basing, rules and so on, I have no idea yet. This is a case of nice figures coming along well ahead of any thoughts as to what to do with them!

Anyway, if you like landsknechts, keep watching this space …

Display case on the move

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My wargaming hobby has until now led a fairly secluded life in our house. All my miniatures, terrain, books, painting desk and small games table are usually confined to my study, with no indications of my hobby in any other part of the house.

But because I now have to work from home due to the Covid pandemic, and my study is rather cramped, my wife suggested I move one of my display cases out into the hallway. I didn’t hesitate in case she changed her mind, and hauled it out straight away!

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So now I finally have some of my miniatures on ‘public’ display (well, it is right by the door to our toilet!).

The cabinet sits nicely beneath canvases of our favourite holiday snaps. On top sits a wooden Balinese bust that my father got when he served in Indonesia with the Dutch army during the late 1940s.

Here are some more pics (click on them to take a closer look):

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Wargaming Illustrated’s freebie sprues strike again!

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Wargames Illustrated’s promotion of plastic kits by providing free sprues with their magazine really works. I can say this with some authority, because I myself have just been captured by this cunning ruse. As a direct result of painting up a set of freebies, I have now been enticed to buy a box of figures for a period I have never considered before! 

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I am kind of doodling with figure-painting at the moment, as I have no major projects on the go. Having painted every miscellaneous metal figure I have got on hand, my eye turned to the various plastic sprues lying around.

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When I painted these Warlord Games German Landsknechts, it certainly wasn’t with any intention to take up this period, but purely for a spot of painting fun.

However, the resulting colourful figures are just so darned nice, I have now succumbed to ordering a whole box of them from my friend Scott at Kapiti Hobbies ( the coolest pharmacy in the world, selling wargaming supplies alongside dispensing medicines!).

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So far I have left the figures with their coat of gloss Army Painter Quickshade varnish. But I will re-coat them with matt varnish. Though I must say I secretly quite like the jewel-like effect of gloss  on these colourful figures.

I know absolutely nothing about this period. I have no particular plan to use them for games. I just like these figures!

Some more bits an’ bobs during lockdown

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This Austrian infantryman ambles along nonchalantly smoking his pipe, musket held languidly across his shoulder. He appears to be ignoring the revolutionary French soldier shouting an angry challenge and thrusting his bayonet out in front of him. 

So, does this mean I am about to start a new period, painting armies of the French Revolutionary Wars?  Nope, this is just some more of my doodling whilst on lockdown, painting various miscellaneous figures I’ve had lying round for years.

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These very characterful figures are by Trent Miniatures. Where I got them from, I have no idea. They’ve just been sitting in by bits and bobs box for as long as I can remember. Lockdown has finally spurred me to give them a lick of paint.

I must say I rather like their charm, even though the anatomy is very suspect.  There is just something about their cartoon-like look that feels a bit like Asterix comics would if they were set in the late 18th century. If I ever were to do another period, I would certainly be looking at this range.

I have once again experimented with GW’s range of Contrast paints.  They certainly do a wonderfully quick and easy job. I did no shading or highlighting at all on these figures – it all happened by itself. The faces in particular came up very well.

Whilst these figures wouldn’t win any painting contest, they look great from the distance you view them at on the wargames table or in the display cabinet. 

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I also had some Royal Navy sailors by Brigade Games lying around. They’ve also worked quite well with Contrast paints.

I do think the matelot on the right has a rather too long bayonet – it must be about as long as his entire leg!

These figures are the very last in my lead mountain. Though I do have a few miscellaneous plastic freebie sprues from ‘Wargames Illustrated’ magazines if I feel so inclined.

However, I am awaiting a couple of orders of metal figures that will complement two of my current periods … you’ll just have to wait and see what they are!

 

 

Doodling with miniatures during lockdown

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As I near the bottom of my lead-mountain during the Covid lock-down, I have been doing the modelling equivalent of doodling. I’ve been filling time by painting miscellaneous miniatures that will serve absolutely no purpose at all in my wargaming armies.

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My two latest figures have been a couple of freebies that came with my Black Powder rule books, depicting the characters on the front covers.

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First up is a Scot serving in an 18th century British army.  I used GW Contrast paints entirely, with no additional shading or highlighting, other than that provided by a coating of Army Painter’s Quickshade pigmented varnish.

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The other figure depicts another Scot, this time from the Crimean War. I don’t have any Crimean armies, so he will be my sole representative for that period!

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Here they both are again. You can see that the GW Contrast paint gives some interesting variations of colour.

Overall, the effect is a wee bit impressionistic. For example, I only hinted at the tartan design. They won’t withstand the same close scrutiny that a carefully painted figure with lots of blending, shading and highlighting can. But they are very quick to paint (each figure took only about an hour) and will work well on the tabletop – if they had any comrades to be on the tabletop with, that is!

Captain Jack Aubrey and GW Contrast paints

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When I bought Warlord Games boxed Black Seas set recently, it came with a free figure depicting none other than Captain Jack Aubrey, ostensibly from the Patrick O’Brian novels, but more specifically based on Russell Crowe’s portrayal in the movie ‘Master and Commander’.

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One of my Napoleonic third-raters from Warlord Games

Whilst it is indeed an exquisite figure, the model is quite large, more like about 35mm. So it really doesn’t fit with any of my 28mm Royal Navy figures in my Napoleonic period armies.

However, with my lead mountain reduced to scraps during the Covid-19 lockdown, I decided to paint this figure for something to do. And what a pleasure it was!

I decided to restrict myself to Games Workshop Contrast paints, and they worked beautifully.  No part of this figure has been shaded or highlighted – what you see here is how the Contrast paints come straight from the bottle.

Actually, the model in real life looks even better than these pics (which in such extreme close-up show how I wasn’t quite painting inside the lines!).

But, as Aubrey himself would doubtless say about Contrast paints, ‘Quick’s the word and sharp’s the action!’

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The [French] caissons go rollin’ along …

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When I attended the Partizan wargaming show in the UK last year (back in those heady days when one could still travel abroad!), I made an impulse purchase of three wooden kits of Napoleonic French caissons and wagons.

I’d never made any wooden vehicles before, and thought they would probably be quite crude. So when I got back to New Zealand they were placed in a drawer and promptly forgotten. They probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day again, but then along came the Covid-19 lockdown, and I found myself scraping the bottom of my lead mountain for projects to occupy myself with. Then I remembered these little kits.

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And how utterly and completely wrong I was with my prediction that these would be crude models! In fact , these models by Warbases turned out to be exquisite little miniatures. They went together beautifully, and were cleverly designed with very few of the visible joints that mar so many MDF kits.

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I spray-painted then dark green, then dry-brushed them with a lighter green. I then just had to paint the wheel rims and, hey presto, the caissons were done!

I happened to have four very old Hinchliffe draft horses that someone gave me years and years ago, so I quickly painted them up – so now I had some motive power for at least two of my new wagons. Although a little on the small side, they work OK.

I also borrowed the driver from the Perry Miniatures supply wagon (which you can see in the background).

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The wagons are based on the same ingenious system that Lieutenant General Jean Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval developed for the real French artillery, where the front wheels formed a separate limber to which any cart or gun could be attached. This means that by removing the caissons from the front wheel assemblies, I now have three limbers that can sit behind  my artillery pieces if I want.

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Unfortunately the guns were painted many years ago, so aren’t removable from their bases to attach to the limbers. But limbered-up artillery don’t feature often in my games anyway.

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One of my wagons is a mobile field forge. This comes with a stand for when the front wheel assembly is removed, presumably so the farrier can move unobstructed round his furnace. I based the little stand separately, so I could either have the forge on its wheels or on the stand.

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I already owned one other limber in my collection (another old Hinchliffe model). I found I could put one of my new caissons behind this limber. Although the Hinchliffe wheels are a bit small, the overall effect is fine.

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With these models, it is now actually possible to envisage the long tail of equipment that sat behind an artillery battery: guns to limbers to caissons to support wagons. So often in wargames we see a battery of artillery as a kind of narrow line of guns, whereas this shows that other units moving too closely behind their artillery would be disrupted by all the ancillary equipment.

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At the same time as I painted my wooden caissons and forge, I also painted two metal Crann Tara Miniatures limbers for my 18th century imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia. This certainly shows how the design and horse furniture for limbers changed in less than a hundred years.

But now the bottom of the lead mountain looms yet again!

Finally, on a more sombre but much more important note, here’s the latest animation about Covid-19 from my heroes scientist Siouxsie Wiles and cartoonist Toby Morris. Whilst (as at writing this) we have had only four deaths in New Zealand, the nature of this coronavirus means that we need to steel ourselves for more tough news in the coming weeks. That should only firm our resolve to keep to the lockdown.

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My most important posting ever

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This is such an important message that I  believe it warrants being on my blog, despite having nothing to do with the hobby (other than that there may be no hobby for many of us if we don’t take action).

I want to promote this comic-strip by cartoonist Toby Morris, helped by Dr Siouxsie Wiles, who is fast becoming New Zealand’s most well-known face of the science-based approach to stopping the pandemic: https://thespinoff.co.nz/covid-19/25-03-2020/the-side-eye-viruses-vs-everyone/

The strip explains really well how the virus works, and what we need to do to break the chain.

Keep safe everyone. Maybe we can reduce our lead mountains whilst we are locked down!