Huzzah! French 18th century hussars

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After a rather long hiatus in my painting activities, caused by not being able to recreate the sheer euphoria of painting figures for the WW1 Chunuk Bair diorama during the first half of the year, I’m now finally back in the saddle again, as it were.

I’m working on a large unit of 28 Minden Miniatures French hussars to accompany my imaginary Barryat of Lyndonia army.

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.

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Here’s my painting board.  So far, the hussar riders have been undercoated in black, and are just being tested for how they’ll fit alongside each other when their horses are attached in pairs on pre-cut bases.

You might be able to see that I’ve also converted one officer to hold a standard – hussars didn’t normally carry standards, but, hey, this is an imaginary army!

Also visible in the above picture are a couple of my previously completed Prussian dragoons, and various small items I’ll paint at the same time as the hussars, such as a Minden French general and some Brigade sailors, as well as a few miscellaneous bits of baggage.

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A few of the wonderfully energetic galloping Minden horses, showing the results of my oil-based horse-painting technique. This entails spray-painting the horses with rust-coloured car primer, then painting on black or burnt sienna oil paint, and immediately rubbing it off again with a tissue so the rust primer shows through – quick and dirty, but effective!

Now, the big question, which I still haven’t answered for myself, is which French hussar unit I’ll paint these up as?  At the moment I have the following two options in mind.

Le régiment des hussards de Bercheny

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The Régiment des Hussards de Bercheny was one of the regular hussar units of the Ancien Regime.  Like the other French hussar regiments, they were clothed in light-blue.  Their distinctive colour was red, as can be seen in this anonymous painting Le régiment des hussards de Bercheny en marche, vers 1752-1763 [Photo (C) Paris – Musée de l’Armée, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image musée de l’Armée].

You can also see that the Bercheny trumpeters were dressed in brown coats with green turnbacks.

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These aren’t mine!  This picture is only to show the look I would strive for with my painting of these figures. These Bercheny Hussars were painted by noted British wargamer and author, Charles S. Grant, the picture coming from Jim Purky’s Der Alte Fritz Journal blog.

I like this colour scheme, one of the nicest of the regular French hussar regiments. However, the standard French hussar light-blue is coincidentally also the colour I painted my one other cavalry regiment for the Barryat of Lyndonia, the Prussian Truchseß dragoon regiment.  Ideally I would like some more variety in my imaginary army.

Les Chasseurs de Fischer

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The Chasseurs de Fischer were a volunteer corps of both foot and cavalry, established in 1743 by a former officer’s valet who made a reputation for himself guiding other valets in and out of the islands of the Moldau River.

I really like their uniform of green and red, as depicted in this great old print of one of the mounted chasseurs, entitled Frankreich. Fischer’scher reitender Jäger. 1743 (French Fischer’s mounted chasseur) by Richard Knötel.

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Here are some exquisitely painted flats from Crogges’s My Seven Years’ War blog from Germany. Though in my case  would prefer the shabraque (horse cloth) to be red rather than green, more like the Richard Knötel picture above.

The Minden figures are also cast with the fleur-de-lis insignia on their sabretaches (bags), whereas the Chasseurs de Fischer had a device with three crossed fish – but maybe at this scale that won’t show too much.

This is also the only picture I’ve been able to find that shows the uniform of a Fischer trumpeter (French hussar trumpeters wore entirely different uniforms from the rest of the unit).

So, choices, choices!  You’ll just have to wait and see which way I go …

 

 

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Filed under Eighteenth century, Minden Miniatures, Uncategorized

My 2015 blogging review

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2015 was a great year for this blog to start with, but quietened down in the second half of the year.

This was mainly because much of the first six months was spent enthusing about Sir Peter Jacksons’ Battle of Chunuk Bair project, which I was part of.  On just one day (January 22nd) I got an amazing 2,367 views with my post on Sir Peter Jackson needs Kiwi wargamers. That post garnered 243 individual comments, too.

But the sheer exhilaration of the Chunuk Bair project meant that I lost my ‘wargaming mojo’ for the remainder of the year.

Towards the end, there was another flurry of activity as I began waxing lyrical about the New Zealand flag debate, and my favoured choice of the Red Peak flag. But sadly that is now all over for me!

Anyway, happy New Year to you all!

Here’s the official WordPress annual report on this blog.  First, a short excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 96,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Filed under NZ flag, WW1

Trouble painting faces? Look at these!

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I visited The Great War Exhibition in Wellington again this afternoon, to have another look at the amazing diorama of the Battle of Chunuk Bair, which I have previously reported on.

Today I undertook a closer examination of some of the amazingly realistic work done by the Weta Workshop team on the life-size figures in other parts of the exhibition.

As you can see from the header picture of the American doughboy, you could be mistaken for thinking he was a real person. The modelling and painting of this face (albeit at 1:1 scale rather than on our tiny miniatures) is the absolute ultimate in the figure modeller’s art.

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Even the hand looked real, down to the individual hairs.

In fact, as I was taking these pictures, I was a wee bit anxious that he might in fact be one of those ‘human statue’ guys, and would suddenly wink and shout ‘Boo!’

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Below are some of the other faces I photographed earlier when they were still under production.

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And, finally, here are a few more pics of these amazing figures in their displays.

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Filed under Uncategorized, WW1

3D printable modular fantasy terrain Kickstarter

My friend Matt at Printable Scenery now has a Kickstarter site: Winterdale, a beautifully designed modular medieval fantasy citadel collection for 28mm gaming.

This is the same company that printed my beautiful Maori pa.

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Each Winterdale model is delivered as a .stl file pack to be downloaded and printed on a home 3D printer.

For the last year Matt’s company has been perfecting the process of 3D printing modular gaming terrain, and has built up a great following selling their models through out the world. All their designs are modular so you can scale, customize and print buildings towers and walls. Each piece is individually sculpted for maximum detail, and configured and optimized to print on small home printers.

3D printers are perfect for tabletop wargame and RPG terrain. Each piece of scenery costs about as much as a cup of coffee to print, and you can get a good printer for as little as US$399. Everything shown here is printed at 200 microns, which is the optimum quality for scenery.

If you’re looking at getting a 3D printer in the near future, then getting this digital library now at this amazing price will be well worthwhile.

Pledge Level 1 THE HAMLET: US$10 (NZ$15)

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Pledge Level 2 THE TOWER: $US 27 (NZ$40)

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Pledge Level 3 THE CITADEL $US 44 (NZ$65):

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Pledge Level 4 CASTLE: $US 50 (NZ$75)

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Stretch Goals

Matt is also really excited about the stretch goals because this is where they get to develop a lot of new buildings and add-ons.  Their concept artist, Elwira Pawlikowska, is already getting ideas underway. You’ll be getting amazing value just from the pledges as they are, but when the stretch goals are reached you’ll be getting an unbelievable amount of models. Matt will be getting your feedback along the way as they develop some more really amazing scenery pieces.

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If you’re interested, why not drop by Matt’s Winterdale Kickstarter site.

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Filed under Terrain, Uncategorized

My video about a new NZ flag

Sorry for those who are bored with the New Zealand flag debate, but as voting starts this weekend, I just wanted to post a video I’ve created about my choice in the referendum (click the above pic to view the video).  I’m no Steven Spielberg, but I hope you enjoy it!

Also, here’s another good video released today to explain the Māori  mythology element of Red Peak.  This video isn’t by me, but by Roy Joseph Dredd.

This blog will return to wargaming soon, I promise (I’ve been busy painting horses for the last couple of weeks!).

 

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Filed under General, NZ flag, Uncategorized

New Gallipoli animated feature film called ’25 April’

Following on from New Zealand’s massive diorama of Chunuk Bair, click on the YouTube link above to see the two-minute trailer of a new full-length animated movie about Gallipoli to watch out for.

’25 April’ is an innovative feature documentary created to bring the story of the New Zealand experience at Gallipoli (Turkey) to life for a modern audience through a re-imagined world.

Using graphic novel-like animation, ’25 April’ brings First World War experiences out of the usual black-and-white archive pictures and into vibrant, dynamic color.

Weaving together animated “interviews” based on the diaries, letters and memoirs of six people who were actually there, the film tells the compelling and heart-wrenching tale of war, friendship, loss and redemption using the words of those who experienced it.

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Filed under Movies, WW1

Deceptively clever simplicity of New Zealand’s latest flag proposal

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How often do you see a clever idea that is so simple that you think, ‘I could’ve done that!’? Yet, the point is that you didn’t do that, and nor did anyone else, until the person who finally did come up with that deceptively simple idea.

And so it is with the latest contender to become New Zealand’s new national flag.

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In my last blog post, I reported about First to the Light, or Red Peak as it has become commonly known. Since my post, Red Peak has followed the example of the new Canadian and South African flags in becoming a last-minute contender. It has now  been included as a fifth addition to the contenders in the forthcoming national referendum to pick the alternative flag to go up against the current ensign in a second referendum next year.

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The original process began with an invitation to the public to submit designs for a new flag. Over 10,000 submissions were made – including half a dozen from me. Which leads me to the point about ideas so simple that you think “I could’ve done that!”.

So let’s start with what I actually did do.

New Zealand actually has two official flags. There is of course the current New Zealand ensign that is our national flag.  But there is also an official Māori flag, called the Tino Rangatiratanga flag. One of my ideas was to merge these two flags.

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So I came up with the design below, which at the time I was quite proud of. Looking back, however, whilst my idea certainly combined elements of the two flags, it was a rather cluttered design. This was not helped because at this time I was also wedded to the idea that the flag had to carry a symbol of some sort.

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I also submitted another design that picked up the colours of the two flags, though as you can see, I was still attached to including a symbol!

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My design reinterpreted the red/white/blue of the current ensign, and the red/white/black of the Tino Rangatiratanga flag into a traditional Māori tāniko weaving pattern, as seen on the headbands in the picture below.

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The funny thing is, with my second design I was nearly onto something, if only I had realised it at the time! Turn my flag on its side, and look at just one end – a truly simple idea begins to emerge. Whilst it is only red/white/blue at this stage, the next step in the the thought process could’ve been to turn one of the corners black to complete the Maori colours.

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But, of course, I didn’t do that.  However, designer Aaron Dustin did. Though his flag was not based on my original design of course – he came to First to the Light / Red Peak via another route, which you can see evolving in the 18 flag designs he submitted.

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Aaron’s design is really simple. ‘Just a bunch of triangles,’ say some critics. ‘Anyone could have done this,’ they say, ‘even a five-year old.’ But the simplicity is deceptive, and disguises a very clever juxtaposition of the two flags.

If any of us were going to try to combine the current flag with the traditional Māori colours, we would’ve probably come up with a complex and cluttered design like I did.

Even had I come up with the idea of simplifying it down to the two different colour palettes lying alongside each other, I probably would’ve come up with something bland like this.

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The touch of genius on Aaron’s part was to turn the middle stripe into a chevron. The result is still just the two palettes sitting alongside each other, but at an angle instead of straight.

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So, yes, this is fantastically simple. Anyone could have thought of this idea … but we didn’t!

It took Aaron to come up with the idea, but such a simple idea can come up in other ways too. For example, a somewhat similar flag entitled Wa Kainga/Home was also submitted totally independently of Aaron. But in Wa Kainga/Home, although it includes all the colours, they don’t line up as the two flags.

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Even a logo from a small business in the USA came up with a somewhat similar design. Though of course this would have derived from an entirely different process.

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But such similarities don’t matter, even if they had been exactly the same, rather than just similar. Simple designs are just that – simple. Therefore it is quite likely they’ll reappear amongst the billions of pieces of design around the world. Therefore it is the context behind them that is important.

Of course, saying that Red Peak is simple feeds straight into another common criticism of Red Peak. ‘We don’t want a flag that you have to constantly explain to people,’ they say.

The world is filled with simple flags. But when do you ever hear complaints from the Danish people, for example, that they’re constantly being asked, ‘I don’t understand your flag, what does it mean?’

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A flag becomes a symbol in itself, and doesn’t need to be explained (unless you’re merely curious about its meaning or history behind it – and the Dannebrog certainly does have history behind it!). Locals learn the meaning of their own flags at school or through their families. But most of us would have no idea of the meaning behind other countries’ flags, and it makes no difference.

‘But our flag has got to scream New Zealand!’ say the critics. Whilst some flags do indeed use pictorial  symbols, you first have to actually recognise that symbol. You have to know what Angkor Wat looks like, to recognise that this is what is portrayed on the Cambodian flag.

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Many of the most well-known flags have nothing about them that ‘screams’ where they come from, even though those countries often have well-known symbols too. Their flags speak for themselves. And it doesn’t take long, either – the South African flag is quite new, but it already ‘screams’ South Africa much more than its symbol ever did.

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 Image by Rachael Macklin

Maybe Red Peak could’ve been designed by a five-year old. But they wouldn’t have known they were designing a flag that does what flags are supposed to do. It stands out, but by being simple and bold, not by being cluttered or artsy.

Red Peak represents our history, not just from colonial times, but from way back in medieval times when the country was first settled. It will become a great symbol in itself, and will fly well with our existing symbols.

I already fly First to the Light / Red Peak with pride at my place.

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Filed under NZ flag, Thoughts of the day