After quite a long pause, I’ve at last lifted a paintbrush again and begun work on some French Foreign Legion characters for my embryonic Victorian Science Fiction force to do battle against Colonel O’Truth’s British and Scott’s Prussians/Zendarians. So here are my first two painted figures, though they are yet to have their basing done. They’re standing alongside their Bandai steam caterpillar gun.
It took me a long time to choose which VSF force I was going to do: French, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Orientals …? Though, in reality, it was always the French who beckoned, with their dapper uniforms and Napoleon III beards.
The problem was I just couldn’t find a range of 28mm late-19th century French who conveyed that particular Gallic look I was after. The only range that got anywhere close was Mirliton, but they had limited poses, and when I tried ordering some to check them out, the postage from Italy to New Zealand was just too horrendous to contemplate.
So I settled on the French Foreign Legionaries in Foundry’s range of Western figures. While they don’t quite capture the exact look either, they are so character-filled in other ways that I thought they would be delight to paint. Just look at the panache of these (still unpainted) guys in the picture below.
Why are these figures found in a Western range? Well, they represent the force who were send to Mexico in the 1860s as part of ill-fated ‘Maximilian Adventure’ to place a Hapsburg emperor on the Mexican throne. This campaign was the scene of one of the Foreign Legion’s finest hours—the last stand at Camarone.
In fact, the first (and so far only) figures I’ve painted from the Foundry range are models of two of the heroic officers from that siege, Capitaine Jean Danjou and Sous-Lieutenant Napoléon Vilain.
On 30 April 1863 a small infantry patrol led by Capitaine Danjou was attacked and besieged by a force that may have eventually reached 2,000 Mexican infantry and cavalry. They were forced to make a defensive stand at the nearby hacienda of Camarone. The stalwart conduct of the defence has lent the Legion a certain mystique—and Camarone became synonymous with bravery and a fight-to-the-death.
However, as I mentioned above, my force isn’t intended as a historical representation of the French Foreign Legion at Camarone, but as a totally fictional VSF force. I’m sure I’ll be able to come up with some sort of cover-story why a force fighting British and Prussians seems to have an affection for wearing Mexican sombreros and serapes!