Tartanish and Thunderbirdish Napoleonics

dtl_BR_42nd Black Watch
Today one of my workmates told me he had seen some model soldiers wearing kilts. He was intrigued that tartan could be painted on such small figures.

I wanted to show him a photo to prove I too was capable of such miraculous feats, so I started sorting through a folder of photos of my older Napoleonic figures, which I knew included my battalion of the 42nd Black Watch. And, as you can see above, I found my nicely (if I may say so myself) painted tartans … but I also re-discovered my bad habit of painting my figures with huge Thunderbirds style eyes!  [click on the pics to see the figures blown up much bigger than real-life]

Anyway, browsing through this folder, I found a selection of photos of my earlier Napoleonic painting efforts, and thought I would share them here.  So enjoy (if you can bear those huge staring eyes) …

dtl_BR_33rd Yorkshire West Riding
Here’s some members of the British 33rd (West Riding) Regiment of Foot charging into a wood, led by their mounted colonel.

dtl_BR_87th Prince of Wales Own Irish
And here is the 87th, the Prince of Wales’ Own Irish. Not our current Prince of Wales, of course …

dtl_BR_95th Rifles
The famous British 95th Rifles skirmish ahead of the thin red line.  The 95th are well-known these days as the regiment to which the fictional Richard Sharpe and Patrick Harper belonged.  Thunderbird-eyes alert for the figure in brown!

dtl_BR_Scots Greys
The Scots Greys – so named after their grey horses, as depicted in Lady Butler’s famous painting of the Battle of Waterloo.

dtl_British infantry in town
Colonel Tracey, a particularly Thunderbird-eyed officer, leads his battalion into a quiet village somewhere in Spain, whilst a couple of exploring officers survey the streets ahead for any lurking enemy.

dtl_French 12th Dragoons
Now we turn to the French. These are the 12th Dragoons. The trumpeter figure on the right actually depicts my own great-great-great-great-grandfather, who really was a trumpeter in this regiment.

dtl_French Artillery
Napoleon’s artillery in action.

dtl_French Campscene
Even the busy Napoleonic soldier has some down-time …

dtl_French Imperial Guard
The Old Grumblers – Napoleon’s Old Guard, resplendent in their huge bearskins and full-dress uniforms.

dtl_French Light Infantry command
One of my most colourful units, the 9th Regiment of Light Infantry, or, to be exact, Le 9eme Régiment d’Infanterie Légère). I really like the drummer and the jingling johnny beside him, as well as the apron-wearing sapper.

dtl_French Light Infantry
Here is the 9eme Régiment d’Infanterie Légère again. I especially liked the way this photo turned out looking as if it was taken at night. You can even see the moon. This was entirely a fluke shot!

dtl_French Line Infantry
A rare rear view of a battalion of French line infantry wearing their distinctive cowhide backpacks.

dtl_Napoleon and Staff
And here’s the man the Napoleonic Wars were named after …

dtl_Nassau Battalion
Napoleon had many German allies in his armies. Here we see the green-coated Nassauers.

dtl_SP_Peninsular War mule train
An army marches on its stomach, once said a famous man. And the food to fill those stomachs might be part of the load carried by this mule train, somewhere in Spain.

dtl_Spanish Guerilla Ambush
A French infantry battalion is about to have a very bad day …

dtl_Spanish La Princessa
The Spanish Regimiento de la Princessa. Ornately attired (well, apart from some rather odd trousers), musicians and flags at the fore, ready to defend their land against the French invaders.

All of the above are 28mm metal figures, mostly made by Front Rank.  The exquisite paper flags come mainly from GMB Design.

That’s all for now.  I’ve found lots of other old photos too, but they can wait till another posting.

16 thoughts on “Tartanish and Thunderbirdish Napoleonics

  1. Nice to see these BEautiful Figures Again ..
    And all on Waterloo Day .. 18th June .. dont fprget to raise a glass …

    vive l’Empereur

    1. True – I haven’t gamed in some time now. But must admit it is a real pain moving the wee guys around. I never really thought too much about transport capability, so there aren’t any magnetic bases or other means of holding them tight in transit.

      By the way, i have some spare unpainted FR Spanish and Portuguese (not whole battalions, but they’ll do to pack out numbers) if you want them. I remember how kind you’ve been to me in the past, so it would be great to return the favour.

      1. What I have for transporting my 28mm metals is I use document boxes and put that non slip rubber mesh (use the black, found white is slightly sticky) you can get from likes of warehouse on the bottom of them.
        I carted my guys from Invercargill to Christchurch and back without them moving (40 odd battalions) for the Borodino weekend last year just sitting in the boxes with no other packing as their weight holds them flat.


  2. Some seriously cool figures!

    The “Thunderbirds” look isn’t a bad thing – probably not out of line anywhere down Cuba Street on a Friday night, if the latest hipster glasses look is anything to go by… 🙂

    1. Thanks, Matthew.

      Actually the big eye effect is more pronounced with close-up photography. When you actually see the wee troops in real life, it is not so evident.

      But hipster glasses in the Peninsular War – what would Sharpie have to say about that?!

  3. Thanks, Lemuel. Sharpe books a have also been on of my favourite series. OK, not great literature in the stamp of Patrick O’Brian, but rollicking good fun nevertheless, with a dose of history, and a writing style where you can really picture the scenes and incidents he describes. .

  4. I think you are being a little hard on yourself with regard to the :thunderbird” look, as you term it. I have looked at your photos many times over the past few years and used them as inspiration for my own modest efforts, but never once thought the eyes looked out of place. Lovely work.

    1. Hi Lawrence. I think it is just that in my own eyes (ha ha) I’ve progressed from the Thunderbirds look, so it is interesting looking back on those days. I’m still very happy with the way they turned out overall. .

  5. So glad you have now moved over from the dark side, Roly. I’ve appreciated and enjoyed your blog and Kapiti Fusiliers website over the years. I salute you and thank you for your ‘web/blog journalism’ and service to the hobby (far in excess of my contribution, I may add). So often have I seen fellow war gamers get the uniform details exact, paint detail to the nth degree … and then they paint in raccoon (thunderbird) eyes .. and think it is OK! Tell me. Why does anyone do that? It’s not as if the actual casting of the miniature has such big eyes, No. The war gamer has decided that larger than normal eyes have to be painted in. Sorry guys, I just don’t get it. As a convert, Roly, please tell us about your ‘Saul to Damascus’ moment. When did you see the light?

    Kind regards,

  6. I don’t think I ever ‘had to’ paint Thunderbird-sized eyes, Davy – it was just that that was the smallest size I was physically capable of painting them!

    It was the Minden figures, with their much smaller faces than Front Rank, that led to me trying out the technique using a wash of dark ink in the eye-sockets to hint at the eyes instead.

    1. Hurrah for Minden (yours are just superb)! I confess, I hate painting eyes but some figures make me feel I ‘have’ to paint the eyes in also. And, believe it or not, my first stage is to paint ‘Thunderbird eyes’! However, because, for me, this is not ‘F.A.B.,’ I then paint around them almost (and sometimes fully) to the point where the white of the eye is obscured – imho, a much more subtle and satisfying effect. All of us wargamers are mad anyway – so how appropriate that some of us paint (deliberately or accidentally) mad, staring eyes! Salute.


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