Meet the Regiment di Balibari, the latest foreign unit to join the forces of my 18th century ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia.
Back when I was a schoolboy, one of the first wargaming books I ever read was ‘Charge! Or How to Play Wargames’ by Brigadier Peter Young and Lieutenant-Colonel J Lawford.
I still vividly remember being entranced by the picture on the back cover showing a close-up view of a line of red-coated soldiers. Behind them stood an elegant officer carrying what appeared to my untutored eye to be a green Union Jack. To one side waited a drummer, resplendent in his green and gold coat.
Ever since, this little group has represented to me the ultimate in 18th century sartorial military fashion. It is only a wonder that it has taken me nigh on half a century to finally replicate these childhood heroes in miniature!
Crann Tara Miniatures do a beautiful range of charging French infantry. I thought their action pose would be great to represent the fighting élan of an Irish regiment. So in went my order, which arrived in New Zealand from the UK quite quickly despite COVID.
This shot of the first few figures I painted shows the incredible detail, anatomy and posing of this range. Even un-based, they look amazing.
As with most of my more recent units, I used Games Workshop’s Contrast paints for this project. I love the way these paints flow, and the automatic shadows and highlights they provide.
In my previous style of painting, I would have started with the basic uniform colour first, and then built up the detail and clothing. However, I have now reversed this, and after a undercoat of Wraithbone, I now paint all the equipment in first, as you can see with the two figures on the left of the picture above. I leave the main uniform colour (in this case, red) till almost the last step. The Contrast paint flows into the gaps beautifully, and disguises any overflows from painting the equipment.
The flag that I thought was a green Union Jack was actually the flag of a real Irish regiment in French service, the Regiment de Berwick. However, instead of the straight lines of the diagonal St Andrew’s cross depicted on the book cover, most versions I have seen of this regiment’s flag have a wavy cross.
Also, the real Berwick had black cuffs and facings, whereas the figures in the picture appeared to have green.
So in true imagi-nation style, I decided my regiment would be fictional. And thus was born the Regiment di Balibari. This name comes from the Chevalier de Balibari, who in the novel and movie ‘Barry Lyndon’ is an itinerant professional gambler whom the Prussians suspect is an Irish spy in the service of the Austrians. He uses the Italian name ‘Balibari’ instead of his true Irish family name ‘Ballybarry’.
To represent that all-important ‘green Union Jack’, I bought a set of paper Berwick flags from Flags of War. I did think about trying to amend the St Andrews cross to match the cover photo from ‘Charge!’, but in the end I decided this was too difficult and stuck with the wavy cross on the Flags of War products.
I painted the drummers in green coats with gold trim, as per the book cover image. I think in the real Irish regiments in French service the drummers actually wore red like the men. But this is an imaginary unit, so I can follow my own rules!
Here’s a back-view of the regiment. You can see two of my four NCOs following the line to make sure no-one falls behind.
I really like the simple style of coats that haven’t been turned back. And they make painting so much easier too!
The regiment consists of 54 rank-and-file, divided into three companies of 18 figures, each company having two ranks of 9. This is fewer companies than a real regiment would have had, but matches the organisation in ‘Charge!’.
Each company has a frontage of 12cms. This does mean the figures are packed in quite tightly, almost shoulder-to-shoulder. But I think this looks more realistic than widely-spaced figures.
Click on the image above to get an impression of what the regiment’s full 36cms of frontage looks like – and that isn’t even counting the three drummers to the side!
So, what’s next for the Barryat of Lyndonia? Well, surely any imagi-nation gamer worth their salt would want to have the unit on the front cover of Charge! – the Erbprinz Regiment in their Prussian grenadier-style mitres, resplendent in light-blue and scarlet uniforms. Watch this space!