My latest article in Wargames Illustrated

I’ve been lucky enough to have another article published in ‘Wargames Illustrated’. I submitted a piece for their ‘Quick Fire’ series, and was chuffed to see it appear in Issue 397 (January 2021).

In the short article I describe how when photographing miniatures, there’s a real thrill when every now and then one of the pictures unexpectedly stands out from the rest.

The article is accompanied by some examples of what I call my ‘serendipitous photographs’ – pictures that I think came out particularly well, despite no extra effort on my part.

The limitations of a hard-copy magazine mean the published pictures are quite small. So, for anyone who may be interested, here they are full-size (click on the pics to expand).

I liked the way that the trees in my garden accidently came out looking like a castle on a hill overshadowing this unit of Landsknechts. (Warlord Games)

There’s more info on this unit in my old posting: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2020/06/02/lockdown-landsknechts/

This is probably my favourite photo – a recreation of Philippoteaux’s famous painting of the Battle of Fontenoy. (Crann Tara and Minden Miniatures)

There’s more info on the original painting and my diorama version in this posting on my blog: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2020/01/31/at-last-my-favourite-painting-in-miniature/

British and French third-rate ships-of-the-line battle it out, as a Spanish brig circles warily. This photo was taken with a simple hand-painted sky background, and sitting on the paper sea that comes with the Warlord ‘Black Seas’ starter set. (Warlord Games)

You can find out more about these models in this old posting: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/black-seas-fleets-finished/

A battalion of French light infantry marches forward in the moonlight. (Front Rank)

This is a really old picture. I recall I added in the ‘moon’ using a graphics programme, as the lighting of this photo came out by chance looking just like moonlight (well, I thought so anyway!).

There’s more info on this unit in this old posting: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/tartanish-and-thunderbirdish-napoleonics/

Māori warriors from the colonial New Zealand Wars perform a fierce haka (war-dance) in the face of the enemy. (Empress Miniatures)

There’s more info on this unit here: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/photos-of-finished-colonial-new-zealand-wars-figures-and-terrain/

A pre-war colonial French column of Panhard armoured cars arrives in an oasis village. (Mad Bob Miniatures)

Below is the same picture, but with some special effects to make it into an old-fashioned snapshot. 

You can read more about these models here: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2020/02/15/motorised-foreign-legion-security-patrol-in-1930s-morocco/

On parade! The Barryat of Lyndonia’s artillery contingents

In Part 8 of this series of postings in which I am reviewing the armies of my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia, it’s time to take a look at the artillery contingents.

As described in Part 1, rather than having its own army, this imaginary eighteenth century state contracts its troops from real-life European countries of the time.

The artillery contingents come from Britain and France – which has no doubt led to many a fisticuffs argument in local hostelries when carousing gunners from these two habitual enemies run into each other!

The French gun and limber are made by Fife and Drum Miniatures (also available from UK company Crann Tara Miniatures).

Apart from the horses, they are all painted with GW’s wonderful Contrast paints (which have truly revolutionised my style and speed of painting).

I’ve chosen to paint the guns red, which means they are from the mid-part of the eighteenth century, as the French later converted to blue. I reckon the red looks more dramatic!

Whilst the gun crew are all glued onto the base, I’ve kept the gun itself removable so it can be attached to the limber if I wish to portray the piece on the move.

The number of horses is really just representative, as I think this would be far too much a load for just two horses to haul!

And here’s the British Royal Artillery contingent. This model also comes from Crann Tara Miniatures.

Gunners normally wore quite subdued uniforms (maybe due to how they could get so worn and dirty working the guns). But the British bucked this trend, and festooned their Royal Artillery’s uniforms with lashings of lace and piping.

I thought all this decoration would be quite hard to paint, but the Contrast paints almost did the job by themselves, with just the barest modicum of precision on my part!

I particularly like the British officer with his crimson sash, whom you can see on the left of the above photo.

Note the civilian driver on the right. During his period armies hired civilians to lug their guns about. Once in battle, I bet many drivers would’ve scarpered off, leaving the guns pretty well fixed in place.

Again, the gun can be attached to its limber.

British guns were painted a grey-blue. I must admit I didn’t get the shade quite right on the gun, compared to the limber. Maybe the gun is older and has faded in the sun!

Whilst painting the big guns, I also took the opportunity to re-base the smaller battalion guns that I had painted several years ago.

Battalion guns were the small-calibre cannon that formed integral parts of some individual infantry units.

Here we see the battalion gun of Gale’s Regiment of Foot, supporting the advance of the company of grenadiers.

These figures are by Minden Miniatures.

And here’s the battalion gun of le Régiment des Royal-Cravates.

Battalion guns were often manned by infantrymen from the regiment, rather than actual artillerists, which is why these gunners are in white rather than French Artillerie blue.

Go back to Part 7 of this series: the Truchseß Dragoons.

On parade! The Truchseß Dragoons of the Barryat of Lyndonia

In Part 7 of this series of ‘On parade!’ postings featuring the units of my ‘imagi-nation’ army, we meet these dragoons based on the real-life Prussian Truchseß dragoon regiment.  

My imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia is based on the movie Barry Lyndon. But there are only a few cavalrymen in the movie, who are basically in Prussian infantry uniforms with attached plumes, and don’t do anything for me.

So I decided to do a completely new unit, not from the movie at all, but picked for an entirely different reason. When I met my wife back in the 80s, pink and light-blue were the ‘in’ colours. She not only wore (very attractively, I might add) pink and light-blue eye-shadow, but we painted our first house together white with pink and light-blue trim. Despite being well out of fashion now, I still have a fondness of that colour combination, so how could I resist painting a real-life regiment that had light-blue uniforms with pink facings – the Prussian Truchseß dragoons?!

I don’t organise my regiments  in any historical way – they are merely for playing fun wargames, not simulating history. When I painted this regiment back in 2012, it initially had 24 figures –  two officers, one drummer and one standard bearer (all based singly) and two squadrons of 10 troopers (based in pairs).  

However, I later added a couple more troopers to each squadron, as I found 10 to be an unsatisfying number for arranging my regiment in symmetrical formations!  

The figures are all 28mm Minden Miniatures (along with Crann Tara Miniatures, the most exquisite 18th century figures around, in my opinion). The standard is merely printed out from a lovely picture on the Kronosaf website.

I was particularly pleased with how this haughty officer came out. As this figure was originally a Minden Hanovarian officer, and not a Prussian at all, he is wearing his sash incorrectly across his shoulder for a Prussian (who wore them around the waist). Even though with an imagi-nation army I’m not bound by accuracy, I decided to paint the sash as a real military decoration ribbon instead – the orange ribbon of the Order of the Black Eagle.

The horses were under-coated with rust-coloured car primer, then rubbed with burnt umber or black oil paint.  This oil paint used to belong to my Dad, who passed away in 1984, so it imbues my figures with a touch of personal memories, and also shows you how long oil paint lasts!  

Oh, and I had some expert help on painting horses from Sammy, who is seen inspecting the results in the above picture!

Go forward to Part 8 of this series: the artillery contingents

Go back to Part 6 of this series: the Lynden Hussars

On parade! The Barryat of Lyndonia’s Lynden Hussars

IMG_2858_a

In Part 6 of this series of ‘On parade!’ postings reviewing all the units in the army of my wargaming ‘imagi-nation’ (imaginary nation), the Barryat of Lyndonia, here come the Lynden Hussars, looking somewhat Toytown-ish in their blue, yellow and red uniforms.

Although my army is imaginary, I like each unit to match a real-life regiment from any of the warring nations of the mid-18th century. So after I bought these wonderful Minden Miniatures French hussars a couple of years ago, I ummed and ahhed which French regiment to paint them as.

So, were they going to be France’s famous Bercheny Hussars? Or perhaps those cut-throat rogues, the Chasseurs de Fischer? I just couldn’t decide … until the decision was made for me when I found out that the French army really had a hussar regiment named the Aspremont-Lynden Hussars. How could the Barryat of Lyndonia possibly not include this unit in its army?!

Lynden hussars 3

The standard French light-blue hussar uniform looks striking in my army, especially with the colourful yellow facings and red horse furniture.

IMG_2861_a

I painted the horses using oil paints, which gives a lovely depth of colour and a sheen that makes them look lifelike.

IMG_2860_a

The regiment consists of 24 troopers, two trumpeters, a standard-bearer (yes, I know hussars didn’t carry standards into battle, but this is an imaginary nation, remember!), and an officer. They’re not based for any particular set of wargaming rules.

IMG_2868_a
220px-Lynden_wapen.svg

One problem was that I couldn’t find any information on the colour of the Lynden trumpeters’ uniforms. As French trumpeters often wore the livery of their regiment’s owner, I decided to paint them in yellow and red to mach the heraldic arms of the real-life Aspremont-Lynden family.  

IMG_2866_a

Go forward to Part 7 of this series: the Truchseß Dragoons

Go back to Part 5 of this series: Le Régiment des Gardes Françaises

On Parade! Infanterie-Regiment Kubrick

In this fourth posting in my series on the army of my imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia, we review the Prussian contingent.

As I have previously mentioned, the Barryat of Lyndonia is inspired by the novel and film ‘Barry Lyndon’. In the story, Barry is eventually enlisted into the Prussian army after being captured as a British army deserter.

The movie doesn’t name the regiment, but in the book it is called the ‘Bulow’ Regiment, which could possibly have been the von Bülow fusilier regiment that fought at Zorndorf.

But I decided to name the third regiment of the Barryat’s army in honour of the movie’s famous director, so the Infanterie-Regiment Kubrick came into being.

As with the other regiments in my army, the movie’s inaccuracies are all faithfully recreated. The soldiers’ coats have the wrong coloured turnbacks, and they wear incorrectly-coloured straps.

OK, so the movie doesn’t have any grenadiers in mitre caps. But, like Gale’s Regiment of Foot, I really wanted some of these smart-looking soldiers, so I’ve conjectured how Kubrick would have portrayed them. Basically, they’re the same as his somewhat inaccurate Prussian musketeers, but wearing mitre caps instead of tricornes.

They also carry mis-matched flags (the orange, black and white flags in the movie are actually from three different real-life Prussian regiments).

The regiment is led by Captain Potzdorf on his distinctive white horse – in the movie Barry saves Potzdorf’s life, which launches his rise in society. 

The figures are gorgeous 1/56th casting by Minden Miniatures, available through Fife and Drum.

By the way, I’ve been asked where in the social hierarchy a “barryat” might lie, for instance vis-à-vis a ‘barony’.

Well, I’m figuring “barryat” is a (mythical) kind of Western European derivative of the old term “banate”, a frontier province led by a military governor called a “ban” (or in my imagi-nation’s case, led by a “barry”).

Banate provinces really did exist, mainly in South Slavic, Hungarian and Romanian lands. For example, the Banat of Temesvár was a Habsburg province that existed between 1718 and 1778.  

Go to the next posting about Le Régiment des Gardes Françaises.

Go back to my previous posting about le Régiment des Royal-Cravates.

On parade! Le Régiment des Royal-Cravates

Welcome to Part 3 of my series looking at the army of my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barrayat of Lyndonia. Today we meet a French unit that has been contracted to join the Barryat’s forces.

This unit represents the regiment that Barry Lyndon faced in the eponymous movie ‘Barry Lyndon’. As I mentioned in my previous posting, Barry’s first taste of battle was ‘only a skirmish against a rearguard of Frenchmen who occupied an orchard beside a road down which the English main force wish to pass’.  

Those of you who know your French regiments of the eighteenth century will no doubt be shaking your heads at my photos and saying, ‘But he’s got it all wrong – that’s the flag of the Régiment de Flandre, and they wore blue facings, not red!’ 

French regiment in the movie 'Barry Lyndon'

Well, in the movie the unnamed French regiment that Barry faces in battle is clothed in uniforms with red facings and carries the flags of two real French regiments, the Grenadiers Royaux and the Régiment de Flandre. But neither of these regiments had red facings in real life!

In the Thackeray novel that the movie was based on, Barry’s first taste of battle is actually said to occur during the Battle of Minden, and the French regiments he faces are named as being those of ‘Lorraine and the Royal Cravate’. But neither of these units matches the flags in the movie.

Excerpt from novel 'Barry Lyndon'

Adding to the puzzle is that the real Royal Cravates of the time were not an infantry regiment at all, but cavalry! 

So I had to make some sort of decision on this confusion. In the end, I chose to paint them as the fictional Régiment des Royal-Cravates from the book, with the facings and flags from the movie. The result is a nice colourful hodge-podge, but still distinctly French in look and feel. 

And I can confidently state that this unit is authentic. Well, at least from the perspectives of the book and the movie it is authentic, as my whole plan with this army was to recreate the movie’s inaccuracies as accurately as I could!

I also gave the regiment the little battalion gun that is seen in the movie.  Kubrik got the gunners’ white coats right, as battalion guns were manned by men assigned from the regiment, rather than artillerymen in their blue and red French artillery uniforms. 

My gun is actually a small Napoleonic cannon by Minifigs, but with a lick of red paint it vaguely resembles the little Swedish-style cannons used as battalion guns during the period. That’s near enough for me!

Oh, by the way, these figures are all exquisite 1/56 scale sculpts from Minden Miniatures, available from Fife and Drum.

So there we have it. You have now met the British and French contingents of the army of the Barryat of Lyndonia. Next time it’ll be the Prussians.

Go forward to Part 4 of this series to see the Infanterie-Regiment Kubrick.

Go back to Part 2 of this series to see Gale’s Regiment of Foot.

On Parade! Gale’s Regiment of Foot

I mentioned in Part 1 of this series on my imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia doesn’t have its own army, but employs regiments from all round Europe, particularly those that starred in my all-time favourite war film, Barry Lyndon

In the film our protagonist Redmond Barry has his first taste of battle in just ‘a skirmish against a rearguard of Frenchmen who occupied an orchard beside a road down which the English main force wish to pass’.  The narrator goes on to say that though this encounter is not recorded in any history book, it was memorable enough for those who took part.

This is one of the most powerful scenes in the film, aided by a spine-tingling soundtrack of the fifes and drums playing The British Grenadiers:

It was therefore only natural that the Barrayat of Lyndonia’s first hire would be Barry’s unit, the fictional Gale’s Regiment of Foot, using the exquisite 1/56th scale figures made by Minden Miniatures (which are available through Fife and Drum).

Gale's Regiment of Foot in the movie 'Barry Lyndon'

Headed by Lt-Colonel Charles Gale, the regiment’s officers include the Irish adventurer Captain Grogan, the foppish Lieutenant Jonathon Fakenham and his particular friend Lieutenant Freddie, whose surname is not disclosed in the movie.

Somewhere in the ranks, of course, will be Private Redmond Barry. He joined Gale’s Regiment of Foot after being tricked into a duel back home in Ireland. Captain Grogan has now taken young Barry under his wing.

My "Gale's Regiment of Foot"

Lieutenants Jonathon and Freddie will later provide Barry with an intriguing opportunity to improve his status in life. But I’m not going to give anything away – you’ll need to see the movie to find out exactly how this happens!

In the movie, the regiment has no grenadiers, but I added these simply because I liked their colourful and intricate mitres so much – and what better reason could there be than that?

The movie also depicts the drummers wearing tricornes instead of mitre caps, but I kept to the latter, again because I like them so much, and also because that’s the way the Minden Miniatures drummers come anyway.

And here’s another chance to listen to those drummers. This is a company of the Kilwangen Regiment led by the ramrod-straight Captain John Quin, with whom the young Barry is later tricked into the duel that leads him to join the army:

A note on my army organisation

The unit organisation and basing of my army are not designed for any particular set of wargames rules, though they do bear somewhat of a resemblance to the regiments portrayed in Charge! Or how to play wargames.    

One of my criteria for this project was that instead of having lots of small regiments, I wanted a smaller number of really big regiments.

So each regiment of foot has 54 men, along with additional individually based officers, standard bearers, sergeants and drummers, bringing the total number to over 60 figures.

There’s no attempt at historical organisation in these units. Instead, each regiment of foot is split into just three companies. 

As the authors of Charge! Or how to play wargames wrote, ‘since an infantry battalion of three companies can be handled in exactly the same way, and can be put through exactly the same manoeuvres, as one of six or eight, there seems little point in having any more’.

The 18 rank-and-file men in each company are based on three 45mm-wide bases, each containing 6 men arranged in two ranks (thus each man having a frontage of 15mm).

This basing system provides the flexibility that I can split the regiment up if I want for varying rules, for example into three separate 18-man regiments.

I also decided not to pursue historical accuracy when painting my figures. Instead, I tried to depict my soldiers as they appear in the movie, lovingly recreating the historical inaccuracies and all.

So if someone tells me that my British belts are the wrong colour, that my French have the incorrect flag, or that the turn-backs on my Prussians should be red instead of white, I can point out that my figures aren’t supposed to represent real British, French or Prussians, but rather Kubrick’s take on them!

Go to Part 3 of this series to meet le Régiment des Royal-Cravates.

Go to Part 1 of this series on the army of the Barryat of Lyndonia.

The birth of the Barryat of Lyndonia

My first exposure to the hobby of wargaming was as a schoolboy back in the 1960s, when I stumbled across Brigadier Peter Young’s and Lt Colonel James Lawford’s book Charge! Or how to play wargames in my local library.

I still remember poring over the pictures in the book, totally fascinated by the 18th century era, the lifelike figures and even the stylised miniature trees.

But when I did start eventually playing wargames, it wasn’t in that wonderful 18th century period after all, because due to lack of finance and the poor availability of wargaming figures in New Zealand, my gaming was pretty much restricted to Airfix plastics and the occasional lead Minifigs figures.

The nearest I could get to these eighteenth century armies were the American War of Independence figures put our by Airfix. But they just didn’t quite capture the rococo style and flair of the uniforms of the European wars of the mid-century, that were so much part of the reason I loved the illustration in Young and Lawford’s book.  

It wasn’t till many years later that I discovered a range of relatively cheap 30mm plastic figures in the United Kingdom made by a company called Spencer-Smith. In fact, some of these very same figures featured in the illustrations in the book I so admired.

I don’t recall where I first heard about this range – possibly in an advertisement in Military Modelling magazine. But I soon sent away an order, and eventually received a padded paper envelope full of the brown soft plastic figures.

Some time round that period I made a trip to Europe, and was lucky enough to be able to fit in a visit to the Bavarian Army Museum in Ingolstadt. There I saw a huge diorama of the Battle of Leuthen, made up of thousands of flat figures.

Amongst all the white-coated Austrians in the diorama, my eye was caught by the light blue lozenged flags of the Bavarians. This, along with the fact that my uncle was Bavarian, was enough to decide me to paint up my Spencer-Smith figures as a Bavarian Electoral Army.

I still have them, but after nearly half a century the plastic has become very brittle, so they never see the gaming table anymore.

I wonder if this brittleness might have anything to do with temperature variations, as I painted some of these troops whilst working in Antarctica for a season (making them surely the southern-most wargames army in the world).

My next splurge into the period was after seeing my friend Paul Crouch’s American War of Independence armies. Seeing his wonderfully painted figures drew me back into the hobby after a 20-year pause for family and work commitments. 

I was so entranced with their somewhat exaggerated chunky style, which I felt had more ‘presence’ than the slimmer plastic ranges I had been used to up till then.

So I immediately started building an army myself, this time going for 18th century French for no other reason than that they seemed to have the most colourful range of uniforms.

My 18th century French army grew, and I was very proud of it. But much as I loved my figures, there was always just something about them that didn’t quite capture the memory of Charge! Or how to play wargames.

I eventually realised it was a very simple thing – I couldn’t really see the breeches!  Nothing kinky there … it’s just that I think coloured breeches are what set the uniforms of the mid-18th century apart from the later part of the century.  But with the ‘chunky’ sculpting style of the figures I had been buying, the coloured breeches were hard to see.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the ‘chunky’ style, and my French remain one of my favourite armies. It is just that they didn’t match my childhood memories of this particular book.

Then a few years ago I finally found my nirvana of 18th century figures – Minden Miniatures.  Here at last was a range of exquisitely sculpted slender figures.  And you could see the breeches!

When I first saw pictures of these figures on a website, the years just rolled back and I felt as though I was once more poring over those illustrations in Charge! 

So I decided to start painting a brand new eighteenth century project – but whatever army was I going to collect? French again? British? Prussian?

Besides Charge! Or how to play wargames there was another reason for my love for the 18th century. It was a 1975 period drama film by Stanley Kubrick, based on an 1844 novel by William Makepeace Thackeray.

When I first saw Barry Lyndon at the cinema, I was enchanted. Inspired by painters such as Thomas Gainsborough and William Hogarth, the film had a beautiful, painterly look that transported me right into the 18th century.

Barry Lyndon tells the story of a fictional 18th century Irish rogue and opportunist who marries a rich widow to climb the social ladder and assume her late husband’s aristocratic position, before it all eventually unravels and he ends up back where he started. During the story he joins the British army, and later the Prussians, and fights the French.

When I first saw the Minden Miniatures figures, they not only reminded me of Charge! Or how to play wargames, but also of the military scenes in Barry Lyndon. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to recreate one of the regiments from the movie. But, again, for which army?

Then it came to me why not make up a completely imaginary country (known in wargaming as an ‘imagi-nation’) that hires units from any European country it desires? This way I could reproduce all the regiments from the movie – British, Prussian and French – and combine them into one army!   

And so a new state was born: the Barrayat of Lyndonia. Whilst this might sound a weird name for a country, it’s no worse than the real-life Banat of Temesvár, part of the Austro-Hungarian empire!

Go to Part 2 of this series on the army of the Barryat of Lyndonia, based in part on an article originally published in Wargames Illustrated #385.

Barry Lyndon and friends

Meet Barry Lyndon, governor of my 18th century imagi-nation, the Barryat of Lyndonia (see ‘Wargames Illustrated’ issue#385, November 2019), as he leaves his chateau to go for a stroll with his friends. 

The figures on foot are by Crann Tara Miniatures. They are modelled on a set of four mounted figures that were originally made by Minden Miniatures, which I purchased back in 2013. [Correction 1 Sept 2020: I’ve been informed that although I bought the foot figures from Crann Tara, they are in fact made by Minden Miniatures.]

Above are the mounted and foot versions of Barry and his lady-friend. By painting them in exactly the same colours, I’ve ended up with a mounted and foot version of each figure. This should make them interestingly flexible for use in scenario-based games – not that I get to play many games!

Here’s the more colourfully-clothed duo with their mounted equivalents. As I painted the mounted figures back in 2013, I didn’t still own the exact same paints – but they’re close enough.

Also, the figures on horse-back are painted in the black-undercoat method I used to use, whereas the foot figures are done mainly with the GW Contrast paints I now favour, on a cream undercoat.

I’ve also recently painted this ADC by Crann Tara Miniatures. The sculptor has frozen the galloping horse in time brilliantly, the rider desperately holding his hat onto his head, with his hair-queue and coat-tails flying out behind him.

I haven’t painted him wearing a real-life ADC uniform. Instead, I chose an entirely fictional palette of blue and red that will allow him to fit in anywhere he is required.

At last! My favourite painting in miniature

d_IMG_0574

“Gentlemen, we never fire first; fire yourselves!”

Voltaire’s version of this famous episode as the British approached the French line during the Battle of Fontenoy has become proverbial. He wrote:

The English officers saluted the French by doffing their hats . . . the French, returned the greeting. My Lord Charles Hai, captain in the English Guards, cried, ‘Gentlemen of the French Guards, fire!’ The Comte d’Auteroche, then lieutenant of Grenadiers, shouted, ‘ Gentlemen, we never fire first ; fire yourselves.’

I’ve now painted enough Crann Tara figures of the Gardes Françaises to recreate my favourite-ever military painting: Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux’s The Battle of Fontenoy, 1745: The French and the Allies Confronting Each Other.

the_battle_of_fontenoy_1745

The Gardes are all Crann Tara figures, apart from the mounted officer and the casualty, which are Minden Miniatures (as are the British in the background). Click on the above picture at the top to enlarge it.

b_IMG_0574

This is still only a portion of the figures I am painting for my Gardes regiment, which will eventually have 54 rank and file, along with many additional officers, NCOs and drummers.

c_IMG_0574

a_IMG_0569

a_image2