Captain Jack Aubrey and GW Contrast paints

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When I bought Warlord Games boxed Black Seas set recently, it came with a free figure depicting none other than Captain Jack Aubrey, ostensibly from the Patrick O’Brian novels, but more specifically based on Russell Crowe’s portrayal in the movie ‘Master and Commander’.

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One of my Napoleonic third-raters from Warlord Games

Whilst it is indeed an exquisite figure, the model is quite large, more like about 35mm. So it really doesn’t fit with any of my 28mm Royal Navy figures in my Napoleonic period armies.

However, with my lead mountain reduced to scraps during the Covid-19 lockdown, I decided to paint this figure for something to do. And what a pleasure it was!

I decided to restrict myself to Games Workshop Contrast paints, and they worked beautifully.  No part of this figure has been shaded or highlighted – what you see here is how the Contrast paints come straight from the bottle.

Actually, the model in real life looks even better than these pics (which in such extreme close-up show how I wasn’t quite painting inside the lines!).

But, as Aubrey himself would doubtless say about Contrast paints, ‘Quick’s the word and sharp’s the action!’

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A quirky Netflix doco on Napoleonic reenacting

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On the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, thousands of enthusiasts reenact the epic clash. But there can only be one Napoleon.

I’ve just finished watching a quirky documentary on Netflix. Being Napoleon is a feature length documentary that follows the stories of several historical war reenactors as they prepare for Waterloo 2015.

Over 6,000 reenactors gather for the 200th anniversary of the epic Battle of Waterloo, from humble foot-soldiers through to officers and even the great Marshal Ney (who is unfortunately less adept at horsemanship than the original).

But the real battle is taking place elsewhere, as two contenders vie for the vital role of being Napoleon. Frenchman Frank Samson, uniform-maker extraordinaire, takes on American Mark Schneider as to who will be Emperor on the day. By the way, my son and I saw the latter in action ten years earlier when we took part in the 2005 Waterloo!

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There was only one Napoleon in 1815, so there can be only one Napoleon in 2015. But the Belgians are in charge, and unrest is growing in the ranks.

There’s also an outstanding prison sentence to be served, an unpaid bill for parking to which Empress Josephine has something to say, and a motley group of elderly Grenadier reenactors gamely trekking Napoleon’s route from where he landed after his escape from Elba in 1815.

The movie concludes with some amazing footage of the Waterloo event, especially the last stand of the Guard.

As to which of the two contenders ends up being Napoleon, you’ll just have to watch.

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New video and VR tour of Battle of Ruapekapeka Pā (1845)

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Radio NZ has just launched a 30-minute online documentary about the 1845-6 Northern War in New Zealand.  It is about the Battle of Ruapekapeka, but also covers some other battles from the campaign.

The video has been timed to mark the Rā Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Wars, which takes place this Saturday (I am also hosting a New Zealand Wars display game  on Saturday to mark this important event).

You can see the whole documentary on the Radio NZ website.

I found it a very moving film. It shows the battle from a Māori perspective, when in the past we might have seen it more from an Anglo-centric point of view.

I’m a little surprised the movie still depicts that the defenders were at a church service when they were surprised by a British raid. There has been a newer theory that the Māori intentionally tried to get the British to attack and chase them through the empty pā and into the bush, where the Māori would then have the upper hand.

From a wargamer’s perspective, the video contains some amazing animations and reenactments. I thoroughly recommend it.

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British camp

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British forward position shelling Ruapekapeka Pa

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Ruapekapeka Pa

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Cutaway view of the dugouts, tunnels and trenches at Ruapekapeka Pa.

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Radio NZ have also produced a terrific virtual reality tour of the battle-site.

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Video trailer about colonial New Zealand Wars

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A trailer has just been launched of a new video documentary about the colonial New Zealand Wars. The film will describe the Battle of Ruapekapeka that took place in 1846 (click on the link below to view the trailer).

Great Southern Television is working on this interactive online project for Radio NZ on the New Zealand Wars. It will include a documentary, podcast, battle reconstruction and online museum, telling the story of the 19th century wars between the Crown and Māori.

Ruapekapeka was one of the largest and most complex pā (Māori fortifications) in New Zealand, that was designed specifically to counter the cannons of the British forces. It was the site of the last battle in the Flagstaff War, between Colonial forces and warriors of Ngāpuhi led by Hone Heke and Te Ruki Kawiti.

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In this screen-grab from the trailer, as well as the heading picture at the top of this posting, we see men of the 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot, recognisable by their black facings and cap bands, advancing through the bush.

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Soldiers struggle to drag a cannon through the rugged bush. In late 1845 the Colonial forces, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Despard, began a two-week advance over 20 kilometres (12 miles) to bring artillery up to the pā.

The ordnance included three naval 32-pounders, one 18-pounder, two 12-pounder howitzers, one 6-pounder brass gun, four mortars, and two rocket-tubes.

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The above picture is another scene of the cannon being transported through the thick undergrowth.  This isn’t a screen-grab, but a photo taken by one of the film crew.  It gives a good impression of the tough job the soldiers would have faced.

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To show the care taken to get the uniforms right in the video, take a look at my painted Empress Miniatures 28mm figures depicting the same regiment.

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A group of soldiers from the 58th patrol past some ferns and toitoi plants, typical of the New Zealand landscape.

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Back to the video, here’s a screen-grab of a group of Māori warriors doing a haka, or war-dance.

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This close-up of Māori shooting through the loopholes at the bottom of the pā palisades shows the combination of traditional and western dress adopted by many warriors.

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During the bombardment of the pā, the defenders took cover in bomb-proof shelters. Lieutenant Balnevis, who took part in the siege, commented in his journal that Ruapekapeka was ‘a most extraordinary place, a model of engineering, with a treble stockade, and huts inside, these also fortified. A large embankment in rear of it, full of under-ground holes for the men to live in; communications with subterranean passages enfilading the ditch.’

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Early on the morning of Sunday 11 January 1846, a British foraging party noted the defenders were unusually quiet. The small group of British troops pushed over the palisade and entered the pā, finding it almost empty. They were reinforced, while Māori tried to re-enter the pā from the back. After a four-hour gun fight the remaining Māori withdrew, abandoning the pā.

Some say the pā had been left almost empty because the defenders were holding a Sunday church service, others say it was a deliberate ploy to draw the British forces into the rugged bush.

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Here are some of my Empress Miniatures doing a traditional haka.

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Another view of my Māori warriors, in this case playing their part in a tabletop reenactment of the Battle of Boulcott Farm, which took place that same year near Wellington.

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The video includes some great shots of Ruapekapeka pā, both physical reconstructions and computer generated images. Here you can see puffs of black powder smoke issuing from the loopholes at the bottom of the palisades.

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In this shot you see a portion of one of the many huts inside the pā.

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Traces of Ruapekapeka pā can still be seen to this day.

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The presenter of the video, well-known journalist Mihingarangi Forbes, appears in a clever scene where we see Ruapekapeka pā  as it appears today, then as the camera pulls back the pā of 1846 starts to appear through the magic of CGI.

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The palisades and huts start to appear.

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Now we see the thick bush that edged up to the palisades of the pā.

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My model pā was designed and 3D-printed by Printable Scenery. It includes palisades of various sizes, several huts, and an ornate gate. The carvings on the latter are of a somewhat apocryphal design!

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In my pā, you can even see Chief Hone Heke (left).

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Next Saturday my miniature figures will take part in a tabletop recreation at my local library as part of the inaugural Raa Maumahara National Day of Commemoration of the New Zealand Wars.

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As the New Zealand Wars committee chairman Peeni Henare has said: ‘Learning the history has to be a path to reconciliation. We can’t say there won’t be resentment. The commemoration is simply to inform the people of Aotearoa-New Zealand. Once it is in our psyche, the day will grow in importance. It is beautiful, brutal, illustrious, deeply moving history.’

Newly released trailer for ‘Barry Lyndon’

Just as vibrant and urgent as it was when it debuted in 1975, Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon is perhaps the perfect historical epic movie to be re-introduced to a brand new audience.

In advance of the July 2016 re-release of the film in the UK,  a new trailer has been crafted for the film, one that builds in a contemporary feel without sacrificing the film’s authenticity.

Only a cinema screen can do justice to the stunning visuals of Barry Lyndon. Inspired by painters such as Thomas Gainsborough and William Hogarth, the film has a beautiful, painterly look, enhanced by filming in natural or historically accurate light sources.

My particular interest, of course, is that the miniature army of my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia, is made up of the various units that appear in the movie, including Gale’s Regiment of Foot, the Régiment de Royal-Cravates, and the ‘Kubrick’ Infanterie Regiment.

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The British contingent of the army of the Barryat of Lyndonia: Gale’s Regiment of Foot (28mm Minden Miniatures figures, GMB flags).

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The French contingent of the army of the Barryat of Lyndonia: the Régiment de Royal-Cravates (28mm Minden Miniatures figures, GMB flags).

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The Prussian contingent of the army of the Barryat of Lyndonia: the ‘Kubrick’ Infanterie Regiment (28mm Minden Miniatures figures, GMB flags).

 

‘The Black Devils’ film trailer re Dutch marines in 1940

I found this tantalising trailer for a new Dutch mini-series on YouTube. It is about the Dutch marines in Rotterdam during the German invasion in 1940.

Note: After you click on the  above still picture, you will then have to click on the link saying ‘Watch this video on YouTube’, as it is disabled from playing directly from this blog.

In World War II, a Korps Mariniers unit that was in Rotterdam preparing to ship out to the Dutch East Indies successfully defended the bridges across the Maas, preventing German paratroopers in the centre of the city from rendezvousing with conventional German infantry. The Germans ended the stalemate by bombing Rotterdam.

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The marines earned their nick-name of ‘Black Devils’ from their dark uniform tunics.

Whilst the trailer is in Dutch, you’ll get the gist of it, especially in the second half.

I’m not sure if this mini-series has actually made it to the the TV screen yet, however.

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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Trailer & stills of movie on 17th century Admiral de Ruyter

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I’ve just seen the trailer for the forthcoming Dutch movie Admiral about the 17th century Dutch Admiral Michiel de Ruyter.  The trailer is most impressive, and I hope this movie will be shown in my country in due course.

The blurb:  “When the young republic of the Netherlands is attacked by England, France and Germany and the country itself is on the brink of civil war, only one man can lead the county’s strongest weapon, the Dutch fleet: Michiel de Ruyter.”

De Ruyter (1607-1676) was a Dutch admiral, most famous for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. He fought the English and French and scored several major victories against them, the best known probably being the Raid on the Medway.

 

Watch the trailer here:

 

There’s also a shorter trailer with English subtitles here:

 

And here are a few screen-shots of the battle scenes in the trailer:

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Naval wargaming 17th century style?

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The official website (in English) is here:  http://www.admiralthemovie.com/

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Found: the lost scenes from the movie ‘Waterloo’

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There’s always been a rumour that the 1970 movie Waterloo had a longer version, but the reel of the extra scenes has never been located. Until now, that is …

It turns out that when the Russian army’s contract for supplying extras for the movie ran out, the director asked the Danes instead. Here are the resulting scenes:

The most epic airline flight safety briefing ever – and I’m not kidding

I’ve been waiting with bated breath for this one, and today it was finally launched.  Air New Zealand’s Battle of the Five Armies safety briefing.

My wife, who is a purser on Air New Zealand, was surprised at its length when she saw the video for the first time a few minutes ago.  “We don’t even taxi that long,” she said.

Anyway, enjoy!