An unplanned landsknecht army that came from nowhere!

This is kind of weird, as I never planned to build a 16th century landsknecht army. I don’t know much about the period, I have never played any games in this era, and I have no-one particularly interested in building up opponents for this army.

Nevertheless, I now find that I have sort of organically reared a moderately sized landsknecht army.

It all started with one freebie sprue of Warlord Games’ plastic landsknecht pikeman. I painted them up on a whim, and then thought, ‘Why not buy one box just to see what a pike block looks like?’

Then the one pike block grew to two, then three. And when a fellow gamer mentioned a joint club order to Old Glory, I couldn’t resist seeing how a pike block of their more animated metal landsknecht figures would look in comparison to the rather staid poses of the Warlord plastics.

Along the way I realized I also needed some hand-gunners, then some zweihänder (two-handed) swordsmen and halberdiers, a cannon, some generals … and before I knew it, a landsknecht army had grown from no-where!

So for your delectation, here are some pictures of my latest additions to this unplanned army.

I mentioned above that I had been curious to see the animation of the Old Glory landsknechts. I had heard these were one of the better ranges that Old Glory put out, and I must say I was indeed quite impressed when I received them.

Apart from a couple of the officer poses that looked over-animated to my eye, the figures in general looked pretty realistic. And boy did they convey the famous panache of that slashed and be-ribboned landsknecht clothing!

I think I must have dipped my brush into every paint-pot I own to paint these guys, and even then mixed a few additional colours myself. I am really pleased at the resulting spectacular mélange of different hues and tones.

My painting style is pretty impressionistic. So from close-up the figures look a bit messy, but they do really pop when you stand back to normal tabletop height.

I rather like the officer in red in the above picture. The flags were made from images I found on the web.

This wee fifer is one of my favourite of the Old Glory figures. He looks like he has stepped right out of a renaissance-period print. Again, my slap-dash paint style is obvious here (from the GW Contrast paints that I like to use).

Above is the third of the Warlord Games pike blocks I painted. I intended that this regiment might hail from Bavaria, thus the blue and white flags. But to tell the truth I don’t know how realistic this is (as I said, I don’t know much about the period). But it is cool to look at, and that’s all I want!

For those intrigued to know how Warlord Games and Old Glory landsknechts match up, here are a couple of comparison close-ups.

As you can see, the faces of the Warlord figures are very realistic, even with no more than just a single wash of GW Contrast flesh paint. The poses are quite static, but look very natural.

Meanwhile the Old Glory figures have very active poses, and their clothing is much fuller and more flamboyant. I had to drill their hands to take the pikes (which are plastic spears from Fireforge Games). Their faces are not quite so finely sculpted, but still capture the look of the period.

A group of halberdiers, also from Warlord. The right arms are made out of metal, so they were a bugger to attach to the plastic figures. In the end I had to pin them, which was a bit of work. But I am pleased with the result.

These figures are from the same box as the halberdiers, but equipped with the plastic zweihänder swords, so a cinch to glue on compared to the halberds.

And of course I needed some handgunners. These are mainly by Warlord, but there are a couple of Steel Fist Miniatures metal gunner in there as well.

The handgunners look great defending this scratch-built farmhouse.

The cannon is by Steel Fist Miniatures. I like the way the figures are posed pushing the gun into position (though I imagine such a large gun would actually take more than just two men to move!).

Winners of the big hat competition are these two generals, the only mounted figures in my army so far.

I am currently mulling over what type of cavalry I should get. I don’t want to go overboard (famous last words?!), so just one unit. But should they be heavily armoured gens-d’armes, or maybe some lightly armoured pistol-wielding reiters?

One day in 1860s New Zealand …

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Today marks 100 days since New Zealand had its last community transmission of COVID-19. Life has now returned pretty much to normal here, other than our border protection and having to be more vigilant. This success means we are able to do things that still can’t be done in many other countries, such as taking part in mass gatherings. Thus it is that I can report on my part in such a gathering last weekend.

I was asked by my friend Herman van Kradenburg to help him put on a wargaming display at an antique arms fair in the nearby town of Palmerston North. This would expose the hobby to a crowd of people who, whilst obviously interested in arms and militaria, might not have come across wargaming before.

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For my display table, I chose to represent the colonial New Zealand Wars of the 1860s. This wasn’t to be an actual game, but rather a static display to show off a wide range of miniatures and terrain as an eye-catching conversation-starter to talk to the punters about our hobby. And so it proved to be!

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The attention of many of our visitors was first caught this Māori pa (fortification). This was 3D-printed for me by my friends at Printable Scenery. Whilst the design is actually from a period earlier than the 1860s, it placed the table firmly in a New Zealand setting.

My replication of the New Zealand bush also garnered a lot of attention. This was formed by throwing together every wargaming tree and bush that I own, no matter what sort, and then adding a few fern-leafs to give it more local character. It wouldn’t fool a botanist, but certainly from a distance creates enough of the look and feel of New Zealand.

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Out of the bush emerges this warband of Māori warriors. These are the exquisite 28mm figures produced by Empress Miniatures.

Many visitors to my table were flabbergasted that there even existed  a range of figures depicting our own history. I imagine there may now be some orders being sent to Empress, judging by the interest being shown by even non-wargamers!

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My favourite figure in the whole Empress range is the toa (warrior) standing at the very left of this picture, holding aloft his tewhatewha, the two-handed weapon used for both fighting and signalling during battle. Below its distinctive axe-blade-type head is a bunch of feathers, for confusing an opponent in battle or to help the user signal to his followers.

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Perry Miniatures buildings are perfect for the New Zealand Wars. Here we see a raid on a farmhouse.

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A group of the vaunted Forest Rangers encounters a war-party at a river ford. The rangers are made by Old Glory. They’re might not be sculpted to the same standard of Empress figures, but they’re all there is at the moment to recreate these iconic troops armed with carbines and Bowie knives.

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For my British troops in their typical blue jumpers, I have used the Perry ‘British Intervention Force‘ range.

Standards were not carried in New Zealand, but there are some contemporary pictures of military campsites that include union flags being flown,  so I thought it not unreasonable that maybe such a flag could have been informally carried. Anyway, it would’ve been a waste not to include this figure which was in the Perry pack! 

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A small detachment of cavalry come onto the scene.  These could be colonial militia, or perhaps soldiers of the Military Train, who were gathered together into make-shift cavalry units (no actual British cavalry regiments having fought in the New Zealand Wars) .

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The Royal Navy are represented on the table, both with artillery (including rockets) and a party of armed sailors.

Sailors were regarded as some of the most effectual fighters during the wars. However, their artillery was often somewhat less effectual against the cleverly designed pa defences of the Māori.

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I really like Perry Miniatures’ renditions of the mounted commanders, seen here conversing as a heavily-laden supply wagon trundles past, whilst some sappers are busy on road-work duties in the background.

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At headquarters, the general issues his orders to a subordinate, as another officer notes down his words.

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One of the army’s Māori scouts takes time out for a contemplative pull on his pipe. He’s also a Perry figure, who I think was supposed to represent a native American, but works just as well as a Māori scout wearing part-uniform.

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My table wasn’t the only one we had at the arms fair. My friend Herman put on this wonderful WW2 desert extravaganza.

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It basically represented Germans versus French, but with wildly mixed and matched various campaigns of the desert war so as to be able to show off as many models as possible.

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Our ethos of not being constrained by exactly which campaign and time period we were fighting gave the flexibility to add in some weird and wonderful units. My recently-painted Panhards even got to make their debut! 

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Unlike my New Zealand Wars display, we actually played this table as a game during the show. The idea was to demonstrate the structure of how a wargame worked, so we used Bolt Action, but stripped down to the barest possible rules.

We were pleasantly surprised how well such a simplified rule-set still performed! And the punters loved it, as they could easily see how a static diorama could become a living game through use of turns, measuring and dice.

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However, things didn’t work out too well for my Panhards!

Napoleonic British rocket section

No Napoleonic British wargames army – or one of the fun sort anyway – is complete without a rocket section.  This idiosyncratic weapon can be the cause of some wonderfully unpredictable game events, depending on how much your particular rules randomise the rockets’ final landing points. 

So with this in mind, I decided I just had to have a rocket section in my British army.  Unfortunately my favourite Napoleonic British figure manufacturers (Front Rank and Perry) don’t make rockets for the period.  So I had to resort to a company whose offerings I find  somewhat of a mixed bag – Old Glory.  But I’ve got to say that, overall, their rocket section isn’t a bad set at all.

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While the detail on the figures isn’t as scrumptious as on my preferred makes, some of the poses are very dynamic.  This liveliness is slightly negated by the fact that there is insufficient variety amongst the figures to prevent most stands having similar poses.  The uniforms are those of standard Royal Horse Artillery figures rather than rocket troops, but the differences are very minor (the lack of a pistol and pouch belt).   The rockets themselves are nicely cast, and go together quite easily. 

Large 32-pounder rocket launchers, again by 'Old Glory'.

Overall, I’m quite happy with my rocket section.  However, the crunch time will come when/if the Perry twins come out with a rocket section for their Waterloo range. The rocket set they have already produced for their Carlist Wars range is very pretty indeed.  So I suspect the Old Glory rocket section in these pictures will be one of the few painted units I ever sell, if I end up painting some Perry replacements in due course.

The business end of the 32-pounder rocket launchers.