Category Archives: Eighteenth century

Huzzah! French 18th century hussars


After a rather long hiatus in my painting activities, caused by not being able to recreate the sheer euphoria of painting figures for the WW1 Chunuk Bair diorama during the first half of the year, I’m now finally back in the saddle again, as it were.

I’m working on a large unit of 28 Minden Miniatures French hussars to accompany my imaginary Barryat of Lyndonia army.

To fill in those who don’t know about the Barrayat of Lyndonia (ie nearly everybody in the world!), it is an imaginary nation – or ‘imagi-nation’ – I’ve created for my wargaming army, based on the Stanley Kubrick movie, Barry Lyndon.

The Barryat does not recruit its own army, but instead contracts regiments from other states in Europe – which provides the backstory to allow me to mix and match whatever real-life nations’ units I wish.


Here’s my painting board.  So far, the hussar riders have been undercoated in black, and are just being tested for how they’ll fit alongside each other when their horses are attached in pairs on pre-cut bases.

You might be able to see that I’ve also converted one officer to hold a standard – hussars didn’t normally carry standards, but, hey, this is an imaginary army!

Also visible in the above picture are a couple of my previously completed Prussian dragoons, and various small items I’ll paint at the same time as the hussars, such as a Minden French general and some Brigade sailors, as well as a few miscellaneous bits of baggage.


A few of the wonderfully energetic galloping Minden horses, showing the results of my oil-based horse-painting technique. This entails spray-painting the horses with rust-coloured car primer, then painting on black or burnt sienna oil paint, and immediately rubbing it off again with a tissue so the rust primer shows through – quick and dirty, but effective!

Now, the big question, which I still haven’t answered for myself, is which French hussar unit I’ll paint these up as?  At the moment I have the following two options in mind.

Le régiment des hussards de Bercheny


The Régiment des Hussards de Bercheny was one of the regular hussar units of the Ancien Regime.  Like the other French hussar regiments, they were clothed in light-blue.  Their distinctive colour was red, as can be seen in this anonymous painting Le régiment des hussards de Bercheny en marche, vers 1752-1763 [Photo (C) Paris – Musée de l’Armée, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image musée de l’Armée].

You can also see that the Bercheny trumpeters were dressed in brown coats with green turnbacks.

Bercheny Hussars Grantjpg

These aren’t mine!  This picture is only to show the look I would strive for with my painting of these figures. These Bercheny Hussars were painted by noted British wargamer and author, Charles S. Grant, the picture coming from Jim Purky’s Der Alte Fritz Journal blog.

I like this colour scheme, one of the nicest of the regular French hussar regiments. However, the standard French hussar light-blue is coincidentally also the colour I painted my one other cavalry regiment for the Barryat of Lyndonia, the Prussian Truchseß dragoon regiment.  Ideally I would like some more variety in my imaginary army.

Les Chasseurs de Fischer


The Chasseurs de Fischer were a volunteer corps of both foot and cavalry, established in 1743 by a former officer’s valet who made a reputation for himself guiding other valets in and out of the islands of the Moldau River.

I really like their uniform of green and red, as depicted in this great old print of one of the mounted chasseurs, entitled Frankreich. Fischer’scher reitender Jäger. 1743 (French Fischer’s mounted chasseur) by Richard Knötel.

MySYW-Chass de Fischer-8501

Here are some exquisitely painted flats from Crogges’s My Seven Years’ War blog from Germany. Though in my case  would prefer the shabraque (horse cloth) to be red rather than green, more like the Richard Knötel picture above.

The Minden figures are also cast with the fleur-de-lis insignia on their sabretaches (bags), whereas the Chasseurs de Fischer had a device with three crossed fish – but maybe at this scale that won’t show too much.

This is also the only picture I’ve been able to find that shows the uniform of a Fischer trumpeter (French hussar trumpeters wore entirely different uniforms from the rest of the unit).

So, choices, choices!  You’ll just have to wait and see which way I go …




Filed under Eighteenth century, Minden Miniatures, Uncategorized

More preview pics of Crann Tara’s forthcoming Gardes Françaises


Crann Tara Miniatures have released some further preview shots of their forthcoming range of 1/56th scale Gardes Françaises figures modelled on the famous Philippoteaux painting, which I’m hoping will be my next project.

The sculptor is now apparently working on the command figures. I’m looking forward to seeing which of the poses from the painting he is going to recreate.

IMG_2592 (1)


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Filed under crann tara, Eighteenth century

Recreating a famous painting of Fontenoy in miniature

After all the build-up and excitement of the amazing Chunuk Bair diorama project, I’ve been at a bit of a loose end as to what to do next. I didn’t want to start a new period from scratch, plus nothing really appealed for adding to my existing armies.  It was almost looking like I had lost my painting mojo all together.

But then the other day I came across some news that I think has solved my crisis!

Ever since I first read Charles Grant’s 1975 book The Battle of Fontenoy many years ago, I’ve been fascinated by its cover illustration, Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux’s 1873 painting entitled The Battle of Fontenoy, 1745: The French and the Allies Confronting Each Other.

I even did a posting about this picture here on my blog a couple of years ago.

So when I came across a snippet of news the other day that Crann Tara Miniatures are planning on making 1/56th figures based specifically on this painting, my heart sang!

I would now be able to recreate my favourite military painting in miniature – a perfect project to go with my somewhat stalled Barrayat of Lyndonia imagi-nation project.


So far Crann Tara’s Gardes Françaises range only has a couple of infantrymen in it – and these aren’t in quite the right pose to match the painting.

But owner Graham C. says, “The next two Garde figures will be the kneeling and standing figures from the painting. They’re being sculpted at the moment. Some of the other pieces, NCOs etc will make their appearance later.”

I really hope these forthcoming figures don’t have separate muskets, though. One of my pet hates is attaching weapons to figures. Not only is the gluing job a real pain, but the hands never end up looking right, and the joins are fragile.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to seeing this new range develop, and getting my teeth into painting what has to be one of my favourite 18th century uniforms.


Filed under Eighteenth century

I should be dead …

lead mountain

There’s a wargaming superstition that if you reach the bottom of your ‘lead mountain’  of unpainted figures, you’ll die.  Well, I’ve been at the bottom of my lead mountain for a few weeks now, and I’m pleased to say that I’m still hale and hearty!

I’ve had several projects on the go over the last few years, but all have now either concluded, or are awaiting the manufacture of new figures.


Samurai:  I’ve painted two opposing factions (or ‘buntai’) for 28mm skirmish gaming, and made a lot of terrain.  But I seem to have used up all my enthusiasm for this period in getting this far.  No other possible factions really interest me.  And I have no intention of taking this period beyond skirmish anyway. So I’ve got enough figures and terrain for now.



Pirates:  This project has been pretty well completed for some time now.  We only play with smallish units anyway, so adding more figures to my already more-than-enough collection would be overkill.

More pirates


18th century ‘imagi-nation’:  I’ve painted all the units that were in the film ‘Barry Lyndon’, so the next step in this project would be to paint some totally fictional units.  I’ve always fancied the green and red uniforms of the Russians.  Whilst such a unit would be imaginary, it would seem stupid not to paint actual Russian figures rather than simply re-colour the uniforms of some other nation.  However, my manufacturer-of-choice for this project, Minden Miniatures, doesn’t do Russians yet.  So this project is now on hold until they do (in 2015, I’m told).



Napoleonics:  I’ve got more than enough battalions of British, French, Portuguese and Spanish to play a reasonable Napoleonic game.  Adding more will be just repetitive, and I never use all my units at once anyway.  I’ve also got hordes of individually-based ‘big men’ for leading my troops under the ‘Sharp Practice’ rules – but as most of them haven’t even seen action yet, no more are required.

dtl_Spanish Guerilla Ambush


Colonial New Zealand Wars:  I’ve now got a couple of sides sufficient for  large skirmish games.  Like my Napoleonics, adding to them at the moment would be just ‘more of the same’, for which I really have no need.  However, this is  period dear to my heart, so if Empress Miniatures ever make anything else for this period, I’ll be in like Flynn!



Victorian science fiction:  I’ve only painted one unit for this, and it is barely Victorian science fiction, being a French Foreign Legion unit as they appeared during Maximilian’s Mexican Adventure.  But I just can’t drum up any more enthusiasm to continue with this project.

whole legion_IMG_1290


American Civil War:  I have a couple of miscellaneous units painted up , but this period doesn’t interest me enough to buy any more.



What about starting a completely new period, then?  Well, I hate being at the start-point of a project.  There is nothing out there that is calling to me sufficiently to overcome the hurdle of starting from scratch.

So, where does that leave me?  Well, I’m seeing his as a holiday from painting.  I think I’ll just wait out until either Minden Miniatures (for my Russians), or Empress Miniatures (for new NZ Wars figures) come through.

Another possibility is to do some vignettes to decorate the battlefield, especially for my Napoleonics.  Perry Miniatures and Westfalia are currently making some very nice wagons and other background stuff, such as this lovely little sutler’s cart.

westfaia sutler's cart


So, I aten’t dead yet!

aten't dead





Filed under Colonial New Zealand Wars, Eighteenth century, Napoleonics, Pirates, Samurai, Victorian Sci-Fi

Baby singlehandedly closes lord’s wargaming room


Lord Ashram of the blog Lord Ashram’s House of War advises that he is closing up his wargaming room for the foreseeable future, due to his second baby on the way.


To celebrate (the baby) or commiserate (the closure of the room) he is running a very simple little “What was your favorite blog post?” contest over on his blog.  Sam Mustafa has kindly agreed to give a copy of his Maurice rules and a set of cards to the randomly-selected winner.

Lord Ashram asked if I could  post a link, as he would love  to be able to spread the word on such an easy contest with a neat prize.  So here it is …


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Filed under Eighteenth century

Pics of my visit to Les Invalides in Paris – museums and Napoleon’s tomb


During my family’s recent trip to Europe, I was able to spend a morning by myself at Les Invalides in Paris. I spent several delightful hours wandering around looking at the huge range of artifacts, paintings and models from French military history, culminating with a visit to Napoleon’s tomb.


L’Hôtel National des Invalides (to use the correct name of ‘Les Invalides’) is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. The building’s original purpose when Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670 was to provide accommodation and hospital care for wounded soldiers – and it still contains a hospital and retirement home.

But it is for its military museums and the burial site of some of France’s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte, that most visitors come to Les Invalides.

Musée de l’Armée

The Musée de l’Armée was created in 1905 with the merger of the Musée d’Artillerie and the Musée Historique de l’Armée.  The museum’s seven main spaces and departments contain collections that span the period from antiquity through the 20th century.

I spent much of my visit in the Modern Department, covering from Louis XIV to Napoleon III, 1643-1870.  I also had time for a very quick scoot through the Contemporary Department which tells the story of the French Army from 1871 to 1945.

The displays include uniforms, artifacts, paintings and computerised battle reports.  They’re housed in glass cases in dramatically-lit rooms and galleries.  While this lighting makes everything look splendid, one downside is the difficulty in photographing the exhibits.   But here goes …


I also photographed one or two dioramas that were part of the displays.





In the museum foyer were these wonderful displays of large-scale model soldiers, all about a foot high, and clothed in real material uniforms.






Musée des Plans-Reliefs

I made a point of not missing the Musée des Plans-Reliefs in the attic space of Les Invalides, having read that it was well worth the climb. And so it was – at the top of the stairs you enter a door and find yourself a long low and very dark attic gallery, in which moodily-lit models recede into the distance in both directions.

These are all three-dimensional models of fortified cities for military purposes, known as ‘plans-relief’. The models gave particular attention to the city fortifications and topographic features such as hills, harbours, and so on.

The construction of these models dates to 1668, when initially the models were constructed in the field, by military engineers. In 1743 two central workshops were established for their construction in Béthune and Lille. A large number of models were built during and after the War of the Austrian Succession (1741-1748) to represent newly captured sites.

In 1774 the collection was nearly destroyed when its Louvre gallery was re-dedicated to paintings, but was in 1777 moved to Les Invalides.

All told, some 260 plans-reliefs were created between 1668 and 1870, representing about 150 fortified sites. The museum displays 28 plans-reliefs of fortifications along the English Channel, the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, and the Pyrenees. It also contains presentations on construction and use of the plans-reliefs.

Unfortunately whilst I was busy photographing some of these spectacular models, I forgot to record which fortifications they represented. So you’ll just have to guess …


One interesting part of the Musée des Plans-Reliefs was a display of the equipment and materials used by the model-makers. Most wargamers would be totally familiar with much of what was on display here!





Cathedral of Saint-Louis des Invalides


In 1676, the Secretary of State for War, Marquis de Louvois, entrusted the young architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart with the construction of the chapel, which the architect of Les Invalides, Libéral Bruant, had been unable to complete.

He designed a building which combined a royal chapel, the “Dôme des Invalides”, and a veterans’ chapel.  This way, the king and his soldiers could attend mass simultaneously, while entering the place of worship though different entrances, as prescribed by etiquette.


Tomb of Napoleon

One of the highlights of any visit to Les Invalides is of course to see where the body of Napoleon lies entombed.  First buried on St. Helena, Napoleon’s remains were exhumed and brought to Paris in 1840 on the orders of Louis-Philippe, who wanted to return the emperor to French soil.


On entering the church, you come to a balcony surrounding a hole in the floor looking down at the tomb. Some say this is a trick to ensure that even in death Napoleon’s enemies would have to bow their heads to him.  In fact I read a story somewhere that an Englishman was advised to use a small hand-mirror to view the tomb without bowing his head!


The heavy bronze door down to the crypt is forged from cannons taken at Austerlitz. Above the lintel is an extract from Napoleon’s will: “I wish my ashes to rest on the banks of the Seine among the people of France whom I so much loved”.


The sarcophagus lies on a green granite pedestal and contains a nest of six coffins: one made of soft iron, another of mahogany, two others of lead, one of ebony and finally the last one of oak.



Filed under Eighteenth century, Napoleonics, Uncategorized, WW1

An Antipodean view of SELWG


When this official photograph was being taken of the winning game at the recent SELWG (South East London Wargames Group) wargames show at Crystal Palace in London, little did the guys know that the chap standing alongside the official photographer and sneaking some distinctly unofficial shots with his little camera was probably the furthest travelled visitor to the show.

The following article and pictures portray the impressions of the show from that far-flung visitor.  As such, you’ll probably find this posting displays a rather naive wide-eyed enthusiasm of an Antipodean abroad, in contrast with more restrained reviews from British gamers for whom attending such shows is almost just a routine part of the hobby.

This report might also be one of the most delayed, as it is already nearly a month since SELWG took place. But the posting had to wait until I finished my holiday and got back home to New Zealand.  I’m hoping people will still find this article of interest, as it is from the point of view of someone who has never before attended a big wargames show.

Getting there

I had flown from New Zealand with my wife and daughter for a five week holiday in the UK and Europe.  I had always yearned to visit a big show such as Salute or SELWG. So finding that I would be in Rye, less than a couple of hours away from the SELWG venue, meant that I just had to more heaven and earth to ensure no family events got in the way of my being able to attend.


Luckily my evil plan succeeded, and I duly received a ‘day leave pass’ from my family!  I had initially planned to take the train from Rye to London. But then a few days prior to the event  I thought of asking online to see if there were any UK gamers who would be driving up from somewhere close to Rye, and whom I could join for the trip. My reasoning for this was to a) not get lost; b) have a chance to chat with some fellow gamers during the drive; and c) have some company during the event itself.

In the end this worked out better than I could ever have expected. Robert contacted me and offered not only to get me to the show without losing my way, but also invited me to accompany him to a restaurant afterwards for a meal with some well-known faces of the hobby.

First impressions

The day was rainy, but that wasn’t a problem for an indoor event, other than a bit of a soaking during our walk from the carpark to the Crystal Palace sports centre. Inside, once the fug of soaked raincoats had dissipated and the spots of rain on my glasses had cleared, the weather outside was easily ignored.

My first view of the event took my breath away. The huge sports hall was filled with colourful game tables, and surrounded by two levels of trade stands. And what a mass of people – I’d never seen so many wargaming enthusiasts gathered in one place. Who would ever have believed that there were so many people interested in my rather odd hobby of moving little toy soldiers around on a tabletop?



Buying and selling

I decided to begin at the bring-and-buy, thinking that if there was anything interesting there, I should get in fast. But unfortunately all those other wargaming enthusiasts seemed to have exactly the same idea. So I experienced my first-ever bring and buy scrum, with the tables packed three to four rows back. The end result was that if there had actually been anything of interest to me on the table, it was well-gone by the time I managed to fight my way through the ruck.


My next port of call was a quick round of the trade stands to see who was there, and in particular to see if I could meet in person some of the traders I had only ever dealt with online from New Zealand.

I quickly found one of my favourite suppliers – Empress Miniatures, who produce the wonderful figures I use for my colonial New Zealand Wars armies. It was great to chat with them, and especially to learn that there will be some new releases in this range next year.




As a wide-eyed Antipodean, it was fantastic to wander round all the stalls and see in real-life all those miniatures that I had only ever seen as photos in magazines or online. The hall was a huge cornucopia of every type of figure and piece of terrain I could imagine.



Despite what looked to me like every trader under the sun, I learned there were actually several big names who were absent.  For example, I would’ve dearly loved to meet up with Front Rank Miniatures, whose figures are the mainstay of several of my armies – but sadly they weren’t at SELWG this year.

In a remarkably restrained manner, I bought only one thing all day (a small resin sampan for my latest samurai project). But before traders get upset at wasting their time at shows for such measly purchases, I must add that I took note of quite a few items I’ll probably be buying through mail-order once my current project is completed.

Meeting fellow gamers

Another thing I was really keen to do was to meet up with some of my fellow wargamers whom I had only even known from the online word.  To help them recognise me, I wore my Kapiti Fusiliers name-badge, clearly emblazoned with my name ‘ROLY’.


This didn’t quite work as well as I hoped, partly because most of my online wargaming friends know me more as my nickname Arteis, and partly because most people assumed the name-badge meant I was just a trader.

So it was up to me to go up to people I suspected I might know (which for some puzzled gamers, will account for the rather pushy New Zealander accosting them at their games).  With so many people at SELWG, in the end I wasn’t too successful meeting up with people by this cold call strategy, and so didn’t find too many I knew (though I heard later there were plenty enough of my friends there, if only I had recognised them).  

One meeting that did succeed, however, came down to my Dutch heritage.  At one point my ears pricked up to hear some Flemish being spoken behind me (almost the same language to the untrained ear), and so I turned round and introduced myself with a ‘Goede dag!’ – and so was very pleased to meet up with a couple of the guys from Antwerp.  

And of course, the games!

The other anticipated excitement of the day was to view all those luscious games, and I was not disappointed. Every period I could think of was covered in one scale or another – except sadly my current obsession with samurai, which was surprising considering the excitement at the moment about the new ‘Ronin’ rules.  Though this was partly assuaged by some magnificent large-scale samurai figures on a painting demonstration table.


Most of the games were fabulous, and the painting and terrain were simply superb. But I did note a lack in using the third dimension (height). Photos I’ve seen of previous shows depict dramatic games set on mountains, hills, tall buildings and other high terrain. The time and effort involved in producing such lofty terrain means they tend not to occur in normal club gaming (in my experience, anyway), and so are usually only seen at big shows like this.  But with only a few exceptions, the games at this SELWG were pretty flat, and none at all blew me away with any exciting use of the height dimension.

But apart from that minor disappointment (which, after all, was only my opinion), the games were otherwise stunning. And not only with their terrain and figures. I also noticed the lengths to which some clubs went to give their games period character, such as using appropriate props to decorate the sides of their table, or by judicious wearing of uniform items.




Also evident was the readiness of the players to engage in conversation with bystanders, rather than being too engrossed in their own gaming. It was fun to chat with quite a few of the players, especially where the rules were a bit out of ordinary.


An aftershow treat

The hours sped by very quickly, and all too soon it seemed it was time to leave this bulging palace of wargaming treasures. But the excitement of the day was not yet finished. My host’s offer of a dinner out with some of the luminaries in the hobby came true, and I was soon chatting over a yummy meal with a friendly group of people I had only ever seen in the wargames magazine world. I had to pinch myself to find myself dining with the likes of Mike Siggins and Bill Gaskin …

And so that was it – SELWG! As I mentioned at the start, some of the local reviews of SELWG seem to regard it as a commonplace event. But I urge UK wargamers to never take such events for granted. Remember that for many of us, these big shows can only be a wishful dream. It is just a lucky few of we Antipodeans (and other such far-flung gamers) who can ever attend a big UK show in real life, as I had the pleasure to do.

Many thanks to my host Robert; to my dinner companions Mike, Bill and his charming wife; and to all the wonderful people I met during the day, who all made SELWG so memorable for this wide-eyed Antipodean visitor.

More pics of the games

Let’s take a closer look at some of the games that particularly caught my eye.  Don’t forget to click on the pics to enlarge them and see all that lavish detail.

Southend Wargames Club won the show with their depiction of the War of 1812 Battle of Cryslers Farm.  This was one of the few games at SELWG that I felt made some use of the third dimension, height.


Here’s one of my favourite games of the show – and I’m not even usually a fan of WW2 (though to be exact this is a post-war game – just!). It is the Deal Wargames Club’s rendition of the Russian attack on the Japanese-held Shumsu Island.


The South East Essex Military Society (SEEMS) put on a War of the Spanish Succession game as their ‘Tabletop Teasers on Tour’ display.


A deceptively simple-looking table, but one that nevertheless caught my eye, was the Maidstone Wargames Society participation game called ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Floating Machines’. The idea was that smugglers in balloons had to get their contraband to the British coast, pursued by other smugglers and the local constabulary (or rozzers).


The Shepway Wargames Club put on a very nicely-done game of the Battle of Nobovidy, 1422. The snowy terrain was particularly well-done.


Loughton Strike Force used the Panzergrenadier Deluxe rules to play their eye-catching WW2 Kursk game, the Attack on Ponyri.


Ancients are not normally my thing, but who could resist Simon Miller’s magnificent depiction of the Battle of Thapsus, 46BC?


Finally, here’s a look at an early WW1 game called Crush the Kaiser. It included something often missed in wargames, namely the effect of the civilian populace – something to make us remember that playing wargames is (thankfully) a great deal different from making war.



Filed under Eighteenth century, Empress Miniatures, Medieval, Uncategorized, Warlord Games, WW1, WW2