A Kiwi at Partizan

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As I mentioned in my last posting, during my recent trip with my wife to the UK and Europe, I was able to fit in a day at the Partizan Wargames Show in Newark.

This was actually the second British wargaming show I’ve visited, as back in 2013  I was lucky enough to attend SELWG in London. Based on that previous experience, I had some idea of what to expect. But despite this fore-knowledge, the sight of so many incredibly impressive games at Partizan was a real eye-opener to this colonial boy!

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The show was held in a very roomy and light venue at the Newark Showgrounds. I arrived just before opening time, and there was already a queue at the door. At 10.00 exactly the doors opened and the line moved quickly as the entry formalities were carried our efficiently by the organisers (including giving the first 500 visitors – including yours truly – a specially commissioned 28mm figure of the famous inter-war revolutionary, Rosa Luxembourg).

I spent the next six hours happily wandering round the hall, feasting my eyes on loads of beautiful games, and occasionally taking out my wallet to add to a burgeoning carrier bag full of purchases.

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I was asked several times how Partizan compared to wargaming shows in New Zealand. Now, truth to tell I have only attended a few shows in New Zealand, mainly Wellington’s Call To Arms. Therefore my answer to this question could only be based on my relatively small experience of the New Zealand show scene.

The main difference I noted was that the New Zealand shows I’ve attended have mainly revolved around competition tournaments, in which players fight a series of bouts throughout the day. This means that the main emphasis of these shows are on game-play. Almost all the show attendees are there to play in the competition games, and very few people attend purely as spectators. 

There are also usually a few demonstration games, but these tend to play second fiddle to the competition games. And because most of the competition gamers have to play to a strict timetable, they can usually snatch only a few brief moments between bouts to look at the demonstration games.

At Partizan, however, there were no competitions. Instead, the show was split into two main groups – demonstration games and participation games. And there were spectators aplenty. A large portion of the crowd of over 1,000 attendees weren’t there to play at all, but had come to look at some top-notch games, buy from the many traders, and network with other gamers. With so many non-playing spectators, and without the constraint of  a busy competition timetable, every demonstration table was always crowded with viewers. 

All in all, Partizan was an entirely different show to what I was used to back home. And as someone for whom the look of the game is far more important than the game-play, Partizan suited my tastes very well!

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The games

Now, on to the games. There were so many games that I never got to photograph them all. I’ll only show some of the tables that particularly impressed me. But there were many other fabulous games too. From looking at other people’s photos of Partizan, I think I might have actually missed seeing some tables altogether … so many great games, so little time!

There’ a lot to see in some of these photos, so don’t forget that you can enlarge the pics by clicking on them.

Siege of Oosterbeek, 1944

I had several favourite games, but this one particularly rocked my boat. The Old Pikeys gaming group had chosen to depict the siege of Oosterbeek during the Arnhem operation.

What initially struck me, having just come from spending eight days with my relatives in the Netherlands, was how the terrain actually looked Dutch, in particular the architectural style of the buildings. So often Arnhem games use generic European buildings, but in this case the players had spent a lot of effort to replicate the typical Dutch style of buildings.

Another eye-catching feature of this game was the use of well-modelled aircraft flying overhead. There were even paratroopers jumping out of the Dakotas (unfortunately my camera overlooked capturing them, as I took no photos of the door side of the planes!).

Now, I know someone is going to ask me what rules they were using. Well, you’ll recall I mentioned above that I am more a ‘look of the game’ guy than a game-player. So I never thought to ask the presenters about the rules – and, truth to tell, I didn’t even notice if it was a game being played, or a static display!

The Old Pikeys deservedly won the best demo award.

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Battle of Assaye, 1803

This ‘Wellington in India’ game really took my fancy, not only for the colourful period, the lovely Indian castle, the beautifully rendered smoke-trails from the rockets – but also for the stylish way that the Boondock Sayntes gaming group played their game, complete with uniforms and wine.

The Battle of Assaye in 1803 pitted a standard Napoleonic period army (albeit with sepoys) against the wildly exotic Maratha army, a juxtaposition that makes this period one I’ve always fancied doing (though I probably never will, as I am no longer keen to start two large armies from scratch!).

You can see that the Sayntes included some playful touches in the castle interior, including a multi-armed deity and a magic rope climber.

If I recall correctly, the Sayntes were using ‘The Men Who Would be Kings’ rules.

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The Battle of Mandara, 1801

My pals the Perry twins never disappoint,and this wonderful recreation of a battle in Egypt was no exception. Like the above Indian game, Napoleon’s Egyptian adventure provides an opportunity to add a touch of the mystical East to your more standard Napoleonic game.

This game featured some of the latest offerings from the Perry Miniatures range, and beautiful they are too. I especially loved the cameleers, and of course those impressive British landing craft.

The terrain looked suitably hot and dusty. The ruined temple really set the scene. It was cleverly made from wine bottle corks!

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Invasion of the Sugar Islands, 1759

Graham Cummings of Crann Tara Miniatures put on this game based on Stuart Insch’s booklet  ‘A Guide to the British Expedition to Martinique and Guadeloupe in 1759’.

Most of the figures are from the exquisite Crann Tara range, or conversions of these figures. Graham and his friends used the ‘Musket and Tomahawks’ rules.

As a side note, I got excited speaking to Graham when he told me that he is finally going to produce some Gardes Françaises officers wearing stockings, something I’ve long tried to convince him to produce. At last I’ll be able to do a unit of Gardes Françaises exactly as per the famous painting by Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux.

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Attack on the Abbey, 1918

This World War One game put on by the Earlswood Wargames Group was the overall winner of the ‘best of show’ award, and you can see why.

The terrain is what made this game. And it went to show that modelling an effective trench system doesn’t necessarily mean having to cut trenches into a custom board. Instead, this group used individual bases with the trench system raised above the tabletop. They then simply scattered a large amount of flock (homemade, I think) between the individual bases to merge them together. A simple but very effective approach to represent the trench-scarred and crater-spotted earth.

Each of the individual terrain features was a work of art in itself, with puddled craters, duckboards, bits of ravaged trenches, shattered trees, shell bursts, and of course the ruined abbey. There was even a dogfight taking place overhead.

I believe that the trenches were made using Kallistra’s modular Hexon trench system.

The rules being used were Chain of Command.

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Russo-Turkish battle, late 17th century

I’ve admired the work of the League of Augsburg from the very first days I began following wargaming pages on the internet. This was the first time I had seen one of their games in real life, and boy did it live up to my expectations!

The modelling work on the wagons, buildings, figures and flags was fantastic. And the teddy-bear terrain was beautifully done.

One feature that caught everyone’s eye was the mortar being fired from inside the encircled wagons, with the shell visible flying out of the plume of smoke – you can see it in all three of my photos below.

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Malaya, 1942

During the course of day I was fortunate enough to meet and chat to several well-known faces of the wargaming hobby. Most I had never met in real life before, knowing them only through our online contact via blogs and forums. It was great to finally meet Richard Clarke from Too Fat Lardies in real life rather than ‘virtually’, and for him to treat me like a long-lost friend!

Richard and his team were doing a WW2 participation game set in Malaya. This was another fantastic-looking game, with some great buildings and very effective jungle.

I was so entranced at meeting Richard that I unfortunately neglected my photo-taking duties, and only ended up with these few photos! There was just so much more to this terrain that I should’ve captured. But from these photos, you can at least get an impression of the quality that you’re not seeing!

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Blood and Plunder

The Leicester Phat Cats hosted a large ‘Blood and Plunder’ game. The model ships really caught my eye, as this was the first time I had seen these beauties in real life. Although some concessions have been made to make these models workable with wargaming figures, the producers have done their homework and they really look like actual ships.

I didn’t catch the gaming action, but it appears that battles were taking place both on land and sea.

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Test of Honour

This was the first game I spotted when I entered the venue, and it immediately attracted my attention because I too am into the Samurai period.

Terry Broomhal had some very impressive buildings and colourful vignettes on his board, as you can see from the pictures.

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Discworld Witch Racing

Having travelled halfway round the world to visit Partizan, but with only six hours to take it all in, I didn’t want to lock myself into participating in any games. But as a lover of the Discworld series of books, I just couldn’t resist this ‘witch broomstick racing’ game put on by the Grantham Strategy Club. Luckily it took only about half an hour to complete. Needless to say, I lost the race!

The model figures accurately captured various of Terry Pratchett’s well-loved characters. And the model of Unseen University (made from a cut-out book) was very impressive.

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Riot: the Brexit Years

Finally, I’ve got to mention this timely little game put on by the Doncaster Wargames Society. Everyone was talking about Brexit during our trip, so it was interesting to see it represented as a game.

I don’t really know the details of how the game was played, other than I think the vehicles had to negotiate their way from the Houses of Parliament (right) to deliver a message to Buckingham Palace (left), all the time being beset by angry mobs along the the way.

I wish I’d returned to this table to watch the game being played, as I’m sure there would’ve been some very interesting discussions between the players, depending what their views on Brexit were!

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Partizan, here I come!

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“And if you’re reading this from somewhere that we English would call ‘abroad’, isn’t it time for that trip to England?”  Newark Irregulars/Partizan Team

Well, this New Zealander is indeed planning a trip abroad next month, and has managed to talk his wife into adding Newark to our itinerary as we drive from London up to Edinburgh to visit our daughter who is teaching in Scotland. So Partizan, here we come!

Having attended only one big wargaming show in my life (SELWG a few years ago), I’m really looking forward to this event. I’m slavering at the thought of seeing so much of the very best of UK wargaming on show.

We’re staying in Newark a couple of days, so I also hope to fit in the National Civil War Centre (but I haven’t told my wife about that one yet!).

At Partizan I hope to meet many of the wonderful online friends that I’ve made through this blog. So if you see me wandering around looking lost, do say hi!  Here’s what I look like – though sadly I don’t have space to bring my colonial New Zealand Wars collection with me!

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On Parade! Eighteenth century supply train and civilians

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An army marches on its stomach, so they say. Thus no army is complete without its supply train. In the final installment of this inspection parade of my French army, let’s look at the supply train consisting of these four carts. And we’ll finish with some eighteenth century civilians.

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On the left is a four-wheeled ammunition wagon. Front Rank offer this with two different types of top – the rounded wicker lid as shown above, or the wooden one in the picture below. 

On the right is a smaller ammunition cart drawn by one horse. It also has a wicker lid. The soldier walking alongside is in his red waistcoat, having removed his white coat. He is actually a French and Indian Wars miniature, with a hatchet in his belt.

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The supply wagon shown on the left is advertised in the Front Rank catalogue as a medieval cart. But I thought it would be totally suitable for the eighteenth century. I’ve added some sacks as cargo. The civilian driver is also by Front Rank, but I understand is quite an early product in their range – thus the rather large Thunderbirds-style head!

On the right is the same four-wheeled ammunition cart we saw in the previous picture, but this time with the wooden top. I was particularly pleased with the way the oil-painted horses came out.

For the French army, I have since learned that strictly speaking the supply train wagons should be painted red, rather than left in natural wood as I have done them.

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My biggest problem with these carts, especially those drawn by two horses, was making the traces for the horses to pull the wagons. Front Rank supplied some bendable wire for this purpose, but in the end I used embroidery cotton.

You’ll note that I made the bases look like roads – grass verges, dirt tracks on either side of a shingle centre-line. This was all done with real sand and crushed shell, along with Games Workshop static grass.

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Battles during the eighteenth century were sometimes viewed by civilian spectators – though this could turn nasty if the side they were supporting lost the battle!

Back in 2006 I received a few figures from David Wilson, owner of Willie France, who was restoring the old 30mm Willie range. These were apparently the same figures that were used by Peter Young in his iconic book Charge! or How to Play Wargames.

The original Willie sculptor, Edward Suren, started his production in 1964, specialising mainly in the eighteenth century, but covering ranges from the Romans to the Franco Prussian War.

David told me that these classic figures were born of sculptor Suren’s enthusiasm for lifelike military figures full of dash and movement, whilst respecting anatomy.

“This gives the figures their slender, willowy style,” he said, “unlike modern large, dumpy figures overburdened with detail which one would not see at a distance on a real human being.”

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The samples I received were three women, and a number of officers.  The officers were intended to hold separately-supplied weapons such as halberds or swords – but I thought they looked great empty-handed in the pose of ‘making a leg’ to the women.

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David’s reintroduced Willie range also had this rather homely running women in déshabillé. You’ll see her in the background of several of my photos, perhaps trying to catch up with an errant beau!

At the time David had a huge list of mainly 18th century 30mm figures that he planned to gradually add to the  restored range. Some of the promised figures made very enticing reading: two hunt scenes, complete with hunting dogs and a stag or fox; various peasant women; in camp characters; the Irish Brigade charging; a highlander on a windy day (the mind boggles!) and many of the more standard poses for armies of the 18th century period.

But unfortunately I can’t find what happened to David Wilson and his 2006 plans to reintroduce the Willie range. Perhaps one of my readers who knows can add a comment to this posting?

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I’ve also got this lovely miniature by Front Rank of an old soldier, still wearing part of his old uniform.

That brings the inspection parades of my French army to a close. Next time in On Parade! we’ll move to a totally different army from my wargaming collection. I haven’t decided which period yet, but it could perhaps be samurai, pirates, WW2 French or Dutch, the Wild West … or something else. Who knows! 

On parade! Eighteenth century French artillery

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The guns in my French army, all made by Front Rank Figurines, are wonderfully detailed models that were a joy to paint.

Jean-Florent de Vallière (Director-General of France’s artillery) reduced the pieces in use to a set number of types of cannon and mortars. He also recruited Jean Maritz, who had designed and built a water-powered horizontal cannon-boring machine in Geneva. By 1732 the first Maritz cannon boring machine was operational in the foundry at Lyon, boring out the Model 1732 system equipment. These standardised pieces became known as the “Vallière System”. 

Prior to the outbreak of the Seven Years War, the French army was equipped with the best artillery in Europe. But they were to be overtaken by Austria with their Model 1753 Liechtenstein system.    Source: Kronoskaf

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French gun carriages were initially painted red in the eighteenth century. But some time after the Vallière reform of 1732, the gun carriages were painted blue to distinguish them from the equipment of the supply train (caissons and carts), painted brick red. But for purely aesthetic reasons I preferred the red colour, so that is the way I painted them! Source: Kronskaf

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The gunners are nicely detailed figures. I could only fit three on each base, so I gave my other two gunners (an officer and a worker with a wheelbarrow) their own small vignette base.

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I also painted a light gun for service in the American War of Independence with the Volontaires Étrangers de la Marine (commonly known as ‘Lauzun’s Legion’).

The Legion’s gunners apparently wore the same uniform as regular French artillery, but with yellow cuffs and lapels instead of red. However, when my French AWI project went on hold, I repainted the cuffs and lapels red to fit them in with my other Royal Artillery figures.

So that’s my French artillery. In the last of this series of inspections of my French army, we’ll review the supply train and some civilians. And don’t forget to visit my other On Parade! postings, in which I’m gradually doing inspection parades of every army in my wargaming collection.

On parade! Colourful French cavalry of the 18th century

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My inspection parade of all the armies in my wargaming collection continues with French cavalry of the mid-eighteenth century. They’re certainly colourful en masse!

These were all painted in the very early 2000s, so represent my level of painting at the time. But despite the fairly crude shading and detail, they do look really good on the table, and have in fact stood the test of time quite well.

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As with most of my armies, the basing hasn’t been done to align to any particular rules. I work the other way round – I adapt rules to suit my basing!

 

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First up are the Colonel-General Dragoons. Dragoons were basically mounted infantry. Thus these Front Rank figures, with their boot-gaiters (‘bottines’), short red coats and muskets really look the part.

French dragoons were equipped with tools, such as axes, bill-hooks or saws, instead of off-side holsters, and these are faithfully represented on these models.

I particularly like the way Front Rank have posed the officer on the far end, looking to the dressing of his line. The drummer is also a nicely detailed figure, carrying his infantry-style drum.

I used the Nec Pluribus Impar website for painting details, along with the Funcken uniform books.

The flag was also from the Nec Pluribus Impar website, suitably reduced in my Corel Paint graphics programme, and printed out.

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The Cuirassiers du Roi, raised in 1653, were one of the few French cavalry regiments allowed to wear bearskin caps. They also wore armoured breast and back plates, lined inside with red cloth.

My source for painting these figures was the wonderful illustration in John Mollo’s Uniforms of the Seven Years War 1756-63.

These Front Rank models were my first attempt at painting metal cavalry figures. I found it quite finicky to paint all that red cloth lining, piped in white, that sticks out around the cuirass.

I used oil-paints for the horses, which went well – apart from one heart-stopping moment when I was applying the varnish and the oil-painted surface bubbled badly. Fortunately I was able to smooth it down, and it still looks OK eighteen years later!

The flag is a scanned black-and-white illustration from a Pengel & Hurt publication, which I then coloured using my Corel Paint graphics programme.

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I got these fur-hatted cavalry figures wearing cuirasses in a bulk deal. To ensure a variety of uniform colours in my army, I was determined that these figures would wear white coats. Out of the limited number of French units that wore white coats and fur hats, I decided on the Wurtemberg Cavalry Regiment, a German unit in French pay.

The previously-mentioned Cuirassiers du Roi were the only French cavalry to wear the front and back plates that are depicted on these figures, but I already had a unit of them. Other cavalry, such as the Wurtemberg regiment, were only issued with front plates, but apparently seldom wore them.

Therefore I painstakingly filed the back plates off each figure. The front plates were too difficult to remove, so I decided this was going to be one of those “seldom” occasions when their plates would be worn! Even this is not strictly correct, as the cuirass was worn under the coat, not on top. But this is the best I could do with the figures available.

The flag posed another problem, as I could not find any pictures of the real flag. In the end I made up a design based on a written description in the publication by Pengel & Hurt. I even managed to add a white cravat made from toilet paper!

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These cavalry figures on galloping horses were amongst a bulk lot of Front Rank figures that I bought. All my other mounted units were on standing or walking horses, so it was a change to paint up these much more animated figures, and I was very pleased with the result.

This regiment was owned by the powerful Condé family, and so its musicians wore the family’s colours instead of the regular French royal livery. A picture of the mounted drummer in the Osprey book Louis XV’s Cavalry shows the yellow-buff and red Condé livery, with which I have painted the trumpeter in my unit.

Observant readers might have noticed that some of the swords are longer than others – this is because apparently these figures were a mix of older and newer Front Rank castings.

For the flag, the only information I had at that time was a written description, which I had to use my imagination to interpret in Corel Paint. The cross-hatched design on the yellow-buff side of the flag is a symbolic funeral pyre.

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As it turned out, I wasn’t too far off in my interpretation of the Condé flag. After I had done my flag, I came across a 1771 print which showed the flags of the French infantry and cavalry regiments. You can see the funeral pyre on the Condé flag quite clearly. The original print has faded considerably, so the yellow-buff colour has changed to white.

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So that’s my French cavalry. Next time we’ll look at the artillery. And don’t forget to visit my other On Parade! postings, in which I’m gradually doing inspection parades of every army in my wargaming collection.

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On parade: 18th century French light infantry

Continuing in our inspection parade of my eighteenth-century French army, we now come to the light troops.

After a period of preoccupation with massed fire, light troops were gradually being re-incorporated into armies during this period. Marshal Saxe considered the aimed fire of light troops as being the only effective fire. There were always parts of the battlefield, woods, copses, hedges and buildings where they could be used to good effect.

So of course my miniature French army had to have at least a couple of these pioneering units.

 

Chasseurs

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The Chasseurs de Fischer were 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 to pasture the officers’ horses.

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The unusual cap worn by these troops is called a mirleton, more commonly worn by hussars than infantry during this period.

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The officer wears a fur trimmed jacket. This is how he is modelled by Front Rank, but I believe the fur trim was worn by another light troop unit, the Arquebusiers de Grassin, not the Chasseurs de Fischer, so my officer might not be strictly accurate.

 

Volontaires

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These light troops wear an odd type of helmet, called a ‘schomberg’. This makes quite an interesting change from the tricornes mainly worn by soldiers of this period.

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According to my references, the Clermont-Prince’s coats were coloured ‘ventre de biche’. A request to French-speakers revealed this to translate as “doe’s belly”. I was told this colour was a kind of light pinkish white, so that is what I used to painted my troops’ coats.

However, I found out later that pinkish-white is incorrect – it should be a shade of ochre. Let’s say that their coats are very faded!

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I particularly like Front Rank’s officer figure, with his voluminous frock-coat contrasting with his strange helmet, and wielding his sharp-looking sword.

That brings us to the end of my French infantry. My next posting will cover the cavalry. And don’t forget to visit my other On Parade! postings, in which I’m gradually doing inspection parades of every army in my wargaming collection.

On parade! 18th century French guards and grenadiers

Having previous inspected the French and foreign infantry in my eighteenth century French army, we now come to the guards and grenadiers.

 

Gardes

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These Gardes Françaises were the first Front Rank figurines that I ever painted. I still recall how surprised I was at how easy the job was made by the fine sculpting of the models.

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The Gardes Françaises were part of the King’s Royal Household. Their uniform was quite ornate, compared to normal infantry uniforms. For instance, the belt slung over the soldiers’ left shoulders was lined with lace.

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I have always admired Phillipotteaux’s famous painting of the Gardes Françaises at the Battle of Fontenoy (see my more detailed posting about this painting), so I determined to paint my soldiers as shown in Phillipotteaux’s work, rather than from other sources which differ somewhat.

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The flags for my minature regiment are by GMB Designs. I added white cravattes made from paper. All French regiments had these tied to the top of their flag staffs.

Note also that I painted the officers with red stockings rather than white gaiters (as shown in the Phillipotteaux painting).

My Gardes Françaises regiment can also change identity if required! If there is no call for guards in a game, then I can easily change the flags to those of the Ecossais Royal (Royal Scots). The uniforms of these two units were vaguely similar, so they can pass as one another near enough.

 

Grens

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“As fierce and terrible fellows as I ever saw”, remarked a British eye-witness about the Grenadiers de France at the Battle of Minden in 1759.

The four brigades of Grenadiers de France were composed of the former elite companies from several disbanded regiments. Their blue and red uniforms with the black bearskin hats give them an imposing appearance.

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In the early 2000s I obtained quite a few miscellaneous Front Rank grenadier figures in a bulk second-hand deal, so it was only natural to paint them up as this very distinctive unit.

My next posting will cover the light infantry. And don’t forget to visit my other On Parade! postings, in which I’m gradually doing inspection parades of every army in my wargaming collection.