At last, a full-size Napoleonic French flag!

I’ve always wanted a full-size Napoleonic French flag for my study wall.  And now I’ve got one!

A few years ago I tried to get a full-size French Napoleonic standard flag made when I was on a business trip to Cambodia. The company were going to do 20 for a very reasonable price. But then they began mucking me round, and by the time I left the country a few weeks later, they hadn’t produced a thing, despite my $100.00 USD pre-payment. I never got the opportunity to return to Phnom Penh and follow up, so I had to flag (ha ha!) that project.

But recently on TMP a guy called ‘Jomini’ posted a link to a German company, Universal Handel 24, that advertises a huge range of historical military flags.   These are made of synthetic fibres with printed motifs, so are not the heavy embroidered cloth that real historical flags were made of.  This keeps the costs down (relatively speaking!).

I ordered one French flag at 49.99 Euros to see what they were like.  They quoted 8 Euros for postage from Germany to New Zealand. They took PayPal and credit cards, so payment was easy.

I chose the flag of the 85ème Régiment d’Infanterie de Ligne.  This is the unit that my son and I were part of during the 2005  reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo.

I am pleased with the result, which arrived in today’s mail.  The flag is printed on a heavy nylon-like material (a bit like a rain jacket).  The printing is simple and bold, but effective.  The design is on one side only, so you see a back-to-front image on the obverse.  So the flag is only suitable for wall display, not flying on a pole.  It has gold threads bordering all sides.  All in all, while not absolutely realistic, this flag gives exactly the effect I was after for my study.  It’ll also be a great backdrop for display games.

Here is the link to the Universal Handel 24 website:

My 18th century French march again

Looks like my old 28mm eighteenth century French will get an outing again soon. This was the first historical wargames army I painted when I returned to the hobby after a 20+ year break about a decade ago. For the last few years the army has sat in my display cabinet gathering dust, while other projects have come and gone in its place.

But it looks like this year the wee chaps – er, ‘petit garçons’ – will come out of hibernation to fight at FreddyCon, the Hutt Valley Wargaming Club’s annual Seven Years War convention. FreddyCon is to be held at the St Brendan’s Hall in Upper Hutt (near Wellington, New Zealand) on 8-9 October, and will be based around the Die Kreigskunst and Black Powder rulesets for 28mm figures.

Black Powder is, of course, right up my alley.  So FreddyCon will be a great opportunity to test its recent 18th century supplement, The Last Argument of Kings.  

If it all comes off, my gaming buddy, Scott, will join me in dual command of ‘les sujets du bien-aimé Louis XV’, because his own eighteenth century army based on Wargames Factory’s War of the Spanish Succession plastics is not off the painting starting blocks yet. 

Talking about my old French army made me re-visit the website I put togerther back in the early 2000s when I was painting these figures.  I hadn’t been back to the site in quite a while, so it was a nostalgic trip back into my first flush of enthusiasm for this period.  The site’s pics still show the jewel-like characteurish charm of the Front Rank figures that first captivated me back into the hobby.

However, time has taken its toll in some ways.  I now realise that my painting style, of which I was so proud back then, was rather crude, with simple block colours, big googly eyes and messy detail.  My visitors at the time must have shook their heads with disbelief at what I was trying to show off!  Still, everyone has to start somewhere!

It was also one of my earliest efforts at website design using DreamWeaver.  Overall, it still doesn’t look too bad, though the much larger  modern screen sizes do make the text look quite narrow and the background repeat. 

If you also want to re-visit the old My French Army website, click on the screenshot below:  

Click here to visit the 'My French Army' website

Ta-dah! First Minden French company painted

Barry Lyndon French Regiment

One third of my battalion of Minden Miniatures French is now completed, and held its first parade today.  This battalion is not based on any real historical unit, but on the French regiment depicted in the Stanley Kubrick movie Barry Lyndon.

Barry Lyndon French Regiment with Minden MiniaturesHere are all the French figures I’ve painted so far (click on the photos for a closer view):

  • Three drummers in French royal livery – one drummer will be assigned to each of the three companies I plan to have in the battalion.
  • Eighteeen fusiliers/grenadiers – each of the three companies will have eighteen rank and file figures.  One company will be made up of grenadiers, the others of fusiliers.
  • Three officers and NCOs – in this case, a company officer, a standard bearer carrying the Flandres flag as depicted in the movie, and a sergeant (seen to the right of the fusiliers).
  • A battalion gun manned by four infantrymen.

As you can see from this still from Barry Lyndon, the French have red facings, whereas in real-life the Regiment de Flandres had blue facings.  The facings are bit pinker in the movie than how I have painted them, but as I am not a stickler for accuracy, and as I had Foundry’s standard three-step  red paint on hand, I was happy enough with the colour.

I’ll be basing the eighteen rank-and-file men in each company on three 45mm-wide bases, each containing six men in two ranks of three (thus each man having a frontage of 15mm).  I’ll put the drummers, officers, standard-bearers and NCOs on individual bases.  This basing system will provide flexibility to split the battalion up  for varying rules, but will allow me to display the figures in large formations like those depicted in the iconic wargaming book Charge! or how to play wargames.

Barry Lyndon French Regiment There’s something simple and unfussy about French coats with no turn-backs.  I also like the way Minden have equipped these men with linen packs and the archetypical large leather-covered cartridge boxes.

My method for painting the white uniforms is rather simple and impressionistic, but has worked pretty well, I think. The trick is to do the white before anything else.
  1. Using black undercoated figures, block paint all the white uniform areas in Foundry’s arctic grey (or a similar light warm grey colour) and let dry.
  2. Dry brush the entire figure with white paint.
  3. Paint the highlights of folds with white paint.
  4. Now carry on and paint the rest of the figure, using GW devlan mud wash where necessary to re-define the edges of any areas that have been lost in the white dry-brush.

Barry Lyndon French Regiment battalion gunI’ve given the unit a battalion gun.  As such guns were manned by men assigned from the regiment, they wear the standard white infantry coats rather than the blue and red French artillery uniforms.  The 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.

Here’s an action shot of the brief scene in Barry Lyndon in which a battalion gun is featured.

My previously painted British battalion waits eagerly for their opponents to be finished!  With each battalion having more than sixty figures, building this army is going to be a very slow process.  In fact, I’m relying on a fellow gamer who is collecting similarly based Minden figures if I’m ever going to get a game with them.

A parting shot of my first company of French on parade. I’m particularly pleased at how the faces turned out … and they weren’t too difficult to paint at all:

  1. Cover the whole face with light flesh paint, and let dry.
  2. Cover the whole face with GW sepia wash.
  3. Pick out the forehead, nose, cheeks, chin and ears with the light flesh paint.
  4. Put a dab of GW devlan mud wash into the eye sockets and inbetween the lips.
  5. Add a tiny amount of GW black wash into the sculpted eyes.