Sunday, October 28, 2012

Painting My Way To 1815

The Anglo-Allied infantry, in full, sitting in its storage box.  The only way to paint  20-odd brigades in one go!

The deliveries for the French 1815 army are complete, so it seems only sensible to turn attention back to the progress to date on the initial force: the Anglo-Allied army!  Last time it was shown, I had just gone through all the infantry and painted all the coats the correct colour.  Since then, I have done the trousers.  (Bizarre fact: virtually all of the units have grey trousers, which was something I hadn't picked up on before.  Well, I certainly have noticed it now!)  

To keep myself engaged in a dull moment, I even worked it all out for the number of trousers needed - 300 pairs!  Six-bloody-hundred-legs!  Of that, 200 are now done - all the infantry, leaving only  cavalry and gun crews.  

Next, I have gone onto black paint - which is actually an annoying one.  Coats can be knocked in easily (effectively a base-coat, as you don't need to stay outside straps & cross-belts, as these are best painted over the coat later.)  Trousers, similarly, aren't too bad as long as you don't get a figure with an awkward stance, because they are all one area on the figure - one brush will do for all!  Black is more awkward, mainly because it is for different areas.  Specifically, shoes; packs; cartridge-boxes; bayonets; heads & shakos.  

Instead of doing each set of figures through all these steps to completion in one go (which proved to be very fiddly and slow-moving, thus discouraging) I decided to do all of the various bits one by one.  So, I did all the heads, then all the feet, then all the cartridge-boxes etc.  This might sound like a pretty minor distinction, but I've actually found it very helpful.  I seem to do better at painting when it's just mindless, repetitive stuff you can 'switch off' while you're doing it, or let your thoughts wander to other things.  Having to check over strips of figures to make sure you've not missed a bit, like the end of a cartridge-box visible only from the side, is a bit too demanding of attention. The detailing to pick this up can be done at the very end, when the figures are 'reviewed' just prior to varnishing.

As such I've repeatedly gone through the infantry stack but without it really feeling like a drag.  This is a curious quirk, and also probably explains a lot of why I always struggle most with non-uniform painting jobs where that repetitive style doesn't really fit (this from a man with Confederate infantry and Medieval troops among his collection...)  

After this 'black' process is done, I've moved on through the flesh-coloured paint to do the faces and hands of them all.  At present I'm roughly halfway through painting all the muskets brown.  This actually takes me most of the way through the painting process, as the remaining steps are generally less elaborate and more about local areas - the figures have definitely made their big graduation from 'undercoated figures with a few patches of colour' through to 'painted figures that merely lack a few bits of detailing.'

And for the future, this is the current state of the French army - Still on its sprues, heaped up  on the sink following a dip in some soapy water, to remove any releasing oil from the casting-moulds.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Miniature Review

After a week of rather prompt deliveries from across the UK, the various Amazon/eBay shops have come good.  The full bunch of boxes are here, so I thought that I'd give an example shot of each.

Below is the French Infantry by Italeri (Box 6066.) Italeri actually do two diverging types - the other is 6002 - for French Infantry.  This set is a kind of very realistic 'campaign dress' which is actually at odds with their own box-front artwork.  All the figures, for example, wear trousers as opposed to the gaiters available on the other 6002 set, and thus have less of a 'picturebook' quality to them in exchange for greater realism.

This one is from the Italeri 6016 Imperial General Staff box - I actually got this as a whim, but I'm glad I did.  Featuring Napoleon himself (in Imperial finery, but before he started piling on the pounds in the later years) and an appropriately massive gaggle of hangers-on.  The total is 13 mounted figures and 7 foot generals, so this could furnish you with all the command figures for your own army.

Another Italeri set here, for the cavalry - Dragoons set 6015.  Nicely detailed, and also very dynamic for these troops - the horsetails on the Grecian helmets are all swishing around, about as much as the sword-arms.

Next are the Italeri 6039 set - Polish Lancers: Noooo!!!  I remember these from my childhood when Esci did them.  Seriously, these couldn't have done with an update?  Fair enough if you can't cast the lances on and need them separate, but we could've at least put the bases on the horses, no?  This one promises to be extremely fiddly.

The Zvezda ones are very nice and 'tactile' feeling - by which I mean that there is lots of detail on them, and it's expressed by quite good differentiation over the surface - lots of raised and lowered areas which promise that these should be good ones to paint, especially if you favour inks and washes.  Here is a bit of box 8028, the French Artillery set.  Each box gives three guns, and a very large quantity of limbering teams.  A nice change from the usual, which is to give only guns and crew.

Last, the Zvezda Cuirassiers (box 8037.)  These are given the dramatic 'charging hard at everything' look which most players will want for these elite troops.  One extra observation about Zvezda plastics - they seem to use a more 'rigid' material which feels stronger and more brittle than the plastic usually selected by the likes of Italeri, Revell, Airfix, etc.  I suppose this will be far better for holding paintwork and resisting the odd bump, but with correspondingly higher chances for the odd outstretched arm getting snapped off, should you accidentally catch it on something.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

French Army 1815

T'was back in the ancient mists of time (well, July 2011) when I bought the Airfix Waterloo boxed set, and expanded my rediscovery of 1/72 plastics into a brand-new monster-sized project to recreate the campaign of 1815.  Since then I have managed to achieve a fair amount of progress over the last year and a bit.

I have managed to collect all the figures necessary to put and entire Anglo-Allied army on the field, and also a fair proportion of the Prussian army.  I have also managed to launch painting of the entire Anglo-Allied force, with about a dozen bases already completed in prototype form.  
With this progressing so nicely, and the bi-centennial on the way, it's high time to get the opponents sorted out!  

Well, after much planning and searching I've done it.  Napoleon might've needed to escape from Elba, stage a one-man coup to take over France, then run an Imperial bureaucracy to pull together an army for his ambitions, but I find that raising the plastic equivalent requires a far more agreeable afternoon surfing EBay and Amazon for much the same result.  If only he'd known!   

So, to the haul:  my "recruiting efforts" have focused on my favoured Italeri figures, plus some of the excellent-looking sets from Zvezda, which also seem to get high praise online.  The end result, from various sources:

6 boxes of Italeri French Line Infantry
4 boxes of Zvezda French Line Artillery
2 boxes of Italeri French Dragoons
2 boxes of Zvezda French Cuirassiers
1 box of Italeri French Lancers
1 box of Italeri Napoleon's General Staff

This isn't the final, definitive purchase - corps commander miniatures are still needed, plus a few odds and ends of 'specialist' troops of note such as the Imperial Guard, some voltigeur light infantry, and so on.  Nonetheless, the list above breaks the back of the French army collection.  It provides me with a mass of line infantry, plus a weighty spearhead of heavy Cavalry, and also a powerful artillery park which should certainly make Old Boney a ferocious prospect on the tabletop.  

With painting efforts continuing on the Anglo-Allied force, and shortly to commence on the French arrivals, I should be able to start putting on a few small-scale Napoleonic games before very long - before building towards the ultimate objectives of re-enacting the Waterloo campaign as a whole, and also the classic historical battle itself.  

En Avant!