In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

In Which Rabbitman Finds a Unicorn

When I first played Napoleonics way back in the 70s and 80s, the Russian gun-howitzers were called licornes, which is the French translation of the Russian name ЕдинорогYedinorog. They were called unicorns as a nod to General Shuvalov who overhauled the Russian artillery Corps in the mid-18th century and the new gun-howitzers that he championed had handles on the barrels in the shape of unicorns, because unicorns were on the Shuvalov family coat of arms.

But I always saw them called licornes, perhaps because it sounded posher? Or we were all just taking ourselves far too seriously and felt that referring to the heavy howitzers as unicorns seemed a bit silly?

Either way, when I was ordering some bits and pieces to round out my Russians I just knew I had to have a unicorn! They are uniquely Russian, kind of nifty and my Russian force is big enough that I needed at least one more gun.

So during Monday's day off I painted the Perry Miniatures 10 pound unicorn and the limber. The limber came with an extra figure standing, so he made the fifth member of the gun crew.

I like having limbers and since I can afford it, I've determined to have one limber for every 2 or 3 gun models. I might even get some caissons from Warbases this fall too. The limber was a bit of a bugger to assemble, and I ended up with parts glued to fingers. Patience really is the key and taking your time with each step instead of trying to assemble the model all at once.

Ready to move!

The full battery. 12 pdr n the right.  New10 pdr unicorn on the left.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Taking a Me Day: Warlord Russian Infantry Completed!

Took a Me Day today to decompress, unwind and hobby like a crazed hobbyist.

Essentials for a complete Me Day

My goals for today were to finish my Napoleonic Russians and start my Bavarians, with an intermediate objective of building a small force so I can start actually playing Sharp Practice.

I got this box of Warlord Russian infantry almost 10 years ago, when Warlord sent me stuff to review. Of course they were never sending me stuff I was excited about so it's taken me this long to get them painted up. Obviously they've stopped sending me things to review since I wasn't a terribly fast painter. Unlike now with a Covid empty schedule and multiple nights a week to paint to my heart's content. 

Oh well.

But here they are finally. The box has seven four-figure frames of plastic infantry with a choice of grenadier or musketeer heads. The packs and cartridge boxes are separate and you have to glue those on, giving better details, fixing a problem they had with the earlier Landwehr. But if you're going to assemble them as musketeers then you have to trim off two of the flames from the cartridge box plate which is molded with the three pointed grenadier badge. I couldn't be arsed to do that, and I like plumes, so I did them all as grenadiers. The figures themselves are nicely done with four variations to the march attack pose. The faces were particularly nice, although details at the sides of the head were a bit soft.

The metal command group comes with a few of options. You could assemble the drummer carrying his shako under arm for example. But I found some of the details on them rather rough and the drummer has incredibly long fingers on the hand steadying his drum! But you won't notice from 3 feet away.

Officer  out front, pointing his sword energetically, is from the Warlord set.

In this batch I added three more officers from the Big Bag of Second Hand Russians. I put one of them in the command stand, and then based the Warlord officer as a Big Man, since he's different and gives a bit of welcome variety to my Russian Big Men. I also think his charging forward pose is rather at odds with the rest of the box in an upright march attack position.

The flags are from the insert that came with the box, and they are actually for a Grenadier regiment! But don't ask me if the shoulder strap or facing colours are right for the Kiev Grenadiers, because again, I couldn't be arsed. 

So 9 1/2 years to get them out of the box. 11 days from brown undercoat to flocked. Not bad. If I could've painted things that fast 10 years ago they might have kept bunging me freebies. 

Oh well.

In between waiting for brown paint and flocking glue to dry on these fellows I got my Perry Miniatures 10 pounder unicorn and limber painted and ready to flock, and a nice starter force of Bavarians assembled and primed. But I'll post about those later.

When taking breaks from the painting bench I drank lots of tea and read Napoleon's Last Campaign in Germany 1813 by F. Loraine Petre.

A pretty good day.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Prussians Arrived!

Like Blücher arriving in the dusk at Plancenoit, the long anticipated pile of Prussians has arrived. 

Scott has given me 2x boxes of the plastic musketeers, 3x guns and some mounted officers. 

I jumped on a subsequent order with Scott to get the free shipping. I've added 4x extra command sprues and a limber. This means that I'll have lots of Big Men and enough command stands for 6 battalions when playing big battle rules. 

Also in the order: a second gun (a 10 pdr unicorn) and a limber for the Russians plus a group of Cheveuxleger, 2x guns and a limber for the Bavarians. 

This should keep me busy for the rest of the year I think. 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Bavarian Blues

Apparently the thought about what shade of blue Bavarian coats were has changed over the years.

Traditionally the infantry have always been portrayed in sky blue coats. This is what I had always thought, having been fascinated by this picture of the Battle of Polotsk since I was a lad.  

double page spread in Time Life Books Ancient Art of Warfare by Robert Laffont 1966

Of course you can't trust contemporary paintings in general history books either it seems. I've always liked this picture from the same book of a Bavarian dragoon threatening General Drouot at the Battle of Hanau (detail from a painting by Horace Vernet).

Drouot says "Hey! Your coat is the wrong colour!"

 Lovely dramatic painting, but by 1813 the dragoon should be in a green coat. The white coat works though in the artistic use of light and dark, so I guess that's why Vernet did what he did.

Full painting

These two paintings (Battles of Hanau and Polotsk) are also why I've always like Bavarians and find myself launching a whole new army of them, instead of buying easier to get, and possibly cheaper, and certainly more versatile, French.

Of course if you Google "cornflower blue" you get quite a range of shades. Newer thinking has the coats as a more "medium" blue. Perhaps the lighter shade is due to fading? Or people mistaking "sky blue" for something out of a baby's nursery? Sky blue is pretty variable too really if you just look up.

The Osprey is disappointing. It spends a lot of time on the Bavarian army of the Revolutionary wars and even devotes space and a colour plate to units that weren't formed until 1815.

Bunde's book is what I was really hoping for, but at $51.00 a bit steep. fortunately, I know people who have it and are willing to share their research with me.

So what shade of blue? I did a test figure while prepping the last Russian Grenadiers. I used my Vallejo airbrush "French blue" over a brown undercoat and got this:

Good match to photos I've been sent of the plates in Bunde's book. So maybe this is what I'll go with. Also has the virtue of being reasonably easy.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Russian Jaegers

I didn't really need any more Russian infantry. But this baker's dozen of Wargames Foundry figures in Mikey's for sale box were too nice to pass up. 9 troops in firing line wearing fatigue caps and 4 command (2 officers 1 drummer 1 ensign) in the pre-1812 shako. 

I decided that my Russians really needed some Jaegers and the all green with black would be suitably different. I could have put them in white coveralls too, but green was also quite common. I tried to accomplish some red piping on the plackets and turnbacks but I'm not too happy with the results.

The Foundry figures were naturally lovely to paint with great faces, natural folds in the clothes, and good detail on the locks on the muskets etc.

I also opted for 4x bases of 3x figures each instead of single bases. Easier to manage and more versatile. They can be a battalion in a big battles game too. I've already decided that my Bavarian light troops will be based this way as well and for the same reasons. 

The flag is from the Warlord Games plastic Russian infantry box. 

Update 08 June 2021: I have since been informed that Jaeger regiments did not carry colours in the field until 1814. Probably didn't use drums either. I knew in the back of my mind that that would probably be the case as soon as I started painting their trousers green. 

Oh well. This Colonel is obviously eccentric and brings his colours on campaign.

Napoleonic armies, like Medieval armies, should always have lots of flags.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Command Conundrums

As you know, dear reader, with the mission creep overtaking my nice, little, limited Sharp Practice project I have been having mathematelogical conundrums. With the Landwehr and Russians I had lots of extra leaders for Big Men so I could easily make up the command groups available as extra 4 figure stands to give me even 4 stand battalions for General d'Armee

However, with the incoming Prussian line infantry and the Bavarians, I have exactly the right number of command groups. So I can take out command figures for Big Men for Sharp Practice and sacrifice stands for General d'Armee, or I can have full stands for G d'A and sacrifice BMs for SP.

This was causing many hours of permutations and calculations of the most efficient allocation of resources, and think tank focus group sessions to determine how many extra command packs I needed to buy.

Get it?

Of course, ramping up for G d'A also means I need some brigade and divisional commanders for the Russians and Bavarians, further complicating things. 

The announcement last week that Front Rank is up for sale (If only I had a cool £255,000/Cdn$385,000 in my other pocket) prompted further thought. I was planning to put in an order later this year to pick up some bits and a few packs of civilians. But just in case the new buyers take too long to get up and running or like has happened with some lines, it disappears when the owners retire, I thought I'd better put in a smallish order now. 

Urgent calculating. Orders were put in the cart and abandoned. Needs recalculated. More orders started and abandoned. What if I forgot something? I can't just wait for the shows to start up again and be like British gamers and pick up a single blister of Foundry or Perry figures etc. because it's Canada and the Perry Brothers aren't coming to Hot Lead. There's shipping damnit, so an order has to be big enough to be worth it.

This past week I have been working on this baker's dozen of Wargames Foundry Russian infantry that I got for a song (Cdn$1.00 per figure!) from Mikey. A sick day from vaccine complications was put to good use. 

I'm painting them as Jaegers. 4x stands of 3 figures each plus a Big Man. So either a battalion for G d'A or 2x groups of skirmishers in SP. 

While cutting the grass I realized that I don't need to have 4 figures per stand in G d'A. I can divert an officer or NCO from each of the Perry command sprues to give me Big Men for SP and just do command stands of 3. This frees up many more command figures, thereby saving me from buying extra command packs. The money saved was diverted into a group of Schutzen for the Bavarians. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

"Vorwarts!" Additional Prussians

"Vorwarts mein kinder!"

A mysterious box arrived in the mail last week,  just before my birthday. It was very light, with the return address from Meeplemart in Toronto (it's the biggest, closest, decent gaming store that sells more than 40k and MTG cards). Inside was an unexpected birthday present from my friend Patrick, a box of the Warlord Games Prussian Dragoons cast in that lightweight bendy resin that is letting companies use their rubber spin casting moulds with a cheaper material. 

So, with Russian Grenadiers done, these leapt onto the painting bench. The resin is a weird material to work with, but the extremely thin fetlocks on the horses didn't break, which is a complaint I'd heard about the metal castings, although some of the horses do have curiously bent legs. The flash was hard to remove too, being very bendy. 3 of the troopers were sculpted still drawing their sabers and the officer is cocking a pistol, both of which seemed at odds with the rest charging with sabers drawn already. Fortunately I only need 8 figures for a Sharp Practice group, or 4 stands for General d'Armee, and Black Powder doesn't care. It is a personal dislike to have figures all doing different things unless the unit is skirmishing. This is a major sticking point I have with Old Glory figures, for example. A nice value added was a metal guidon pole taped to the back of the "Packed by" card, and an insert with 8 full colour guidons to use.

Fortunately Prussian dragoons have a very simple, practical uniform. My biggest headache was determining how to paint the baggage slung on the backs of their saddles. To get the medium blue I used Tamiya airbrush paint over the white primer, so I didn't do my usual all-over brown undercoat which caused me some issues getting coverage in recesses, which slowed me down. After a week of painting, including a marathon 3 1/2 hour paint and chat over Zoom on Friday night, I now have this spiffy new addition to the order of battle. 

Last weekend Mikey B., who's announcement that he was liquidating his non-War of 1812 28mm Napoleonics prompted me to get a shifty on, came over with a box of things I was interested in. He said he had "half a dozen Prussian generals." I think I actually squealed with delight when I saw that it was 6 Wargames Foundry figures, including Blücher himself. After a bit of thought, I sorted them into two individual generals and then two bases with a general and an ADC to act as higher command or Deployment Points for Sharp Practice. That's a lot of supervision for 32 Landwehr, but more Prussians are on the way.

Marshall Vorwarts with ADC

The others are all named on the Foundry website, but not so you can tell who is supposed to be who

If only I had the same command levels for my much larger Russian contingent!

I got some other things from Mikey, which I will show you as the summer continues.