Sunday 29 March 2009

Quick Painting Perry Plastics

Regular readers will know that I am quite comfortable painting around 20 25mm infantry at a time but find more than that, like the 40 figure Minden unit, a slog. So when I decided to paint up a Perry box of Napoleonics (42 figures) I decided it was time to change my style of painting and look at some quick cuts.

Firstly, a word about the arrival of Plastics in this scale. Wargaming was becoming a rich man's hobby and then suddenly along came not one, not two, but four manufacturers of 25mm plastics making the hobby affordable again. And it was Napoleonics that brought me into the hobby 35 years ago – I can remember my first game with my friend Andrew J down in East Croydon back in the ‘70s. We used 25mm Minifigs and my army (the first I ever painted) was Bavarian – I’m sure I lost too as there is something of a ‘Spanish General’ to my skill as a wargamer. So it’s fitting that I return to 25mm Napoleonics and the plastics allow that.

So, with these plastics I decided to cut painting corners. I got rid of eyes, and two tone faces. I kept to two-tones in larges colour areas – trousers, shako covers, coats, greatcoats and backpacks but used one-tone everywhere else. Then I used a ‘new’ product called Quickshade (Strong tone – the middle in the range of three) by Army Painter. This gave a gloss covering but more importantly it dirtied the figures and gave them, I think, a worn and campaign look. Given my last posting about a ‘campaign look’ you can see that I’m inclined to move more towards a less pristine look. Then, because the Quickshade was gloss, I gave a final matt varnish coat. I’m pleased with the results and each figure took about half the time it would normally take me to paint a 25mm figure.

On the subject of Quickshade, it says on the side of the tin that you can either dip or paint on the product. I tried the dip method and hated the results – too much on the figure and too much product wasted. These have the shade painted on and I think it’s most effective, not surprisingly, over white. At £11 a pot it’s not cheap but when this one is finished I plan to make my own using some oil paint mixed with varnish. More on that in the future.

Actually, this is not a new product. I had a friend back in the ‘70’s/’80’s called Martin C who always mixed a drop of black enamel paint into his enamel varnish to create this same effect.

One reason why there is no flag on the battalion is because I have not decided what period to represent. It will either be 1815 (unlikely as I’m not a fan of the 100 days) or 1812 (will someone please do Plastic Russians!!) or Peninsular. I know the Bardin uniform was not in use during the latter campaign but I’m no longer a complete purist and this is planned to be a ‘generic’ French army. You can be sure that I’ll flag the unit as soon as possible.

So next week its back to the SYW and the start of a Hanoverian brigade of cavalry.

Friday 27 March 2009

SYW - The campaign 'look'

I'm sure most of you have seen this illustration before but I think its worth re-showing because it portrays Prussian IR 27 (Asseburg) on the march to the Battle of Custrin. In 1758 a Russian army roved through Brandenburg sacking several cities. On August 15 they laid siege to the town of Custrin (modern Kostrzyn) in Poland. The siege lasted for ten days, being lifted only when a Prussian army led by Frederick the Great engaged the Russians and defeated them in a very costly battle.

There are a number of interesting observations in this illustration.
1) The campaign look of the troops. The officer looks 'regulation' but the rank and file marching behind him look very worn out. I have tended to think of SYW soldiers as pristine, with leather whitened and everything just right, whereas the campaign reality was probably quite different. Note that some of them are either not wearing gaiters or are wearing white ones.
2) The size of the musket is worth pointing out. Most manufacturers of SYW figures
don't make a large enough musket.
3) The Officer is carrying his spontoon point down.

I have no idea who the artist was or when it was painted. But I think he or she has
brilliantly caught the feeling for the period - a hot August day (from the shadows cast the sun is at or close to its strongest), crops uncut, and tired and thirsty troops, with the prospect, perhaps, of many miles of marching ahead.

I wish a manufacturer of miniatures made figures like these.

Friday 20 March 2009

40 figures of Minden Miniatures in Prussian IR 34

I’ve been busy the last two weeks painting up this 40 figure battalion of Minden Miniatures 1/56 representing the 1st battalion of Prussian IR34. Flags by GMB and finials by Front Rank.

These figures pose a dilemma for me as I absolutely love their poses and their incredible detail but, size-wise, they do not fit in with my 25/28mm WAS/SYW armies, pictures of which you have seen on this blog over the last year or so. So the choice that presented itself was as follows; either sell everything I had already painted and start all over again with Minden or just curse the bad timing of the whole thing and continue with my Front Rank/Crusader/Foundry combinations, which are, in fact, about 50% finished. I was genuinely prepared to go for the first option because I’m a bit of a fanatic about using the ‘best’ available and I thought a good way to resolve this conundrum was to time my painting of this battalion and see how much work was involved.

Given that this battalion had many more figures than I customarily paint in a single unit, the issue for me was painting time per figure. The result was a surprise – each Minden figure took me almost twice as long to paint as a conventional 25/28mm figure. The answer as to why lies in the fact that these figures are very detailed and don’t allow short cuts. You have to focus and concentrate all the way through the painting process and
that’s why I have decided, somewhat sadly, to sell this battalion and plod on with my existing armies.

So if anybody is interested in buying this unit please contact me. I’m looking at £240 for the unit which is a nett painting cost of £5 per figure. I’d also be prepared to add a small number of figures at that individual price if someone wants to make a larger unit or two smaller battalions. If there is no interest via this blog I’ll put them on eBay next week.

RE Savory book.
To update all of you who are interested in the re-printing of this book, it is with the printers as I write this and I expect to be posting out the first orders in May 2009. I’m also working on the website at the moment too. More news in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Skytrex 1:700 Napoleonic Ships

A recent thread on TMP discussed this range of Napoleonic ships at 1:700 from Skytrex. I have only painted one and that was six years ago so she is showing her age slightly - note that cotton rigging attracts dust and the next one I do will have synthetic cotton rigging. In fact she is on my painting desk at the moment - HMS Bellerophon (74) but don't hold your breath as each one takes many hours to complete. The plan ( ambitious as usual) was to do small French and British squadrons of 4 SOL and a frigate each but who knows if I will ever complete this task. But they are lovely ships and if I could find someone who enjoys painting and rigging them I would be happy to pay for the service. Any ideas?