Sunday, January 10, 2021

Napoleonic Spanish line infantry


Staying in the Iberian peninsula, here is the unit of Spanish line infantry that I mentioned in my last post, and finished painting this weekend. As ever, the figures are by Newline Designs. Newline added some new codes to their Spanish range last year, including these remodelled line infantry. I hadn't originally planned to add any Spanish to my collection until a bit later, but I couldn't resist painting these without delay.

With all that white to paint, I decide to change my usual approach of using a black undercoat, and instead used a light ivory colour covered with a brown wash. It worked quite well, I think. So much so, that I might stick with this new approach for other armies and stop using black undercoats altogether. My eyes will probably thank me for it!

I'll add another base of 8 figures to the unit at some point, to take the unit to 32 figures. My long-term plan is to build a small brigade of Spanish infantry to use alongside my British and Portuguese, but I need to add more units of British before I painting anything else.

With plenty of lead in the Napoleonic pile, I should really knuckle down and focus on the British this year, but like most wargamers I'm considering doing the exact opposite by starting another period! More on this in a future post, no doubt, but don't be surprised if you see 20mm ancients popping up on the blog (in between Napoleonics, of course!)

Monday, December 28, 2020

Newline Designs - Portuguese cavalry

A few weeks ago a parcel arrived for me quite unexpectedly. It turned out to be an early Christmas present in the form of some Portuguese cavalry and Spanish infantry, very kindly sent from Sean at Newline Designs. I'd asked Sean about the cavalry at the beginning of the year when I first had my eye on building up a British and allied army. At that time, Newline Designs didn't have any, but it so happened that they were already in the pipeline, along with various other Portuguese and Spanish units.

I remember reading a series of posts about 20mm Portuguese Cavalry over on the (highly enjoyable) 'Prometheus in Aspic' blog, dating back to 2011. At that time no-one made any in 20mm, so they had to be cobbled together using horses and riders from other nations. It'll be interesting to know if this new release from Newline is indeed the first dedicated Napoleonic Portuguese cavalry available for 20mm.

I decided to paint this unit as the 3rd regiment, based on this plate by Michael Chappell from the Blandford Colour series book on the Peninsular War. Looking at the plate again, I realise I may well have mistaken the sideburns on the figures for chinscales. Easy enough to fix it that is the case, but I will need to investigate further.

The 12 figures are mounted on 50x30mm bases, three figures per base, as per my plan for playing games of the new Lasalle rules once they're released. For games of Commands & Colors, I'll only need to use three bases (not sure yet how I'll go about distinguishing light cav from heavy cav).

My thanks go once again to Napflags for the flag. According to the info over on that site, Portuguese cavalry carried one flag per squadron, each of a different colour. I opted to give them the flag carried by the 1st squadron.

Next up will be the Spanish infantry. These are 'remodelled' figures, which I'm assuming means they are new sculpts to replace the old ones. I never owned any of the previous models, so I won't be able to make any comparisons, but the new infantry do certainly look very fine.

I have another week off work coming up, so should get most of that unit done before deciding what to focus on next. I'm hoping Sam Mustafa's new Lasalle rules will be available soon so that I can give them their first try out, pitting my French against my Prussians. I'll be putting together a battle report for that when I do.

A very happy New Year to everyone when it comes!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

French light infantry - a new basing project

A little while back I learned about a new set of Napoleonic rules in the pipeline from Sam Mustafa, which are a reworking of his original 'Lasalle' ruleset. He is calling them Lasalle 2nd edition, but judging by his introduction to the rules, they are not just a tweaking of the original rules but are a complete rewrite.

Sam has done a short podcast to talk about Lasalle 2nd ed, and there are various free downloads available, including a full sample chapter. The new game sounds like it might be just the sort I'd like to play, even as a solo gamer, and the size of my 20mm Napoleonic collection would be a good fit for an average sized scenario.

Anyway, it got me thinking about basing. The new Lasalle rules don't have any restrictive base size requirements (you'll find basing info over on Sam Mustafa's website), but the arrival of the new game has coincided with my wanting to standardise my method of basing anyway. At the moment, I have a lot of infantry based on 25x25mm bases (4 per base), but also some on 35x25mm (6 per base) and even some on 50x25mm (8 per base). Cavalry are mostly 30x30mm (2 per base) or 45x25mm (3 per base). The variations are down to nothing more than my own caprice, but I've decided to try and get everything more consistent.

So, this reworked unit of French light infantry is the first of what I think will be a larger rebasing project. There is some new painting here, too. I added around 12 more figures, taking the unit up to 32, which is the standard size of infantry unit I'm aiming for, using 8 figures per base on 30x50mm bases. When I first painted some of these lights a few years ago, my knowledge of Napoleonic uniforms was pretty sketchy, so I took the chance to correct some of the more obvious mistakes I'd made. I should say, my knowledge is still far from complete, so I'm sure there will still be errors here. In particular, I sometimes find researching uniforms for command figures a bit tricky when it comes to details such as plumes, shako cords, epaulettes etc. Am I way off the mark to have this command group using green for these items? Quite possibly! I also mistakingly printed off a line infantry flag from Napflags, but away from the painting magnifier my eyesight is too bad to make me worry about that.

So, the plan is to use the same 30x50mm bases for cavalry (3 figures per base), with artillery also on 50mm wide bases. Cavalry units will also be four bases, so 12 figures in total. Artillery will, I think, be two bases.

It might seem a bit silly to go about rebasing an entire collection in readiness for a ruleset that hasn't even been released, and which doesn't even demand any rebasing, but I've been wanting to use larger bases for a while now anyway, and I like the idea of larger infantry units, even though it will mean more painting. I'm also planning to use these base sizes for games of Commands & Colours using larger hexes than what I use at the moment, trying out 140mm wide hexes instead of 100mm. That's another project for later though.

The new base sizes will allow for representing the main formations quite easily - line, attack column, march column and square, so should be useful for other rulesets besides Lasalle.

Anyway, I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the new Lasalle. I certainly hope it will give a fun game for the likes of me. If you're a Napoleonic gamer who is always interested in a new set of rules (which must be nearly all of us!), then check out Sam Mustafa's website for some more details on the forthcoming new edition of Lasalle.

Next for me will be to reorganise and rebase some of my French line units, but I'll also be taking a painting detour to the Peninsular War - more on that in the next post!

Sam Mustafa's Honour website:
And his podcasts page:

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Hanoverians and some buildings


I finally got the Hanoverians finished this weekend. Happy days. They took longer than they should have (I see a theme developing there), but not due to any lack of enjoyment in painting them. Quite the opposite in fact. I like the simple standing pose with these ones - there’s a certain classic toy soldier charm to it, and it made getting in about them with the paintbrush nice and easy. The landwehr-style caps seems to be how Hanoverian Naps are generally depicted these days, but from what I understand there is a strong case to argue that they wore shakos during the 1815 campaign, which is broadly the time I’m building the Anglo-Allied collection for. Either way, I preferred painting them with the caps, since it always makes a refreshing change from shakos.

Finding the right flag for the unit proved to be quite a challenge. Napflags on the excellent website doesn’t have any Hanoverians, and my internet searches didn’t turn up anything readily useable. In the end, I went with one of Warflag’s Hanoverian flags from the War Of the Spanish Succession. I know, it’s probably not the done thing, and I’m stretching the artistic license by about 100 years, but in my defence I would say that not a lot is known about the Hanoverian flags at Waterloo. It’s yellow and red and has a white horse, so it’ll do these lads just fine.

The buildings you see are by Total Battle Miniatures, from their 15mm range. After using their 10mm buildings for a while, I decided the size just wasn’t quite big enough for my 20mm minis. These 15mm buildings on the other hand are an excellent fit for my purposes. As you can see from the officer leading the Hanoverians to church for a quick prayer before battle begins, the buildings are just tall enough to look realistic, but the footprint is not too large.

I’m not the best at painting model buildings. In fact, I often find it a chore, but these TBM models look great on the tabletop. I’ll take some better photos when there’s a chance to use my DSLR again. These pics were all snapped using my tablet, partly because of my own laziness tonight and partly out of consideration for our greyhound, Mr C, who has a rather bizarre fear of the noise of cameras shuttering. The sound of it is enough to leave him trembling in a corner somewhere. We’re not quite sure why.  I suppose like many rescue pets, there’s probably a tale or two that we don’t know about him. Chased once too often by paparazzi, maybe?

This photo is going back quite a few years. Mr C has a lot more grey hairs now than he did back then (a bit like me). Note the black cat. That’s Dewey, our other rescue pet. The look on his face is telling you in no uncertain terms that this seat is well and truly taken. Note also the funky carpet (this is our old house), which we inherited from the previous owners. It somehow survived most of the 10 years we lived there, even though we decided it would absolutely be the first thing to go after we moved in. I later learned it was an Axminster carpet. Probably cost a fortune. I remember it had this special ability of being able to camouflage cat puke and other such nasties for long periods of time. I would occasionally drop wargaming paraphernalia on it, never to be seen again.

Anyway, I digress...

Monday, November 2, 2020

Brunswick line infantry

This Brunswick 3rd line battalion took very little time to paint and a very long time to complete! I originally started it in June but was distracted by various other projects and commitments. I finally had some time off work last week so was able to get them done, but not before a bit of a varnishing disaster along the way...

Having never painted Brunswickers, I wondered how I might be able to make them more visually interesting. I see other painters sometimes contrast the areas by using black and very dark greys, rather than painting them all black. This looks quite good, but I really wanted my figures to be entirely black, with minimal highlights to avoid any sense of them looking grey. They are the 'Black Brunswickers' after all.

The idea I came up with was to use a combination of matt and semi-gloss blacks to create the contrasts I was after. I used matt black on the clothing and a semi-gloss black on selected items like the belts, straps, shako visor etc.

In the end, it looked okay. Not brilliant, but it sort of worked...until for some reason I decided to give the whole lot of them a coat of spray-on matt varnish. I have never varnished any of my 20mm miniatures. There's usually not much need to, since they mostly sit safely on their shelves with only the occasional bit of gaming done at home. However, a few chips and scratches here and there had recently made me wonder whether I should try and protect my painting efforts a bit more. The spray can I tried was supposed to give a matt finish, but once dried it really was more like high gloss! Perhaps I went in too heavy, I'm not sure. Anyway, I ended up wasting a morning having to go back over them with some of the 'Anti-shine' by Warlord Games to knock down the gloss. This worked quite well, but I also repainted some of the matt black areas.

The straps and other parts which were supposed to be semi-gloss have been left looking a bit too shiny for my liking. I might revisit them at some point and dull those areas down as well, but for now I think they've spent far too long on the paint bench, so it's time to move on to another unit.

That next unit will be some Hanoverians; however, I mainly want to focus on terrain for the next couple of months. If I can get these Hanoverians and a few other units painted before the end of the year, I'll be happy with that. 2020 hasn't been the most productive one for me in the hobby, and like a lot of things this year, my plan to make good progress with the British and Allied armies this year has rather gone off the rails. Hopefully, things will get back on track soon.

(As a side note, I recently watched a Youtube video by Liberator240 who talked about the Winsor & Newton Professional Matte Varnish that he recently started using for his figures, so I'm thinking of giving that a try next time - on a test piece first, of course!)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

French hussars - 5th regiment


A new addition to my Napoleonic French army. These are 20mm hussars from Newline Designs, painted to represent the 5th regiment. They originally started off life as the 1st regiment, but I decided to change them to the 5th, which is more or less the same uniform colour except the 5th have a white pelisse rather than blue.

For reference I used mainly the Osprey book, 'Napoleon's Hussars', supplemented by internet searches. Hussar uniforms and their details and variations are a bit mind-boggling, and I'm sure there must be some inaccuracies in my painting. I'm not entirely sure, for example, if the shako cloth was actually red. I found some images that showed red, and others that showed blue. In the end, I do as I always do, which is to go with what I think looks best!

Probably my favourite figure from the unit is the bugler. Again, not sure if the red dolman is correct or not, but I really like how the yellow froggings stand out on it.

Hey, that's my horse!
It was all going so well until I realised early on that I'd glued the officer to the wrong horse. You can see the correct horse above with a trooper on it. Try as I might, the trooper could not be tempted to climb down off his steed, and both man and horse were in danger of ending up in the casualty tray if I'd persisted with my pliers-based persuasions. In the end, I decided to let the happy fellow keep his prize. He could either be the gallant soldier returning the lost beast to its rightful owner, or the scoundrel riding off with his ill-gotten gains.

Officers - always ending up on a horse they didn't start the battle with
Hussars like to look their best, even when running away
The slight horsey confusion aside, I'm pleased with how this lot turned out. Hussars are a lot of work, and this 5th regiment felt especially challenging with the yellow froggings. But, it was worth the effort and I'm delighted to have this new addition to the army.

I think I might have to paint something easier next. A unit of Pictons, maybe?

Monday, May 4, 2020

Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton - 20mm

With the 44th East Essex more or less done for my 20mm British army, I will stay with the 9th Brigade and paint either the 44th Black Watch or the 92nd Gordon Highlanders next. Before that, though, I'll be jumping back over to the French army to paint up a unit of hussars - the 5th regiment. My French army has a distinct lack of light cavalry at the moment, which needs to be remedied!

First, something a bit less flamboyant...and Napoleonic miniatures probably don't come any less flamboyant than Picton at Waterloo. If only more generals dressed this way. It would make the life of the wargames painter much easier!

I like this sculpt from Newline Designs. It seems to capture Picton's famous temperament very well.