Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Shenanigans

Christmas barbie. Not sure whether this should grace the title page of this blog. It was a bloody good cigar.

Wandered into an Oamaru second hand shop after doing our annual bike ride from Wianakarua(?) and found this bad boy.
Well, Christmas has come and gone and I am replete both in terms of presents and food. In the lead up to Christmas I got my amazing present from the wonderful chaps at A 1966 edition of The Campaigns of Napoleon by Chandler. The book was in mint condition but missing a dust jacket. I am not sure whether it originally came with one but I don't mind. Already I have devoured the first Italian campaign and am getting into the more heavy readings about the strategies of the Corps de Armee .

In terms of the hobby, I have been plugging away at basing my little artillery park. I can watch the kids play badminton outside while I am in the sun porch. I am still awaiting restocks of the 6 team limbers but in the meantime I have plenty to keep me busy. Now that I have received my first present from Amazon I consider myself a little hooked. Last night I ordered these... They should arrive during my first week back at work. That should cheer me up a little.

 Gotta love summer holidays...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Santa is going to be good to me this year.

I have always wanted my own copy of David Chandler's The Campaigns of Napoleon but I have never really thought about actually getting a copy from Amazon. Well yesterday that all changed. I managed to track down a copy of the book from the United States and for the all up cost of about $150 US a copy is winging its way to me even as I write this missive. Yesterday my static grass arrived from the States as well so I am pretty well set up hobby wise for the coming summer holidays.

Can't wait to lie on the beach and work my way through Mr. Chandler's masterpiece!!!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Just in time!

Just as I finished my really fun group of wagon train figures my next set of figures arrived from Aussie. Now I have enough figures to work on until the end of the month.  I finally tracked down a company which makes static grass in the US so I am awaiting three tubs of "Summer". All in all this has been a pretty cool month on the painting front. I am just hanging out for the 6 horse limber stocks to fill up again with Hat's E26 release.

In the meantime here are some of the sets minus their static grass. I am soooooo happy with these figures from Hat.  They really add some serious eye candy to my French army. My pièce de résistance has been the coal in the field forge. I got some modelling grit which had been lying around in a box under the house for a few years and dipped very watered-down enamel paint onto it. It ended up looking quite coal-ish.  Pretty basic stuff but I am pretty chuffed by the results
You might just about be able to see the coal in the forge at the front!

I've got to go buy a Christmas tree so that I can wrap up my two boxes of French Infantry and stick them under. They will be such a surprise to unwrap on Christmas day!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Replenishing Santa's Sack!

French Baggage Wagon x2
French Ammunition Caisson x3
French Wurst Wagon x2

On their way from Adelaide even as I write this. I was going to buy 6x 6 horse limbers but it looks like there are none in the southern hemisphere. From following Hat's website it seems that E26 are restocks so with any luck I should be able to pick them up in the New Year.

This weekend since I am not working, I intend to base the light ambulances at least. Fun fun fun at my painting table!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday night at the painting table

I can't say that it was exactly a night at the painting table but in was an enjoyable hour. The kids went to bed and the wife disappeared into the lounge leaving me to my wagon fabrication yard. I base painted the horses and painted the first coat of green onto the field forges. They look so cool even in their unfinished state so they are sure to get even better once I get a fresh draught of horses in from Adelaide.

As I have mentioned before I have really been enjoying this brew as I paint. It is a fantastic lager
The brewer deserves a medal for this lager and the dude who thought of the name... well I don't know what to do with him!
Work in progress. All my projects are works in progress and seldom ever get finished.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A new project takes shape

With Christmas still such a long time away and those boxes looking just too appetising, I ended up starting to paint those two boxes of 1805 French arty followed by a box of baggage wagons and then a field forge. They looked so cool that a new idea started to form in my crippled little mind... How about creating the following....

The limbers for the cannon = 8*6 horse limbers
8 baggage wagons = 8*4 horse limbers
8 caissons = 8*4 horse limbers
3 wurst wagons (not sure whether 8 would be better) =3*4 horse limbers

Plus what I have now

Light and heavy ambulances and a field forge (each times three) plus four horse limbers for each.

The Hat sets come with only two horses per item. In my opinion any self respecting wagoneer would need a minimum of 4 horses per wagon. Cannon would probably need eight horses but I will settle for six.

All this will require another ten boxes...

The finished look should be absolutely awesome and a cool Christmas project should the weather turn to custard up at my mum's house. I am planning on taking three weeks off this year followed by another week in March. Plenty of time to enjoy the Summer with the kids and give the Grande Armee some serious wheels.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Will there be any figures left for Santa to put under the tree?

After finishing my Grenadier Cavalry I found myself gazing at a couple of boxes of 1805 French artillery like a junky eying a line of coke. My addiction as it is, it wasn't
long before my evenings were spent painting these cool looking figures. As of tonight they are based and looking pretty neat. I decided to make the bases 6cm by 8 cm just to give the figures more room. I am pretty happy with this as it makes the finished look quite a bit more imposing. I really liked the extra arms in this set. This meant I was ably to do the bucket dude, rammer and a random dude with a long stick. For the first time that I can remember there isn't a designated officer figure. There is though, the addition of a figure of a chap who inserts the plug into the touch hole (or at least I think that is what he does). In the coming week, I have promised to myself that I will finish these figures. At present the chaps are a little generic. I think I will repaint their trousers with a bit more variation to make them seem a little more "active-servicy". I'm thinking of building an army of General Bonaparte in Italy. I hope Hat will make a few sets of the early Revolutionary Wars armies from various nations. They have dome a few Frederich the Great sets so perhaps they could do... Italieri has done a early Austrian set but they are giants so I can't see myself using them.
My grand battery... Now for 20 battalions of 1805 French in greatcoats!!

Del-Prado's figure with a hat which is a little too big I think...
With these figures nearing completion and December not even here yet, I wonder if it will just be coal in my sack again this year... Maybe there is enough time to get some more figures from Aussie?

Anyway, I am not sure how much time I'm going to have from now on. Work is hectic and by the end of the day I'm pretty shagged. Still... Those baggage wagons....mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I lied...

In my previous post, I said that I would take these figures slowly but it just didn't turn out like that. It never does. Sunday dawned with one child away in central doing the rail trail with her friends and another in her room cocooned in bed with her computer being a sullen teenager and a wife away at her religious observances. This meant that I had the whole morning and a large part of the day to myself. I was kept alive by raspberry jam and sour dough bread during the morning and my favourite craft beer in the afternoon. Little by little the Horse Grenadiers took shape. I painted the tunics in off-white (in acrylics)  and the belts standard white. As James suggested I mixed orange and flesh colour for the blankets. Perhaps they still look a little orange but I kind of like the finished effect.  Painting only 12 figures over the course of 6-ish hours was a very relaxing way to spend the morning and as the photo shows they chaps seem pretty at home guarding my command tent along with some of my imperial guard figures.

None of the stands in this picture are actually finished. The poor old Old Guard still haven't got their flags finished and that sad state has existed for the last four or five years. This is pretty much par for the course at my house. Anyway, now that this weekend has passed so agreeably I might just start a new project of revamping my cuirassiers. I have Esci versions at the moment but they suffer from the Esci problem of short sabers. The Zvezda figures look so much better. My Aussie supplier doesn't have any so I'll just have to wait until his restocks arrive. No problems though...I have a pile of spring gardening to keep me busy in the meantime.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pulling together painting guides.

In terms of painting the riders I am in a pretty good situation because I have the Osprey Napoleon's Guard Cavalry MAA(83). In terms of horse furniture I am going to rely on the Del Prado figure that I have. I'm going to take these pretty slowly.
Awesome looking paintings from the 70s I think.

The 1/72  box

Orange on the saddle cloth?? How cool is that? I think the Del Prado figures were my best buy in terms of painting guides because they used the Osprey books not only to base the shape of the figures but the colour scheme as well.

12 little figures

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The "All Blacks" of the French Cavalry

The temptation just got too much for me... The tent project has been shelved and I accidentally opened a box of Hat's Horse Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard. I knew absolutely nothing about this body of men so I did a bit of research. After about 10 mins on Wikipedia I have come to the conclusion that they were pretty much like the "Jonah Lomus" of the army. It seems that they even got out of Russia pretty much unscathed. Impressive reading and a pretty impressive set of figures from Hat. I think this is one of their early sets but I think they pretty much nailed the imposing feeling of these dudes.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Tentative Steps...

Busy camp scene

You should just be able to make out Berthier in his tent handing out orders for tonight's dinner.
Not sure how much more I'll get done today. This though is the final shape of the command stand for a non-existent future war game.  These figures are Zvezda and had been lying around in one of my boxes for about 5 years.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Quite a satifying weekend.

Santa delivered my French figures on Friday so I set about completing a few battalions of Spanish who needed grenadiers to fill up their ranks. I had initially painted the Irish regiments in spanish service without grenadiers with bearskins but a couple of weeks ago I did see a contemporary scene of Bailen with light blue coated grenadiers who I assume were from a foriegn regiment. Waiting for me under the Christmas tree are;

A field forge, 2X 1805 French arty, 2X 96 fig 1805 French Inf, 1X light ambulance, 1X Heavy ambulance, 1X Horse Grenadiers (which look shit hot!) and 2X Baggage wagons.

A number of these may not make it to the Christmas tree... they long just so much fun to get such in to!

Filled again with enthusiasm and a flagon of beer from a really good brewery called Harrisons , I decided to get going on the project of making a camp. In the end I made 4 tents for the plebs and Berthier's tent. these are a long way from being finished but it was a great weekend of creating stuff from scratch. I will post photos in the coming week.

But here is a teaser....!

Although I try to only blog about matters Napoleonic, I just have to add that today the temperature reached 24 degrees!! The kids are outside without jerseys or sweatshirts. This is a very novel temperature for us. There is a high north of Auckland and a low in the Tasman that seems to be pushing Australian weather our way (120 km winds in some places). Can we survive this heatwave???

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

While I am waiting for Santa...

Soldiers need tents so my new project over the coming weeks is going to be to put together a number of French style tents so that my troops have somewhere to sleep. I have never really thought about modelling a camp before so this should be a pretty fun project. Already I have cunning plans for modelling the exteriors of the tents...involving special casting plaster from a fracture clinic which shares the floor with my place of work.

Last night, I started thinking about what style of tents I'll need. I think there will need to be four kinds;

1) A tent for Berthier or Napoleon in which to plan the conquest of Europe

2) A simple triangle tent for the cannon fodder.

3) A triangle tent with an opening with poles along the longest side for the Guard to have communal BBQs outside.

4 A tent with perpendicular "walls" along the long side for the officers.

My presents for Christmas were dispatched via reindeer from Adelaide last Thursday so I should get a big parcel by Saturday. I am fortunate to have a wife who puts up with my ever-so slightly expensive hobby.  I promise to spend no more until December when I am going to need serious restocks of static grass.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Well... the hiatus was trunkated

My paint tins just seemed a little too lonely in their trunk so I found myself painting a couple of battalions of Irish in Spanish service. I reckon they look pretty cool and they certainly add to the colour of the whole army. I think I will stop at 18 battalions so all I need now is about 8 cav units and some arty and the army will be complete. (For the early period anyway!) Unfortunately, Hat hasn't made any of those sets. It looks like Hat will not have any new Napoleonic set out this year so I am at a loss as to what Santa is going to get me for Christmas. Perhaps these???


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hiatus for the hobby

Spring is springing and I have put my paints away for the season. My sole effort this year was the Spanish which were fun to paint.  Who knows what the next year will bring? Perhaps the winter will see me revamp my French 1808-9 army? Santa will be getting a list from me but it probably won't be long since I need to pay for Victoria's High School uniform and all the gear that accompany it (including a Macbook pro which is the regulation laptop).  Perhaps just coal in my sack this year :(

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Coming Along...

16 Battalions nearly ready to defend Mother Spain.  These figures have taken me quite a while to paint and are still not ready. Actually, I'm not in any hurry since I have not wargamed for about the last 25 years. Still in the unlikely event that I actually meet a fellow gamer in this neck of the woods I will be ready to do battle.

I have painted an "American" battalion along with four light and 11 standard battalions. As yet I don't have any cavalry or artillery so these dudes will have to wait in their barracks for a couple of years.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

They don't look too flash yet but...

Over the last couple of weeks I have been putting together the first 8 battalions of what I hope will be about 15 battalions of Pre-1808 Spanish. Actually I have dirtied up the figures by adding grey to the white coats and changing the colours of the trousers of a few of the figures. They are still a long way from finished and the grenadiers especially will take an age to just have their bearskin caps painted. Even then they will not look anything like the masterpieces which have been displayed on the Hat website.  These figures have been a real pleasure to paint in spite of the trepidations I had before about painting figures which were going to be predominantly white. I did manage to put a couple of flags upside down though but I am too lazy to change them at the moment. Once I have finished the static grass I will post another photo. I guess that will be another week away.

In the meantime we are just hunkering down for a few weeks as the shittiest part of winter rolls over the island. Hopefully soon the blossom should start and the days will be noticeable longer and hopefully a little warmer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Spanish Are On Their Way!

So for the last week and a bit I have spent my free time cross legged with my back to the fire in the lounge painting my Spanish. I started off by base coating them black which was a pretty silly thing to do since the uniforms were predominantly white. Anyway, after about three additional layers of white enamel the uniforms were back to the colours that they should have been in the first place. The weather down south has been pretty tolerable but traditionally in the month and a bit after the shortest day we are inclined to get the worst of the winter. Anyway, the fist four battalions are on their way and the next four are already based. I am planning on painting 10 battalions of line and two of light in the nest couple of months. This coming weekend they should be (at the least the first four) presentable enough for a photo. With the Spanish painted the next plan should be to get some cavalry and artillery to support then as they do battle with General Dupont.  The problem is that Hat haven't produced any and I don't think that there are any in the pipeline...

Friday, July 4, 2014

"Realism" verses Idealism

In my world of toy soldiers it is always summer. The grass on the bases therefore is always a verdant green - no matter where the soldiers are marching. I understand that in the middle of summer in Spain the grass would probably be a lot sparser and would be burned into a less attractive colour by the Mediterranean sun and winds however - not in my world. When I look at my soldiers I want to see them in an ideal way. The grass they get to walk on is what I would be walking on during a New Zealand summer and the uniforms the figures show are all clean, bright and new.  In fact in all the years of my painting I have never had the courage to paint dirt on the clean breeches of any figure - I've thought about it but I just can't bring myself to "despoil" the figures just to make them a little more realistic.  The result of this is that all of my figures have a parade ground look to them - nothing out of place and all pretty generic.

This brings me to my current set of figures. So the Spanish primarily had white uniforms. Will I use Humbrol white enamels for the figures? Will I go out on a limb and paint OFF-white for the figures? Realistically the Spanish wouldn't have looked all that pretty on the field because they were issued with uniforms once every 30 months. But... can I stand to open a box off figures and see DIRT represented on them? What would Sigmund Freud have thought about the dilemma I am facing now?

Wait, I think a dead poet had something to say about painting toy soldiers...

Truth is beauty and beauty and beauty is truth
That is all you need to know... yada yada.

Oh fuck it. They'll all be clean and bright.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Spanish Army Arrives!

These dudes will fit into my line and light battalions.

The meat and potatoes of the Spanish forces

Very cute mini-boxes which hold 32 figures
My earliest attempt at a command figure patiently waits for his army to come out of the boxes and deal to the French at Bailen.
Just when the crappiest part of winter hits the South of the South I finally got the new Hat releases of their Spanish Napoleonics. I bought four boxes of Fusiliers and two each of Light,Grenadiers and Command. When I opened the boxes I was really impressed with the level of sculpting. Hat seems to be really hitting its straps at the moment. I think they will be on a par with Zvezda pretty soon.

The plan s to make three regiments each with three battalions for the line like this...

F F F  F F F
F F F  F F F 
G G G G G G 
G G G C C C 

That will be for the first battalion because the grenadiers hung out in the depot battalion.

There are two other battalions which make the regiment....

F F F F F F 
F F F F F F 
F F F F F F 
F F F C C C 

This gives me at least three regiments and four battalions of lights.  Cool little addition to any Peninsular battle list.

More to follow as the weekend starts and I prepare for the winter painting extravaganza! 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Spanish generals but no army...

Over the last few days I have painted six generals to lead the expected army which Hat is shipping to the vendors as I speak.... The chaps are mounted on their horses and looking longingly towards the horizon. When will the army arrive to turn back those dastardly French which are ransacking holy Spain??

Monday, April 28, 2014

Lonely Paintbrushes...

Not a drop of paint has been applied to a single figure over the past couple of weeks. On the collecting front the last fortnight has been dominated by the arrival of 50+ Kgs of Del Prado figures. They are just so cool! On the library front, I have added  Kolin 1757 and Blucher's Army to my collection. I have 120 little Osprey booklets now to add to the 100 odd I got with the Napoleon at War collection last year. They are basically little versions of the Men at Arms books with a little bit of the Campaign series thrown in for good measure. They are pretty cute as well and seem to be perfectly designed for light reading. I am still waiting for the Spanish to get released onto the market. Winter is coming and my paintbrush is getting dusty....

This looks like some good bedtime reading! and another avenue to collect for the little library!

Front of a typical little magazine which came with the 1/32 scale die-cast figures. This is straight  out of Russian Infantry (Men at Arms)

Just to prove it here is another page from the same Men at Arms book.

So does Cavalry of the Napoleonic Wars follow the same modus operandi? Yip - It seems that the text cames from Men at Arms plus additional material from Campaign series books.

Not sure whether this was especially written for the Del Prado books. Seems quite general - perhaps designed for a collector who likes collecting rather than a specialist Napoleonic freak. Still some fun reading though.

Just to show not all the illustrations are from the Men at Arms series. I think I saw this illustration a Campaign title

Here is a typical figure. Actually this is an older one I had. My new ones are still in their blister packs. The question is should I take them out of the packs to display or should they stay in their pristine state? I am torn between keeping their value and having a kick-arse display. I think there is about a $1500 drop in value by just taking them out of their little plastic coverings. On the other hand, I am not going to sell them, so by the time anyone sells my collection I will be passed caring.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I must stop buying toy soldiers

I must stop buying toy soldiers. I must stop buying toy soldiers. I must stop buying toy soldiers.

I have recently blown my toy soldier budget quite substantially. Del Prado have a collection called Cavalry of the Napoleonic Wars. I have coveted this set since I bought the Armies of the Napoleonic Wars last year. Now that I have both sets I promise I won't purchase any more tin figures this year. I'll stick to books and the occasional hat box. Speaking of Hat... I have recently finished some grenadiers... These dudes had languished in their boxes since I bought them a few years ago. I thought they looked too chunky to go with my other figures. Silly me for being a poor judge. They were a pleasure to paint and the end result more than stands up next to my other figures.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


I bought another Osprey Campaign series book about the Battle of Zorndorf earlier this week. Although The Seven Years War lies outside my traditional hobby area, I am fascinated with the life and times of Frederick the Great. One of my motivations to keep in touch with the German language was that through German I was able to read some books by great authors on the subject. Some were better than others and some frustrated me more than others. Nowadays, I have forgotten so much German that whenever I go to my library to pick up a "Frederick book" the dictionary Ap on my iphone gets to thorough working over and I am often depressed about what I used to know compared to now.

Anyway, if you are a German reader, I recommend the definitive "recent" work on Frederick by Theodor Schieder. It is an Incredible book scholarship. Unfortunately being German ol' Theo has a genetic disposition to build sentences which are so long you have to go to another book to find the verb at the end!

My favorite book in English is Chris Duffy's Frederick the Great -A Military life. Dr Duffy's book really introduced the subject to me and even now a occassionally take out the book and skim through it. In fact, I took it out a few weeks ago and I can't find it to take a snap of the cover!

Anyway, As a get older I become lazier and lazier and by brain requires more cool pictures. Reading great tomes on Frederick is fun for only a short while and eventually I get hungry for easy text and cool pictures. In steps Osprey books. They seem to be designed to take to bed for a 15 minute read before lights out. They have plenty of colourful pictures for the lazy historian yet enough text and depth for the nerdier of the category.