Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Duvet Daze

Finding myself confined to the sofa following some surgery on Monday I’ve been indulging in some DVD downtime. Yesterday I started with the Dino De Laurentiis epic Waterloo a film I watched as a teenager in 1970 when it was first released. I’ve watched it again on DVD several times more recently but mostly as a background noise while I paint which is silly really because as a sound only experience it’s pretty poor with the exception of “By God sir I’ve lost my leg” and “By God sir so you have!”

Actually though a lot of the action scenes are really good when you consider that it is all live action with no CGI. It’s easy to criticise some of the milling about of men and the unlikely looking cavalry charges but it must have been a nightmare to coordinate and direct the scenes. My main criticism is that the first half hour or so of the film is taken up with a rather boring preamble presumably designed to broaden the audience interest from merely that of the action film type. It fails miserably in that aim and surely it would have been better to add a depiction of Quatre Bras and Ligny instead? I’d still give it a score of 7 out of 10 though – a classic.
Next I moved onto the 1968 version of Charge of the Light Brigade. I never saw this at the movies but I’ve watched it several times on TV and more recently on DVD. The film had very poor reviews when first released but I just can’t understand why as it’s probably my favourite war film. Unlike Waterloo the preamble has a point to it and fits seamlessly into the action sequences at the end. Trevor Howard is brilliant as Cardigan and although all the characters are more like caricatures it all works really well. The action scenes at the Alma and then the charge itself at Balaclava are very well done and seem believable. I have to give it 10 out of 10.

Today I’ve looked out Cromwell (1970) and Glory (1989) although I’ll only have time now to watch one of them. Still, I should have a least one more day on the sofa…

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Horse Grenadier update 2

For one reason or another (unrelated to wargaming) progress on the Horse Grenadiers has been painfully slow. This is particularly embarrassing for me as Roy’s contribution towards Vintage Waterloo is continuing to snowball. Every few days I’m receiving emails from him that say things like “Hi Ian can you update me to 6 battalions of French line and two battalions of French legere” and “I found 24 painted Old Guard Today, with officer, drummer, standard bearer and sergeant which means that I can have them on card tomorrow!”. Only Roy (and possibly Clive) could find 24 painted Old Guard figures in a drawer that he didn’t know he had!

However my 6 figure squadron of French Guard Grenadier-a-Cheval troopers is now complete; they just need varnishing and basing. I paint the riders and horses separately so I only get to see the full effect when I glue the troopers to their saddles at the end. This is always a bit of a delicate process as they do like to slip about but by gently squeezing the legs to grip the horse they can be made to stay upright long enough for the Araldite to set.

Next I’m hoping to add some more French Carabineers to the 6 that I already have to make up a full 12 figure regiment. As I’ve already mentioned, Roy and I have decided to field 12 figure cavalry units for Vintage Waterloo rather than the 18 figure units we were using before. This is chiefly because its hard work finding 18 Hinton Hunt cavalry figures of the same type but also because smaller units are a bit easier to manoeuvre around the table. I’ve made some amendments to my Muskets & Marshals rules to accommodate the smaller sized units and I’ll make these available for download once I’ve edited them.

On the subject of rules I’m also looking at the idea of using unit information markers that will sit on the table next to each unit to help us keep track of things. There will be quite a few units on the table and I think we need a way to identify them without resorting to roster sheets. The current idea is to display the “Troop Type” (a letter denoting combat/morale score), the parent unit formation (orders will be issued at divisional level) and a leader icon that can be crossed through if the unit’s Colonel becomes a casualty. Variations of a prototype idea are shown above but this is still a work in progress.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Horse Grenadier update

I finally sorted out the way I want to paint the Horse Grenadiers after studying several pictures on the internet to work out how best to do the lace. I resorted to this because even with the original Hinton Hunt painting instructions I found it very hard to make out what had been sculpted on the figure. I’m happy with it now even if it wasn’t exactly what Marcus Hinton intended when he created them.

Vintage Waterloo continues to take a fair bit of my time but at least all the figures are now with (or on their way to) their painters. It’s been great to involve others who appreciate these figures in the painting process and without them Roy and I would have little chance of putting on anything other than a skirmish game.

I’ve been thinking about ways to adapt and streamline my rules Muskets & Marshals for use in the game. Roy and I have never tried anything bigger than ten or so units per side and Vintage Waterloo is likely to have quite a few more than that. We also need to get a result within eight turns and of course it wouldn’t be Waterloo without a decent massed cavalry charge or two, an attack by the Old Guard and the arrival of the Prussians – quite a lot to fit into the time.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Stripped for action

There hasn’t been a lot of painting going on here recently because I have turned my attention to feverishly stripping, filing and repairing figures. This is because, not to be outdone by Roy, I too have called for help to paint up extra forces ready for Vintage Waterloo.

All stripped and nearly ready to go off to Lee, not sure which regiment yet but I quite fancied yellow facings.

Lee has agreed to paint a unit of British line infantry for me, this will be another mixed figure unit similar to the Guards unit I already have. All the figures in this one will be vintage ones and will include the fifer from Steve and the Guards officer from Jack – I’ll have to come up with some sort of backstory for this, perhaps he returned late from the Duchess of Richmond’s ball and couldn’t find his own regiment?

Roy and I decided that we would go for 12 figure cavalry units for 'Vintage Waterloo' but I may need to tweak my rules a bit to allow for this.

Matt in NZ will be painting two squadrons of Prussian Lancers – six lovely vintage HH Ulans and six Der Kreigspieler Landwehr. All of these figures originally came for Don in the US so by the time they get back to me again they will probably be the most travelled toy soldiers in the world!

My only bit of painting for the last two weeks. These lads will be combined with a squadron of Roy's Empress Dragoons to make a Guard heavy cavalry unit.

But I haven’t given up painting entirely as I have been working away on my test figure of FN/300 Horse Grenadier Guard (on horse FNH/2). As usual this Hinton Hunt mounted figure is a bit tricky to animate with the famous disappearing detail on his lace – still a bit more work to do.

Oh, and did I mentioned that Matt UK has come out of retirement and will be turning out Mr Sharpe and the 95th Rifles together with some British Light Dragoons, plus a surprise item…

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Black Watch on parade

Finally finished off and based up – the 42nd Black Watch on parade. They’re going to need to brush up on their drill (particularly forming square) if the rumours are true that the ‘monster’ has escaped from Elba!

Scotlands finest in column of march.

 The regiment deployed in battle-line.

All the figures I used for this unit were vintage Hinton Hunt castings with the exception of the two colour bearers who were converted from DK figures. The unit is made up of:

18 x BN/36 Highland private (marching)
3 x BN/30 Officer (charging) – two converted as colour bearers
1 x BN/37 Officer (marching)
1 x BN/31 Sergeant (charging)
1 x BN/38 Piper (playing bag-pipes)

"Jock, is there anything worn beneath your kilt?"
"Nae sir, it's all in perfect workin' order!"

A taste of things to come? The regiment forms square to defend against French cavalry.

The preparations for Vintage Waterloo are continuing at quite a pace – Roy seems to have every skilled brush-smith in the land (actually the world) beavering away painting up his troops. If you haven’t already seen them take a look here at Matt’s blog and here at Lee’s blog.

So the pressure is on – next up for me will be a squadron of Grenadiers-a-cheval of the Guard who will be brigaded with my Polish Guard lancers for the game.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Fall in the 42nd

Somehow I’ve managed to finish painting the Black Watch in the record time of only three months! Actually, sarcasm aside, that really is quick for me considering the amount of tartan and other detail involved. Strangely I really enjoyed all the faffing about to produce this unit although I’ll say right here and now that this will be the only kilted unit I’m going to paint for this project.

I just need to finish the detail on the top of the flag poles and then base the whole lot up before they can take their place in the British order of battle ready for Vintage Waterloo.

According to Roy things are progressing well (only he could email me with the line “I found 24 painted Old Guard today”) and at some point in the next month or two we intend to get together for a dry run and to thrash out the details of the game.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Vintage Waterloo

In a moment of madness the other day I suggested to Roy that we play a 200th anniversary Waterloo game this summer using our vintage figures. I envisaged a small affair of about eight or so units a side played out in a civilised style on Roy’s table. However, Roy has really taken to the idea and run with it and somehow the megalomania in both of us has escalated the thing into something potentially much bigger.

I say potentially because about a quarter of the units we plan to use aren’t even painted yet and many more from Roy’s collection will have to be rebased for use with my Muskets & Marshals rules. The figures will be a mixture of Hinton Hunt, Der Kreigspieler, Lamming and Alberken. Many will be genuine vintage figures and it’s possible of course that some of them may even have taken part in refights of the battle for the 150th anniversary.

We have a lot of work to do to pull this off (and by we I mean Roy) but we’ll give it our best shot and even if we don’t quite get to the epic proportions we’d like we will definitely play a Waterloo game of sorts that will eventually feature here on this blog. Only question now is who gets to be Napoleon?