Saturday 29 November 2008

Uniform Dilemma

I’m about to start work on my next infantry unit, which just happens to be some rather nice little French Voltigeur figures. However, I have a bit of a problem – despite having amassed a reasonable number of uniform books over the years I can’t find anything that shows me how to paint these lads. The problem is that the figures are modelled with a busby (I think the correct term may be colpack) rather than a shako and nowhere can I find what colour the plumes, lace and top floppy bit should be.

The figures are described in my Hinton Hunt catalogue as Light Infantry Voltigeurs (In busby, short tailed coats, waistcoats, knee breeches and short tasselled gaiters). Back in the mists of time when the figures were first produced I wouldn’t have had this problem because Hinton Hunt always provided full painting instructions for all their figures – which is why I originally chose them over Minifigs (well, that and the poses).

If you can point me in the right direction kindly leave a comment otherwise who knows what they’ll end up looking like?

Thursday 27 November 2008

Got the Blues

These are vintage castings of BN60 British Household Cavalry Trooper (mounted) charging, from the horse-attached series. The Hinton Hunt Catalogue states that these “can be painted as either the Life Guards or the Royal Horse Guards”. Well, given the choice I decided to go for the Royal Horse Guards (more commonly referred to as the Blues) mainly because it makes a nice change from all that British scarlet. Two squadrons of the Blues were sent to Spain in 1812 where they saw action late in the day at Vittoria advancing in support of the infantry. In 1815 they were brigaded with the 1st and 2nd Life Guards and the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards to form the Household Brigade under Major General Lord Somerset taking part in the famous charge against D’Erlon’s Corps at Waterloo. These three castings, being a bit thin on the ground, will be hitched up with my Inniskilling Dragoons to form an ad-hoc squadron. Like the Dragoons they’re looking a bit shiny due to on-going problems in the varnishing department.

Friday 21 November 2008

Austrian Hussars (Part 1)

This is a bit of a departure from the normal. The figures are Austrian Hussars, part of a recent batch I received from Don in the US (Don is thinning out his collection and has kindly sent me one or two of his excess figures – actually slightly more than one or two). The reason it’s a departure is that I haven’t painted these figures myself. The existing paint job is pretty superb and it just seemed a bit crazy for me to strip and re-paint them especially considering how many other castings I have waiting in the wings.

So all I have done is scrape away the textured material from the bases and re-touch the figures where necessary including painting some socks on the horses (where my scraping was a little over enthusiastic). I then based them in the usual way and gave them a coat of satin varnish to help them blend in with my other figures. Don’s painting style is similar to my own and his detail on the Hussar’s lace is excellent, painted (as he put it) BB – before bifocals!

Four of the figures are vintage one-piece castings of AN81 Austrian Hussar (mounted charging). The other two are probably Clayton castings being thinner with a smaller base. I suppose they may even be Der Kreigspieler but I don’t know enough about the DK range to tell. I have checked my “I-Spy Book of Napoleonic Austrian Hussars” and think they have possibly been painted to represent the 6th Blankenstein Regiment.

I have another squadron of Don’s Hussars to come plus a squadron of unpainted castings I picked up last year hence this posting being just part one.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Marcus Hinton

I was very fortunate to be contacted recently by Phil whose wife Tanya is the eldest daughter of the late Marcus Hinton. Phil said that Tanya was pleased to see that there is still so much interest in her fathers work and they sent me some great photos including this one of Marcus Hinton himself.

In addition to creating the marvellous miniatures in the Hinton Hunt range, Marcus Hinton was also a founding member of the Sealed Knot and close friend of the late Brigadier Peter Young (who was also Tanya’s Godfather!). It would appear that Marcus was every bit as eccentric as I had been led to believe. Tanya says that he would always work on his figures at night, sleeping all day and rising at around 5.00 pm, when he would have breakfast, lunch and dinner all in quick succession, before starting work (often accompanied by several pints of orange juice). He would often wear a bowler hat, cape and carry a cane.

Apparently the business was run very much as a family affair and as a child Tanya spent many hours de-flashing and painting figures! When her father died most of the items connected with the business were sold off so she has very little in the way of memorabilia but does possess a scrapbook of uniform information compiled by him. Apparently he spent many hours visiting museums taking photographs and making notes to research uniforms in those days long before the internet.

The scrapbook contains uniform illustrations taken from many sources and some are coloured by hand. The images were used to help design the many models both 54mm and 20mm that Marcus Hinton created. The picture shown here is a detail from just one page from this fantastic resource and shows two drawings of a Royal Marine of the Napoleonic Wars. I find this particularly interesting as they may well have been used to create these figures from my own collection!

Tanya and Phil have kindly given permission for me to place a link here to the whole album, which they have made available on line (all 188 pages!). I’m sure this will be of great interest to many of the readers of this blog – a real piece of model soldier history!

Sunday 9 November 2008

Inniskilling Dragoons

My painting productivity over the last few weeks has hardly been tremendous but I am a bit behind on posting so here are the latest offerings. They are two troopers of the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons both vintage castings of BN40 British Dragoon Trotting in Helmet. My cavalry squadrons are made up of 6 figures but I don’t have quite enough of these castings to make a full one so they will be amalgamated with a troop of Household cavalry to form a combined squadron. This gives me the chance to paint these two splendid figures types that otherwise I would have had to leave out of the army. This figure is quite a primitive sculpt compared with latter offerings from Hinton Hunt and interestingly they had been painted before not once but twice – as I stripped the old paint (they were painted as French Dragoons if you remember) I discovered a layer of red paint beneath. In both previous incarnations however the flash had been left on and painted over and each figure took over half an hour of preparation with a variety of files before I could undercoat them. If they look a bit glossy in the picture it’s because they are! I have just started a new pot of Humbrol Satin-Cote and rather annoyingly it hasn’t dried as it should. Years ago of course I used gloss varnish and I suppose for this retro project that might have been the better choice. They’ll probably dull down a bit over time.

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Target Practice

A newly recruited battery of Austrian field artillery go through their paces on the firing range. All the figures are vintage Hinton Hunt and the gun is a plastic one from the Hat set. The figures are:

AN52 Gunner with rammer
AN53 Gunner holding cannon ball
AN54 Gunner with hand spike
AN55 Gunner ammunition runner

I had been looking forward to painting these figures for quite some time, perhaps because on the snazzy bicornes however I found them strangely unsatisfying to paint – not sure why. Their drill is a bit slow as the crew have no officer to command them. Happily this situation will soon be remedied as amongst the recent arrivals from the US was another complete set including a splendid artillery officer holding a map.

The vicar of the church is growing increasingly nervous about the effect of the cannon’s boom on his lovely stained glass windows. He shouldn’t worry really as the windows are made from paper.