Friday, January 11, 2019

Little blue men

Happy New Year everybody! :-)

As I indicated before, I had placed an order for the new Strelets Prussian Landwehr. Just a week after my last posting, the package arrived – so far, so good. To be honest, I was waiting for 1/72 Landwehr in plastic for a very long time. The ones that HaT recently produces didn't meet my expectations – too few poses, too much the same poses as in every other HaT set – so I decided to wait for Strelets to make it's own set.

I know – you can easily get Landwehr infantry from several metal figure producers, but as I'm up to mix them with other plastics Prussian regulars sooner or later, you mostly find metal 1/72 Landwehr that doesn't fit in – either the metal figures are modelled too rough or don't fit in size.

Well. Okay. Here they are. And well... I have an issue with them – but let's start from the beginning.

At first – I ordered the figures directly from Linear-A. Due to christmas time, delivery took a little bit longer, but as I'm not one of those Amazon-addicted people who expect a parcel to arrive right after clicking onto the 'order' button, it didn't bother me too much.

Linear-A delivers figure sets 'unboxed' in a large envelope. The set boxes are put flattened into the envelope, together with the figure sprues. This saves shipment costs – if wanted so, you can reassemble the boxes right at home and put the figures back into them.

Let's have a look at the sprues. 

I ordered both sets – the standing ones as well as the marchers. Having a look at the different poses, I found them very convincing. I already enjoyed the standing/marching Brits'n Scots and if you also do so, the Prussian Landwehr will not disappoint you.

Technically, I would date these figures for the period between mid- to late 1813 onwards. Although these chaps are still not all equipped in a similar way (some have water bottles, some not, water bottles differ, some have scabbards, some even the short infantry sabers), all have the same sort of caps, all have muskets, all have shoes. This means that these Landwehr men do not represent the very early, quickly conscripted and poorly equipped troopers of the very early campaign. And another detail – there's a flagbearer with every set. As by the end of September 1813, carrying flags was forbidden for Landwehr units, this figure is only suitable for the battles on German soil – which includes prominent ones like the battles of Moeckern, Grossgoerschen, Grossbeeren, Katzbach and – of course – Dresden.

But that's only for history lovers. Most wargamers won't give a damn about it – they urge to have Landwehr on the gaming table!

So far, so good. Let's get back to the figures. As I said, I have an issuue with them. For a long time, the only Landwehr available on the market were the old Airfix figures. Not that I'd say they're very bad – in fact, they are quite nice – but they are very hard to mix with other Prussians just because of their size. The Airfix Landwehr is far too small, especially when put aside the MAC-Prussians from HaT, that are a little bit bulky. I bought Prussians from 1815 and HaT a while ago. I even have some old Revell-Prussians as well. But as I found them to be too small in comparizon to the regulars, I never bought any Airfix Landwehr, instead I waitied for better things to come.

And now... well, look for yourself. 

This is a comparizon between old HaT Prussian reserve infantry, Revell Prussian line infantry, 1815 Prussian line infantry, our Strelets boys and the MAC Prussians from HaT. You see what I mean? Hell, yeah – the Strelets Landwehr is rather small. It would fit best with the Revell guys. If you want to mix them with the HaT MACs, you better leave some distance between the units, because otherwise the difference in size will be too obvious. And this, in fact, sucks.

'Well – the difference in height isn't too much, what's the matter?', some of you might say. There's one thing about the Strelets Landwehr that is on the one hand really cool and realistic – on the other way, it makes bad things even worse: not all men are of the same size. In Strelet's set, you find men of different body size. Taller guys, smaller guys. 

Yeah. Great idea. But not when it's up to compare sizes with other sets.

Don't get me wrong – I wanted these figures, I'm still glad to have these figures, but I would have expected them to match the size of other plastic manufacturer's products and as they do not, this leaves me a little bit frustrated. In fact, it was unexpected – I put them besides the Strelets Brits and see: the Brits are taller. Recognizably taller.

Okay. Enough ranting. Let's get back to what you get when you buy these figures.
At first – plastic material, thick sprues and slightly concave figure bases remain the same as ever. There's little extra plastic on them, but you should trim away the mould lines because they are considerable.

Here's a primed figure – note the nice details. 

There's not anything dwarfish or bulky about them anymore – modern Strelets figures are really lightyears away from their early counterparts. What I really enjoy is that the modeller seems to have gotten the musket issue under control – while the British/Scottish soldiers were equipped with somewhat bulky muskets that rather looked like arquebuses, the Landwehr soldiers carry good looking muskets. Thumbs up!

And here's the test painting result – trooper of Kurmark Landwehr on the march. 

Took me an evening to paint – there's not much detail about the uniform and the equipment doesn't take lots of attention (not many straps, buttons, laces, whatsoever – simple equip, simple uniform). Apart from the size issue, I don't think that there's much that you could do wrong with buying these sets. Just keep 'em away from too large figures and everything's fine. ;-)

Monday, December 31, 2018

Year's end

Well. That was it. Swoosh - 2018 is almost dead and gone. Freaking quick, the year passed by.

Unfortunately, this year became so much filled with business, politics and kid's sports that there had been almost no time at all for the hobby. Nevertheless, I have still not given up. There's a bunch of 25mm French hussars on my desk which I work on every now and then, plus I couldn't withstand to place an order on the new Strelets Prussian Landwehr sets. I've been waiting for years for good plastic Landwehr, so let's see how good they really are - and I promise that there's an unboxing article coming up in January.

As the next year will presumably not be much lesser busy then this year was, I don't make any painting plans this time - it would just put me under unnecessary stress. What we all don't need is unnecessary stress. ;-)

The only thing I can promise is that I'm not out of the hobby and that I'll keep up with what I'm doing - just way more slower then I did in the last years. And by the end of 2020, things are going to be much easier then today.

So for now, I wish all of you a good, healthy and happy new year. Make 2019 your year, folks!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Saxon artillery

Short notice: I'm still there. Although I have very little time for painting, I finished a little Set of figures the other day.
I bought a set of the French artillery that Zvezda made for their wargaming-system. And then things went worse...
You can read the whole story on Benno's figures forum - here on my Blog, I just show you the pictures. ;-)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Next update: Garde d'honneur

I've just finished my actual bunch of French garde d'honneur, right before FIGZ. That doesn't mean I'm done with that subject - there are still some cities left and haven't even startet with deep research.

Garde d'honneur de Aix-en-Provence. This city is the historic capital of the Provence region in southeastern France and is today the eleventh largest city of the country. The city history goes back to the Roman city of Colonia Aquae Sextiae Salluviorum - the later name Aix is a shortened reference to the former latin name.

The city of Amiens is another one that already existed in ancient times. It is located in the northeastern part of France, relatively near to Belgium. Most of you will probably connect it to the Somme area where heavy trench battles took place during WW1. Note the black crossbelts - pretty unusual, especially for French units

Bayonne - a city located near the Pyrenees, a mountain region that divides France from Spain. Bayonne is located on the atlantic coast and has played an important role during the revolutionary and Napoleonic time. Being close to the Spanish border, a lot of diplomatic activity has been done there. In 1814, Bayonne was besieged by the British - read more under Battle of Bayonne (Wikipedia) - which means that this unit is definitely of interest for wargaming. 

Lille is in fact directly on the French-Belgian border. It had some 50,000 inhabitants in the early 19th century and was a center of textile production.

This is a member of the Garde d'honneur de Nancy, a city located in the eastern part of France.

Orleans is a city with a rich history, located approximately a hundred kilometers south-south-west of Paris. It's likely that units like this were crammed together for defending Paris in the last part of the 1814 campaign.

Rennes, located in the northeastern part of France, is the only example of two different uniforms within the same city guard that I have found so far. Dark green-pink is for the 1st, dark green-dark yellow for the 2nd company.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Update: Garde d'Honneur

Hello friends!

I'm currently working on a dozend of different Garde d'honneur units. Interestingly, on most uniform plates, I just find an infantryman. Sometimes together with a drummer or officer, in some cases together with a cavalryman. Point is: except from one case, I didn't find different uniforms within the same unit. This might be because the Garde d'honneur units were sort of city protection militia and therefore not organized in the structures of the army regiments, where you had fusiliers, voltigeurs and grenadiers.

Today, I'm ready to present you four units from four different cities. There are more about to come, don't you worry.

First one is the Garde d'honneur of the city of Perpignan. This city is located on the mediterranean coast, near to the border with Spain in a Region called Roussilon or Northern Catalonia. It's quite possible that this militia unit could have been involved in the Peninsular war.

In fact, this is the first experiment that I had done with twisted bicorns. As you know, I only use a single HaT-set for this project. Most Garde d'honneur units that I have found on uniform plates showed them wearing the bicorn hat cross-wise. Unfortunately, the set contains no figure doing so. The only figure wearing a bicorn is the officer - but he wears it length-wise. Therefore, I had to separate the head, then cut it away from the bicorn. I found out that the bicorn only fits cross-wise on grenadier heads - the fusiliers are shaped in a not suitable way. Nevertheless, it works - the result of the swap-heads-and-headdress-operation looks pretty convincing.

Lyon is a big city in southeastern France, not much away from the border to Switzerland.
I like this standing figure very much, although it's not very easy to remove the grenadier head with it's bearskin hat that is awkwardly attached to the musket. But it's worth the work.

Next is a guardsman from Calais. The city of Calais is located on the channel coast in the upper northeastern part of France, close to Belgium. Most people know Calais because of it's port and the ferries that sail off from Calais towards Dover on the British islands. Dudes like this guy would most probably not only have to guard the city, but watch the coastline for smugglers and British spies... whatever. I made the strings on the right shoulder out of small tissue paper stripes dipped into wood glue. the brass object on the guys' breast seems to be a whistle. At least it looked like that on the plate I used.

The last example is a man of the garde d'honneur of the city of Tours. This city is located in central France and has an interesting history. In fact, you should google for it. In the Napoleonic context, there's not much to say about this unit - but I like the colours. Blue and yellow looks really splendid, especially in combination with white gloves and trousers.

Well. So much for today. Stay tuned to see another row of honourable honour guards at a later time. Hope you enjoyed - oh, and if you're located anywhere in range of the Dutch city of Arnhem: don't forget to visit FIGZ 2018, the 1/72 miniature and wargaming event. See more under - it's taking place on June 3rd, just a month ahead from now!

Monday, April 23, 2018

16th United States line infantry regiment

Hi folks, here I am again!

As I'm currently working on some gardes d'honneur, I like to show you something rather unusual in the 1/72 plastic business - that means at least here in Germany where I live. When we Euros here '1812', most of us think about Napoleons invasion in Russia, that bloody campaign that cost hundreds of thousands European soldiers their lives. Probably we also think about the Pensinsular war in Spain. What most of us don't even consider is that far in the West, there was also a war going on - the 'war of 1812'.

For figure painters and wargamers, this scenario has one big advantage: you need only British figures. US-American and British-Canadian uniforms were in most cases (except some militia units and some unique regiments like the Canadian Voltigeurs) nearly the same. Which is especially the case in a small scale like 1/72 where you wouldn't be able to recognize the differences anyway.

So - I bought me a box of Strelets marching British infantry. It did me a favour especially because it has a flagbearer with a banner flying brightly in the sky - great for painting it whatever you like. After looking at the uniform posters, I decided to go and paint these figures with the uniform colours of the 16th US line infantry regiment. Hope you enjoy the pictures. 

For many of the early war US units, the old stove-pipe-shako would be the choice of  the day. So have a look onto the uniform posters to find out which unit wore which sort of shako at which time. In addition, some regiments changed jacket colours during the war - for example starting with a brown jacket early in the campaign, later switching to a grey one. For this unit, the Belgian shako fits just fine.
The backside of the troop. In the middle, you can see troopers wearing the blue coated backpack. I wonder if there was a consistent regulation on that matter, because on the basis of looking to uniform plates, paintings and reenactor pictures, I couldn't find out which units wore the black backpack, the covered one, even several sorts of backpacks seemed to have been used, some with coat on top of them, sometimes slung around, sometimes I saw no coat at all... pretty confusing.
The Strelets figures do a real good job, I like them a lot. The only thing about them are the muskets - they're still a wee bit too thick to look fine.
By the way - I found several examples that officers wore blue uniforms while the ensigns and the troopers wore the distinctive colours of the regiment.
I still have a couple of British infantry figures on my desk - which means that I will show you a couple of colour variations in a future blogpost. For sure.

See you next time!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Strelets Highlanders standing at ease

Okay - finally, I've finished my little vignette of Highland infantry standing at ease. Here come the boys...
Okay. Looks good from the distance. A little bit closer please...

...just a little bit closer please...

Perfect. Thanks.
So here they are. Scots of the 78th regiment ('ross-shire buffs'). I think that Strelets has done a very good job on these chaps. Really nice figures.
Here are some close-ups. The figures themselves are reasonably detailed. I know that the backpacks have side pouches which are historically not correct. Plus the muskets are a field of business where the sculptor still has to do some practice - personally, I think they look too thick, more like arquebuses. But apart from that, there's nothing wrong with these figures.
Here's a pic from the backside. Although it was pretty time-consuming to paint this small bunch of infantry, it was worth the efford. I thought that a group of highlanders like these would look absolutely stunning and I didn't get disappointed. The result is an addition to my collection that makes me very, very glad.