Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Who carves out little things out of little things, can also handle something bigger, eh? Muahahaha. Enjoy this day and don't forget to have some giveaways for all those creepy little monsters that will haunt your house this evening.

I've been a bit busy in the last week, so I was only able to bring some things into preparation phase. I'm currently working on a bigger group of Wurttemberg grenadiers for a small dio. I also have three figures from HaT's 1806-1812 French infantry set on my desk which I'm painting in the colours of Cleve-Berg infantry (a Rhine confederation state). And I'm of course also continuing to paint figures from Strelets' great Napoleonic staff sets. By the way - to make the welcome for my British guests a bit warmer, I've added some figures to

And next weekend, it's shopping time! The Figurenbörse (figure trade show) in Herne starts - a figur trade event right next door... who could resist?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A possible conversion: Wurttemberg light horse

Well - as I recently painted the test shots of HaT's forthcoming Wurttemberg mounted riflemen, I looked for all the other cavalry troop types that fought during the Napoleonic wars. Wurttemberg, although not even one of the biggest players of the German states allied with France, had a complete range of the typical common troop types of this era in their service. So if anyone states the new HaT set as 'Wurttemberg cavalry' in general, he's wrong. The cavalry branch of the Wurttemberg army contained also light horse regiments, dragoons, life guard mounted riflemen, garde du corps cuirassiers and mounted grenadiers.

The uniform that the mounted riflemen wear is pretty close to the standard uniform type of the infantry. So from their design, they don't fit for a conversion into garde du corps or mounted grenadiers. The uniforms would fit with the dragoons, but they were equipped with a sort of special shakos typical for Wurttemberg. It's the same type that is worn by the riflemen from the HaT Wurttemberg infantry set - but unfortunately these figures are smaller than the newer cavalrymen, so headswapping is no option at all.

Let's face it - the only possible conversion are the light horse regiments. There were two of them - I decided for the 2nd regiment. The first regiment would be equally equipped, but their cuffs, collars and outer breast line (or total breast, if painted in a pre-1810 version of the uniform) would be in yellow colours.

Okay. The first thing to be changed are the horses, because the sattlecloth differs a lot from the ones that the mounted riflemen had. At first, you must carve off the tips of the sattlecloth so that their right side goes straight upside down. Here is a photo comparing the saddlecloth from the original horses (right side) with the conversion (left side):
Don't mind the light blue - the right horse will be painted in colours of Wurttemberg horse artillery. As you can see, the saddle itself is layed on top of the saddlecloth and the light horse regiments had pistol pouches as well. Both are made out of simple toilet paper - just take a stripe of toilet paper (unused, for the clowns among you!) and dip it into wood glue. When dryed out, they get almost as hard as plastic, but remain a little bit flexible. Cut out the required shapes with a scalpel, then bend them a bit until they fit onto the horse and glue them onto it. Wait a few hours until everything has perfectly hardened and then just paint the whole thing.

Edit: here are some pictures of how I made the officers' horse which might display the whole thing a lot better.
This is the basic horse taken from the HaT Wurttemberg cavalry set. The first necessary step is to remove the tips of the saddlecloth and flatten the frontal part of the saddlecloth a bit. Then we take the pistol pouches and saddle modifications that we have made out of the dried and hardened paper/glue mix:

...and attach them to the horse...
...followed by prepainting the whole assembly in light grey.

Now we've got the horse, we can start with the riders.

At first, you may have - for example - a look at,107-.html. As you can see, the relevant differences between mounted riflemen and light horse cavalry are the boots and the helmet decorations. The boots are simply done by cutting off the plumes and the outher rim of the original boots and solve the rest with paint. For the helmets, a bit of creativity is needed.
Starting with the officer, you must carefully carve off the caterpillar at the line where it is connected to the crest. Then carve off the crest and glue the caterpillar onto the helmet again. In the same way, you create officer helmets for the mounted riflemen as well. Add a plume. Done.

The plumes are also made with toilet paper and wood glue - dip a piece of toilet paper into the glue, then roll it between your fingers until it has the right size and shape, let it dry out and glue it onto the helmet.
The officers wore a sash. Fill the spaces along the waist belt with flat parts of the toilet paper/wood glue basic plate from which you took the extra saddle parts. Glue them onto the figure and continue with painting (Wurttemberg sashes were silver with black and red wires in it).

Here's the result:

Btw - the procedure concerning the caterpillar is also suitable for converting the riders into mounted horse artillerymen. But let's stay to the light horse for now. The ranks have different helmets with horse tail decoration instead of the caterpillars, while the crests remain. So carve off the caterpillar. Take a thin layer of toilet paper, rip it carefully off from the complete sheet, so that the outer rim has an uneven look and put glue onto the whole thing. Bend it a bit so that the whole result looks at least a bit lively and finally glue it onto the crest. Don't forget to add a plume.

Now it's time to put the rider onto his horse. As the complete saddlegear in now a bit wider than the original figure was, you need to spread the legs of the riders a little bit. You can either do that befor printing (maybe by putting the figure into boiling water for a minute and then reshape it) or just spread the figures' legs a bit by force, then put the figure onto the saddle and let the legs snap back.

The result would then look like this:

E voila - chevau léger! A really colourful addition to every Wurttemberg army, made with only a little additional work. The saddlecloth for the officer is the same, apart from the colours, because the officer would have a big silver stripe with red outer lining instead of the thick red stripe that the ranks had.

Edit: I just finished the officers' horse, so here's the completed result:

And both of them together:

Well - there's still a trumpeter missing, isn't it? I just dropped the Wurttemberg horse artillery idea. I probably rather add the missing trupeter here, as soon as I find an arm with a trumpet for doing the conversion.

I hope you enjoyed todays' show!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Britain hurray!

Ah - I'm back from a week of vacation at the Northern Sea with my family. The weather was 80% great, the kids had their fun and me - well, I took along a pack of HaT Wurttemberg infantry, but our appartment had the most annoying lighting I've ever seen. There was no room in which I found enough light in order to have some painting fun at all! Unbelievable!

At least, I managed to make some headswaps (all marching fusiliers turned into grenadiers) and do some prepainting. But as it was not what I have planned, I'm somewhat happy to be back at home.

I even was without a constant internet access for more then a week now, but I have noticed that in the meantime, I had the 100st visitor from Great Britain on my blog. Wow - that's really great!
So this one here is especially for you (although I hope it wouldn't offend people from Wales or Scotland ;-)) - with a big Hurray for good old Britain!

To be honest, I wanted to paint these figure anyway. It's from the Strelets set 011 Allied chiefs of staff. This set contains a number of Austrian and British officers. Due to a lucky catch on Ebay, I got at least the British part of this set which is currently very rare and seldom to be seen.

Update October, 31st:
Well... for the Scots among you:

What news might he bring? (horse guard staff sergeant)
Well - where the heck are our guns? (horse guard trumpeter and horse artillery sergeant)
And here are some more...

Okay - here's the rest of it. The guy with the overdimensioned hand is the infantry officer that by definition of Strelets holds a waving flag. But as this flag is much too small to prevent looking hilarious, I simply cut it off. Interesting is that on the photo, this guy seems to peer - this seems to depend on the angle from which you look to the figure.

So what's up with the rest?
Uxbridge and the table were missing when I bought these figures on ebay. Cotton looks ridiculous, as does Hill (in the latter case, the two halfs of his face don't match which gives him a quite odd look). I also don't like the Wellington figure. Picton will be needed for a different object because of his gentleman-like look and I'm not sure what to do with the generals that normally are intended to hang around the (not available) table.
So at this time, I'd say this is it and close this project... for now.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sneak preview 3 - HaT Wurttemberg cavalry

Hello again!

After writing the article about the Prussian hussars and Brunswickers, I decided that the Wurttemberg cavalry is worth it's own threat. Why? Because they make up a much better appearance when painted. Honestly, I think that the Wurttembergers are really better stuff then the rest, although they share some of the problems of the other sets (regarding horses, arms, weaponry etc.). Those men are representing the Wurttemberg chasseurs a cheval and therefore are so to say light cavalry. The other types of Wurttemberg cavalry were dragoons, cuirassiers and chevaux leger.
An interesting thing about them is that their uniforms have not changed during the entire Napoleonic era, except from replacing the helmets with shakos around 1814.  So the only difference between the colours were either fully coloured breasts or breasts were only the outer lines were coloured different then the rest of the uniform.

So what we have here, are a trooper and a trumpeter from the regiment Herzog Louis in their 1812 outfit. 

As far as I know, those are the ones that will be seen on the box art. The second possible unit that can be created with theses figures, is the regiment Koenig. The third chasseur a cheval regiment was the regiment Prince Adam, which can't be done with this set because it was founded past 1814 and at that time, the Wurttemberg army was no longer equipped with caterpillar helmets, but with somewhat unique shakos.
So this is a trooper of regiment Koenig, 1812:

I don’t know if a different artist was responsible for creating these figures. They simply look a bit better, although their faces aren’t high class, too. Oh - the horses look quite the same. They match quite much with the Brunswicker horses, except from the saddlecloth.
What is interesting about the horses is that the sculptor seemingly had a problem with the horse gear. The snaffle has a lace which goes from in front of one ear to the other side. This is correctly done on the left side of the horses’ head – but for some strange reason it is missing on the other.

So after looking at the list of different Wurttemberg cavalry units, I decided to try some conversions. The dragoons were just impossible, because they wear a special sort of shakos that I haven’t seen on other figures except from the HaT Wurttemberg infantry jaegers, but unfortunately, their heads are too small for swapping.
For the start, I tried out the Chevaux leger. At the moment, I already finished a trooper and an officer, but for the latter I still haven't finished the horse, because the saddlecloth and equipment for chevaux leger units looks far different and requires at least some basic sculpting work. I'm also working on an example for Wurttemberg horse artillery - so the conversions will be seen in a different posting. 

CU then!

Sneak preview 2 - the forthcoming Prussians and Brunswickers

Well - at first I like to excuse myself for the long time that it took from my promise to give you the next sneak preview until now. Honestly, I should have kept my big mouth shut.
For some weeks, I have not shown you anything but the Happy Wargamer. There were two reasons for that: First, I’m currently working on my first novel. Second, I got more and more demotivated by the figures I chose to paint. So please forgive me the relativity of the term ‘soon’ and let me explain to you what happened!

When I got my hands on the fabulous HaT Napoleonic allied officers’ set (here are the painted figures:, I was inspired of the figures’ quality and how nice they looked after painting. So I asked my distributor if he had more of that stuff to offer. Finally, I received three sprues each from three sets that will probably be launched by HaT in 2012:

Wurttemberg chasseurs a cheval
Prussian hussars post-1806
Brunswick cavalry

Wow. Another three sets of figures that I would be able to paint before many others will. It’s an exciting feeling. The first concept drawings on the HaT website looked nice, so I expected to get a new number of excellent figures for my collection. Well – I shouldn’t have been so excited before having seen them.
When they arrived, I first noticed the plastic. It’s a medium-hard sort of plastic which allows modest manipulation and supports cutting- and carvingwork quite well. But it’s half-transparent green! Hopefully, the production figures will be in a different colour, because on half-transparent plastic it’s almost impossible to see and remove mould lines and extra plastic. Much of that work was only to be done when having pre-painted them in light grey.

Originally, I wanted to paint one sprue each, but at the end, I made some alternative decisions. I started to prepaint the figures in light grey and for the first time I got a real impression about the actual painted look of the figures - I must confess that this was the time when I started to become a bit sceptical about the figures.
Some of you might remember what I said about HaT's 1806 Prussian hussars ( - well, unfortunately I must say the same about the new Prussian and Brunswick cavalrymen. And even worse.

What I got were Prussian hussars in campaign dress for the battles past 1812 and Brunswick cavalry. It's too obvious that these have been sculpted by the same guy that was responsible for the 1806 Prussian hussars - they have a similar look and they suffer from the same problems.

These figures lack faces – again, they have only a nose, a beard and the rest looks odd. They are badly proportioned, with ridiculously wide trousers, buttons like saucers, oval heads and a leg/torso ratio, that looks as if this sculptor wanted to show the Strelets’ guys how more dwarfy than a dwarf a dwarf can be. That’s meant for the Prussians and the Brunswickers. For some strange reason, the Wurttembergers have a better look. Maybe some other folk was responsible for sculpting them.

Additionally, I wonder if HaT will ever manage to sculpt a beautiful, realistic horse. In these three cases, they failed again. The horses look somewhat okay in profile, but if you see them from the front, their heads are definitely too flat and the horse gear is way too broad and chunky. Really, I’m annoyed. And I bet that PSR will give them another nine points rating for sculpting and historical accuracy.

So please don’t hurt me too much, I’m doing this mainly because I promised it and in order to give you an impression of the new HaT cavalry sets. If you consider the painting work to be lousy in comparizon with what I’ve shown before, I can only regretfully agree – but I can’t do better with these little plastic thingies.

Let’s start with the Prussian hussars! HaT decided to create some new Prussian hussars for the 1812-1815 period. They wear their gear in campaign style, with shakos covered in oil skin and their pelisses worn as jackets. This is realistic, though it doesn’t give you the possibility to make them up in a somewhat colourful way. Prussian uniforms of that time were not very flamboyant and with the pelisse covering the cuffs and collars and the hussar belt, there’s not much colours to be seen at all. Basically, the hussar regiments were either dressed in green, blue, dark-grey and sandy yellow, plus different colours for the pelts and cords.

So here we’ve got the first three, representing (from left to right) the 3rd (Brandenburg) regiment, the 4th (1st Silesian) regiment and the 1st escadron (former Leib-Husarenregiment) of the 8th regiment.

Well. Yes. Those are the ‘fixed’ three poses. Interestingly, all Prussians seem to have that dead head badge on their shakos which would make them Leib-Hussars. But this badge is so tiny and humble, that you don’t even have to remove it – it disappears under paint. In reality, the soldiers painted dead heads by their own hands onto the oilcloth with which they covered their shakos, mostly with chalk or white paint. So there’s no rule on how large and how shaped these skulls and bones had been as long as you don't have an uncovered parade shako.

Which brings us to hussar number four. Each set contains four hussars, three in predefined outfit and one with the possibility to receive one of three extra arms. These arms hold a carbine, a trumpet or another sabre. In theory, this is a great idea. This means if the sculptor is able to create arms that really fit to the figure. That was somewhat pleasantly solved with the 1806 hussar, but this time, the sculptor has really failed.

This hussar represents the 11th hussar regiment (former Berg). Now look at the arm holding the carbine and how it fits to the rest of the figure. I tried the other arms, it’s all the same – you end up with Popeye on a horse. Another (maybe small) failure is that the trumpet arm misses the swallow nest on the shoulder. I guess they did that because the figure itself misses them, too.
Getting the arms onto the torso will mostly require corrections on the bolt, because otherwise, the arm will easily pop off. Maybe it's the best idea to remove it completely, cause I had several bad experiences with arms falling off again and again. Same thing with the riders and their fitting to the horses - you will always need to glue them onto their horses. Otherwise they'll fall off.

If you look at the profile of this hussar, you can imagine why I’m so unhappy with the overall proportions. Please note the shape of head and shako plus the shape of the trousers:

Well. What is extremely upsetting, are the cords on the pelisse. Maybe the sculptor meant it in a good way, but they should have just indicated them – instead of that, they distinguished them too much while keeping them very thin. Additionally, not all cords go parallel to the others. That might all be realistic – but it suits you bad when painting. If all cords are going criss-cross over the body, the overall look tells you that you’re an imcompetent painter. Which you may already feel like because you need six attempts to get all cords painted correctly without smearing over the background colour.

Let’s better get to the Brunswick cavalry, hum? That means if ‘better’ really is better at all, because their hussars wear the pelisse over their shoulders, which doubles the problem with the cords...

HaT has made a difficult selection here. The sprue contains three hussars and a lancer, which will leave you with four lancers in a full box. Not an impressive number if you want to create a squadron of those, but at least you get two arm positions for them – holding them up for march and holding them in attack position. One of the hussars also has changeable arms, again with sabre, carbine and trumpet – but it does them not better then for the Prussians. When it comes to fit to the figure, the extra arms come along with the same problems as at the Prussians, althought they are optically better proportioned.

So look at these:

Still the same problems with pose, faces, horses. I really, really didn’t like them. Plus I hated their black uniforms. If anyone thinks that white uniforms are hard to be painted – black (or dark anthrazit grey as in this case) is a real pain in the ass.

Additionally, HaT has left me puzzled with a mistery here. The hussars have hessian boots, which I have only found in the Osprey documentation for the Peninsular campaign. But for that time, the design of the lancers is totally different, according to Knoetel. If I take the hussars for the Waterloo campaign, I only find pictures where the boots are worn under the trousers. So what do we have here? 1809 hussars with 1815 lancers?

As I had different information, I painted one with a red-blue coloured hussar belt and one with a yellow-blue coloured hussar belt. Maybe someone can tell me what is right and what is wrong here?
Forgive me, I haven’t painted hussar number three, I ran just out of motivation to paint another anthrazit guy.
Apart from that I found the lancers being dubious – the cords on their helmets are for example running around the helmet into exactly the other way then seen on all reference pictures. Plus they have a crossbelt over their left shoulder that ends on their waist but holds nothing. So WTF?
It’s surely because of my bad painting that this lancer in his black and light blue dress looks like a character from the TRON movie picture, hum?

To be honest, those were the two sets which slowed me down for quite a while, because I simply didn't like them and therefore didn't like to continue painting them. After all, I recognize them being a lesson in painting horses. But in the end, I found a use for some parts of them...
...this creation is made up from the best of three worlds, a Prussian horse, a Wurttemberg head and a Brunswick lancers’ body. What may that look like?

Hurray, it’s a French lancer of the line! Something not so common in plastic.