Saturday, 19 September 2020

So here I am in day two of the latest lock-down although my council claims its not really such but in fact now titled 'restrictions?' Its semantics really because either way it just piles more misery onto ones shoulders.I wont bore or depress any followers with what is happening because no doubt others will be suffering the same. The images are of a couple of some beautiful castings I was kindly given by fellow sufferer Iain Macmillan who very thoughtfully sent me them to cheer me up. They are Les Higgins 30mm figures and to be honest I have hankered after the seated drummer for many a year.


 They may be old but are anatomically correct, a joy to paint and basically damned good figures. On the old Facebook one of my nemesi?? Ian Smith was taking the Michael out of me about all things nostalgic and he has a case in some aspects of the discussion, but these figures show why some old ranges deserve recognition.



After receiving my latest Miniature Wargames edition I was interested in the article by Conrad Kinch re the Waterloo Uncovered Project. This is the same group that staged the giant Battle of Waterloo wargame eons ago [last year]. I enjoyed the weekend and was naturally interested in the appeal that Conrad was making for contributors for their latest project.  

James Cowan is a trustee of Waterloo Uncovered, a charity that supports wounded ex-soldiers come to terms with their conditions through the medium of archaeology.  Every year, the charity conducts a dig at Waterloo and, as well as uncovering new perspectives on the battle, the many soldiers who attend enjoy being part of the project.  In the first few years, the focus was at Hougoumont but recently work has expanded to other parts of the battlefield.

One of the techniques employed by Waterloo Uncovered has been to compare the diorama built by Captain William Siborne with the modern archaeological evidence.  It occurred to James that it would be good to construct a new diorama of the battle in homage to Siborne, but taking advantage of modern scholarship.  While Siborne’s work was pioneering for its time, much has been learnt since.  James had been collecting 20mm figures for many years and had amassed around 40,000 metal and plastic soldiers.  This was quite a large number in its own right but nothing like the numbers needed to replicate the battle at one to one scale.  Given that the French started the battle with 72,000, the Allies had 64,000 and Blucher brought about 40,000 of his Army onto the battlefield, this would require 176,000 figures.  At the rate he was painting (about a 1,000 a year) it would have taken James a mere 136 years to complete the project.  

This harsh reality caused a re-think!  The first thing to do was to cut numbers from one to one, to one to two-thirds and then to write down numbers because of casualties. Once the extremities of the battlefield had been removed, this reduced the requirement to a mere 100,000.  Secondly, he has been able to persuade two other major collectors to join the project and has hopes others will do so as well; thirdly, he has increased production by assembling an army of volunteer painters, each taking on a unit.  James’s father, Edward is an experienced model maker and has taken on the construction of all buildings, producing 1/72 reproductions of Hougoumont, La Haie Sainte, Papelotte, La Belle Alliance and Plancenoit.  

In consequence, the model is growing very rapidly.  The plan is to hold an interim exhibition at the UK’s National Army Museum in June 2021. This is the home of Siborne’s main diorama (a second one is in the Royal Armouries at Leeds).  Given the unfinished nature of the project and given the limited space at the National Army Museum, the plan is to show various sections of the battle, namely Hougoumont, La Haie Sainte, Papelotte, Plancenoit and La Belle Alliance.  In subsequent years, the main French cavalry attack, The Grand Battery, and D’Erlon’s Corps will be added.  Eventually, the full battlefield will be shown on an area about the size of a tennis court, although the actual shape resembles an octagon.

But while progress has increased dramatically, there is still plenty of room for more volunteers.  The attached spreadsheet shows completed units in green and units underway in amber.  We are looking for volunteers to complete any of the units listed in red.    

The diorama consists of a mixture of metal and plastic figures.   Figures are 1/72 or 20mm.  Like all scales, this is a fairly elastic term, varying in height from the smaller Newline (metal) and Airfix (plastic), through to the larger Art Miniaturen (metal) and Zvezda (plastic).  15mm/18mm and 25mm/28mm figures are out of scope.  

Painters are expected to be competent and capable of fine detail, but collector standard is not required in these numbers. When sent in, figures should not be attached to scenery but can be flocked.  The finish should be matt varnished, not gloss. Examples of work completed are in the attached pdf.  

The team are also looking for collectors who have decided that there is no point in their 20mm or 1/72 armies sitting in boxes in the attic  and would like to see their figures displayed in what will be the largest diorama of its kind ever constructed.  Once the work is done, contributors are asked to accept that their figures become part of the diorama and cannot be returned.

So I decided to offer my services. I mean its not like Im doing that much and my social calendar is buggered anyway. It must be well over 40 years sincee I tried to paint 1/72 plastic figures, and most can remember as the paint pinged off the swords of their Airfix figures. So Ive volunteered to collect and paint 350 French line dragoons. It will be an interesting problem, because of the repetition required and no doubt will become a bit of a chore, still its for a good cause and keeps me out of punching some none wearing mask person. 




This chap is my sample figure to understand the issues etc for painting these figures. It is from the Italieri range and they are very nice to be honest if a little delicate.So I only need 18 boxes of them and a couple of jars of green etc. Hopefully I will be able to carry on painting my ancients etc in between all that green paint. 


 

29 comments:

  1. Beautiful brushwork as always, and I see what you mean about the Les Higgins figures. Did he/they ever produce any SYW figures?

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I dont think he ever did Stokes. Sadly he died prematurely.

      Delete
  2. The painted model figure looks great; 349 to go!
    I must confess that painting 350 of anything all more or less the same would probably extinguish all interest in the hobby for me, but good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent work on the ECW figures. Painting 350 dragoons is a big task but sounds like a worthy project. It will be an impressive sight to see this project come to fruition.good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thinking about sending them to you Johnathan because they will be a doddle for your skills.

      Delete
  4. Well done for taking up the challenge, I felt I wouldn't be able to produce anything in decent numbers as I am a very slow painter. The pictures of progress on James's blog are just mind boggling!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had forgotten how well sculpted 1/72 plastic is. They are beautifully detailed, shame about the preparation.

      Delete
  5. I have elected to join James Cowan project, and have volunteered my brush, I love French cavalry so asked for any of the cavalry regiments that may require painting.

    My first lot of Cuirassiers have been sent to me to paint 204 miniatures in total. My wife is also happy to help and will be wielding the airbrush for the undercoat wash and varnish stage.

    Hoping to start them in October when I clear a few more bits of my own.

    Cheers
    Matt
    French Wargame Holidays

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never thought about an airbrush, what a cracking idea Matt.I really wanted to paint a Garde Lancer unit but they were already gone, still green is a good colour so cant complain.

      Delete
  6. Just 349 to go Robbie, you'll never know till they're all done!.
    Seriously though, good on you. It is a worthwhile project.
    Regards,
    Paul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Paul,
      Im hoping to get a proper conveyor belt system going when I have thought about things clearly.

      Delete
  7. I have always felt that 1/72 plastics are hard to paint, but your sample is beautifully presented. I recall you donated to the big Waterloo game last year - doing another 350 cavalry for this project is an impressive undertaking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be honest Norm, painting the Young Garde last year was a pleasure, 1/72 is a whole different ball game. They are very well detailed with some annoying inaccuracies.

      Delete
  8. And the best of British with that! I baulk at painting 20 figures, must less 300, so I'll not be joining you. Why choose 20mm though, smaller scales surely more achievable? Still, it takes all sorts I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true David. I have a beautiful series of 6mm Napoleonic armies that look great en masse, but 1/72 it is Im afraid.

      Delete
  9. Very nice job, I do like the first vignette and the splendid brown shades!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Phil,
      Its an old trick, bronze fleshtone with a wash of Rhiekland.

      Delete
  10. Hope you get them done. Its for a good cause. And cheer up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Ill get them completed Colin, once I have all the figures.

      Delete
    2. I’m sure you will have them done in a couple of weeks 😉 Wish you well with them.

      Delete
  11. Robbie
    I'd forgotten all about the Les Higgins 30mm and that drummer is a classic nothing like it out there now. I think Ian missed the point about the elegance of the older figures ! I will take a look at the Waterloo Uncovered project and see if there's something I can do to support this worthy cause.
    Can I also suggest that you look up Tom the Wargamer on you tube this 12 year old lad just wants to do historical gaming and his videos, I think, are great to watch. He's articulate and full of enthusiasm- I'm sending him some figures and I think you may enjoy them

    ReplyDelete
  12. Blimey Robbie, they did say not collector standard, so I would love to see what you consider IS collector standard! Lovely paint job...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just want them to look good without overdoing them. With smaller scales you have to exaggerate the colours to make them stand out.

      Delete
  13. I think this is one of the most significant information for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article.
    But should remark on some general things, the web site style is perfect,
    the articles is really great : D. Good job…
    Sexy Baccarat

    ReplyDelete
  14. Good on you for contributing to the Waterloo in 20mm project Robbie. I enjoy it from afar.
    Those Italeri dragoons are fine figures and you have done a beaut job with the first of them. The detail is finer and more abundant on the plastic figures, I find, which makes them a little harder to paint than metals, but more rewarding. I also find that they are generally in more realistic proportions.
    Regards, James

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lovely trio of ECW types, really nice finish! 350 dragoons! Your a better man than me, good luck,the sample figure looks ace!
    Best Iain

    ReplyDelete
  16. Robbie,haven't heard from you for a while-are you ok???
    johnc.

    ReplyDelete

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating