Saturday, 27 October 2007

This time we will look at the Crimean War, one of my favourite periods. It is some yardstick on the nature and extent of my insanity that I embark on toy soldier projects that require almost every figure to be drastically converted, and this one is no exception. Shares in greenstuff must have rocketed during this time as I was buying packet after packet, and going through knife blades at a rate of knots.
I think then contrast between the British and Russian uniforms is another reason why this war is so interesting, the British are dressed in classic toy soldier style, whilst their opponents are drab and almost modern looking, I'll publish some Russian photos next time.
So to the pictures, first off an 11th Hussar trooper, one of Lord Cardigan's "Cherry Bums". This is an extremely minor conversion of a standard HELMET Napoleonic British hussar, all I did was add a small cap pouch to his waist belt, made from a scrap of plastic, the water canteen and haversack moulding is another addition. You can see this more clearly in the second photo, which shows our bold hussar alongside a Light Brigade colleague, this time from the 17th Lancers - this is a standard HELMET kit.
Next we have some Scots Greys from the Heavy Brigade. These are mostly old Cherilea heads on CTS Mexican cavalry bodies, mounted on Imex horses, the belts and other equipment are built up from greenstuff. The officer's head is from Timpo, with a somewhat alarming set of whiskers "greenstuffed" to his face.The trumpeter behind him is from the slightly disappointing Italeri Greys set, with built up headgear and trumpet slung across his back from a HELMET spare. Wherever practical I replace plastic swords with metal pins, thickened up gradually with layers of paint, this prevents the plastic blades bending and cracking their paint. I paint in batches, so the left over paint from batch one produces the sword blades for batch 2.
My grandfather was in the Coldstream Guards, so there is a dreadful inevitability about their appearance in my Crimean British army. So the next picture shows a part of the single company I have produced so far. These fellows are from Imex, CTS, Accurate, A Call to Arms, Armies in Plastic and (probably) others, They have heads looted from Britains Deetail figures picked out from rummage boxes at various shows. Plumes, large white epaulets, equipment and cuff flaps from the omnipresent greenstuff with coat fronts trimmed to look double-breasted, buttons have been built up with paint as per the sword blade method outlined above. Finally we have four Highlanders from the Thin Red Streak, the 93rd. These are from Timpo with bonnets, sporrans and cuff flaps from greenstuff. These were quite simple to convert, but maddening to paint, personally I find the tartan not too bad, it's the damn dicing on the headwear and the pattern on the hose that I drives me to distraction, which all goes to explain why there are only four!
I'm still working on War of 1812 American regulars, so an update on progress there, next time. Also some Crimean Russians, and how about some English Civil War to add a bit of contrast?
Any comments or feedback welcomed, and by the way we have added a link to the Blog from the website under the "Latest News" tab.
Many thanks

Sunday, 21 October 2007

So here we are at Blog Number 2 and some War of 1812 American Regulars. Thanks to all those who responded with positive feedback after Number1.

Some people requested information detailing the construction and conversion methods I use, but, before I go on to do that, a quick statement of the type of stuff I produce. We like to have big units, we think that large scale figures in small numbers look a little daft, so what you see in is our standard infantry company, an officer, drummer and sergeant and 20 privates. Because of our desire to build these units as quickly as possible, our conversions are best described as "in the style of...." that is they do not stand up to scrutiny as 100% accurate, but are pretty close, they are not connoisseur models, but toy soldiers for wargames and display.

I've always liked "American Wars" ACW and AWI (American Revolution if you prefer) both are well provided for with plenty of plastic figures in our scale. So why choose the War of 1812? Madness just madness.

So back to the figures. They are a mix of Barzo figures from the period, a few HELMET Soldiers, simple conversions here, and the bulk of the rest coming from A Call to Arms Belgian Infantry, BMC Mexicans with similar from CTS. I was just looking for British style Napoleonic types.

For all except the Barzo's I used HELMET Belgic shakos. I removed the cords, not the tassels, and badges and replaced these with new items form greenstuff, the American badge was small and higher up, and the cords sloped across rather than hanging in a half loop. I also "nicked off" the top corners of the false front on the shako to try and create the impression of greater height. A tip here, I try to avoid troops carrying their musket across their bodies, this can often be avoided by turning the head through 90 degrees and have him looking along his gun rather than across it. The high collars which support the pinned and glued heads come from greenstuff.

Those figures wearing knapsacks had them replaced with American envelope style packs made simply from greenstuff. I've uploaded a couple of pics of the command figures as we have had a few questions about the availability of such models. The Officer is as follows: HELMET body, arms, head, sword and scabbard, Marx US cavalry legs with sash etc from greenstuff. The drummer is an old Timpo Waterloo figure with a HELMET head, I carved away the lace on the coatee front and built up coat tails, haversack and canteen from greenstuff. Finally the sergeant is basically a HELMET figure converted as above with sash and epaulets from greenstuff with an extra sword and bayonet scabbard. The belts are made from thin paper fixed with a gel superglue. Painted for durability in good old gloss enamels and textured bases. Done!
I'm working on some more regulars in grey jackets which we'll post when complete. Any feedback gratefully received.
Cheers for now.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

We start the first HELMET Soldiers Blog with three photos from a garden, front drive actually, wargame held on one of the last Sundays of the Summer. The (somewhat) outlandish scenario was a small Russo/Austrian force was retreating to the coast where they would be rescued by elements of the Royal Navy assisted by a detachment of Marines. The French were in hot pursuit and, using our simple rules the usual carnage ensued, good fun though and some excellent pictures courtesy of my 17 year old son, who also commanded, successfully as usual, the Allies.

I intend to add items to this Blog at what will probably be irregular intervals. It is not meant to be an advert for HELMET Soldiers, although inevitably some of the figures and conversions will be from our product range. I hope the Blog will be about painting and converting toy soldiers in 1:32 or 54mm if you prefer. By definition, a lot of the posts will be based around the 1800 to 1815 period, but I do have interests outside of that timframe and some of the updates will reflect that.

So to the pictures, the first show French Old Guard Grenadiers, these are amix of metal and plastic from Irregular Miniatures for the metals and Aifix and Armies in plastic for, guess what? There's quite a lot of conversion work involved to bring the plastics up to the same appearance as their metal comerades.

The second photo shows part of a squadron of Russian Dragoons. These are our figures in a pretty much straight up and down simple uniform.

Lastly I show a Russian infantry square some AIP 1812 period figures and some Grenadiers of around 1805. The basic models are I think Russian made and now difficult to get hold of, nice though they are the poses are quite limited so they are, once again, a fair proportion of heavily converted chaps in amoungst the rest.

So that's it for the moment, short and sweet, next time I'll cover something a little different, thanks for looking.