Tuesday, 31 March 2009

These Blogs are coming along in threes, just like London Buses........
As promised I attache some pictures of the painted Winged Hussar along with some WIP photos of the second member of this mad project.
So I decided that I just had to have some Polish Winged Hussars and my addled brain began to process the potential difficulties of obtaining and converting suitable figures, the problems resolved themselves onto three main areas:
1. A mounted figure to use as a basis.
2. How to make and fix the wings
3. Weaponry - of which there is quite a lot.
Taking those in order, the obvious starting point foe the figure is a mounted Knight isn't it? Well I certainly thought so, they've got armour and are in the right sort of position. Therefore I got some cheap bits via ebay, and stated to study the Osprey book on the subject, and guess what, even if you want to produce a rough approximation of Polish armour you need to almost completely re-sculpt the armour. The two top pictures show this as well as the ones in the previous Blog, all I was left with was the top half of the cuirass, the rest is Milliput or Greenstuff. I used a lot of Milliput as the weight counters the top-heaviness of the completed model. The heads are from Maros in both cases. The clothing, what you can see of it and the animal skin are from Greenstuff, it all took a long time.
I pondered long and hard over the wings, and discarded a number of options before settling on this solution. The Osprey source shows that in the 1680's they were attached to the rear of the cuirass not by a series of straps as I had imagined also they were (obviously I guess) very light, so these are made from thin copper tube carefully bent to shape, with feathers from thin card fixed with impact adhesive. The feathers for each wing are made in one piece, I had thought to make individual feathers, but luckily a shaft of common sense hit my brain and things were made slightly easier. The wings are attached to the figure by sliding the copper tubes over pins that are fixed and then bent at right angles so they are vertical, this can be seen in the first pic above. A bonus of this method is that the wings can be removed and packed away as they are quite fragile.
Weapons, this started well and ended badly. The sabre if from HELMET spares as are the pistols attached to the front of the saddle, the pained model also uses our pistol holsters, the lance is brass and the pennon from painted paper. So far so good, then disaster...... The painted fig should have a long straight sword slung from the saddle under the left thigh, I just couldn't get one to fit as I left this part much too late, When I started the second model, this was one of the first jobs I tackled, see photos above - the blue feet by the way are there because on completing the armour I noticed that the Britains knight no longer looked right, mainly because one leg was about 8mm longer that the other, so major amputation and transplant surgery was necessary.
So main lessons were, research the basis figure well before spending money and starting converting, be clear from the outset how to construct the various components, and lastly make sure everything will fit together in the right order to avoid last minute frustrations.
Next I'll complete the WIP figure and make perhaps one or two more and then think about producing some Turks by way of opposition, then more War of 1812???
Comments and feedback welcome

Monday, 30 March 2009

I guess I should entitle this Blog as "An Attack of Madness, tempered by a Return to Common Sense".
The Story So Far......................
So I got interested in the late 17th Century and started to convert some figures for the Monmouth Rebellion with a view to perhaps using them in other conflicts, such as against the Moors at Tangier and in Europe or Virginia etc etc. I found a terrific Blog which has fuelled my enthusiasm and extended the possibilities that this period can deliver, if you are at all interested click on the link http://warsoflouisxiv.blogspot.com/ it is an example of some of the better thing that the Internet has produced.
So there I was looking at wars in the 1680's when I sort of remembered the siege of Vienna in 1683 (?) and the charge of the Polish Winged Hussars, so I checked my books and found some info, but not in any great detail, I searched the web and found some more pictures and film clips, both movies and re-enactment footage, then I bought, secondhand, the Osprey book on Polish Winged Hussars, the red mist descended and I had to have a go, so the first two pictures show my first attempt, with the converting finished but the painting yet to be done. I will describe how I built this beast, what went well and what went wrong, next time...................
The next two photos show how I built some of the musket armed figures shown in the previous Blog, with another pic here as a reminder. In actual fact these two chaps are the first of my Monmouth Rebels, the construction principles remain the same, however. These two are from the Accurate AWI Militia set. I chose them for a number of reasons:
* They both have flintlocks - apparently Monmouth was fairly well supplied with these.
* They are wearing long coats, which although of the wrong design can be easily adapted to reflect the style of the 1680's.
* They are wearing breeches and stockings, so no work needed there.
They both needed to have different headgear, the one on the left had his hat cut off at forehead level and a new on added, the brim is Milliput, a flattened ball of the stuff pressed onto the flat surface left after cutting, the rest of the hat was built from greenstuff, all very simple. His colleague has a metal head made by Maros. The plastic head was removed and a hole drilled in the neck to take the metal stub on the Maros head, after a dry run to make sure everything fitted the new head was fixed with superglue. When this has dried I added a neck cloth from putty, this is historically accurate and adds strength to the join and covers any gaps.
The rest was comparatively simple the coat fronts, pockets and cuffs were fixed with Milliput, the weight of this material compensates for the top heavy metal head, and the buttons gradually built up with thick paint.
I trimmed the cape from one of the coats and also trimmed off the powder horn and made a more in-period powder flask, finally I added some greenery in the hats, which Monmouth's men used as a sort of fieldsign/badge.
That's it, next time it's the Hussar.
Cheers and take care.

Monday, 23 March 2009

This Blog is as regular and reliable as good news in the economy.

Apologies once again for the erratic and irregular postings, this has been mainly due to two factors, once again I have been made jobless, that is my normal full time employment has been "terminated due to the current economic situation", and secondly, I have had what my doctor still, with that knowing little piece of humour that endears the profession to the rest of us, the 100 day coughing virus, which leaves me feeling, well, pretty crud.

So I have been job hunting and trying to get well. Simultaneously I have embarked on yet another new period, focusing initially on what is generally known in the UK as the Monmouth Rebellion. Very briefly, this was an attempt in 1685 by the illegitimate son of Charles II, James Duke of Monmouth to bring about regime change and topple his uncle, King James II. Activities were centered in the West Country and ended after a brief campaign at the Battle of Sedgemoor where Monmouth and his army were defeated.

I chose this period because I find it of great interest personally and it is another "little war" that lends itself to re-creation in 54mm scale and there is a surprising amount of information available on the uniforms colours and organisation of the protagonists, finally the regulars as seen in these photos can, I hope be used in other theatres such as Tangier against the Moors and in Europe against the armies of other nations.

What we show above represents a company of Kirke's Regiment from the army of James II, they are mostly produced by converting A Call to Arms ECW figures, although there are some AWI models from Accurate and ECW from Replicants. Next time I will explain how the conversions were achieved and also mention some useful sources including a truly inspirational Blog which anyone interested in the period should follow.

In the meantime feedback welcomed and see you soon.