Sunday, January 25, 2015

Prussian Uhlans of 1830 - 33mm Flats

Here's painted samples from a nice set of Rieche uhlans which I've had on the back burner for some time now.  No particular project in mind here, it was just a good set of castings for which curiosity finally got the best of me to see how they'd look with the paint on.

Rieche Brothers was a flats firm located in Hannover.  Love their figures, beautifully engraved and well animated. Nominally 30mm, they all seem to measure consistently at 33mm.  I have two other sets of 19th Century infantry from this maker, one painted and the other as yet unpainted castings, both very appealing as well.  The factory was destroyed by Allied bombing during WW2, unfortunate collateral damage so far as flats collectors are concerned.  I'm no Rieche expert but their sets do pop up on German eBay and the Berliner Zinnfiguren Flohmarkt now and then so apparently they produced in enough volume that the figures can still be found.

This set of castings contains 11 figures, an officer, two buglers and eight lancers. No standard bearer although one of the buglers could be converted. 

I originally had in mind some other army, but they match the figures illustrated here so exactly that I just painted them as Prussians.

How'd they turn out ?

Although not exactly posed for battle, they're still quite lively and I do like this set.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Spenkuch French - 35mm Flats

I'd bought this set of Spenkuch French infantry from Berliner Zinnfiguren a couple years back.  As well as pretty much splitting the difference between 30mm & 40mm, they also fall between the two camps of semi-rounds and flats as they're quite flat but retain elements of semi-round style.

My first reaction upon receipt of the figures was disappointment.  Primarily due to even the lowly privates being shod in officer's boots. So they remained in their box until recently when I thought of using them for this possible project for the Italian Wars. Giving them another look, they seemed not so bad as I remembered them, so let's see what can be done about the problem with the high boots.

Yup, green stuff to the rescue.

And these are the test figures I modified first.

The figure with the lowered rifle remained French. The other figure was a test conversion to Piedmontese.  Uniform details have been surprisingly hard to pin down for them but apparently they campaigned in 1859 wearing overcoats even in the summer months.  Thus the conversion wasn't difficult, just a matter of bulking up the kepi into shako form with the green stuff (sorry, the photo of these two figures in pre-painted state came out unacceptably blurry). 

So, I think this now becomes a usable set of figures.

Friday, January 2, 2015

French Infantry of 1845: Old 40mm Flats


I'd mentioned in the previous post that this one would cover Spenkuch.  And so I'd intended, only to find the in-progress photo of the castings I'd modified to be unacceptably blurry upon uploading. More about those soon, but in the meantime, here's an interesting small group of antique 40mm flats which I found on the Berliner Zinnfiguren Flohmarkt.

BZ attributed the editor as Ramm of LüneburgThis venerable 19th firm seems to have gone under ca. 1904 with the death of Johan Friedrich Heinrich Ramm. While stylistically they seem a bit different than most of the Ramm offerings, there's no reason firm reason to doubt it. 

The section about Ramm on the Zinnfiguren-Bleifiguren site offers this critique: "Alle diese Typen sind ziemlich ungeschickt in der Stellung und zum Teil auch im anatomischen Bau", which Google translates as "All these guys are pretty awkward in the position and to some extent in the anatomical structure."  That nicely sums it up, although I must say these particular castings look good to my eyes.  At a casual glance they appear a bit ungainly and long-waisted, but upon closer examination I think it's due to the long frock coats and quite baggy trousers.

How to paint them ?  One guy had no shako decoration, so why not French infantry ca.1850, he could be a center company figure and then of course we must have voltigeurs and grenadiers to balance it out.  Thanks to the Humbert & Lienhart plates come in handy.

And the painted result:

Not bad. The "eyes right" pose is always a nuisance with flats because painting the faces frontally is harder than the standard profile. I'm afraid I made a mediocre job of the faces here but they're at least tolerable, and if I can copy the figures successfully, I'm sure to pull off at least a few good ones within a battalion.  Other than that, I think they're well-posed and appealing once the paint goes on.  No copyright issues in play so I've reserved the three castings shown above to try making molds of.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wollner / Sichart: 40mm Bleisoldaten

I hope everyone has emjoyed the holiday season, now winding down towards New Years Day.  For myself, it was great to see the family together again.  I also received something ordered from Berliner Zinnfiguren.  Two sets of 40mm figures: some antique Ramm flat castings (started painting these, more about which in a subsequent post) and the set of (pre-painted !) Wollner Austrian artillery shown here.  It's obvious to anyone following this blog that it's all about painting them myself, but I did think this was a charming set in the old semi-round toy soldier style.

The figures are nominally 40mm but very much on the smallish side of that rather elastic scale.

I also painted the last of the Sichart (except for the bandsmen) Austrian infantry.  I turned back the clock on these to ca. 1860 by cutting off the buttons, converting the tunic to the old double-breasted style and painted on the cross-belts.  Here's an example of one of the figures contrasted with the 1890's style which the figures were intended to be.

The flag is just okay, the raised detail of the Imperial eagle on the casting would have been more worthy of Josef Wagner composing a march "Under the Double Tarantula" as the resemblance to an eagle is approximate at best. I would probably have been better off just filing it off and painting from scratch but it's at least serviceable.

At any rate, this is all I have so any reinforcements will have to be via the mold-making process and I did save one casting for this purpose.  No rush about it though, the figures on parade with their slung rifles are a bit lacking in martial vigor so I think I can do better by the Austrian infantry from some other source.  Nice to have these as a fall-back though.

Next up, Spenkuchs.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Old Heinrichsen French - 28mm Flats

The Risorgimento or Italian wars of 1848-1866 have been of interest to me for several years now, since first reading about these battles of which I had previously known nothing virtually nothing.  I've been looking for flats depicting this era off and on and the pickings seem to be slim when it comes to figures currently in production. However, the antique flats do appear on eBay and the Berliner Zinnfiguren Flea Market from time to time.

That's how I acquired this old set of French infantry.  Actually it took about 3 purchases of smaller groups to scrape together a minimal battalion of 21 foot plus a mounted commander.  As you can see in the first photo, the factory paint has seen better days. As indeed you'd expect given that the figures were probably produced when battles like Solferino were current news.

First of all they are small:

Nor have even the Germans been entirely consistent in scale over the years.  From left to right, old Heinrichsen 28mm & 30mm, Keiler, Rieche Brothers.


How do they look when stripped and repainted ?  Not too bad, I think.  Somewhat crude compared to the newer flats but they do appeal.  As you can see, the pose is the same but the men in overcoats are executed in a different style from the guys in tunics.  Judging by the shakos, they predate the Franco-Prussian wars. 2nd Empire experts can help me out here, but I'm guessing ca. 1855-1860 is about right. 

And on the plus side, their simplicity and diminutive size makes them the fairly easy to paint.  I'm painting them five at a time in assembly line fashion and should finish the battalion within three weeks.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Checking In


After an exceptionally long hiatus, I'm pleased to report that I'm painting again.  If there are actually any followers left, I salute your patience. 

A few examples to start out.  First, the other side of the 30 Years War reiter.  This is actually the companion figure to the other of Gustavus Adolphus getting shot out of the saddle at the Battle of Lutzen.  He is part of the Heinricshen set Der 30-jährige Kriegproduced in 1883.  These are nominally 40mm, but more precisely they are 35mm.

And a few of the Heinrichsn 45mm Ottoman infantry of 1877.  The originals were issued at about this time. 

And now just a couple years short of retirement, I've had to put some thought into what I collect and what must be trimmed.  As my wife and I will most likely be downsizing our living accomodations considerably, I think it's practical to assume that just about everything will have to go except for the flats.  So I'm painting those for now, the figures shown here with no particular project in mind but just to get the juices flowing again.  And I promise not to wait 6 months for the next post.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In a Slump

Blog followers, you may have been wondering what’s going on with the lack of activity at Castles of Tin.  Indeed the blogosphere is studded with blogs started fired with enthusiasm only to halt with some random post, leaving you wondering why the blogger just walked away from it. 

The truth is, I’ve hit the wall.  I’ve painted hardly anything for weeks, finished some of the Deetail knights but couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to photograph them. I haven’t looked at my blog nor anyone else's. In hindsight, it wasn't a good sign when after designing and casting a nice 40mm French infantry figure, I couldn’t summon the motivation to finish even a battalion of them.

I look at the accumulated clutter of half-baked projects in my hobby room, try not to look at unpainted piles of lead and plastic, games & rulebooks stashed here and there in the closet or the garage, thinking of the money I’ve wasted over the years.  I won’t say wasted the time because I enjoyed nearly all the painting.  Hence there is a legacy of a sorts, although an unfocused one.   

The thought of trying to recoup years of hobby indulgence in small transactions on eBay is nearly grounds for despair.  One step at a time I know, but I just don't feel like dealing with it at the moment.  Although I know that sooner or later I must.  I'm resisting a nihilistic urge to hurl everything into the trash: simple and cathartic, but too wasteful and ultimately selfish to send things that others might enjoy to be bulldozed into landfill.  

Where to from here ?  I don’t know.  I’m hoping the recapture the muse sooner or later. For the time being, I’ve fallen back on building some 1/32 race car models, still something to do with the hands and relax the mind. Castles of Tin will resume at some point, although I can’t really say when.