Friday, September 28, 2012

Renaissance - 30mm Flats

Still no camera yet.  Here's a small mixed bag of Renaissance flats: the landsknechts in pluderhosen are Kieler, a couple of Fechner riders and the Spaniards are from Alexander Wilken.  For me, obtaining Kieler zinnfiguren has been a matter of pot luck, getting some figures on eBay, others by trade and private sale.  Fechner and Wilken are both easy to deal with in English and use shopping cart systems with Paypal.  Wilken's Renaissance series figures are very nice designs, kind of a mixture of styles ca. 1500 - 1540.

I do dabble in the Renaissance era, like the period very much but I haven't quite settled on the approach yet.  Do I go with 30mm flats, or try to make use of my Meisterzinn molds for a 40mm project ? And which Renaissance, the early Italian Wars, or something mid-century or later ?   With the flats there's ample choice, 40mm probably has to be the Italian Wars era although playing a little fast and loose with historical accuracy and stylistic integrity seems like the path of least frustration.

At this point, I'm leaning towards the 40mm but I need to try out a few conversions first with the Meisterzinns.  I think the halbardier could convert simply enough to a pikeman, perhaps the landsknecht walking swordsman can be converted to a rear rank pikeman as well.  The tournament knight can pass for a French gendarme ca. 1500 if I file off the shield.  We'll see how it goes.  Seems kind of nutty to cobble something together in 40mm when there's such a rich variety of 30mm flats but I am tempted to try to finally make something of the very under-utilized Meisterzinns.


Friday, September 21, 2012

No Paparazzi

For the most part, I try keeping this blog on the path of focusing on the miniatures, or things directly relating to them.  For that matter, neither am I on Facebook, or Twitter - tweeting what I had for breakfast.  Yet there are times when life intrudes upon the idyllic world of small ships or soldiers, and this is one of them.

I had fully intended my next post to be a progress report on the War of the Polish Succession era 40mm semi-rounds (semi-flats) with WIP photos.  However, earlier this week, thieves broke into our home in the afternoon while I was at work and my wife had gone out to run a few errands in town. Smashing through the locked side door to the garage, they gained entry to the house and stole a number of items, amongst which were both of our cameras.  The old 3.2mp Sony from the dawn of the digital era wasn't much of a loss at it could barely cope with close-ups, but losing the Nikon was another matter.  

Hence for the short term, there will be no pictures of what's coming off the painting table.  I suppose is the upside is that I won't be tempted to bore readers with painstaking progress reports such as you seen on certain minatures forums ("And today I shaded more of the blanket roll"). Once I replace the camera there'll be a more fully finished unit.  Which I look forward to showing as it will feature some interesting custom infantry figures.

In the meanwhile, I could post a few things from the archives, such as this Selchow 45mm Urartian chariot flat.  I painted it last year.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

War of the Polish Succession - Part 2

On to the uniforms. For the French, things are relatively well documented.  Between a wealth of information about the WSS and the WAS/7YW, we can reasonably extrapolate details about the flags, musicians, pocket designs and so on.  Then there is Rousselot's splendid series of plates, L'Armee Royale a l'Epoque de la Regence, if you're fortunate enough to have acquired it.  If not, no worries as it predates the 1730's by a decade or so, but still useful and inspirational.

Within more realistic reach of everyone are the Osprey Louis XV's Army books by Chartrand, skillfully illustrated by Leliepvre.  Here we have plates specifically labeled "Polish Succession War".  In addition to the color plates, the first three volumes at least (don't own the others), have black and white illustrations executed in a rather naive and appealing style by "Gudenus" depicting individual soldiers from different regiments ca.1735.  Unfortunately they're are attributed to a private collection, so while it may be tantalizing to speculate as to the exact contents of this collection, it remains mostly a mystery.

However, we have an artist's name, and in this fortunate era (so far as the ease of internet research goes), a search reveals more period plates in this style from German Wikipedia, and in color.  Thanks to Ralphus of the Wars of the Louis Quatorze blog for sharing these with us:

And the orginal source of the material: Reiter, Husaren und Grenadiere: Die Uniformen der Kaiserlichen Armee am Rhein 1734; Zeichnungen des Philipp Franz Freiherrn von Gudenus; Bearbeitet und Texte von Hans Bleckwenn; Dortmund 1979.

A useful review here (in German):

After looking at this review, I decided to look for my own copy. Long out of print of course, but worth checking into. First,  Yes, a copy but at $, no.  Next, I tried Alibris. $12.00, ships from US.  Yes, more like it !

So what we have here is a high quality paperback, printed in a small format, 93 pages pages in German.  There is more text than plates, but the images are most appealing and very useful in illustrating samples of the various contingents of Prinz Eugen's Imperial army of the Rhine in 1734.   What has to be kept in mind is the title "Reiter, Husaren und Grenadiere" means exactly that. (and only one plate of the hussars). No flags, no musicians, no officers/NCO's, very few infantry in tricornes. However, the basic uniform details are here and flag information can be found from other sources.  It won't require a big stretch of the imagination to make some plausible guesses about how to paint the musicians/command figures, what button-counting pedant is going to prove you wrong ?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

War of the Polish Succession - Part 1

Siege of Philippsburg - 1734

Much as I love the Prince August 40mm Karoliners, Holger Eriksson's passion seemed to be modeling the Swedes, with their Russian counterparts receiving scant attention. Oddly, Prince August has mostly perpetuated the imbalance with their new Karoliners. What we have in the main are uniquely Swedish troops that fall between two stools stylistically: coats with turnbacks & collars more typical of the WAS/7YW on the one hand and buckled shoes & stockings, officers wearing old-fashioned perukes on the other.

Many cheerfully take the mixed stylistic elements in stride and use the PA's for the 7YW era, as well as Imagi-nations with  no reservations. That's a practical and perfectly acceptable approach.  But I've often wondered if the PA's might not be well-suited to a time splitting the difference between the early 1700's GNW/WSS and the mid-century 7YW.  Why not the War of the Polish Succession, with the fighting (what there was of it) taking place between 1733-1735 ?

There's no doubt that the War of the Polish Succession has held little appeal for military historians.  The obvious reason is its legacy as kingly warfare taken to an extreme; lots of posturing and maneuvering with little actual fighting, quite lacking in decisive results.  Then too, England stayed out of it, also contributing to the dearth of literature in English.  About all we've got is the King of Siam's slim volume published in 1901 and Sutton's "The King's Honor & the King's Cardinal" (1980), some 206 pages in which the diplomatic preliminaries take up the first 1/3 of it.  Readers of French and German are probably better served.

Yet this relatively unknown war presents some opportunities for gamers: not a lot happened but a lot could have happened.  It has potential for Imagi-nations or what-if gaming involving real countries.  And aside from England, all the key players were involved: France, Spain and the Kingdom of Sardinia vs. Austria augmented by small Imperial states, Russia, Prussia, Saxony, as well as contingents from Denmark, Hanover & etc. A virtual riot of uniform painting opportunities - if we can figure out what they looked like !

The next post will touch on some of those uniforms, ca. 1734-1735.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Romans vs. Germans, Part I - 40mm Flats


Introducing a nice old-fashioned set of flats, Kämpfe aus der Römerzeit, by Heinrichsen.  Originally issued in 1882, the set was re-cast in limited numbers in the 1990's.  Recently, I was fortunate to obtain them at a very reasonable price from a collector in New York.

The designs are obviously a product of their times, reflecting what people in the latter 1800's knew about antiquity, probably drawing from contemporary illustrations as well as Roman sculpture and reliefs such as Trajan's Column.  But what they lack in historical accuracy, they make up for with appealing animation and high quality engraving.  The set has 45 pieces altogether although not all of them contain figures, being scenic items in the form of small stands with vegetation and the debris of battle as well as a few casualties.  A characteristic of the Heinrichsen style were figures grouped together on one casting and this set contains some fine examples.

These are the first I've finished, painted in acrylics as usual.

From a wargaming standpoint, there isn't too much that can be done with these on their own, but it makes for a most enjoyable painting interlude.  However, I do have some ideas about augmenting them with 35-40mm Romans from a couple other sources, continuing in the flat and semi-flat style.