Saturday, May 31, 2008

AB 15mm Napoleonic French in Bicorne

I painted these AB figures so I could sell them, so I'm not going to finish the bases. I had thought about keeping them, which is why I based them for General de Brigade.

The figures are very nice, but I had some issues with breakage on these. Some bayonets were cracked about a third of the way down the blade, so you'll see a few miniature bayonets here.

When I do finally decide to tackle my early French army, these are probably the figures I'll use. They paint up very well indeed.

AB French Line in Bicornes, Group Shot (Click on any picture for a larger image)

Elite Companies

Fusilier Companies

Command (and Fusilier Company)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Painting Totals for May

I had carpal tunnel surgery in February, and this is the first month where I really feel like I've regained my painting mojo. My May totals:

28mm ACW Union, 60 infantrymen
28mm early imperial Romans, 20 legionaries
15mm SYW Russians, 12 infantrymen
15mm Napoleonic Austrians, 112 German line infantry and 24 Hungarian line infantry
15mm Napoleonic French, 36 line infantry

So that's 80 28mm figures and 184 15mm figures in one month, all painted to a very high standard.

We'll see if I can maintain this pace after the birth of my son, which should be any day now. I'm betting I won't be able to keep this up. :-)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Battle Honors Napoleonic Hungarians in Shako

I'm still working my way through the 1100 Austrian infantry I need for my Wagram army (I've painted nearly 700 so far). This weekend I took a break from Germans in helmet to do some Hungarians in shako.

These Battle Honors figures painted up well. There are only four poses in the pack: officer, standard bearer, drummer, and infantryman. The figures' proportions are outstanding. The only problem I had with these figures was in painting the faces. They just didn't have enough raised detail to pick out.

IR2, Front (Click on all pictures for larger images)

IR2, Back

IR2, Side

AB French Prototype

Line grenadier in bicorne and gaiters.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Crusader EIR Legionary

I've been enjoying the figures from Crusader's "Rank and File" range. Mark Sims seems to be focusing on making very solid, unpretentious figures with good physical proportions. I have bought his late Macedonian phalangites, Greek hoplites, and EIR legionaries.

The EIR range has just four poses: centurion, signifer, cornicen, and ranker. Unless the ranker is a good pose, this just won't work. I painted my prototype figure tonight. See what you think. Click on any picture for a larger image.

Napleonic Austrians, Assembly Line Style

While I wait for my wife to deliver our first child, I've had a very productive painting week. By making a large assembly line, I was able to crank out 112 Austrian infantry in just 20 hours. I built three brigades of Old Glory figures and one lone stand of Battle Honors to match some figures I painted a couple years ago.

Group Shot: 112 Austrians (Click on all pictures for larger images)

The New The Old

In this last shot, you can see how my painting style has evolved over the past two years. I used to just drybrush the metal bits on the muskets. Now I carefully paint all the silver bits with a small brush. I used to paint in just one color over black. Now I usually have a shade and a highlight color. I used to use raw umber as my skin base. Now I use a browning flesh color that I mix myself.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

28mm ACW Project Continues

I've been chugging along with my big Sash and Saber project. I am working my way through 150 Union infantry advancing at right shoulder shift. I finished this batch of 60 infantrymen yesterday.

Friday, May 16, 2008

AB Austrian Revolutionary Period Fusilier

I got my latest order from Eureka USA today. Between my friend Austin, who uses AB almost exclusively for his Napoleonic armies, and the great service from Rob at Eureka USA, I am fast becoming a lead snob.

If I'm not quite a lead snob yet, I am definitely pose snob, if such a thing exists. I'm starting to insist that my infantry have a march attack pose, since they line up so well on the base and can stand rough handling. Most of my French are Old Glory and Battle Honors, neither of whom makes French light infantry in a march attack pose. I ordered 112 AB legere in march attack, and I'm sure I'll enjoy painting them. I also ordered a brigade worth of Polish infantry to see how I like painting them.

The French and Poles look great, but the best figures of the bunch are the revolutionary period Austrians I ordered on a whim. I've always thought the early campaigns in Italy would be a lot of fun to game, but I would want to do the Austrians right, in their little caps rather than in the greek helmet of later years. I think my hypothetical 1796-1800 project just moved up the priority list, because these are some beautiful figures. Eureka doesn't have images up for them on their website, so here are a couple quick snapshots of AB-RKK01, "German fusilier | march attack." As always, you can click on the pictures to get larger images.

Maybe it's just because I spent the last day painting those Eureka Russians, but these may be the best looking 15mm figures I've ever seen.

Eureka SYW Russians

This is a tough review to write. Through its 100 and 300 clubs, Eureka has built up quite a bit of goodwill in our little community. Both Eureka and Eureka USA are run by great guys who provide outstanding customer service. Both are great promoters of the hobby. So it feels wrong to write such a negative review of one of their products.

A couple months ago the guys and I were talking about Eureka's Seven Years War line. Jon and Austin both have figures from Eureka's Prussian range and enjoy them a lot. But Eureka had just released its Russian range, and the pictures of the recently released Russians were . . . interesting. The figures looked like orangutans dressed in vaguely Russian uniforms.

And yet everyone who reviewed them online wrote how great the figures were. Was it possible that we were wrong? Did the figures just not photograph well? I decided to take one for the team and order a sampler of the new line.

Eureka Prussian (L) and Russian (R)

Austin actually made the order, and when he got the figures, he immediately took some comparison shots. Those are both Eureka figures. They just don't look at all compatible, do they? The Russian is a half head shorter than his Teutonic playmate, and much more slender.

Eureka Prussian (L) and Russian (R)

The side view shows just how spindly the Russian figures are, especially in comparison to the beefier Prussians. Now I know that soldiers come in different sizes. I was a soldier myself, and my squad had one 5'4" soldier and one 6'4" soldier. True, they looked funny together. But their equipment was the same size. Look at the difference between these two soldiers' hats! That's not a natural variation in human size, but a difference in figure scale.

I was disheartened by these figures in the raw lead, but I know that a good paint job can hide a multitude of sins. Maybe these figures would look better once painted? Maybe they would work well together once they were mounted in the ranks?

Russian Musketeer Regiment, Front

Yup. Paint jobs help. From the front, these figures look pretty good. Sure, those legs still look off, and sure, those impossible lantern-jawed heads have a simian feel to them, but these might work.

Russian Musketeer Regiment, Front

They don't work as well in a more typical gaming view. Those lantern jaws are much more visible and bothersome.

Russian Musketeers, Back

They look OK from the back. Not great--there's definitely something off about the shoulders and neck--but OK. The cartridge box had some detail on it, but not enough to let me really do detailed brass work.

Russian Musketeer Regiment, Left

Ouch. Here's where the figures' flaws are most noticeable. Those legs just don't look right. I don't know enough about sculpting to say exactly what went wrong here, but it looks to me like the legs are of uneven size and have the knees in the wrong places.

Russian Musketeer Regiment, Right

From the side, these are really ugly figures. They just don't look like people.

Russian Musketeer Regiment, Top

I have not painted much SYW, but I have painted a few hundred AWI figures. I know that neatly painted hat lace can make a figure really pop. The problem with these figures is that the hat brim is uneven. It dips, it folds, and worst of all it sometimes has little breaks. It makes it incredibly tough to paint the stinking lace on these figures. I'm a fair hand with a brush. I can at least paint a straight line. But here the figures frustrated me.

I really can't recommend these figures at any price, let alone at the price of $.63 apiece. There are many nicer Russians out there. I have some Minifigs Russians that I'll paint up and review soon, and they look much better than these.

So after my experience with these figures, I really wonder: why all the love for Eureka's Russian line? It perplexed me when I saw the figures online, and it perplexes me still after I've painted them myself. Eureka is a great company, run by great people, that usually puts out a great product. But these Russians are ugly, ugly, ugly, and no amount of goodwill can change that.

UPDATED: A couple people have pointed out to me that I incorrectly painted these guys as though they were wearing the winter jacket, although the figures are sculpted in the long sleeved waistcoat. It's a fair critique. I have just one source on SYW uniforms, the two volume "Lace Wars" by Funken, and they have one plate and two paragraphs for Russians of the SYW. Still, I did know that Russian infantry wore the waistcoat alone in summer. But these figures threw me, since the infantrymen clearly had large cuffs. I assumed they were wearing the coat with closed lapels. I would say that I'll do them right on the next batch, but there's not likely to be a next batch.

1:1 Civil War Regiment

I'm a high school History and English teacher, and for the past four years I've taught a semester long class on the Civil War. The students always struggle to understand WHY Civil War formations were so difficult to manage. After all, a kid can walk four miles in an hour pretty easily. Why, he might wonder, did it take an hour for a Civil War regiment in line of battle to cover a mile? Why is a flank attack so devastating? Can't the regiment just turn to face its attackers? The many documentaries on the battles don't help. Without fail, a regiment is depicted by 12 reenactors and a flag.

I built this 415 man Union regiment to illustrate just how large these regiments were and, consequently, just how difficult it was to maneuver them around the battlefield. The riflemen are all from Old Glory's 10mm line, as is the color party, but the company commanders are GHQ. There are 40 men in each of the ten companies.

This was a success as a teaching tool, but a failure as a diorama. I never got the terrain to look right. Now that I'm not teaching, I'm going to cut these figures off the diorama and base them up for Fire and Fury.

Click on the pictures to get larger images.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Battle of Belmont

Jon and Austin joined me today for a run through of the "Guns at Gettysburg" rules. I have played its sister rules, "General de Brigade" and "British Grenadier," and I think GaG may be the set of tactical ACW rules I've been looking for.

We played the Belmont scenario from the "Heartland" scenario book. Grant, with two green brigades, must burn the Confederate camp at Belmont. The terrain is heavily wooded, and most of the rebels are in line of battle in a large field.

Rebel Defense (click on all pictures for larger images)

This is the main rebel defense, three regiments and a battery. At this stage of the war (November of 1861), the regiments were huge! Most CSA regiments were 32-36 figures, representing 640-720 men.

My Civil War armies are mostly made up of Musket Miniatures figures, although I have many Old Glory, Battle Honors, and Stone Mountain fixed in. I also have two Confederate regiments made up of Peter Pig figures.

McClernand's Approach

Jon had command of McClernand's brigade. His lead regiment came under artillery fire as it moved along the road, causing the division to revert to "hold" orders. Jon quickly shook his brigade out into line. The CSA artillery then took the Union guns under fire. Although Jon kept pushing the Union guns to the front, they were never able to unlimber and return fire.

Union Cavalry

The Illinois Cavalry detachment dismounted and formed a skirmish line at the edge of the field.

McClernand's Attack

Grant gave McClernand orders to "engage" the enemy brigade, and Jon's regiments took the Confederates under fire. Austin commanded the Confederates, and he made up for weeks of unlucky dice in this one game. Jon and I managed to roll low all game. Austin also managed his regiments skillfully, refusing his right and extending his left to turn the Union right.

Confederate Battle Line

Austin refused his right and poured a devastating fire into the Union regiments. The Confederate troops were mostly militia, but there were a lot of them, and they fired like veterans! I made a mistake in computing the fire modifiers, counting the Confederate militia as green troops, but the way Austin was rolling, it didn't make much difference.

Confederate Battery

The linchpin of Austin's defense was his single battery of four six pounder smoothbore cannon. These green gunners scored hit after hit with canister. First they inflicted heavy casualties on Jon's infantry, then they inflicted fifty percent casualties on the limbered Union artillery.

Grant's View

BdGen Grant, on the white horse, watched his regiments take a pounding. Both of his brigades have "engage" orders, but the Union infantry is having a difficult time hitting all those Confederates in the open.

Dougherty's Attack

Dougherty's brigade, which I commanded, moved to fire on the Confederate line. Although not as roughly handled as McClernand, Dougherty was taking fire from two directions. At the top left of this picture, you can see McClernand's right starting to fall back. The green Union troops retreated under Austin's heavy fire.

With McClernand's line crumbling, Confederates working their way around the Union right, and Dougherty failing to make any headway, Grant decided to fall back. The Confederates held the field.

This was our first time using the GaG rules, and we certainly made some mistakes. Still, I think the rules made for a realistic game. I'm excited to try them again and see if attacking troops can make better headway with more even dice rolls.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

15mm AB Napoleonic British Line Infantry

I painted these AB Brits in stovepipe shako just to sell on eBay. The figures are based for Age of Eagles / Napoleon's Battles, with elite company men on the flanks. The flags are from Napflags. I cut out the original flagpoles, drilled a hole through the colorbearers' hands, and glued in some brass rod to make the flags more durable.

Click on any images for larger pictures.