Saturday, March 29, 2008

25mm Nap. French - The Blacksmith

Here is the second centerpiece of my 25mm Napoleonic French army; the forge and blacksmith.

Now, there are many important functions of an army blacksmith. They shoe horses, repair wheels and cannon, service artillery, fix cuirasses, and so on and so forth.

My army has a blacksmith who has a small travelling forge with a few apprentices. At the moment he is pounding out a new shoe for a nearby Dragoon. He has an assitant bringing a bucket of water to dip the white hot metal into. He also has another man bringing a wheel, the spokes of which have been splintered, in for replacement. Finally, another assistant waits for direction.

The forge itself is of the two wheeled variety, with a bellows and a bed to
keep the hot coals. There is also a French dragoon with his horse, which is getting a new set of shoes put on. Now, I was told that the blacksmith is in the wrong spot, as he would get kicked there, but I thought it looked best. Silly, but it works.

The set is from Old Glory 25mm.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Reinforcements have arrived!

The reinforcements have arrived!

Thanks to Chris down at Sash and Saber and their ridiculous sale, I managed to pick up three armies for the price of, in Foundry prices, half a unit!

The first is a 25mm Austrian army to go along with my French and Russian armies. It is about six units of 20 infantry, two units of 10 cavalry, and two artillery pieces. It is meant to be slightly smaller than my two main Napoleonic armies.

The center and rightmost armies are my Federal and Confederate armies. They are each about 10 units of 20 men strong, along with artillery and officers; no cavalry yet, but at some point I'll add that in.

Now... time to get it all painted!

The Table

OKAY, here is the latest, with the trees and fences done and the figures places on the field... the addition of the fences REALLY helps. This time the fight is going more lengthwise than widthwise across the table; while it is on the short side for 28mm, it is a perfect size for 15mm! I'll keep looking at ways to improve the table; any comments welcome!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A 15mm ACW Table-In-Progress

Whelp, I am working on a new 15mm ACW set-up. I have started to work on the trees a bit more, paint the fences, make some hedges, and made a few new woods. I have found that setting up tables is a real process; you set up a "rough draft," and then it takes multiple revisions before it starts to feel right. This is what I set up quickly tonight; now, I have to let the Stevenson Maturation Process set in and see what happens. I hope I can get it looking okay, because as of right now... eh.

Any suggestions welcome in the comments section!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Workbench

Whelp, I thought I would give a new shot of the workbench so people could see what I am working on!

At the moment, the only WIP figures on there is a unit of Russian infantry. They still need their white and their flags, along with the work on some certain figures (commander, drummer) and they are ready for the cabinet. That will allow me to start a unit of Russian cuirassiers (out of frame.)

Tonight and for the foreseeable future I am working on a little more 15mm scenery; namely, drybrushing my fences and finishing my pin trees. They also need a good grey drybrush. I finished a third 15mm wood tonight, which is visibile in the empty table shot to the right. The table has been cleared of the Napoleonics (who are back in their shelves) and I will start laying out a new set-up once I've finished all the fences.

In the next day or two I'll put up another Napoleonic unit (hmmm... lights? Lancers? Regular line infantry?) as well as maybe a quick guide to my 15mm ACW buildings.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Table

Whelp, I am about to move my Napoleonics back into their shelves. At this point I do not have enough finished, quality scenery for 25mm figures. Therefore I think it is best to move the 15mm ACW figures back onto the table, as I have enough scenery for them, and keep the Nappys in their cabinets until I can undertake a 25mm scenery building drive!

However, I did move a few figures around and remove the awfully large chateau so I could spread the guys out and take a few more pictures! To the above left is a shot of the guard artillery, deployed and ready for action! I am happy with the way these guys turned out, even though, in retrospect, one of the guys is a touch tilted in the stand; it is driving me nuts!

Next up is a shot of the Old Guard and some line infantry advancing on the Russian light infantry. In front of the main line you can see a nice screen of lights to protect the men, and behind you can see the artillery providing support.

Finally, here is another shot of some French light infantry guarding a stone wall. They are starting to cross over it, perhaps to push the enemy back while the main body of infantry, under the orders of the commander of the wing, advance into combat.

And with that, the 25mm Napoleonics go back into their cabinets; goodbye, guys! See you in a year!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The 25mm Nappys on the table!

Hello all!

Whelp, after finishing up my 15mm ACW game (and then watching hour upon hour upon hour of work on the AAR disappear) I decided to set something else up. And against my better judgement (since I don't have enough 25mm scenery that is nice, and I hate emptying the cabinets!) I decided to set up ALL of the 25mm Napoleonics in one big mess!

For this set-up, I put the chateau in one corner of the table and a farmhouse with some fields in the other. Some trees (I clearly need more, and need to get pins in all of them) in a few spots and some rocks helped break up the ground a bit. I put the French army in the most open area, with the surgeon inside the chateau and the forge against the outside wall. The Old Guard advance next to the chateau, and the rest of the infantry and cavalry is spread over the French position.

Opposite them are my Russians. Now, setting them up opposite the French has convinced me of one thing for sure; I better get them some reinforcements painted, and QUICK; I don't think they would last long! Some reinforcements, and some earthworks!

To the left is a shot of the Old Guard advancing; they do look pretty mean, and I can imagine that facing them would NOT be a pleasant experience! They have a screen of light infantry in front of them, and their artillery behind them in support. The Marshal himself can be seen in the lefthand side of that shot.

Finally, here is a shot of the chateau itself. It is maybe a bit large for the table, but I didn't know what size the table would be when I built it, so... right now I have the surgeon deployed inside it, working on the wounded, and a few caissons as well.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

25mm Nap. French - The Guard Artillery

Napoleon got his start, of course, not in the infantry or in the cavalry, but in the artillery. And so we come to the first artillery division of my 25mm Napoleonic French collection; the Guard Artillery.

The guns were one of the most formidible parts of the Napoleonic army, not just because of the damage they caused but also the damage they had on morale. Artillery pieces were capable of forcing men to ground and, when working in conjuction with cavalry, capable of punishing infantry in square to a horrifying degree. The guns are each manned by five gunners, all wearing the uniform of the Guard artillery. Like with my cavalry and infantry, each gun comes on a movement tray for ease of movement and appeal to the eye!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I enjoy an army most when it has the supporting elements that an army really needs. This is most apparent in the artillery, where I have almost as many men manning the caissons and limbers than the guns themselves! Somehow cannon just don't look proper without their support.

In this case it took a conversion to get the limbers and caisson for the Guard to match the actual gunners. Old Glory has no Guard limbers, and so I had to go about a little head swap, taking the bearskin-wearing heads from spare
artillery gunners and putting them on the bodies of the regular limber riders. To the left you can see the poor donors, as well as the original heads; I am trying to think if I have any need for a pile of shako-wearing French heads for my Russian army! To the right you can see the limbers right after the head swap, pre-painting, as they sat on the workbench waiting to be finished.

All of the Guard Artillery is from Old Glory 25mm.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

25mm Nap. French - Chasseurs a Cheval

Well, I've shown a lot of men on foot; it is about time I got away from the infantry and to the other branches of the French army!

First up, some of the mounted boys. In this case, I thought I would start with the light cavalry, or Chasseurs a Cheval. These guys are best used in hunting down skirmishers, riding down artillery crews, and harassing retreating and routing units.

All of my cavalry units are split into two halves, with six men per half. This unit is actually different than the rest in that it has no true command half; instead, there is a mounted commander for each piece of the unit.

The first half, featuring red busbys, are led by my favorite mounted figure; this dashing fellow, mounted on the only white horse in the entire French army. The horse is actually a bit of a conversion; originally it was just galloping along. A little twisting
and turning, and I made the horse rearing, one hoof on a rock, the other in the air. The officer atop the horse is a dashing fellow, clearly motioning to his fellow cavalry to either hold fast or, more likely, follow him!

The second half, wearing yellow busbys, follow this austere looking fellow to the left. As with his mate, I did some conversion work on the horse; since this is light cavalry, I imagined their officers would look best with their horses in a very dynamic pose. He is charging forward, sword raised, leading his men to charge some poor, doomed target!

The troopers themselves wear green, which sets them off nicely from the vast sea of blue that a French army seems to be at times. The colors of the busbys in particular came out very vibrant; I am not sure if they come across in the photos!

All of these cavalrymen are from Old Glory 25mm.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

25mm Nap. French - 23e Ligne

Well, every army needs a lot of grunts to get the job done, and my French army is no exception!

Here is another unit of line infantry, under a little less combat pressure than the last! This unit, the 23e Ligne, is made up of a mix of men in regular campaign dress and overcoats, as befits a unit that has been in combat a while. Their officers is a dashing, rather serious looking fellow in all blue.

This unit is entirely made of 25mm Perry Miniatures, with the exception of the sapper, who is a large chap from Front Rank.

Monday, March 10, 2008

25mm Nap French - The Ambulance

Of course, anyone who is reading this blog knows that wargaming and miniature collecting isn't just a barebones affair with no regard to asthetics or complete-ness. In fact, in my not-so-humble opinion, an army is not truly complete until the cannon have limbers and the men have a few wagons to carry their stuff! I also believe that armies often benefit from having centerpieces, not only because then there is some neat, historically accurate ancillary project for the army-creator to enjoy working on, but also because then you have a nice natural piece to put in the center of the army when they are displayed!

For my 25mm Napoleonic French army, I have two centerpieces. This is the first; a surgeon and his ambulance.

The piece has a number of elements. Most importantly, of course, is the surgeon himself. He is operating on a fellow who is strapped down to the table with a piece of wood firmly gripped between his teeth. Clearly he has been injured and is in the process of losing a foot. The surgeon is exhausted from hours of work, and in his carelessness he has even wiped the sweat from his brow, leaving himself with an interesting momento of his work.

There are, of course, a number of other figures sharing the movement tray (or in this case display tray) with the surgeon and his ambulance. There are a pair of orderlies bringing a wounded soldier in on a blood soaked stretcher. Beside them hobbles another injured Frenchman... maybe a friend of the wounded man in the stretcher? On the ground are two injured men, twisting horribly in pain, waiting their turn on the table. And finally you can see the dumped body of a man who did not survive his injuries a few meters from the table; I doubt he will keep his shoes and jacket for long.

The surgeon and wagon and a few of the injured are from Old Glory; the rest of the injured are Perry Miniatures.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

25mm Nap. French - 14e Ligne

So far we've seen the legere who made the French army so effective, and the Guard, who made the French army so scary! But what about the lowly privates?

Here is my first standard unit of line infantry. This particular regiment is advancing into fire, the commanding officer urging his men forward with the help of the NCOs, while men in the front rank go down around him. As I mentioned earlier, all of my non-Guard infantry units are in campaign dress; a mix of greatcoats and pants and the like, all a bit muddy and worn. I like this look, as it makes the army look a little more battle-worn,

All of my standard ligne units have the same four man standard base. On this base is a standard bearer, two eagle guards armed with pikes, and a sapper, a large, nasty looking man with an axe. While this might seem like a lot of eagles (and indeed it is) I decided to go this route because, quite frankly, it looks good, and toy soldiers need to look good!

The majority of the troops in this unit are Perry Miniatures, with the exception of the sapper, who is Front Rank (as all my sappers are; they are bigger figures and make strong looking sappers! Plus, I didn't have to buy a pack of 8 guys to get them.)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Table

Well, after all of these shots of the wargames room and the decorations and all of that, I am finally posting a few shots of the table!

First, here are a few of the table disassembled. It is a simple wooden frame, with a piece of ply as the base with some 2 inch thick insulation foam above that. We then carved some hills from the foam and place these on the base, using a few pieces of tape just to hold everything in place. In these two shots you can see the table with no felt covering, showing the exposed insulation.

The table itself is built on four shelves that come from ikea. I attached four wheels to the bottom of each shelf. There is a wooden frame around the shelf (seen above) that is screwed on. Then we lay the green felt over the insulation and use a second inner frame that slides into the outside of the table and pins the felt in place.

We then use some pin trees (as pictured to the left) to hold down the felt in key areas. We have found that the pin trees do an excellent job in helping contour the land realistically. Other groups of trees can then be laid out to further hold the felt down.

Once this has been done and the fields, roads, and river have been placed, we can flock the table. Right now we have a light sprinkle of flock on the table, with slightly lighter flock on the hilltops to accentuate the shadow/light effect of raised ground. The flock covering goes a long way towards camoflaging various seams and such.

Finally we added the buildings, which have only their first basic drybrush coat, and the fences, which need their grey done, and voila; the first real table setup! I hope you all enjoy!

The Workbench

Well, I thought that maybe a shot of the current work bench might be fun!

A few projects you can note:

First off, a pair of forests that need work. Must attach the coins to the bottom for weight, paint them, and flock them. Not too bad.

Second, you can see a unit of 25mm Russian Infantry that is being worked on.

A few of my Flag Dude flags are ready for use; I keep them above my paints, as they are a good inspiration to finish units!

I have finally put a few movies on here, to watch as I paint. I figured this was a good breakdown of films to keep me going for a while! Zulu is a classic, and I've got a good selection of ACW films. The Patriot quite frankly SUCKS, but it is the only big budget AWI movie I know of, so it gets a spot... I know, I know, I should be ashamed!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

25mm Nap. French - 3e Legere

Of course, no French army would ever march to war without that infantryman who was made so famous by the French themselves; the light infantryman.

Now, French light infantry, or legere, could fight in skirmish order, but they often fought in close formation too. These men were often the quickest men, best shots, and most thoughtful soldiers, able to be trusted to fight away from the main formation. They were often used for skirmish fighting, but also for fighting in built-up areas and even ladder assaults.

This particular unit can be ranked up as normal and has a regular movement tray for it, but for the purposes of the photos I have put them in their skirmish trays. The first two trays can be seen to the right. The command tray includes an officer, musician, standard bearer, and sapper, as well as some troopers (including one grizzled veteran NCO who is waving the men on.) The tray behind it features some men advancing past the ruined stump of a tree which obviously strayed too close (if a tree can stray) to a cannon ball.

One note at this time about my French army. With the exception of the Old Guard, all of the infantry is wearing a mix of regular uniforms and overcoats. I felt this mixed bag look would not only make the majority of the army a bit more rugged and messy looking, but would also serve to make the Guard stand out more than normal. You will see this trend of greatcoats continues through all of the light and line infantry in the army.

The next two trays of light infantry can be seen to the left. The tray in the foreground is defending some rocky ground on the edge of a fenceline; part of the fence actually meanders through the tray itself. The tray to the rear actually represents some light infantry who have found a nice safe rock wall to take cover and fire from behind. The men near the low parts are ducking to keep themselves safe. This tray is actually designed to match a tray from another unit of light infantry, in which the troops are actually breeching the wall through a broken down spot.

Finally, here is a shot of a few individual troopers. The rocks are actually bits of bark used in the bottom of lizard tanks which are undercoated black and drybrushed with a few shades of grey; the bark picks up the grey nicely. I enjoy the great coat look for these guys; it really makes it look like they are fighting in some nasty places!

The majority of these figures are Perry Miniatures; the sapper is Front Rank, and the musician, officers, and NCO are Old Glory.

The Wargaming Decorations

I thought that, before I bring pictures of the table itself, I would showcase some of the various display pieces that I have collected to decorate the room with! During the decorating of the room I have tried very hard to avoid having any second-rate or placeholder pieces; I want to try to make the room not just a great place to game, but also a place you can see some wonderful pieces. There are a few pieces I don't have framed yet, but I'll include those in a future blog. For now... enjoy!

First on the agenda; my repro Brown Bess (at top.) It is not a functional piece, as I didn't want to spend that much money, but a nice repro nonetheless. You can't really have a wargames room without a firearm in it, so this guy fits the bill! The gun hooks are from Dixie gunworks and are quite pretty.

Next up; my Scottish claymore! A solid five and a half feet long, this monster is a beauty. I bought it back in high school when I saw it in an armory store and just couldn't resist; it was a bit over five hundred dollars and cost me a lot of my savings at the time, but it was worth it. It hung in my childhood bedroom for years, too large to move, until I started the wargames room; and that is the perfect place for it!

I was also given a most generous gift recently (this last Christmas) by a collector of military antiques who has a collection unlike anything I've ever seen. Over 200 original muskets is just the beginning; he has several hundred canteens, several hundred packs, and an amazing collection of original uniforms. To compliment this is shelf after shelf of interesting collectibles, ranging from playing cards to letters to a kepi mold to an original piece of hardtack, complete with a photo of its original "owner!" Well, this kind gent gave me this next piece, seen to the left; an original 1864 Federal pack! Made by Butterfield in New York in August of 1864, it is in fantastic shape, including the stamp on the shoulder strap that includes all of the aforementioned information! I just need to get a good case for it, and it will be mounted in a place of honor right below the musket. A great, great piece and, without question, the most jaw-dropping gift a guy could ask for.

I have also collected a few pieces of art and various prints and photos to hang in the wargames room. To the right you can see my original French print of Napoleonic officers and musicians. My father, a rare books dealer, picked it up for me on a trip to Paris just last year, knowing that the wargames room was on the way. It is obviously perfect given my large Napoleonic French collection; in fact, I have more than a few sappeurs in my army! A perfect compliment to my largest, most complete army.

Above my painting table hangs this other print (left;) a rather nice original print dictating various parries and repostes in fencing. As a former fencer myself, you had to know this would make the cut as far as decorations; a nice homage to my past!

I have even been fortunate enough to gather a few pieces by family members. My father is also an accomplished sailor and photographer, and took these next two photos himself; one of a large gun on the U.S.S. Constitution, and another of the rigging of the ship, a breathtaking web of rope that no landlubber like me could ever figure out. They are not only beautiful photos, but a nice pair to have as they are my fathers work.

There are, as mentioned, a few more pieces coming; maybe a kepi and canteen, and a few panoramic shots of Gettysburg that need framing; I will update when I get them. I hope everyone has enjoyed!