Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Tofusky Redoubt

Ready to repel the minions of Bonaparte and hurl them from Sacred Russian soil!

Yes, it looks odd to see horse artillery manning fieldworks, but needs must as I haven't started on foot artillery yet.  

I'm quite pleased with how it has turned out.  A far cry from the plastic tofu tubs I rescued from being tossed out into the garbage. 

It took some time and a major repair job after some serious warping, but I was able to repair it so that there is minimum evidence of any distortion at all now. 

Thin layers of papier-mache, clamping the whole thing down to the workbench while it dried thoroughly, and lots of patience did the trick.

You can see how the project developed here.

All ready in good time for next Sunday's game.  It may end up being manned by French artillery, though, depending on the balance of forces available.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Lieven on "Russia & Napoleon"

One of the most interesting books I've read recently was Lieven's Russia Against Napoleon, and I was thrilled to see in von Peter's blog that there was a podcast available from the London School of Economics of a lecture given by Professor Lieven himself on the subject: "The Tsar Liberates Europe".

On thing I like is the fact that he addresses the paradox of 1812 being the celebrated campaign in Russia, when it was the 1813-14 campaign where they really made an impact.

This is great stuff to listen to while commuting or at the gym.  As Abraham Lincoln said, "People who like this kind of thing will find it the kind of thing they like".

Thoroughly recommended, and thanks to Peter in New Zealand to bringing it to our attention.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

A redoubtable undertaking

A Russian redoubt for my artillery, inspired by-of all things- tofu tubs!

I had been wanting to make some terrain for our Napoleonic games for a while, but hadn't given it all that much thought until yesterday morning when the "Tsarina" was about to toss these into the recycling bin. Small tofu containers that are common in supermarkets here.


I thought that they might come in useful for something, so I rescued them.  Having recently finished the licorne, I found myself thinking of how cool it would be to have a small Russian two-gun redoubt ready in time for the next game.

That same evening she went off to an accounting seminar, so I was able to start cutting, planing, and sanding bases without hindrance. After some hot work with saw and glue gun, I was able to knock up the basic shape thus:


I  added foam-board chunks for the embrasures and to build up the final shape, and covered all the joints liberally with PVA to anchor everything down.  


I'll leave it a day or two to dry out thoroughly, and then cover it with strips of towelling soaked in PVA, filler, and sand. Once that is done I'll add the gabions and any planking, and then texture the whole thing with a coating of my trusty, home-made papier-mâché (a.k.a. "messy but effective gunk")  before painting it.

As is the way of such things, I had some substantial cutoffs left over from the MDF board, so I also prepared bases for both a row of houses which will have fenced-off back gardens (I had a bunch of Hovel buildings lying around), and a strip of trees with a hedgerow for pesky voltigeurs to hide behind while taking potshots at us.


I haven't worked much on terrain pieces since my Dolomite fortress, so this will make for a nice little project (and will be easier to store). I've already sent off an order to Front Rank for some more gabion sets.  I have a trench work from Kallistra that will make the basis of a much larger redoubt later, but this one will do fine given the number of figures we have ready to go at the moment.

As far as painting goes, I'm finishing up a French 6-pdr. gun and some infantry to clear table space.  Then it's on to more Russians, and an additional section of horse artillery (a 6-pdr. this time), so as to have two guns for the redoubt.    Not to mention the (tedious) task of removing the flash and casting lines from twenty-four Russian cavalry- the Kharkovski Dragoon Regiment!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Painted Russians!

I finally had some hobby time today, so here it is- a finished stand of Russians!

A 10 pdr. Licorne of Horse Battery #8 ready to do some GBH to the French.  Front Rank miniatures, and a joy they were indeed to paint. These are some of their best figures in my opinion.  

Notice that the Czar's representative, Count Anatoly Maximovitch Bricoloff, observes the proceedings along with the British liaison officer, Major Bartholomew Fetlock-Withers (MP),  3rd Lord Nosebridle.  

Seconded from His Britannic Majesty's 36th Regiment of Foot to serve on the staff of the Army of Silesia, the major is here to ensure that both King George and Parliament are getting the biggest "bang" for their subsidy guineas- and that the funds earmarked for outfitting the battery do not surreptitiously end up being channelled into cases of vodka. 

The brave (if rapacious) Count Bricoloff is a conversion- head of a Russian dragoon added to the body of a Prussian general officer from Front Rank's SYW Frederick the Great vignette.  I'm quite happy with it, and the cloak was a lot of fun to paint.
 Ready to dispense death and destruction on Bonaparte's hordes.

One gun model is fine for the Black Powder rules.  Only five more models to do, and I'll have a full battery for Republic to Empire!

The green coats are a little lighter than they should be.  The Russian green was a very dark shade.  But as with my French, I find that in 28mm I need to make allowances for scale colour, and to lighten the shade somewhat.  Otherwise the figures end up looking too dark on the tabletop.

The gun is already a veteran, as I fielded it (although with a "naked" base) for our first Black Powder game that we played last week.  It was a hard-fought encounter between the British and the French, and while the French were victorious in the end, it was extremely close- a bloodbath for both sides. But it must be said that it would have been much more of a walkover for les Crapauds had it not been for the excellent performance of the Russian Horse Artillery, in fact the only artillery piece in the game.

For the longest time, the beleaguered licorne passed all its break point rolls, and pretty much devastated what had been up to then a successful French attack on the centre of the British line. It halted one infantry battalion rendering it incapable of any further offensive action, and proceeded to savage another which promptly high-tailed it off the field.

To top things off, the gun then went on to destroy a regiment of Chasseurs au ChevalBy this time the French were desperate to take out the Russian battery, so the French commanding general ordered the cavalry to charge in what proved to be a suicidal frontal attack.  Les beaux sabreurs hurled themselves at the gun, only to be decimated and utterly broken in just one turn.  Urrah! 

The licorne finally met its end when it received a flanking volley from French infantry, but by then it had almost single-handedly plunged the French plans into ruins.*

The Tsar would have been well pleased with the performance of the 8th Horse Artillery. The Russians more than justified the British subsidy! 
* (Unfortunately, I was the commanding the French! ) 


Saturday, 25 September 2010

I wish...

Front Rank would do Napoleonic Russian cavalry wearing greatcoats.   

I was looking at the picture of the Crimean War Russian cavalry in the Black Powder rule book, and found myself thinking that they would be a lot faster to paint, and indeed look rather natty.

But I do like the dark green jackets.  Here's the licorne almost finished.  This picture gives a much better impression of the shade of green I'm using for the uniform.

Just the ironwork on the gun left to do now (ugh!),  and then the base once the glue has completely dried.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Freikorps Pfaffenhofen?

Now, these are not the best Landwehr models out there- Calpe remains my first choice for doing Prussian militia.

But they may do very nicely for the fictional Freikorps Pfaffenhofen.  I can always rationalize away the inaccuracies, and hack 'em around a bit.  

And for painting, what could be simpler than black with rose facings?

Horse Artillery Nosing towards the Finish Line

This year's work on the Russians has been very productive. However, these have been my Russians of 1943-44! We have been gaming using the WW2 Blitzkrieg Commander rules, and have been thoroughly enjoying them.  So naturally a lot of my hobby efforts have been focused on getting my Soviet hordes out on the table.

But this coming week our club has its first game of Napoleonics using Warlord Games' Black Powder rules.   If all goes well, then Napoleonics may hopefully be a regular item on the club menu.

The first game will see the French taking on the British in the Peninsula, with His Britannic Majesty being given artillery support in the form of a section of Russian Horse Artillery.  My first painted Russian unit, I'm pleased to report.  

Here they are, a stone's throw from being finished.  Since this photo was taken, I painted the gun barrel and have completed the brass work on the helmets and equipment.  The only thing remaining to do on the gun crew is to paint the metal scabbard fittings and to highlight the helmet crests.  

I've just varnished the Litko base on both sides to reduce the chance of warping.  Tomorrow I'll give the figures a coat of varnish too.   Once dry, I'll glue gun and miniatures to the base and texture it.   After the putty and sand on the base has dried out, I'll then paint the base.  

When all is done, I'll post a picture of the completed stand- hopefully in better light so that the colours come out close to what they really look like.  

My photography sucks, and I always have trouble with reds, blues, and greens.  The colours seen in the photo above are quite unlike how they appear in reality.  Despite my best efforts at tweaking things around on iPhoto, reds always come out looking far too pinkish, and greens comes out much brighter then they actually are.

Back to the infantry, I have been dithering around with the minis I want to send to Roger to paint.  Partly as a result of procrastination and of taking my own sweet time over the hated task of prepping the miniatures- removing flash and mould lines (ugh!), but also because as I mentioned much my limited hobby time has been spent  on building up my WW2  collection for club games.  

There was another hold up as for a while I was having second thoughts about unit sizes.  The other  guys have been going for 20-24 figure units and for a while I was wondering if I should conform, if for no other reason it would speed up painting time.

Being the selfish bugger that I am, though, I decided in the end that I'm going to stick with for the 28 to 36 figure units using my favoured 1:20 ratio of men to minis a la Peter Gilder.  I like the look, my French have been organized that way, and I'm not about to change now.  And I'm certainly not about to re-base those I've got done already!  

Fortunately many rule sets- including Black Powder- accept the fact that few gamers are about to re-base their entire collections, and can accommodate different unit sizes.

As I mentioned before, the following is being shipped off to the UK to come under Roger's loving brushwork.

Tern's Brigade:
  • 1st Batt.  Kourinski Regt.
  • 3rd Batt. Kourinski Regt.
  • 1st Batt.  Kolyvanskoi Regt.
  • 1st Batt. 12th Jager Regt.
Here they are "in the raw", organized on their bases.  
The Russian infantry were pretty uniformly dressed in 1813, even more so than the French who would take liberties with musicians and the like when they could get away with it (which was often!).  With a Russian army, there are much fewer options, but there remain a number of ways to make Russian infantry battalions look different from one another so that it is easy to tell stands apart in the game, other than just the standard regimental distinctions in shoulder straps and in the colours of flag staffs and drumsticks.  

I decided to have the two battalions of the Kourinski in greatcoats and mixed headgear, but one will be advancing and the other will be in march attack poses.  Kolyvanskoi will also be in march attack, but is wearing a mix of greatcoats and tunics, and all will wear the kiwer.   The 12th Jagers will be advancing in a mix of headgear, but no greatcoats.  Still with me?  

Even in summer many men preferred to wear the greatcoat, as it was looser and more comfortable than the tunic which they would simply roll up and put in their backpacks.  My Russians will be modelled as they were in autumn at the beginning of the Leipzig campaign, so anything goes!

I will work myself on the Vitebski and Koslovski regiments which are already on my workbench, along with two more battalions of Jagers.  So if all goes well, I'm anticipating that by the end of the year, I should be able to field the entire 15th Division under General Kornilov.

As I'm sure you will agree, Roger is an excellent painter and you can see his work here.  Drool fuel.  I have to say I'm really looking forward to having a collection I in which I can take a lot of pride.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Work continues...

...on removing the flash of a bunch of Russians I'm going to outsource to Roger.  Not exciting work, but I'll be sending him the first contingent the first week of April.

Meanwhile, I'm thoroughly enjoying the Lieven book, and recommend it to any aficiando of the Russkis.

Inspired enough so that I have been converting a Front Rank Russian mounted officer by giving him a Cossack's head from the SYW range.  I added an epoxy putty bag to the fur hat, and have given him a plume with fuse wire cords, and of course a coiled knout in his right hand!  

He'll be commanding the Ukrainian Cossack regiment.  

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Time to curl up in an armchair with a glass of vodka!

I haven't had much to read in the way of the Russian army in the Napoleonic Wars since I got my copy of Alexander Mikaberidze's The Battle of Borodino a year or so ago, so I have been long overdue for some literary inspiration.

Well, my friend Kris in Frankfurt has remedied that by sending me a copy of Dominic Lieven's Russia Against Napoleon: The Battle for Europe 1807-1814.

This looks like being a terrific read, and along with the copy of the Black Powder rules that Kris also sent me, it should keep my feet planted firmly in the early 19th C. for a while!

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Help on the way...

It became obvious to me long ago that my painting output is nowhere even close to what I want to achieve.  My productivity has been increasing, but not nearly as much as it needs to if I am to make so much as a dent in my embarassingly high Napoleonic lead pile.  

While my French are making progress, I keep looking over my shoulder not only at my reproachful Russkis, but also at a number of other projects, all crying out for my attention.

Therefore, I have decided that it has become high time to hire some mercenary brushwork.  After an exchange of emails, I have decided to outsource a brigade to Roger (RTB), whose work on some Bavarians for Iannick (aka Archiduc Charles) has really impressed me.  

Roger is a fine painter who is proving to be very professional in his approach to the business of figure painting.  

I have been selecting the figures I want him to paint, and currently I am busy removing the flash prior to sending them to him.  I'll be basing them and adding the flags, but he will be doing all the painting.

This will not be a cheap undertaking, but Roger knows his backpack from a bricole, and quality is important to me.  So it is well worth the money if it means that by Autumn or so I will have at least a critical mass of the Russians done at last.  Knowing that makes the challenge of painting more myself less daunting!

The lucky battalions to be selected for an appointment with Roger's talented fingers are part of the 15th Division; Col. Tern's brigade of :
  • The 1st and 3rd Battalion of the Regiment Kourinski
  • The 1st Battalion of the Regiment Kolyvanskoi
  • and the 12th Jager Regiment.
Four battalions in total; they will be making an appearance in this blog a battalion at a time, but I do believe it will be a collection to be proud of, if Roger's work as seen on his blog is anything to go by.

In the meantime I will be working not only on my French, but also on a battalion of the Kozlovski regiment, some Cossacks, and on some artillery.    

And what is a little financial sacrifice if it is for the cause of Mother Russia?!