Tuesday, 28 February 2017

From BenF: Sharpe, Harper, and the 'Sweeps' (115 points)

Well it's been three weeks, but I've finally finished my next lot of figures for Sharpe Practice, and I have to say that they are some of the most characterful and enjoyable figures that I have painted in a very long time. While the British 95th Rifles are one of the most iconic units of the Napoleonic era, I've been waiting for the 'right' figures to come along to inspire me to finish a force of the 'sweeps'. Now, thanks to Brigade Games,  they have.

Anyone interested in the Napoleonic period will have come across the exploits of the scarred Rifle officer with the heavy cavalry sword and his tall Irish sergeant who wields the deadly seven barrelled volley gun. If you haven't yet had the pleasure, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of Bernard Cornwell's 'Sharpe's Tiger' and follow Richard Sharpe on his journey from India, through the battles of Trafalgar and Copenhagen to the Peninsular, Waterloo, and even the Chilean war of Independence. I've got all twenty-four novels in audio-book form, and will cycle through them as accompaniment for my painting, as well as podcasts and a bunch of other novels and non-fiction books.  


Paul Hicks has really captured the likenesses of Sharpe and Harper, as played by Sean Bean and Daragh O'Malley in the TV series. Sharpe is in a suitably heroic pose, with his 1796 pattern Heavy Cavalry sword and French chasseur a cheval overalls easily identifiable. Harper towers over the other riflemen, with his Baker rifle slung and the deadly Nock volley gun ready to cut down yet another swathe of dastardly Frenchmen. As well as these two, who will act as 'Big Men' or leaders for my Sharpe Practice Peninsular War Brits, I've also painted up one of the superb Perry Rifle sergeants to act as another leader. I went for a darker green for Sharpe, which I then dirtied up with pigments and some dry brushing. For the sergeants and the rest of the Rifles, I went for a  lighter, more faded green, also dirtied up. 


As well as the Sharpe and Harper character figures, Mr. Hicks has sculpted a group of 'chosen men', the more notable of Sharpe's riflemen. Included is the crack marksman and ex-Cheshire poacher Daniel Hagman, the gentleman ranker Rifleman Harris, the youngest of the bunch Ben Perkins, the educated inebriate Isaiah Tongue, and former London urchin Francis Cooper. As with Sharpe and Harper, all five are easily identifiable, but my favourites are Hagman, kneeling to take a shot, and Tongue with his head wrapped in a suitably piratical bandanna. To make this lot up to a group of six for Sharpe practice, I've added one of the plastic Perry riflemen, who fits in perfectly. He can fill the part of Rifleman Parry Jenkins, the affable Welshman who appears frequently in the novels.

 

To go along with the six figure 'Chosen Men' group, I've also painted up six of the Perry rifles. These figures are also superb and characterful, and while they are a little larger than the chosen men, I think they fit in well with the Brigade offerings. As always with Perry figures, the sculpting is top notch and they are a joy to paint. 



I've also painted up a French cantiniere, again from Brigade games. These intrepid women followed the French armies, providing a variety of goods for the French soldiers for a price and often fighting alongside their customers. This is another really great little sculpt. 


Finally for this batch, I've painted up a cart horse and a bunch of wagons for use in Sharp Practice campaign games. The carts are from war bases, and include an ammunition wagon, a water cart, and an engineers wagon. I wanted these to be usable for my future AWI project, so painted them as plain wood. The horse is from Front Rank, and I've based it in such a way that it can be used for any of the carts. It's unlikely that more than one of the carts would be used in any one game anyway.I'm not sure how these would be scored, i'll leave it up the judges expert opinions. 


This lot should get me a bunch more points for the comp and for the Sharp Practice side challenge.

Next, and possibly the final, batch coming up will be a unit of the spectacular new Perry French dragoons. I'm hoping to have these done in two weeks or so.

Alan and Paul: Aaarrrrrrr I love these so much! What wonderful figures, and what I great job you have done with them. I can't get 'Over the Hills and Far Away' out of my head now. Must resist another project for Sharp Practice! Must resist! Lovely to see your Cantiniere as well. I painted up one of these a few weeks back for the Retreat from Moscow, and I'm pleased to see that yours is looking much warmer. Your shading, especially on her face, puts mine to shame as well. In fact, I'm going to give you a few extra points for the faces of all these figures. So all up, you have 15 figures. I have scored your carts as one 28mm vehicle (for the horse) and the other two as guns. With another 5 bonus points, that makes 115 points. Can't wait to see the Dragoons!

24 comments:

  1. Fantastic job on these .. love em

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  2. Brilliant work Ben - very characterful figs :)

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    1. Glad you like them Tamsin. They are indeed amazing figures.

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  3. Holy cow - what a submission. Very well done Ben.

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    1. Thanks Greg, i've been working on speeding up my painting techniques and it seems to be working. That many figs would once have taken me 3 months or so!

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  4. "Sharpe" work, Ben! ;)
    My favorite fictional Napoleonic character, although Horatio Hornblower is a close second. Never knew this line existed! Very fine work on them!

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    1. Cheers David. I've also got a bunch of Brigade and Perry Royal Navy landing party types in the painting queue, including a Hornblower character figure and even a RN cutter which my wife got me for christmas a while back.

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  5. Lovely Cantiniere! And please could a minion or Curt add this to Sarah's Choice?
    Also, the cantiniere from your Retreat from Moscow (apologize if I missed her). Both are worthy contenders for Sarah's Choice.

    I would also suggest reading Seven Men from Gascony by Delderfield, a truly sweeping saga of Napoleons' army told thru the stories/interactions of seven men from Gascony and the intrepid Nicholette, a cantiniere who allies herself with the group.(spoiler alert; have tissues ready, the ending will leave you weeping)

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    1. Glad you like them Sarah, and thanks for the nomination. I have read Seven Men from Gascony, and agree it is really a great read.

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    2. How about 'Too Few for Drums'? Another great one by Delderfield.

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  6. Great fun, I'd love to have a game with these.

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    1. Thanks Barks. They've actually had their first game now, and as is always the way with newly painted figures their performance was.... somewhat underwhelming.

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  7. I loved the books, but could never stomach the series. Sean Bean has never cut it as Sharpe in my eyes. But that's just me and no one can argue that these miniatures aren't absolutely superb. I love the attention to detail, in particular the stubble on their faces, the clean piping on their jackets and the unit markings on their canteens. Top shelf work Ben.

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    1. Totally agree Curt, it's the curse of having an idea in your head from the books and the series not fitting it. The books are superb.

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    2. Thanks Curt. I agree that the books really are vastly superior to the series, whcih really lacked the scale of the books. A French attack column of 28 or so men really doesn't get near the feeling of the books. That said, I'd seen the series before the books, and so Sean Bean is forever fixed in my mind as Richard Sharpe. This probably isn't helped by the fact that the narrator on the audiobooks does a pretty decent impression of Sean Bean for Sharpe's dialogue.

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    3. Yes, 4 guys do not make an infantry square... We've been too spoiled by De Laurentiis' 'Waterloo'. I've listened to the Sharpe audiobooks as well and agree he does a good Bean voice (grinds teeth). :)

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  8. I'm always impressed when a face is painted so well the 5 o'clock shadow shows and these are brilliantly characterful. The french lady loading is a triumph too, excellent work! I read all of the books when I was younger and so have really fond memories of all this.

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    1. Thanks Jamie, glad you like them. They really are great sculpts and were a lot of fun to paint.

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  9. Really lovely finish on some characterful sculpts.
    Best Iain

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  10. Wonderful group of figures Ben!

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  11. Fine work! Especially the 5 'o clock shadow is brilliant.

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