Friday, 16 February 2018

From SidneyR: Graf von Bek's North German Horse (66 Points)

From the journal of Don Fernando de Torrescusa, Marquess de Girona, Envoy of His Most Catholic Majesty, Carlos the Second, King of Spain, to the Flemish Free City of Laarden in 1688.

There were six of them, and then the rest of the squadron rode into view from behind the black, winter trees.  

Against the frozen field, the grass thick with hoar frost, I could see them clearly although we were some way off from our position on the hill.  De Gautier's excited chatter was momentarily silenced as they accelerated quickly from a canter to a gallop.  I snatched my spyglass from its tubular case of Andalusian leather.  I could plainly pick out their clothing and equipment: deep brown, ochre, buff and carmine riding coats - with front breastplates in blackened steel, swords curved as I had seen in Hungary, and stirrups shortened in the Polish fashion.  Several of the troopers had fair, straw-coloured hair, sometimes curling down onto their shoulders, unfashionably long.  

Their coats were trimmed in animal furs to keep out the cold.  Ostrich feathers, dyed Hapsburg scarlet, were secured to their hats in an overly ostentatious display of loyalty to their paymaster.  Their standards displayed images of Fortuna, Goddess of luck and chance, the Imperial Eagle and a prancing horse, all of which were very different from the familiar Burgundian cross displayed on the standards of the Laarden regiments and on the flags of His Majesty's Spanish tercios.

They were fast, gliding at speed over the snow-flecked downland, scattering the hussars and forcing the French dragoons to mount hastily and ride off.  I could pick out the small puffs of smoke of a few dragoon muskets being fired in a ragged fusilade against the horsemen, just as I could see the glint of pale sunlight catching the cavaliers' sword-steel as they broke the French dragoons' threadbare line.

The horsemen were barely a formation by the end, much less a squadron.  They did not pursue.  No doubt their captain, or Graf von Bek, had ascertained that there were far greater opportunities for plunder and looting in the location of the now-reclaimed supply wagons than in an effective pursuit of the French raiders. Nevertheless, even despite the lack of a vigorous chase, de Gautier had wound himself into a corkscrew of excitement while watching the slaughter, clapping his hands wildly and gesticulating his arms like the sails of an Antwerp windmill in a firm wind. During the looting, he even instructed his trumpeter to mark the skirmish with a brassy clarion note in the icy morning air.

Yet I had seen it all before.  Just as the Swedes have their Finns, and the Poles have the Tartars, the Imperial forces of the Emperor Leopold are currently augmented by mercenaries recruited from the Baltic towns, even as far east as Livonia and Courland.  I had seen their aggressive charges and predilection for plunder before on the fields of Honigfelde, Rennenberg, Wolgast and Bredtstede.

I had guessed as much when I had first seen the squadron galloping hard into the attack, but their standard of a Hapsburg eagle on a golden field confirmed my suspicion.  Even without the Imperia-sanctioned heraldry of von Bek’s cavaliers, the eastern-fashioned arms, cold weather clothing, unfashionable hair and rapacious brutality were as bold a signature as I would have recognised anywhere.


My first inspiration for this squadron was a curious reference to William III bringing within him 200 Finnish troops “in bearskins and black armour” for his invasion of England in November 1688.  To my knowledge, no picture exists of these Finnish troops.  No uniform, no standard, nothing.  But I very much liked the idea of troops being clothed in fur and armour against cold winter weather.  Another inspiration was the frequent reference to cavalry, or 'reiters', being "Hungarian" or "Polish" in German-language accounts of horse squadrons in the 1670s and 1680s.  This is normally taken to be that the troops in question were equipped in the style or fashion of, or with equipment typical of, Hungarian or Polish troops, without being themselves from Hungary or Poland.

From these starting points, I reasoned that any Imperial force from the 1680s may well have some cavalry formations equipped with some more eastern-style arms (the more curved swords which Don Fernando claimed he saw in Hungary), and could have included troops equipped for winter conditions in "bearskins and black armour" (echoing William III's Finnish mercenaries' clothing).  

I tried to keep the tones of the clothing to an authentic brown-red-grey theme - typical for 17th Century cavalry on campaign.  I painted the hair on several of the reiters in pale, Nordic tones, again suggesting of a Baltic location for their recruiting ground.  With green-stuff, I added feathers to hats, fur-lined trim to coats, gauntlets, and deep late-17th century cuffs with additional buttons to try and give the horsemen an individual look.

The figures started life as Foundry ECW cavalrymen, but I tried to convert them into a distinctive, if undisciplined, squadron of aggressive North German Horse from the 1680s.

I’ve placed the troops I have just painted alongside six other reiters from the squadron which I started painted in the Challenge last year but didn't finish in time (and indeed, they sat sadly on the painting table until early April, 2017). I painted the standard of Fortuna by hand from an online collection of German standards from the 1650s - so a few liberties have been taken with history in that regard by placing Fortuna in a squadron from the 1680s.  And, to be clear, the front six reiters are not in Challenge VIII and are there just to make a fun photograph and complete the squadron!

So, in total, six 25-28mm cavalry, totaling 60 points to my tally and Renaissance Side-Duel.


More stunning miniatures and flights of imagination from the brush and pen of Sidney Roundwood. Bravo!! 

These figures' origins as venerable Foundry ECW castings have been completely re-purposed to support the 'history of Laarden' with the subtle additions of fur trim, feathers, gauntlets and heavy cuffs - absolutely wonderful work, Sidney. I also really like the new basing recipe you've created for this project; it's subtle, yet frames the figures nicely within their Lowcountry setting. 

66 points, which includes a few extra for the modifications. Thanks for sharing these with us Sidney!

From RayR - French Grenadiers & Louis XIV (51 Points)

Yet more figures for my Donnybrook shenanigans I'm afraid.
In today's post we have French Grenadiers and Kings Louis XIV of France.

The first 4 French Grenadiers are from North Star's 1672 range.
They are a tad early for my period, with their rolled up sleeves,
 but boy they are great looking figures.
I'm afraid the detail just hasn't shown up in the photos, which is really a shame.
They are a joy to paint and come highly 
recommended that's for sure!

The next four figures are from Foundry's Malburian range.
Nice figures but a tad boring as they're all the same pose. 
As per normal the bases are from Warbases, the grass tufts are a mix of Warpainter

Oops almost forgot 4 ladders, which needed painting and won't earn me a lot of points!
I picked these up at the Rochester Model shop of £1!

King Louis XIV
Now I'm sure I bought him from North Star, but can't find him on their site???
I wasn't sure what colour to paint him, so chose a uniform consistent with
the Guarde Francais.

So to the points
40 points for the infantry
10 points for Louis
and I guess 1 point for the ladders?


Very nice figures Ray. These are true 'grenadiers', eh! I have a few of the North Star 1672 figures as well and agree, they are absolutely beautiful castings - you've really done them proud here. I also like your waving 'Fun King', especially the lovely French blue of his coat. 

A point for 4 ladders? Hmm, okay. I think my original baseline intent of 20 points for an equivalent 6x6 cube of terrain has eroded somewhat. We may need to revisit the requirements for our next outing. Nonetheless, a point it is.


From DaveX: 28mm WWII Polish Airborne (10 points)

This week I have been busy preparing my entry for The "Childhood" themed round however I managed to get in a couple of extra miniatures.  They are 28mm WW2 Polish Airborne by Warlord Games.

I am using these 2 models for a guide on my blog on how to paint them using simple techniques to achieve this standard.

10 easy points :)


Lovely brushwork Dave! I think that any tips on making Densison camo an easier proposition is a great boon. I'll be checking that out.

10 points it is.


From Millsy: Warhammer Empire Reiksgard Foot Knights (121 points)

Wow. Talk about a long time coming. Over two weeks between submissions as I laboured over these with the little free time I was able to find here and there. I got there in the end though and I'm very happy with the result...

This is a unit of 24 x Imperial Reiksgard Foot Knights for my rapidly growing Warhammer Fantasy Empire army. Its a mix of the mid to late 90s era Perry Brothers sculpts and the earlier Marauder Miniatures MM65 set sculpted by Aly and Trish Morrison. There's also a hero with the flamberge greatsword snuck in for good measure. I love the MM65 knights but they are absolutely massive by comparison to the rest of the miniatures and getting everything to rank up on 20mm bases was a trial to say the least.

I've left off the shields that about half the unit should has simply because things are so crowded. Full sized shields just won't fit. My only thought to rectify this at present is to try something like the small "besange"-style shields from 40K Terminators that cover the armpit when the arm is raised. They're quite small and similar to the high medieval small shields carried by knights in full plate. Any other suggestions?

The unit is painted up in Altdorf colours to reflect their Reiksgard background. They won't see the table often unless I proxy them as vanilla swordsmen given I already have a unit of Greatswords. There is one variant army list that would allow both units to fight together so I suspect it'll happen at some point just for the ooh-shiny factor.

Here's some shots of each row back and front so you can see the rear in particular which is considerably more colourful than the front in many cases!

So now the only thing left to do is find somewhere to *display* these buggers in my stupidly overcrowded "display" cases. :-)



Ooh, what a fabulous looking unit Millsy. I love seeing these early and mid period models being used in the same unit. 

Your red, white and blue livery works very nicely, especially when contrasted against the dour steel of the armour. Personally, I think that shields would just over complicate things, and besides, if you're sticking to the late renaissance look for these fellows they wouldn't have carried shields wearing full plate harness anyway.

121 points, including another pip for their banner. Lovely work and it's great to see you back Millsy!


From MichaelA: "This is no cave..." (15 Points)

The X-Wing Miniatures Game remains a firm favourite at the school tabletop gaming club, a combination of simple, fun rules and great looking models sees it played on a regular basis.  It has been great fun building up the fleets to include special abilities, but I was keen to broaden the range of scenarios available in the time that we have allotted; enter 'Mr. Chompy!'  This Giant Space Worm is from 'Combatzone Scenery' and is made from plaster that has been specially impregnated with a resin to make it more durable and comes primed and ready to paint.  The detailing is such that having airbrushed the basic colours, I simply added further colour by dry brushing before picking out a few details here and there.

Although the space slug comes in a few piece it is fairly simple to put together.  That said in my enthusiasm to get it ready for painting, I forgot to pin the head and tail, all seems fine and secure at the moment, but I am worried that I may come to regret that somewhat hasty decision.  At some point, I might try and mind some clear plastic rod to replace the rather obvious black one, but it is fine as it is for the moment.   

This is a fun addition to any game, with unwary ships likely to be missing a chunk or two if they fly too close! The additional rules allow the 'Mr. Chompy' to attack up to range one, causing another variable to an already fun game.

As for points, well the longest edge of the base is a 120mm, as is the height of the piece, but is it a terrain piece or monster on a base?  Fortunately, I don't have to make that decision. 


Be still my beating heart, a regular submission from Mssr. Awdry outside the theme rounds?! This is a propitious day indeed! :)

What a cool figure and a great addition to the X-Wing game. I like the colours you've  chosen for the whale/worm, especially his blue tongue. I know that the kids at  your school will love it.  Actually, I could see that this would work very nicely for Armada games as well, especially with the greater contrast in scales. Hmm, I think I need one...

Looking at the dimensions of this beastie let's call him the equivalent of a 28mm vehicle - so 15 points for you, Michael. This will put you well within striking range of your points target for this edition of the Challenge, well done sir!


VictorC: 28mm Foundry War of the Spanish Succession Infantry (55 points)

This week submission contains 11 War of Spanish Succession troops. These are Foundry figures. I've painted them like the "Old Yellow" uniforms for the Spanish. Also I painted these with oil paints and this was my attempt at painting troops in mass with oil paints.  

 I have no idea if the commander of this group had a green jacket or not but I liked it so I went with it. 

I still have to work on painting flesh at this scale. I haven't found a good technique I like.


Painting mass troops with oils? Wow, you're a braver (and more patient) man than me Victor. Good on you! I really like the yellow coats with the blue facings - very sharp. If you ever wish to try doing flesh tones with acrylics I can recommend both the Vallejo and Foundry flesh 'systems'. Another quick cheat is to use a midtone flesh colour, apply a wash like the P3 Formula Flesh Wash (most paint ranges have something similar), retouch the raised areas with the same midtone colour and then for a final highlight, add a bit of white to the mix. Works a doodle for rank-and-file figures. 

55 points for your climb up the roster. Well done!


Really, Who Cares About the Olympics when it's Friday and the Painting Challenge is On?

I know, I've used this one before but I couldn't resist. If it were figure skaters it would be pretty much perfect (I loath figure skating almost as much as hockey). 

Remember, this Saturday at midnight is the deadline for submitting to the 'Childhood' theme round. 

Have a great weekend everyone!