06 January 2010

Artillery Progress. . .

A dozen 25mm Garrison Prussian artilley crew being issued with uniforms inspired by those worn by the Von Kleist Freikorps artillery crews.

The Outlaws are visiting from Seattle and "looking after" Young Master Paul, so I enjoyed a bit more time for painting last evening than has been the case recently, which enabled me to make some real progress on the Garrison Prussian artillery crew. You'll see that I am painting them more or less along the lines of the artillery contingent in Von Kleist's Freikorps, but there is, as usual, considerable artistic license taken too, i.e., the light green cuffs and pompoms on the hats. On that note, I wish the hats were a wee bit smaller on these figures, but overall they are kind of nice even if a bit smaller than my RSMs. The Garrison miniatures are true 25mm and similar in height to my 1/72 plastic Revell figures though stockier. Still a way to go before the crew here is all finished, and I can move on to the two guns, but these photographs provide a pretty good idea of where things are headed.

Later. . .

Jim "Alte Fritz" Purky over in Hesse-Seewald asked in the comments section for this post why I had not chosen RSM artillery figures to crew my guns? Well, good question! I suppose because I started the Grand Duchy of Stollen project, intending to use the SYW 1/72 Revell plastic figures.
The more I think about it though, I will very likely replace my plastic artillery crews with RSM French and Prussian artillery crews before too long. Yes, I'm sad to say that I have been gradually seduced by metal figures. Blame the Grand Duchess for introducing me to the wonders of RSM miniatures with her fantastic gifts for Christmas 2006 and Christmas 2007. From there on in, it has been a slippery slope indeed.

Yes. I know, I know. . . There was that Battlegames article I wrote a while back (hanging my head in shame), extolling the virtues of plastic figures. But times and tastes change as the saying goes, and this is what has happened in the case of yours truly. The more I have read, painted, and looked around at various websites and blogs, the more I have fallen for certain older ranges of 30mm metal figures. Over time, the Revell plastics, though very nice for what they are, have become a bit less attractive to me for use in my armies.

One of the chief problems with the Revell figures sets I have scrounged for the Grand Duchy of Stollen armies is that there are always so many strange poses left over in each figure set that I can't, or don't want to, use in my units of staid mid-18th century figures. You know the kind. Infantry and/or cavalry waving their muskets or swords wildly or doubled forward in a strange running/galloping stance. That might work for mid-19th Century figures, but not the mid-18th century. Nope, I like a relatively limited number of poses in my armies. And with many 1/72 plastic sets, you're potentially left with many (hundreds) of unused figures laying around in plastic bags and storage tubs. . . Like the three just above my left shoulder on a shelf.

"What about using these leftovers for conversions?" you might ask. Well, while I like to think I'm a pretty fair painter and a reasonably imaginative modeler, my attempts at 1/72 conversions have never turned out well enough to bother painting. Truth be told, 1/72 figures are pretty slight, and I don't like X-acto knife blades and dental picks plunged inadvertently into my unwitting hands, thank you very much. But returning to the matter at hand, left over figures, returning to the matter at hand, are not a problem with the metal ranges I like though. When ordering RSMs, Spencer Smiths, or Holger Erikssons, for example, you can purchase exactly what you want without any waste. . . as long as these manufacturers and/or distributors continue selling individual figures and don't make a switch to the dreaded multi-packs in the meantime of course!

Another fly in the ointment where the plastics are concerned has to do with their size. While the SYW Revell 1/72 sets might be considered slender, true 25mm (perhaps comparable to old Ral Partha figures), I have come to prefer the slightly larger size and heft of realistically proportioned 30mm metal figures like those I mention above specifically as well as others (Minden, Tradition, Willie, et al). Then, there is the peeling paint issue. For the most part, I have not experienced this problem. . . much. Usually, my black acrylic gesso base-coat and two coats of acrylic Future/Klear floor finish prevent this kind of thing from happening. But recently, I've noticed the black paint beginning to wear off the horses' tails in a regiment of plastic Revell dragoons that I painted about three years ago. A frustrating development to be sure. Oh, the shame and embarrassment of soft plastic figure psoriasis!

Nope. Looks like I'll gradually make the change to all-metal armies. Plastic figures have their advantages, and I wouldn't try to stop anyone from collecting and painting them, or criticize another wargamer's plastic battalions and regiments. But I plan to replace the plastic units in my collection with metal figures once the two basic Sittangbad-sized armies have been completed in the next year or so. Now that's a little way off at this point, but it's definitely on the books as a long-term goal.

A Garrison Prussian dragoon officer, serving here as the mounted battery officer.

On an entirely different note, it looks like this has been the Christmas of out-of-print SYW uniform books. I got busy on Amazon.com during a quiet period earlier this afternoon and found two more interesting titles that will shortly make their way to Zum Stollenkeller. The first is Altpreussische uniformen, 1756-1786 by Hans Bleckwenn (Thanks for the suggestion, Jim!), and the second is Freikorps of the Seven Years War by Bruce Bassett-Powell. Both volumes are reportedly in very good condition. Of course, most of my units are, or will be, painted in imaginary uniforms, but the study of old uniforms is such a fascinating activity by itself that it seemed like a good idea to add a couple of more titles to my book collection.

And now, the Grand Duchess and I are off to dinner at a local Indian and Sri Lankan place before the mother of all snowstorms begins here in the American Midwest (Hold onto your hat, A.J.!). We haven't had dinner out -- alone -- since before Young Master Paul graced us wth his presence just over two months ago, and the Outlaws have volunteered to look after him for a couple of hours while we dine and have, hopefully, some non-baby conversation. Charge!


A J said...

Very nice! I have a couple artillery batteries to start off once we get our spare room/painting/modeling den back next week.

Peter said...

If a Knötel plate was made on the Von Kleist Freikorps, it could be found here:
But I guess you already had that link. Nonetheless, just to make sure I sent it anyway.


tradgardmastare said...

Cool figs !

Martin said...

Classy looking troops Stokes! I'm sure the matrosses will soon be doing their bit for hearth and home on the tabletop.

Der Alte Fritz said...

I am sort of surprised that you haven't considered using the RSM artillery crew in your armies.

Fitz-Badger said...

I like these colors very much! :)

Steve Turner said...

Stokes - Your rate of painting takes my breath away at times. I only wish I could paint that quickly.
By the way, like you I now employ the idea of using plastic bottletops on which to base my figures while I paint. It's a great idea, and gives me something to grip onto other than the model itself. I usually fix the model in place on the bottletop with "Blu-tac" (a sort of sticky putty). May I ask what you use to hold yours in place?


Stokes Schwartz said...

Thanks for all of your nice comments and encouragement, everyone! Steve, I just use plain old white glue to attach the figures to their temporary painting bases, a term that sounds nice than battlecaps! ;-) But I've been thinking about switching to blue tack because the figures occasionally jump off their bottlecaps before they are finshed.

Best Regards,


guy said...

Hi Stokes,

Your comments about the Revell troops really hit home here as I have had similar thoughts for some months. On every level they just do not compare to figures such as Minden. However I am some thousands of figures in and I will keep going with the project. Now that Zvesda are starting to release SYW boxes and hat possibly shortly, I feel there are enough new developments to keep me interested.

I suspect those who have collected only metal armies have the same issue but in a different way. I note that on the alte fritz blog, Jim is selling some great units and I presume he would then replace them with more up to date figures.

My answer to this quandary is to start a second project - I intend to collect relatively modest French and British units using the Minden range. This will be different from my plastic Prussian/allies V Austria/Reicharmee/Saxony forces. I also have been detouring in the last year again into increasing my 28mm Napoleonic Peninsula armies. So whenever I need a metal fix, I dig out a unit there. However even there I have been trying out plastics with the new Perry and Victrix figures.

Wherever the various projects take us, I'm sure it will still be great fun.


Ken said...

The comments about 1/72 vs. RSM figures really hit home with me. I like the RSM figures a lot, but I also really got to like 1/72 plastics whilst painting Crimean-era Imagi-Nations armies for my sons at Christmas. The thing that stops me going with plastics for my 18th Century Imagi-Nation is the complete lack of Hungarian Austrians, which are the main line infantry of Scandalusia. If Zvezda, or better yet HaT, put out nice-looking SYW Hungarian infantry, I'll be sorely tempted to go with plastic.


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