20 February 2010

Where on Earth has February gone?

Hmmmm. . . I think the Grand Duchy or Stollen, or maybe its mortal enemy the Electorate of Zichenau, needs an eventual regiment of uhlans in its cavalry branch. But which manufacturer can provide suitable 25-30mm figures?


Can you believe we are in the homestretch for the month? And two entire weeks have flown by without much work in Zum Stollenkeller. Well, that's not entirely the case. There has indeed been "work", real work that is, but precious little of that has had anything to do with soldier painting or writing. Sadly, it's been the usual litany of reading student essays, assigning grades, dealing with a few students who felt they deserved better grades somehow, and various small (and boring) administrative tasks associated with that. But that has sucked up considerable time. When I've had a free hour or two, and that has actually occurred, but I just haven't felt like sitting down to the painting table. I think it's the same hobby funk that Greg Horn described over on his Duchy of Alzheim blog several days ago. Sigh.

Young Master Paul is approaching the four-month mark and is becoming quite a little personality! He began smiling on cue a little over two weeks ago and has developed a sweet , hiccuping laugh, plus an ever increasing variety of sounds. Much like his father, he has become quite the conversationalist, holding forth on all manner of subjects when he is awake and happy. The only catch is that we can't yet determine WHAT is it that he is saying. Without nattering on about it anymore, Young Master Paul has become quite a bit of fun in the last several weeks as the frequent (midnight) feedings have declined somewhat. So, this must be the joy of being a parent that I've always heard about -- seeing your child grow and learn on what seems like a daily basis. But back to wargaming related things for a moment!

The Grand Duchess and Young Master Paul are headed out to a friend's house this afternoon, so I'll have a few hours to sit down to the painting table and apply some paint to those Huzzah musketeers, which as you might recall, are being painted in Wurtemburg Garde zu Fuss uniforms. The first infantry company plus all staff, officers, NCOs, drummers, and mounted officer are not that far from being finished, so maybe in a week or so, I can begin the next company of enlisted men? In any case, I've decided that there's nothing for it but to make myself sit down and paint through the funk, something very similar to what I tell my students about writing. You can't sit around waiting for inspiration to jump up and bite you. Sometimes, you just need to sit down a work through the writing (or painting) blocks.

In spite of the painting funk, I have continued to enjoy the recent Grant-Olley titles that arrived in January and think about a number of things related to the hobby. One item has to do unit size. While I have yet to come up with any good, thoughtful answers myself, I've spent lots of time musing about the appeal of large units. What is it about 30+ figures group together into an infantry battalion or cavalry regiment that is so appealing to so many of us? What is it about large dioramas in museums, or BIG games for that matter, that makes us think, "I want to do something like that myself!" What is it about the mass effect of military miniatures in their hundreds? Phil Olley discussed this point a bit in an entry several weeks ago on his Classic Wargaming blog, and it's something that has been in the forefront of my mind ever since. As mentioned, no definitive answers yet, and I realize that not everyone has the time or inclination to purchase, paint, and collect large units of unbased figures, but it is a fascinating thing to ponder. Or, maybe I'm just easily entertained? But what do you Stollen regulars think about what Phil has termed "the mass effect"? What is the attraction? What are the tabletop advantages? What are the pitfalls? Let me know your thoughts with a comment or two.

Another thing that I've been pondering recently has had to do with uhlans (lancers), hence the Knoetel illustration at the top of this post. Once my basic Sittangbad-sized forces are finished, one of the additional units I'd like to add to the collection includes a three-squadron regiment of Uhlans de Something. Young and Lawford included the Uhlans de Saxe in their Sittangbad game though I don't think these were actually cavalry figures armed with lances if memory serves me correctly. Maybe they were, and I have forgotten. I'll have to consult a copy of Charge! later this evening.

The main issue confronting me where uhlans are concerned has to do with finding a suitable range of figures to use when the time comes. As far as I know, the RSM95 range does not include any uhlan figures. I'm not sure if the Minden range includes a suitable figure, and there is the issue of ready availability there. Naturally, I'd like to stay with realistically proportioned, slim figures, so some of the more popular "modern" ranges out there, which do include uhlan figures, won't be suitable. And I won't mention any names here. I know Spencer Smith has an 18th century uhlan figure, so that might be an answer. And I think the Suren range might too, but these could be a bit on the large side to work well with the rest of my collection. Ordering a few samples might be the answer. Well, yet again, I seem to be putting the cart before the horse. It's going to be a year or so before we get to that point! But it is fun to let your mind wander like this from time to time, isn't it? I think that's a big part of the hobby -- all the dreaming, planning, and "what ifs?", the immense possibilities if you will.

So, that's what's been going on here at Stollen Central lately. Enjoy the weekend everyone, and Happy Painting/Gaming!

18 comments:

Xaltotun of Python said...

Personally, I always like to plan ahead.
Never works out, but I like to do it.

tidders said...

Stokes,

Uhlan wise you can use either
a. Front Rank prussian SYW Bosniaks
b. Irregular Minatures Uhlan/Bosniak cavalry (these come in packs of 8 with horses and are well priced).
c. Wargames Foundry von Kleist Uhlans.

plenty of choice. I've gone for the first two options to create two different pulks of Uhlans for my Wittenberg army.

happy painting ...

-- Allan

Bluebear Jeff said...

Stokes,

Don't forget to peruse the ranks of plastics . . . I know that size can be an issue here, but you do have a number of plastic units.

I'm not familiar with Napoleonics (being one of the few wargamers with no interest in the period), but might there be something there that could serve?

In any event, it is good to read something from you once again.


-- Jeff

Mosstrooper said...

I have used the Irregular Uhlan and it looks OK with Spencer Smith figures

Der Alte Fritz said...

Suren makes Uhlans. You can see pictures on Bill Protz's Campaigns in Germania blog.

Crusader also makes post war Bosniaks that are on the small side and might work with your RSM figures. They are pictured on my blog back in December 2009.

Eureka has Saxon lancers for WAS if I recall correctly.

Fitz-Badger said...

I do like to look at different figures and think about how I could include them in my armies. I like to have variety, and even if most are tricorned I still like to include some more unusual unifroms types.

As for big battalions - I understand the mass appeal. Looks more like the real thing in some ways when you have more figures, in a similar pose for regular troop types. The "cast of thousands" epicness. Unfortunately there's also the concomitant costs in money, storage space, gaming space, gaming time (takes longer to move all of those individually based minis), painting and prep time, etc.

DC said...

Stokes,

The Hinchliffe Von Kleist Uhlan is a very close match to that illustration - and will fit in fine with RSM, etc.

Cheers.

Capt Bill said...

I have a six man unit of Front Rank Prussian SYW Bosniaks. I'll post a photo on my site so you can get an idea of how they look. My current project is to increase my Beerstein army from 18 man units to 30 man units. Although it will take some time, I can still use my armies as originally designed until the project is finished. Phil Olley and Charles S. Grant provided the inspiration with their great books and photos.I like the look and feel of larger units, but nearly doubling the size of my units is a big project. I just hope it proves worth the time and effort...

Ross Mac said...

For old school figures, don't forget Historifigs, their 25mm Scr5uby SYW range includes a Prussian Bosnian uhlan.
http://www.historifigs.com/soldiers_of_the_seven_years_war.htm

I haven't seen them so a sample would definitely called for.

Always fun to dream and plan -Ross

Grimsby Mariner said...

I think the appeal of large massed battalions is that it gives the impression of what the real thing would have looked like. Small battalions just cannot convey the massed ranks of the period even when there are lots of them on the tabletop.

abdul666 said...

Not all Uhlans minis have the 'open sleeves' of this plate; also, many have their baggy trousers worn above the boots, concealing them. De Saxe's Uhlans do have the 'right' open sleeves, but also a very peculiar headgear (a small 'Ancient Roman' helmet surrounded by a narrow turban -the ancestor of the 'Schomberg' helmet): the Marshal was extremely fond of actresses but also, it seems, of theaterical costume.

As for the 'Big Battalions', my guess is that 'immersion' in a battlegame requires a 'willing suspension of disbelief'. 'Big Battalions' simply look more 'like the real thing', both individually and as an army.
Big armies of big battalions of not-too-diminutive (≥ 22mm?) minis are costly in money, time to paint and 'battlefield' room, but the effect (not only aesthetical but also 'intellectually satisfying') is incomparable.
(Btw the topic was recently addressed in a TMP thread)
Smaller minis were initially advertised as 'allowing bigger batalions' but I feel that -quite the opposite- the larger the minis the larger the units have to be, to be visually satisfying. The larger the mini, the closer it is to 1:1 scale, so for 'consistency' the closer to 1:1 the representational scale of the unit has to be. A 'battalion' of 12-16 minis *may* work with 6mm: with such diminitive figs there is no possibility of 'suspension of disbelief' (on a wargame table -I'm not speaking here of massive dioramas having thousands of them), anyway. They are only 3D helpers to visually 'identify' the unit, just like the symbols printed on a boardgame 'chip'. But when looking at a 12-16 group of 28mm minis, sorry, I see a company or 'division' or squadron, I simply cannot see a battalion or regiment.
And the same is true when you lok at the whole army: deployed on the tabletop it has to look as far as possible like a contemporary battle painting. Only 'big battalions' (see the photos in the various Grant -father and son- books) can give this impression.

Conrad Kinch said...

I heartily recommend lancers. Have you done costings? Or does that interfere with the lets-pretend aspect of the exercise?

guy said...

Some good ideas here. The only metal ones I have seen in the flesh are the Front Rank ones and they may be a little well fed for your armies.
Coincidentally I have been considering how I might create some Bosniak lancers. I appreciate you have decided against more plastics but I am still going down that route. I have just spent some time converting three squadrons of Austrian horse grenadiers from the hat 1806 Prussian dragoon box. This meant adding bearskins from the Austrian infantry box, carbines and generally attacking them with my knife. The fourth squadron will have to wait as I have run out of Autrian infantry! Bosniak lancers will however be more of a problem and may require some considerable experimentation. The only guarantee is that as soon as I finish them, someone will release a box of the unit.

Big Andy said...

Suren does have an Ulan but he's a De Saxe one. Those Huzzar chaps look tasty and how the hell do you keep your painting tablre so tidy - mine ALWAYS looks like ground zero in a paint factory .!!

marfac said...

Hi
first time in your blog. I'm very impressed.
I'm a semper fidelis reader of battlegames and an applicant solo wargamer , when kids and wife, let me some hours of time..
i would like to start a SYW project. have some advice related to miniatures and rules?ni ordered some spencer and smith samples.
thanks in advance
marco

Bloggerator said...

Hi Stokes,

It might be worth looking at some of the RSM Ottoman Cavalry. I was looking thru my lead mountain last night and found a few that might fit the bill.

I'll post a photo on my blog when I get home from work today.

Cheers,

Greg

littlejohn said...

Ill second Bloggerator's RSM Ottoman idea. I just finished a unit of them and they really look great. They will be participating in this weekend's battle over at Lead Gardens so I'll be sure to take a closeup of them in action.

Snickering Corpses said...

I was just thinking about you. Glad to hear things are going well in the Grand Duchy. I'm pretty much in a similar funk, I think, with little wargaming activity lately.

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