Men at work in the late 18th century -- 'Woodcutters in Windsor Park' (1793) by Benjamin West.
A package arrived from Minden Miniatures yesterday afternoon, containing eight military laborers, eight civilian laborers, and four French artillery crew plus tiny tools and implements to place in all of the hands. As usual, the sculpting, molding, and proportions of anything from Minden is exquisite. All of these will be combined randomly into small vignettes of two-three figures to represent a strong company of pioneers/sappers/miners/pontooniers hard at work (depending on what might be needed), and they will serve in both the Stollenian and Zichenauer armies. Once again, on an as needed basis.
For the time being, they'll remain in their packets until the current crop of musicians et al is finished, but I'm already thinking ahead to fairly nondescript uniforms that might serve well for either army. I like the blue and gray worn by the Swedish artillery and engineers of the period (courtesy of Kronoskaf), but that is very plain and, the more I think about it, it doesn't quite appeal to my more colorful side. Maybe, I can base them on slightly more flamboyant Austrians or Prussians? Steady on, Stokes! You're getting ahead of yourself, old man.
These Minden laborers just scream with potential for all kinds of things as we have seen in various Charles S. Grant titles these last few years. Jim Purky, too, has done some remarkable modelling using these figures, seen in several Wargamer's Annuals now. Anyway, as I daydreamed away with a writing pad and pencil yesterday during my office hours -- to which most American undergraduates rarely come unless it is a required part of their course grade -- it occurred to me that an interesting vignette might include one or two of these generic military laborers, perhaps with a bit of conversion work using modelling putty, and a large horse or two, to make a neat base of cavalrymen in the filed watering and grooming their mounts at the end of the day. It wouldn't take too much work to add a clay pipe to the mouth of one of the human figures either.
Hmm. Maybe, I'll need to attempt something like that in the medium term? It strikes me that these little scenes, which don't necessarily have much to do with the tabletop battles that unfold around them, nevertheless add considerable atmosphere and feel to the tabletop regardless of one's wargaming interests and the period in question.