Two shots this morning to illustrate where we are with the squadron of Horse Grenadiers based on those of Wurttemberg.
Slooooowly making my way through the first 16 figures of an eventual 30-figure composite regiment. I've now gotten to the point where it's time to paint in the reins, bridles, and martingales (GROAN!) on the horses, then the metallics, and finally a white colonel's standard, which will be a smaller version of the infantry colonel's standard with maybe the addition of some gold fringe since I've not been able to find any information on how the standard carried by the actual unit looked in reality.
That's ok, however, since no information has been forthcoming on trumpeters' uniforms either, so it is here in the painting game that I will have to veer into the realm of the presumed, or the fictitious if you prefer, and just get them done. So, a nice, somewhere in the ballpark, inspired by, based upon unit of bright, shiny toy soldiers when all is said and done. Which is fine by me. My armies are fictitious anyway.
While I have been lucky enough not to make too many errors with the brush that need later touching up, I must admit that I have not been entirely happy with the way the painting has gone so far, departing somewhat from my usual reliance on oils and experimenting more with acrylics as I am here, but at some point you've just got to get on with things and finish up.
Annoyingly, the coverage properties of some of the craft acrylics I have purchased and used for these figures are wanting. Two and sometimes three or four coats have been necessary, in a few instances, to get good coverage. Not enough pigment suspended in the acrylic-based vehicle maybe?
In any case, this is one instance where I feel purpose-made hobby acrylics, like those produced by GW (and my beloved oils of course), are worth the added cost. You get what you pay for in other words. It's nice to have good coverage with a single coat and be done with it in one fell swoop, which speeds up the painting process immeasurably. The painting difficulties I have experienced so far this go 'round probably explain my less-than-satisfied feelings here. Oh, how we suffer for our craft!
That said, the scarlet and dark gray highlights on these figures look reasonably OK to my eyes although I have found here that it's easy to get carried away and apply too much highlight. Less is definitely more here, and you've got to leave enough of the darker shade colors showing for the highlight colors to have an effect. By the way, the reins, etc. will be black this time with some sparing dark gray highlights. My usual treatment of these items on my cavalry and transport horses up to this point (since 2006) has been a thin dark brown acrylic (almost) wash with no highlights attempted.
The castings are interesting. RSM95 for both the horses and troopers, the latter from the French SYW range. I've painted plenty of the horses before and have no major issues with them except that the hindquarters could be a wee bit broader and the muzzles a wee bit narrower. While RSM95 equines are not in the same league as, say, those by Ebob, Crann Tara, Minden, Fife&Drum, Tradition, Willie, or Holger Eriksson, for example, they aren't that bad, and I'm nitpicking.
The troopers -- French cuirassiers in bearskins -- remind me a great deal of Holger Eriksson figures in that much of the detail is suggested rather than sculpted in stark relief. The human proportions and anatomy are fine. I do not know if the late Steve Hezzlewood himself sculpted the masters way back when, when the range of figures was known as Pax Britannica, or if these were subsequently sculpted by someone else and added to the range at a later point. My biggest issue with these particular cuirassiers, and a few of the other RSM95 cavalry figures, however, is that they have been sculpted open-handed. The right hand is left for you to cement either a sabre or a carbine into.
While this is handy when it comes to creating the occasional odd standard bearer, it is tedious and time consuming to attempt (Grrrrrr!) super-gluing these tiny items into place before base-coating and painting can begin in earnest on a batch of 15-30 figures, whether you attach riders to horses before painting, as I do, or paint them separately and mount the riders later. How's that for a lengthy, convoluted, academic German style sentence? I blame the Grand Duchess.
Luckily, these particular figures have been cast with sheathed swords on their left side, but the open hands still look a bit awkward if you prefer carbines to be suspended from the shoulder belt just behind the troopers' right arm and above the right thigh. Or even no carbines at all, which I have decided to keep things simple. Less risk, you understand, of messing up the paint job after the fact since I neglected to cement the carbines into place at the outset of painting last summer. Kids? Don't try this at home. It's what happens when you rush.
The open hands, and indeed the arms attached to them, thus require a bit of fiddling to get things just so before applying your base coat of choice and paint as usual. As I say, I am nitpicking here, but if you prefer slenderer figures as I do -- 30mm, 1/56, 1/60, call it what you will -- and until a manufacturer produces Germanic heavy cavalry in bearskins wearing a cuirass (only the breastplate), these will have to do for the time being.
The Minden Miniatures range does have Cuirassiers du Roi, but these feature both breast and back plates worn outside the jacket. A more generic German heavy cavalry type (trooper, officer, trumpeter, and standard bearer) in bearskin and wearing just the front half of a cuirass inside the jacket would be a good future addition to the range for those of us who wish to paint and add heavy cavalry from some of the smaller German participants in the War of Austrian Succession and/or The Seven Years War to our collections.
Just my two cents of course, and the time and cost of doing so may not be worth it in the long run given projected sales, available budgets, and all those sorts of real world things business owners must consider. Possibly a subject for something like Kickstarter though?
As for the second squadron lurking in the background? Well, the plan is for these to be in dark blue coats with red facings and turnbacks, black bearskins, and probably yellow lace. I'll base them on the Royale Allemande cavalry of France more or less but give them a more "Germanic" looking, somewhat less complicated, apocryphal standard when the time comes. When they too are finished, I'll have a nice composite regiment of heavy cavalry in red and dark blue respectively. Probably the closest I'll ever come to having the Waterloo-era Union and Household brigades (clad in red or blue coats respectively) in my collection, but these should scratch that particular collector's itch once all painting is finished with two or three coats of acrylic gloss over that.
A Saturday morning P.S.
A very pleasant two hours or so were spent yesterday (Friday) evening at the painting desk. Tiny bits, pieces, and some touch-ups really. Nothing of any consequence to report, save for adding very thin white straps at the bottom of each blackened cuirass. I used my smallest brush for the task, an 000 that I have had for more than 20 years to gently 'tease' pigment onto these areas, conveniently obscured in most cases behind a hand or two positioned near the reins of the horse. It was an operation as delicate as tying flies (my late father's hobby), and I made a few mistakes, but the finished job looks reasonably good this morning.
Today, I'll start with a few more touch-ups and then continue by applying thinned black alkyd oil to manes, tails, and the lower legs of most horses in this squadron since I've decided to make them bays. Only two will have a different color scheme: The trumpeter's mount, which will naturally be a grey, and a lone chestnut for variety.
I recall reading somewhere in the last 25 years that, during the Napoleonic era, at least, most cavalry mounts were indeed one type of chestnut or another. I do not remember whether this was the case in a particular army, say the French, British, or Prussian, or if that was a general observation made by the author of the book in question.
Hmmm. I wish I could recall the author at least, which would make it somewhat easier to (re-) check this piece of information now. I want to say Philip Haythornthwaite, since I have so many of his books on my shelves, but that is entirely speculative. It could very well have been a different author on the subject. Ah, well. That's just something that will have to wait for now. I'd rather be painting.
One point of reference for the figures shown above, a more or less contemporary image of the unit in question.
A later illustration of the Wurttemberg Leib Grenadiere zu Pferd (horse grenadiers) that I like even more.
And finally, the illustration on which I'll base my second squadron. All three illustrations come via the Kronoskaf website.