Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2007

Almost Home!!!

After almost four hours of painting this evening and into Thursday morning (it's just after 1AM here), painting steps #7 (brown musket stocks, silver barrels, bayonets, officer gorgets, sashes, and spontoons) and #8 (brass cartridge pouch badges, drum shells, scabbard tips, and sword hilts) are finished! Here are a couple of shots showing where we are now with the third and final company of the Leib (Grand Duchess Sonja's Own ) Grenadiers, made up using RSM95 figures. The top shot shows the whole last batch from the font, so you can see the newly finished musket barrels, bayonets, and other silver details on the officer at left. In the lower photograph, I turned a couple of the figures around to show some of the small brass details. I used Winsor&Newton oil-based silver and Humbrol brass along with a couple of very small brushes for most of the work tonight. One is a sable spotter brush that I've had for close to 20 years! Still keeps a good point, and I use

White Out Conditions in The Grand Duchy of Stollen!

And I don't mean a blizzard! After three painting sessions (about six hours total) over two days, the whites are finally done. Thank goodness! Painting the shoulder belts was a chore. Many times, I had to rinse and wet the brush to remove “mistakes” – small areas where the thinned white paint had run outside its black defined lines. Then there was the time when I dropped a brush with bristles full of white paint. Yes, I had to touch up one blue coat and a red turnback – #@%$&*$#!!! Still, I’m pleased with the final results and have turned three figures around to show the rear detail. It will get easier from here on. Drop by tomorrow to see how our next step is going when I paint the musket stocks, barrels, bayonets, plus the officer’s gorget and spontoon. See you then!

"Nothin' but blue skies from now on. . ."

After three separate hour- long (or slightly more) painting sessions, the blue coats are finished on this, the final batch of RSM grenadiers. They’re really starting to look good now, I think. If I’m not too wiped out later this evening, I might start on the next step – THE WHITES! Not my favorite part of figures painting, but necessary. And one can’t argue with appearances after things like shoulder straps, belts, musket straps, etc. are done. Stop by tomorrow to see where we are in Oberfeldwebel Klatchen’s BIG Battalion Painting Process !

"Red skies at night. . ."

“Red skies at night (red skies at night) – Whoa-oh (whoa-oh) – Whoa-oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. . . “. If you remember that cool song by The Fixx from late 1982-early 1983, my hat’s off to you. Why aren't there any groups writing songs like that anymore? Sigh. Anyway, that’s just what I’m seeing after completing ALL of the red parts of the final batch of Stollen’s Leib (Gand Duchess Sonja’s Own) Grenadiers , during several shorter painting sessions last night, today, and this evening. Everything red – breeches, collars, cuffs, turnbacks, vests, counter epaulettes, and the cloth part at the rear of each mitre cap-- has had a good coat or two of GW Blood Red. In an earlier post, I mentioned that Step #2 was all done. Well, let’s call the most recent sessions Step# 2a. Whew! For those who are curious about the equipment I’ve used to paint these RSM grenadiers the last few days, I’ve used a synthetic bristle #2 round brush for most of the work, and a smaller synthe

To: The Duchy of Alzheim and Frankzonia

My Dear Duke of Alzheim and Honourable Highness of Frankzonia, On behalf of Irwin-Amadeus II of the Grand Duchy of Stollen, I extend the sincerest and most heartfelt wishes to you and your respective subjects. Our Grand Duke trusts this letter finds you both well, in good health, and enjoying equally favorable relations with your subjects. In light of the troubling recent developments farther to the west in apocryphal 18 th century Europe, our ministers feel the most urgent need to contact you with the aim of strengthening the diplomatic and trade relations between our respective territories. The Grand Duchy of Stollen has no wish for war at the moment with any royal houses further a field. Indeed, we fear trouble is brewing closer to home, where the Electorate of Zichenau is concerned, right on our own doorstep. You may have heard of the recent suspected presence of Zichenauen agents, in fact military officers from that country, in Stollen through the press or diplomati

To: The Duchy of Mieczyslaw

My Dear Duke, Thank you for your recent correspondence with Herr von Wilkowiczeske, who has referred the matter to me for more personal attention. Please do send an ambassador to our capital city of Krankenstadt at your earliest convenience with the merchants to follow later in the summer. In turn, representatives from our own Grand Duchy will do the same. Since our winters can arrive early, and with some ferocity, we think it wise for any settlers, if they shall come from your Duchy, to begin making plans at once. It would be most ideal for those families to set out for the easternmost reaches of Stollen on or before the end of June this year, so that they are in place before mid-August and at work on dwellings and shelter for any stock they might bring with them for the establishment of their new farms before the onset of winter. Typically, our first snowfall in Stollen occurs by mid-October. Please use this piece of information as a gauge for advising those families w

To: The Electorate of Vulgaria

My Dear Prince Elector Donislav I, Thank you for your recent correspondence with regard to the establishment of firmer diplomatic ties and trade relations between Vulgaria and the Grand Duchy of Stollen. I assure you, our interests are with the best intentions. Please do send an ambassador at the earliest possible convenience to our capital city of Krankenstadt with a trade retinue to follow a short while later. I will take it upon myself to see that your ambassador and his staff are settled into Stollenian society comfortably and amicably. Several large houses are currently open for purchase in the central part of the city, close to the workings of government and not far from the palace. With regard to any merchant families who you may send to Stollen, there are several fine homes currently available along the riverfront where most of our native and visiting merchants deal their wares. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to have one of your rep

To: Bob XXI of the Reconstituted Byzantium

To: Bob XXI of the Reconstituted Byzantium My Dear Highness, Thank for the recent news of your intended travels through apocryphal 18 th Century Europe . We trust that your representatives and retinue will meet with success, concerning your travel, trade, and diplomatic interests. The Grand Duchy of Stollen is most interested in establishing and maintaining healthy relations with Reconstituted Byzantium. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide suggestions for a suitable match of an eligible young woman for your royal highness. The Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II has been beset by so many troubles that he and his wife of thirty years, the Princess Ragnhild-Gunnlaug von Nordin (a woman of rather difficult temperament) have not yet been able to produce an heir to the throne of Stollen, much less any daughters. The situation is complicated by the fact that our small aristocracy and landed gentry here in the Grand Duchy are, to put it delicately, rather insular. Some might us

A DIplomatic Communiqué to the Duchy of Mieczyslaw and the Electorate of Vulgaria

My Dearest Duke of Mieczyslaw and Prince Elector of Vulgaria, I trust my letter finds you and your fine countries in good stead. I am writing on behalf of our Grand Duke, Irwin-Amadeus II, who has recently been incapacitated by developments beyond his control. As a senior cabinet member for the Grand Duchy of Stollen, my colleagues have asked me to draft this communiqué to you both. It is our deepest wish to establish firmer trade and diplomatic relations between our own Grand Duchy of Stollen, the Duchy of Miezyslaw, and the Electorate of Vulgaria as soon as possible. Recent events across apochryphal 18th century Europe suggest to us that closer ties between our respective countries are prudent. While we have no wish to seem alarmist, a firmer military and political alliance against expansionist tendencies eastward by our neighbors to the west and south seems entirely necessary at this time. Following much debate in recent days here in the Stollenian parliament, it is our considered

Step #2 of "Oberfeldwebel Klatschen's BIG Batallion Painting Method" Now Complete!

Here’s a photograph of Step #2 all finished. You can see that the white gaiters, red breeches, and red smallclothes have been finished. Friday evening, we’ll move onto the next part of the process, which will have you seeing red by the time we’re through – I’ll certainly be seeing red! Tomorrow, we’ll begin painting the red facings, turnbacks, drum hoops, counter epaulettes, and rear of the mitre caps.

Company C of Stollen's Leib Grenadiers Underway

Well, for the last two evenings, I've been hard at work on the thrid batch of RSM grenadiers. So far, I've managed to complete Step #1 of my "BIG Batallion Painting Method" -- I ought to bottle this and sell it ;-). Nothing exciting yet, just green bases, faces, hands, mustaches, wigs, and the pompoms on the final 19 figures. These early parts of the painting are always kinda slow and, to be perfectly frank, rather dull. Or maybe, I'm just fighting the tedium demon? Sigh. Anyway, tomorrow evening will see us working on the bottom halves of these fellows because I've decided that it's best to work from the bottom up. Until then. . . Keep those brushes clean, men!

Who IS that mysterious RSM95 Mounted Figure?

Jim Wright asked recently over at OSW about this particular RSM figure -- nation, description, and item number. I'm a little stumped myself. I can tell you that he was part of a very small order of RSM's a year ago, when I was casting about for figures suitable for use as generals for my imaginary armies, consisting primarily of the large Revell 1/72 SYW plastics. Jim Purky suggested that I post a couple of close-ups, to provide better visual identification of this mysterious figure. Is he French? Is he Austrian? Or is he British? Any ideas?

Here's Another Shot of the Entire Revell Regiment

Here’s a more focused shot of those same Revell Austrians in line, which was taken using the neat tripod that came with the digital camera given to the Grand Duchess and me by my parents last Christmas. I figured with a BIG battalion like this one that you regular visitors to the Grand Duchy of Stollen could stand another photo of the diminutive plastic warriors. Individually, these are quite a bit shorter than their RSM95 brethren to the rear. The Revell Austrians are about 30mm tall tops, while the RSM grenadiers are REALLY tall in their mitre caps – about 38mm high! But, in the large units like you see on my painting table, what one notices is the massive size of each regiment, rather than the eye fixing on the size of each individual figure. Bill Protz and Jim Purky have made this point a few times in discussions over at the Old School Wargaming Yahoo discussion board. Anyway, the difference between the RSMs and the Revell plastics is similar to the contrast between

Let's Take a Break!

Taking a pause from the RSM grenadiers this (Monday) evening. Instead, I cut out 80 lozenge-shaped card bases and glued them to the 80 Revell Austrian SYW figures, comprising the next painting project. These bases give the plastic figures better stability and also call to mind, albeit, unintentionally, the bases of Spencer Smith infantry, helped by the pose of this particular figure -- marching with the musket resting on the left shoulder. Tomorrow evening, I’ll start back on the RSM’s, beginning with the faces and hands of Company C. . . and perhaps the white wigs if those first two tasks go quickly.

Tongues Wag Concerning the Whereabouts of General Phillip de Latté

Unconfirmed reports this morning suggest that enemy agents from the Electorate of Zichenau are at work here in the Grand Duchy of Stollen’s capital city, Krankenstadt. Details remain sketchy, but more information continues to emerge by the hour as Stollenian ministers race to gather all of the facts. During maneuvers yesterday by the Leib Grenadiers, several high ranking Stollenian officers reported spotting three well-known officers from the Electorate of Zichenau in the crowd. The three were conspicuously dressed in dark cloaks despite the warm, sunny spring weather in this little corner of imaginary 18 th century Europe . Among the throngs of Stollenian citizens enjoying the review of their newly uniformed troops, were spotted individuals widely thought to be the mercenary General Phillip de Latté along with his two subordinate officers Quintus Albertus Supercilius von Lickschpittel and Anders Gedacht von Glühwein. If the identities of these men are correct, their presence in

Company B of the Leib Grenadiers is DONE!!!

After a marathon session this evening to finish the few remaining details – it’s now after 2AM -- and barring a few minor touch-ups plus the officer's sash and gorget tomorrow, Company B of Stollen’s Leib (The Grand Duchess Sonja’s Own) Grenadiers is finished! And it took just two weeks of painting a few few hours most evenings, but certainly not every night either. If I can keep up this same momentum, I should be able to have the entire regiment all painted and ready for its coat of Future floor polish just after June 1st. Then, it's time to start trimming flash from that 80+ figure unit of Revell Austrian grenadiers, whose photo was posted here a while back following that survey in which some of you regular Grand Duchy of Stollen visitors participated. That unit will be the first infantry unit painted for the Electorate of Zichenau's army. These figures are soaking in vinegar right now in fact. And here are companies A and B lined up behind their regimental colour as

Irwin-Amadeus II Fiddles While Neighboring Apochryphal Principalities Smolder

News Brief: Advisors to the Grand Duchy of Stollen’s ruler, Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II, report that his distracted malaise of recent days continues unabated. Unable, or unwilling, to concentrate on the various matters of state at hand, Irwin-Amadeus seems more interested in his fanciful seafood dress and in his growing obsession with white kidskin gloves. Whenever ministers attempt to discuss the clouds of war that hover on Stollen’s horizon’s, the Grand Duke responds, “Yes,yes. A pity, that. Where will we get our kidskin gloves if Hesse-Engelburg is occupied? I think I'll practice my cello now. Fetch my bow!” There are mutterings in certain quiet quarters calling for treatment by that renowned expert of the mind, Herr Professor Doctor von Eierdybe, who holds chairs in metaphysics and philosophy at the University of Schmitten , located in neighboring Pillau Zerbst. In the meantime, Stollen’s generals have taken it on themselves to begin assembling their small arm

Painstaking Painting Progress. . .

Just a quick note for now. I spent slightly less than two hour last night painting in the yellow sleeve lace on the grenadiers and the yellow lace on the drummer’s swallows nests. Plus the white, frilly shirt cuffs showing at everyone’s wrists. Will post a photo late this evening after I paint in the yellow lace on the coat collars. Tonight, I will also focus on painting some more of those numerous finishing details and also do some touching up here and there with GW’s ‘Chaos Black’ -- some of the cartridge pouches aren't quite as leathery looking as I'd like. Until tonight then. . .

A Better Shot of RSM Grenadiers Viewed from Behind

Here’s a better picture of those same "in-progress" RSM grenadiers, this time taken from behind. It occurred to me that few of us ever show photos of the rear side of our figures. So, this time I wanted to share my painting on the rear of the mitre caps with you – 19 figures and not a single mistake on the white lines, representing the whale bones used in real life to give rigidity to the colored cloth part of the mitre caps. Pardon my smug tone, but I usually make some kind of painful error when painting in thin lines, and there are always one or two figures that need some later touch-ups. Not this time. You'd never believe I was an unapologetic coffee junkie, would you? ;-) You’ll also observe the brass badges on the black cartridge pouches and the brass tips on the short sword scabbards, hanging from the left hip of the figures. Drat!!! I see that I need to dab a bit of red around the drummer’s shoulder belt, to fill in a bit more of the black. B

The devil is in the details!

I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours late Wednesday evening, to begin on all of those little details too numerous to list. So, here are a couple of photos, showing where we are now with the second batch of RSM grenadiers. I’ve included an unfortunately blurred shot to show some of the detail on the rear of two figures, including the white whale bones on the mitre caps and the brass scabbard tips and badge on the cartridge pouch. I’ll try to take a better shot of this tomorrow evening BEFORE I begin painting – It’s now very early Thursday morning here, and I’m bushed. I must say, though, that I'm amazed at how much I've managed to paint in a little over a week with just a few hours most evenings. Ok, off to bed then – Good night!

Wargaming with 1/72 Plastics: A False Economy?

During the last several days, there has been considerable discussion over at the Old School Wargaming Yahoo group about whether or not plastic figures really offer any kind of savings over their metal brethren. The discussion began with the observation: "I'm beginning to think that going plastic is false economy, particularly in light of how inexepensive the RSM figures are ($0.75 per figure when purchased by the bag, or $0.85 single figures). Or maybe building big battalions with bags of Old Glory 15mm figures is a viable alternative. It sounds like going plastic has hidden costs that many OSWers haven't considered. Costs that may actually make plastic more expensive than metal RSM figures” -- Der Alte Fritz [Jim Purky]. Well, here's my take on the situation. Tower Hobbies in Champaign , Illinois (USA) currently sells boxes of Revell SYW 1/72 Austrian infantry for US$7.69. And I’ve even seen them for less on other hobby store websites. Each box contains 46

Put one foot in front of the other. . .

I just finished the white shoulder belts on the drummer and grenadiers of Company B, Leib (Grand Duchess of Sonja’s Own) Grenadiers. Also just finished the drum cords and heads and cravats for the company officer and drummer. Here’s a shot of the latest progress as of this evening. The photograph below is a preview of both companies and staff together. The grenadiers are getting there!

Now we're getting somewhere!

Well, after about three hours of carefully painting around other figure parts, the basic light blue color on the coats of Stollen's Leib (Grand Duchess Sonja's Own) Grenadiers is finished. Whew! Now these babies are starting to look like something. Finally. Still, there remain musket stocks, barrels, and bayonets, yellow lace, silver fronts on the mitres, white whale bones on the rear of same, and a few other details to pick out in black, brass, or light brown. But I feel like the back of this project leg has been broken. Should be able to finish things up in the next few evenings, take a break for a night or two, and then get moving on the third company of this regiment. Who knows? I might just make my self-imposed May31st deadline. Cross your fingers!

Seeing Red!

Almost three hours of painting this evening have enabled me to finish most of the red parts of the uniforms on the current batch of Stollen's Leib Grenadiers. And how I've suffered for my hobby! Up since about 5AM this morning, a full day of lesson planning, reading, teaching, and writing -- no nap this afternoon as is usually the case -- and now I'm seein' red. It's now almost 11PM. As John Lennon screamed at the end of that Beatles' song (from The White Album?), "I've got blisters on me fingers!" I know what he meant, and now I'm off to bed!

The Krankenstadt Tageblat -- Society Page

News Release: 10. May 1768 Krankenstadt Palace Krankenstadt, The Grand Duchy of Stollen Yesterday, Irwin-Amadeus II had an important appointment to keep in the lowest floor of the eastern wing of Krankenstdat Palace – with Herr Doctor von Ö tker, his personal physician and dentist! The Grand Duke has recently been troubled by a crown that keeps coming loose. So, another visit to Herr Doctor von Ö tker was in order. Eyewitnesses on the scene report that the doctor was pleased to see the Grand Duke and rubbed his hands together eagerly when Irwin-Amadeus, together with his small entourage, entered the outer office yesterday afternoon at precisely 12:55. The Grand Duke looked terribly nervous as he handed his coat, hat, and walking stick to his personal assistant Johannes P. Flickenhoffer and walked slowly with Herr Doctor von Ö tker toward the inner office, The doctor’s nurse, the redoubtable Sister Diesel, took charge of the situation in the outer office, preventing

Another RSM Paiting Update

Here’s another photo update of the second company of RSM95 grenadiers. In the last two evenings, I’ve managed to get a coat of white on the gaiters and a really nice coat of red on the breeches. If you squint, you can also make out the NCO figure at the right rear of the picture. Before I quit for the evening, I painted his turnbacks and the visible parts of the red lining on the captain’s coat. Tomorrow, I tackle the other 16 figures and maybe paint the vests red too. Then it’s on to the white shoulder belts and the light blue coats. Although the Grand Duchess Sonja is now ensconced in Berlin , my painting progress has remained slow due to the spring term course I’m currently teaching – The Art of Film Noir: German Expressionism, Italian Neo-Realism, and American Hard-boiled Fiction. This is the third time I’ve taught a version of the course -- one I've developed myself, thank you very much -- and judging by the class discussions they have following the film viewing,

"The Army of Frederick the Great" has Arrived!

The first edition of Christopher Duffy’s marvelous book arrived in the mail yesterday, and it’s chock full of interesting and useful information about Frederick ’s army. While I’ve been advised by Bill Protz over at the OSW discussion board that later editions contain much new and reworked material, I’m happy with my purchase of this used copy. At under $14 US, who can complain? I’ll ask for a new copy of Mr. Duffy’s book for my birthday in November -- just so I’ve got the more complete edition of his work. At any rate, there is all sorts of stuff I can use as a basis for fleshing out the Grand Duchy of Stollen campaign. So, I spent only an hour painting white gaiters last evening, followed by THREE hours reading in bed before turning out the light. Fascinating stuff!

Gaiters Undercoated

I managed to get about 90 miutes to paint yesterday evening, so I started the gaiters. With a black undercoat like I use, I find that the white parts of uniforms work better when I undercoat with a very light grey first. For about 10 years, I've used the same bottle of Armory "Confederate Grey", which seems to last and last without drying up. Anyway, I then follow with a coat or two of white paint. These are actually thin washes, to prevent that notorious clumping, to which acrylic whites are prone, on the figures. Or the bristles of my #3 or #2 brushes. Tonight, I'll add the white to the gaiters and maybe start on the lovely red breeches. Now, if you look really closely at the sergeant of this particular company (all the way in the rear rank at the right of this photo), you'll see that he has black garters already. Initially, I figured that I would paint carefully enough to leave thin lines of black showing, to represent the garters holding up the gaiters.

Here's an RSM Painting Update

Here's a picture illustrating my (S-L-O-W) progress with the second company of Stollen's Leib (Grand Duchess Sonja's Own) Grenadiers. You can see I'm doing things a bit differently this time, altering the painting process to keep it interesting basically. This evening, I'll do the white gaiters and, if that goes reasonably quickly, and time allows, the red breeches. Still lots to do, but I like the way these fine fellows are shaping up along side the completed 1st company that's standing in formation just off camera, to the left here. Until tonight then!

A Personal Standard for Irwin Amadeus II

Just a few minutes to update things here at the Grand Duchy of Stollen blog. Today is the Grand Duchess Sonja’s birthday – perpetually 29, thank you – so, we’ve been spending the day together with a hike in a nearby nature preserve, dinner out, some gifts, and a chocolate cake to follow shortly when she’s finished talking on the phone to her parents. Tomorrow, Sonja leaves for two months in Germany to begin research for her next book . :-( Then it’s just the kitty and me until July 1 st . So, I’ll have bit more time to paint those RSM grenadiers, which have languished on the painting table the last week or so thanks to various drafts of student papers vying for my time. Sigh. Anyway, thanks are due to Jeff Hudelson, of Saxe-Bearstein, yet again for his latest suggestion. It seems Grand Duke Irwin –Amadeus II needs a personal standard to mark his place on the battlefield. And given the recent accounts of his misadventures involving a lobster costume, Jeff felt that a lob

Stollen's Irwin Amadeus II Makes Second Diplomatic Faux Pas

News Release: Krankenstadt Palace -- Krankenstadt, The Grand Duchy of Stollen Today, Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II made another in a growing line of diplomatic blunders that place The Grand Duchy of Stollen in a precarious position among the other marginal and erroneous states around mid-eighteenth century Europe . In an exchange with a new acquaintance, regarding the recruitment and training of soldiers in the Bishopric of Uber Gruntshuffen, Irwin-Amadeus mistakenly attributed the relationship between the Duchy of Alzheim and Australia to the former and New Zealand . An egregious error if ever there were one. The magnitude of our Grand Duke’s gaff is exacerbated by the fact that he and The Grand Duchess Sonja have a very close friend who hails from Australia ! One could almost observe Irwin-Amadeus shriveling up as he apologized and took leave of the conversation. How does our Grand Duke’s most recent poor conduct affect Stollen’s standing in the eyes of its immediate