Sunday, February 28, 2016

Entry #15 to the AHPC - 16th Century Gendarmes

While it may seem that I've been drifting aimlessly amidst a random series of genres and periods, I have actually managed to maintain a relatively steady progress with my Italian Wars project. A lot of this has to do with my 'Renaissance Men' duel with Peter (thanks Pete!), but it's also simply that I'm having a great time researching, collecting and painting the figures. With this being said, I've found that my already slow speed has been reduced to a veritable crawl due to the complexity of the clothing, colours and armour (ie. Landsknechts, I hate those overdressed f*cks!). I know I could keep it simple and just grind the units out, but it seems counter-intuitive to the pomp and splendour of the period, and so I've been plodding away, taking my sweet time with them.

Anyway, enough of my blather, let's get to the goods. Here's the latest unit to roll off my hobby desk - a unit of heavy cavalry, which can be flagged either as Gendarmes of Louis XII of France, or heavy cavalry of the Papal army under Cesare Borgia.

I started these fellows during the first week of the Challenge and have been puttering away on them ever since. So while they have been great fun to work on, I'm quite happy to see them finally done and parked in the display cabinet.

Papal Gendarmes of Cesare Borgia.
These are 28mm metal figures from Eureka Miniatures. They're very good models, providing excellent examples of the bewildering variety of martial fashions and armour designs witnessed during that time. The figures come with a wide assortment of weapons, horses and plumage, so you can mix and match to your heart's content. 

I armed this unit with the classic heavy cavalry lance as it seems so iconic to the period. The stock lance that comes with the figures is quite nicely modeled, but since they've been cast in soft white metal, they're very prone to bending and are difficult to keep straight. 

Which will it be: The spaghetti or rotini lance?
So, with this in mind I clipped off the lance shafts, drilled-out the grips and replaced the lot with sharpened steel rods. It was a bit of a hassle, but I think it will pay off in the end (and it allows me to petulantly poke my opponents if things don't go my way during a game). I was planning to paint the lances in the classic 'barber-pole' fashion, but discovered that the painted lances were usually reserved for parade events and tournaments, whereas the 'war lances' were typically raw, unfinished wood. This appealed to my sensibilities, as in my mind's eye I think that when one saw these guys arrayed with plain wood lances it would send a message that they weren't there to pick up ladies' hankerchiefs - they were there to get things sorted. 

French Gendarmes of Louis XII of France.
It's easy to think of Gendarmes as being a uniquely French formation, but in reality most of the nations involved in the Italian Wars had heavy cavalry arrayed very much the same. As such, I wanted to be able to 're-flag' the unit depending on the scenario. I unashamedly stole James Roach's brilliant idea of sleeving the flags so they can be easily swapped in and out. Basically this involves cutting a plastic or brass tube with which to wrap the flag around. Glue a finial on top to complete the ruse de guerre The flagstaff itself is left bare at the top so the sleeved banners can simply be socketed on as required.

Sleeved flags. Borgia/Papal at top and Louis XII, bottom.
The banners are from Pete's Flags' excellent Italian Wars range.

As many gendarmes were of noble birth I thought it would be fun to tart up the bases with a pack of hunting hounds to add a bit more visual interest and reinforce the sense movement to the unit. I sourced the wolfhounds from Gripping Beast (I did a bit of reading on the subject of sporting dogs and indeed, there were French wolfhounds bred during the period).

'Italian's back on the menu, lads. Go get 'em.'
The groundwork is the same autumnal theme that I've been using for my other Italian Wars units. Admittedly it's a bit over the top, but hey, it's freakin' Renaissance Italy! It should be a riot of colour. This all being said, I'm going through tufts and shrubs like crazy, so a resupply will be needed very soon... 

'Okay, who forgot to pack Leo's fancy-schmancy repeating crossbows?'
Thanks for visiting everyone - I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead.