Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post: Greg From The 'Peg - Getting Back To Work

Greetings to the readers and followers of Curt C's fabulous "Analogue Hobbies" blog. Since I am a fellow Napeleonic gaming enthusiast/nutcase, Curt has kindly invited me to provide a guest post as I get underway with my next major Napeolonic painting effort - more Austrians!

My 25/28mm Austrians have a good foundation, but to build up into a real fighting column, I will need more infantry - more line battalions - and some more guns. I already have two full German line battalions (and a solitary Hungarian one). I think six full battalions would make for a solid column - so the target is to get another four full line battalions finished in time for a planned game in late January.

The "big battalion" format we use calls for 40 troops per Austrian line unit. I like to mix a mounted officer in with each unit, so that calls for a total of four mounted officers, and 152 foot troops.

That's a big hill to paint, but I've painted a lot of these fellows in different scales, and the painting challenge sharpened this experience into a battle-tested, methodical approach.

For the first new unit, I dipped into my sizeable pile of Foundry castings and assembled another 39 models - one mounted officer, two foot officers, one musician, two colour bearers, and 34 "march attack" figures. For painting, I mount the models four to a "stick", or two infantry and one horse in the case of the mounted officer. For facing colour (this is a big deal for an Austrian painter), I opted to go with a regiment that had yellow facings.

I always do one "stick" of basic troopers to iron out any kinks. The second "stick" I paint always includes the mounted officer - getting the mounted fellow painted gives a good shot of momentum. From there, the unit expands pretty quickly - I started a couple of weeks ago, and I already have half the unit painted.

I find my approach to the white uniforms of the Austrians is on the darker/higher contrast end of the spectrum. I use black primer, whereas many others I have seen use grey or white primer. This is part subjective preference (it's just how I like them) and part belief that no white uniform worn in any kind of field situation really looks that white.

Anyway, my progression for the cloth involves black primer, GW Fortress Grey, GW Kommando Khaki, GW Bleached Bone, and the final highlight of Americana Acrylic White. The Americana paints are generally a little thinner, so I find it provides a nice final highlight. On the straps, I go straight from the GW Fortress Grey to Americana White.

Up close, the effect it a little jarring because it is not that subtle, but from arm's length, I really like it. It also helps the the multitude of straps pop out a little bit more on the troops.

I find horses to be a challenge to paint - I don't know why, but I often struggle with them. That's one of the reasons I like to get the mounted officer out of the way early.

The very last models I will paint prior to basing the unit are the musician and the colour party. Their uniforms are not all that different from the line infantry (what a nice contrast to painting the musicians for the bloody French!) but in my mind finishing the colour party last adds an internal sense of occaision as another unit prepares to take shape...

With these fellow well underway, I started to ponder which figures to go with next. I still have quite a pile of Foundry lead (most of it, thankfully, acquired several years ago), but now that Victrix finally has their plastic Austrians for sale, I thought I would give them a go!

A slight digression - I had grown so impatient waiting for Victrix to finally get these figures out for sale that I had finally sworn back in the summer that I would never bother with them, especially once news arrived that the Perry twins would release their own plastic Austrians. While I appreciated that Victrix was trying to get the plastic Napoleonics going, it was disheartening to see the Austrians wait (and wait, and wait) for releases like French Imperial Guard troops (sigh) or (much worse) 54mm stuff. It's one thing to be a flighty painter, but Miniature companies that can't focus make me insane.

For all that, once the figures were actually for sale, I decided to try them out (hey - I'm a figure junkie). Curt has some French and British units composed of Victrix models, and they are gorgeous. I was a little wary, based on what I had seen and heard, about all of the fiddly bits involved, but intrigued by the idea of doing a unit that had a little more variety in terms of poses, NCOs, etc. Foundry's Austrian collection is pretty comprehensive (or at least it used to be - the various poses seem to be disappearing), but it suffers from a monopose syndrome, and total lack of NCO figures.

I've done one "test stick" so far of the Victrix models. I have no direct exeprience building/painting British and French kits, but from what I can tell so far, Victrix has cut back on the number of fiddly bits for their Austrians. I still found them a little tricky to assemble, but you should consider that my lack of patience for model-building of any sort is absurdly high. This was not as bad as I had feared, so if it doesn't bother me, I'm sure a normal person will find the plastic Austrians to be very straight-forward to build. You get 56 models in a box - more than enough for a full battalion, and a good mix of options for different poses, without going blind putting the figures together. So far, so good - just had to see how they looked when painted.

Once again, a big decision when painting an Austrian infantry unit is what the facing colour will be - these fellows will have sky-blue facings. At some point in the future I will add second battalions of similar facing colours, but for now I'm taking the chance to expand the range of colour in the column.

I have to say the Victrix models are very impressive. I like the poses - a bit of a bend to show they've been doing a lot of marching, but the head still stoically forward. The detail on the models is very good - in some ways it exceeds the detail of the Foundry castings, especially the little shield on the cartridge box. The different options for the muskets give you plenty of choice without bogging you down in too many details.

The only weakness I have see so far is the detail in some of the faces, but overall, these are very impressive figures at a very good price.

In terms of mixing with Foundry in the same unit, I don't think that will neccessarily work - the Victrix castings are (in my opinion) noticeably taller and leaner than the Foundry castings. The thinner muskets and bayonets are also a clear difference. But having out on the table as their own unit will be just fine.

So that's my progress so far - out of 152 foot models and four mounted models, I've finished 22 foot models and one mounted model. There are a lot of good NHL and NFL games coming along, and I get lots of stuff painted when sports are on TV. Watch for more progress, coming soon!