Muskets and Machetes!

Chasseurs de IriosI’ve been blathering on about my Carribean force for sometime now but have yet to use it on the field of battle. There have been two problems; one, the lack of a rules set and more importantly, the lack of an opponent! I started to collect and paint the Trent Miniatures Caribbean figures because I thought they were superb models. The sculpting is of high quality with some really characterful models in the range. Add to that, the uniforms look pretty good and there is plenty of scope for all sorts of variety when putting together a force. The theatre of action, the Caribbean islands in the late 18th Century provides plenty of scope for all sorts of battles, from small scale skirmishes to full on battles, naval landings and sieges. And of course the scenery will be interesting – anything from Plantations to Jungles.

The History of the region is also fascinating, if somewhat poorly documented. As well as the fighting between the ‘Super powers’ of Britain, France & Spain,  there were multiple slave uprisings, none more successful than Haiti, the former French Colony of Saint Domingue. Indeed this uprising resulted in the independence of Haiti, which was the first Caribbean nation to gain independence from European powers in 1804.  Under the leadership of Toussaint l’Ouverture ( sometimes referred to as the Black Napoleon), the former slaves defeated the French army (twice), the Spanish army, and the British army, before becoming the world’s first and oldest black republic, and also the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere after the United States. This is additionally notable as being the only successful slave uprising in history.

So, with all this fascinating background, a superb range of figures, never mind the possibility of adding in Voodoo, Zombies and Pirates, it’s a mystery to me as to why there isn’t a rules set for the period!

muskets & tomahawksWell, as usual, the answer was right in front of me. There is a superb rules set by the very talented Alex Buchel of  Studio Tomahawk called ‘Muskets and Tomahawks’ for skirmishes in North America during the 18th Century. I could see immediately that it would be very straight forward to transpose the Caribbean forces over the North American Forces in the rules set and I could use my figures on the wargames table! Luckily there are a few players at my local wargames club that play M & T’s, so I asked one of them, John Grant (or Nice John as he is known locally!) if he would take me through the rules with a practice game. John has a terrific set up with plenty of scenery and AWI figures, so the game was great fun and confirmed my impression that the rules set would transpose to the Caribbean. The next step was to ask if I could use my Caribbean force in a game!

60th Rifles prepare to fire!

60th Rifles prepare to fire!

John was happy to oblige, and so my 60th Rifles became British Light infantry ( actually, not much of a change here! The 60th were after all founded in America…) The Black regiments became Militia and the freed slaves were used as Indians. Although this was our first ‘rough fit’ as we played through the game it became clear that we would perhaps modify some of the rules to reflect conditions in the Caribbean. So for example, the freed slaves or Maroons were given the ‘blood thirsty’ rule in combat and their shooting ability down graded accordingly. There was some debate as to the quality of the Black regiments and whether they should be re classified as normal infantry or have the same stats as ‘ Compagnies de la Marine’ from the French Army.

The Black Chasseurs advance!

The Black Chasseurs advance!

It’s fair to say that it is early days before we get to a rules modification that suits this period but for the time being, it’s a close enough fit and I hope that over the next year or so, I can produce a stat’s board for the Caribbean and the correct cards to match. I see that Wargames Illustrated are giving away a free figure of Toussaint l’Ouverture at Historicon this year so there is obviously interest in the period – who knows, perhaps they can be persuaded to do a supplement…

Pikemen, Prussians and Pterodactyls

It’s been one of those weeks when life has got in the way of my hobby! So I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I would like to have done with my various painting projects. The result is that nothing is actually been finished although things have moved on. One of the benefits of having a dedicated hobby area means that if I have just a spare five minutes, I can do a little bit here and there – add some static grass to a base, undercoat a figure even slap some paint on!

Perry Pikemen

So the six Pike men for my Wars of The Roses army are very close to being finished, just a bit of extra detail needed for the bases – a few tufts & flowers! the plan is to have at least one unit of 12 pike men for my army, probably two, but as the next Lion Rampant Day is not until September there is no rush to complete the unit. I have a box of the plastic Perry Mercenaries and the plan is to make two blocks of Pikes, a small unit of mercenary Crossbow men and the remainder as hand gunners.

I also started on my Prussian Landwehr Cavalry. There will be 12 in the unit and they are all prepared & undercoated and I am painting the horse in batches of threes. Here the first batch nearly complete. The difficulty I have had with this unit has been trying to find details of the uniform. The figures are from foundry and whilst they are very nice, they seem to have different head gear to my Mont St Jean Reference:


Just to add to my confusion the detail on the sheepskin saddle cloth is showing as a Yellow trim ( makes sense if they are Silesian) but other pictures and references give the colour as Red regardless. In fact the reference material for Landwehr Cavalry is thin and as usual contradictory. I think that I will have to overcome any ‘button counting’ tendencies and go for what I think looks best – in this case yellow trim to match the yellow facings! So here is the progress so far:

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As you can see, still plenty to do!


Finally, the Pterodactyls are nearly completed! This is all part of my project to get one of each of the DeeZee codes done. The pterodactyls are certainly straight forward to paint but detailing them is a challenge that is beyond my eyesight & patience these days! I just gave them a spray on top with dark green & a spray underneath with light green. Then a quick couple of dry brushes to try & bring out the detail, followed by a brown wash. They are mounted on a 25mm MDF base using thin wire. The final stage is to detail the bases and I may have a go at painting the eyes……They are only 15mm or so wingspan so no one is ever going to look that closely but as a group of 10 they look quite impressive and will add chacter to a model.

It’s All About the Base……

Bases, Faces and Flags – these are the key areas for ensuring that your war gaming figures look the best on the table top according to top commission painter Dave Woodward. Well,  I’m a great believer in the first and last of these but painting faces on my rank and file troops is not really going to happen. I’m afraid that I rely on a quick wash or shade over a basic flesh coat and that is about as far as it goes for the troops. I will spend a bit more time on the officers and characters and add a bit of a highlight to the nose & cheek bones – I’ll even attempt to paint the eyes, although as often as not my figures look as though they should definitely go to spec savers….

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Foward with the Colours!

As for the flags, it goes without saying that if you can add these, your unit will certainly stand out on the table. Part of the attraction of painting Napoleonic troops is the flags and with so many good suppliers out there – the Flag Dude and GMB designs, to name but two – it’s a shame not to ensure that your unit has a flag or two!

Sir Stapleton Cotton - a bit of a Dandy!

Sir Stapleton Cotton – a bit of a Dandy!

So for me, it’s all about the bases. And so we enter another realm of controversy or taste… If you are in the Dan Faulconbridge (Wargames Illustrated)  school of basing you will like a straight forward non fussy finish. This view is based on the notion that the figures should blend into the table top – it makes for better pictures don’t you know! I tend to prefer a nice bit of vegetation on my bases – I cant resist adding a few clumps of flowers! It does mean that my units have to drag the scenery around the table and my opponents usually ask where the park keeper is, but I like to amuse! There is also the matter of what colour to paint the base sides. Leaving them black used to be the fashion, then the there is the green edge following, whereas I prefer a brown edge to my bases.

The Prussian advance was halted when the Park keeper shouted 'get off them flowers!'...

The Prussian advance was halted when the Park keeper shouted ‘get off them flowers!’…

Whatever your taste, I think the guiding rule on bases really is to ensure that you stay consistent with your army and that it really is worth a bit of time spent on finishing your bases off with a bit of detail. One last tip, I have spent ages trying to blend figures onto bases and I have ‘discovered’ the product that I find easiest to use is the Vallejo Grey Pumice paste or the coloured textured pastes from the same Company.

Grey Pumice

Grey Pumice

I’m working my way through a pot of Desert Sand at the moment. It’s really easy to apply and will ensure that your figures blend nicely onto the bases without an obvious  ‘edge’ showing. The textured paste will take a coat of paint with out undercoating and a quick dry brush will enhance the detail. I still prefer to add sand or a scatter and just use the paste to blend the figures on to their bases. Here’s my next batch of figures on the work bench. The pikemen just need the bases finishing and they are ready for the table. The Prussian Cavalry need a bit more work!

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Glyptodon and Mammoth clear the work bench!

DeeZee-Miniatures-GLYPTODON-Adult-DZ18-28mm-Wargames-380655342625As we go into the Easter break it seemed appropriate to paint something vaguely egg shaped and as the Glyptodon had been sitting forlornly on the work bench in just an undercoat I decided his time had come!

He is nicknamed the ‘kinder egg’ by the Arcane team due to his rotund shape but there’s plenty of detail in the casting that can be brought to life with a bit of dry brushing. I had hinted that I would use an airbrush to finish him but that will be a project for another day. I have put off buying an airbrush for now. Although I can see that it will be invaluable when painting Tanks and larger subjects like Mr Glypto, I am not quite in the right frame of mind to learn a whole new skill, particularly when I am still learning to paint with a brush! That said, I am of a mind to jump in to this mysterious world and who knows, I might just treat myself for Easter…..

Anyway, I digress, back to painting the Glyptodon. I had a quick look on Google for some inspiration and colour schemes and was pleasantly surprised at how many pictures there were! In the end, I went for a fairly safe option using a variety of browns in various combinations. To be specific, Vallejo light brown 70929, Flat brown 70984, Chocolate brown 70872 and to lighten them, Iraqi Sand 70819.

DeeZee Glyptodon

DeeZee Glyptodon

There was a slight problem when I started to paint. I had failed to follow my own advice and I had not washed the model before priming. The result was that the primer had started to flake off due to the release agent still on the casting. I confess, I was too lazy and impatient to start again, so I re primed the model with Model Mates Light grey primer. I have started to use this brand more often recently in favour of my usual Army Painter primer. It seems to be a much more effective primer and in this case, solved the flaking problem. However, lesson learnt, next time I will wash a resin model before painting! For the sake of 5 minutes, it will save time and heart ache in the long term!

So back to painting. The shell was done in the flat brown and then dry brushed with a couple of coats of the flat brown & light brown mixed. The fur was done with light brown, dry brushed with light brown and Iraqi sand. I picked the detail out around the shell with Iraqi  sand  and then I then gave it all a wash over using a dark tone ink. As with all these things, you have to fiddle around until you get the general effect that you are looking for and even now, I’m not sure whether to go back and add another lighter coat to the shell. The next task was to pick out his eyes, nose using black & claws using ivory and to paint some of the detail on the base. I then mounted him onto a renedra base and blended the model to the base using Vallejo Desert sand paste. If you haven’t tried these pastes from Vallejo, give them a go – they are superb for basing and once dry you can paint straight over the paste as there is sufficient texture. I like to add sand to give even more detail.


Glyptodon painted - working on the base

Glyptodon painted – working on the base

I finished off the base by adding some detail to the rocks, painted the tree stump and painted the grass and of course the sand. This was all done using virtually the same pallet of Chocolate Brown and Iraqi Sand, with plenty of dry brushing of lighter combinations of these colours – the final dry brush was done with some white added in. To finish off, I added some Static grass and of course a few clumps of flowers! I’m reasonably happy with the result for now – as I said, I may add a final lighter coat to his shell but he’s off to the cabinet.

The finished Glyptodon!

The finished Glyptodon!

I often find that it’s difficult to know when a model is finished so sometimes it’s best to put it to one side and then have a look after a week or so. If I’m still not happy then I might try a bit of retouching. This was the case with the baby mammoth. I just wasn’t happy with the way he looked, so he has sat on the paint table whilst I decided what to do. In the end it was a case of cutting down his tusks – they were too big even for a baby Mammoth – and giving him another even lighter dry brush to add detail & adding some ink to bring out the shadows. I also gave him a snowy base with some frosted tufts. I’m still not entirely happy but he is looking better for now. Perhaps I’ll have a go at another one – I have a diorama in mind that involves a nasty Sabre tooth……

DeeZee Mammoth Calf

DeeZee Mammoth Calf