Wargames Illustrated issue 383, September 2019, came with a free sprue of Landsknechts. At the time, I had a quick look at the figures, decided that it was unlikely that I would ever paint them and they were tossed onto my ‘leadpile’. Fast forward to April 2021 and I was looking for my next batch of figures to paint and I ‘rediscovered’ them. As you will know, I am currently working on my War of the Roses army and although these these troops were not really around at the time, I thought I might get away with using them!.
The nearest that I could get to Landsknechts appearing in England were the German and Swiss mercenary force under the command of Martin Schwartz, who fought at the battle of Stokes Field in 1487. According the the Wikipedia article, the German mercenaries were equipped with the latest handguns. By chance, my sprue of six Landsknechts were missile troops with the option of either hand guns or cross bows. That was good enough for me, I would complete the troops as a group Handgunner skirmishers and they could make a colourful, albeit, unlikely addition to my War Of The Roses collection and ‘Never Mind The Bill Hooks’ Army.
I cleaned the figures up, assembled and primed them and then thought about how I would go about painting them. I am definitely getting lazy in my old age, when it comes to research. In the past I would have looked at countless references and articles to get an idea as to how to paint these troops. As it was, I used an earlier guide to painting Landsknechts in War Games Illustrated 129, written by Michael Perry. I also checked out a you tube video by Pete the wargamer and of course, used the painted figures on the Warlord site as my references.
Initially, I started with one of the simpler figures to paint and went for a straight forward red black and white scheme. Based on this test figure, I decided that a batch paint job was never going to work. Although I intended to keep things simple, even where the figures shared the same colour – on the guns, shoes, belts, sword scabards etc, the complexity of the colours on the rest of the figure made it difficult to paint these areas as a batch. So apart from the flesh, each figure was painted separately.
As I painted each figure, I became a little more adventurous with the colours. As always, yellow is a very difficult colour to paint as it just doesn’t cover well. I had the same problem with orange. In fairness, I think that my priming coat of grey was not such a good idea. White would have worked better. Still it was good fun in choosing the colour combinations. I particularly liked the purple and orange. I can’t remember the last time that I used either of these colours on wargames figures!
I was able to base the group as a batch and followed my usual basing procedure using Vallejo Dark Earth textured paste to blend the figures onto the base, added some ballast and then painted and highlighted with brown emulsion and Iraqi sand. I finished the basing with some woodland scenics coarse scatter and some gamers grass tufts. I couldn’t resist adding a few flowers to the bases – as if the figures weren’t bright enough!
I have no doubt that when these figures appear on the table that my gaming buddies will take great delight in targeting them and they will no doubt finish the game looking like the German mercenaries at Stokes Field. To quote Jean Molinet, historian to the Burgundian court, writing c1490
“…when it came to the joining in battle (they) could not withstand the shooting of the English archers, especially the Germans, who were only half-armed; and although they displayed great bravery, as much, indeed, as their small number and substance allowed, they were routed and defeated, shot through and full of arrows like hedgehogs.”
I dont think that I will be painting any more Landsknechts but that might change when Bill Hooks volume two is released. Both the Swiss and Burgundian armies will be covered, along with the Italian wars at the time, so I may yet be tempted!
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