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Off With His Head (#1 of a short and occasional series. How short? Well a head short at least!)

By 1796 the ‘Terror’ period of the French revolution had passed, its ‘main man’ Robespierre having himself paid a visit to ‘Madame Guillotine’. She herself, whilst still available for work and entertainment, no longer enjoyed her ‘daily dozen’!

The Trent Miniatures ‘Later French Revolutionary Wars’ range has as its parameters the second Amalgamation (early Spring, 1796) and the end of hostilities between France and Austria after the Battle of Hohenlinden (- about Christmas, 1800). Fortunately, wargamers and modellers purchasing these figures can still practise a wee bit of decapitation – but using a jeweller’s saw rather than a guillotine, and in order to create new ‘life’ rather than simply ending an old one!

Leafing through volume one of the late Colonel John Elting’s four volume collection of Knotel prints I came across the illustration of an officer of the 7th bis Hussar Regiment in Egypt, his fur trimmed pelisse replaced by a light linen one, and his mirleton having given way to a turbaned headgear similar to that worn by the Mamelukes of the Imperial Guard a few years later. Having just painted up Trent’s negro musician with ‘jingling johnny’ it occurred to me that the head on General Humbert’s body [Trent MCP 04] would give me this officer.

Two saw cuts took less than two minutes, then it was out with the pin vice to drill into heads and bodies to create two new figures. A bit more work was needed on Humbert’s body: the flamme of his mirleton hangs down his back; much of this can be removed with a pair of pliers – simply twist it off – and the rest is carefully pared away with a sharp craft knife. (Mind your fingers!) The knife, and later a needle file to finish off, is used to pare away the fur trim  on the hem and cuffs of the pelisse. When refixing the heads it’s usually necessary to repair necks/collars/hair with a little dab of Green Stuff or Milliput. No great skill is needed here (the fact that I’ve done it is proof of that!) and your paint job should mask any minor imperfections. Actually I gave mine to Dave Woodward to paint. he’s a better painter than I am, and in any case I was eager to get on with more conversions!

PS: oh yes, Humbert’s head on the musician’s body makes a very nice Legere standard bearer-and the jingling johnny’s in the ‘bits box’ for later. Waste not, want not!

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