Wednesday 31 December 2014

Burgundian Command - update

Just managed to sneak in a final blog for the year. This is entirely thanks to Oliver at Steel Fist Miniatures, whose taken time out from sculpting for his forthcoming Samurai Kickstarter, to convert more Perry figures as companions for Charles the Bold for my second command vignette. I'm really pleased with these and feel fortunate to have Oliver apply his sculpting talents to create some wonderful unique figures, which capture the Burgundian look I was after.

So first is a Captain recieving orders from the duke. He carries his sallet and is wearing elaborate pauldrons, as seen in Flemish sculpture and paintings, but which I don't believe there are any surviving examples of. This makes the armour style somewhat conjectural, however there are sufficient examples of this globular style with differing embossed patterns for it to have been contemporary and perhaps a style appropriate to high status armours. I have added embossed St Andrew's cross and flints to the horse bard.


The flag bearer is a metal Perry, to which Oliver has added a fur-trimmed coat, again a style seen in many north European illustrations from the second half of the fifteenth century. The references I provided are a lovely example that a re-eneactor Juergen (who I met in Switzerland this year) has had made. The horse is a Perry from the freebie figure which I think was offered with the Men at Arms boxset.

I have applied my limited conversion skills to create a pair of bodyguards - using plastics parts from various boxes (this is the joy of so many plastics figures and parts now available) with metal plumes attached, who'll be milling around on the final base.

Finally the duke figure (converted by Oliver and shown in an earlier post) has a mount. Oliver added the caparison and I have used a Perry horse head, but removed the mail, to just leave the crinnet - as this is to represent Charles in command of his forces, but not in full harness.

Now I have to find the ideal posing for them on a base and paint these to try to do some justice to the great conversion work....first up on my list for 2015.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Burgundian Men at Arms (V)

The Burgundian men at arms are based and completed.

This post is largely just images of the finished contingent. The hounds, which are in danger of becoming ubiquitous on all pieces I do from now on, have joined the charge towards enemy lines. I'm not entirely happy with the commander figure, not sure why, so he maybe prised off his mount and replaced on day.

Last picture is a man at arms originally planned to lead this group, but who failed to make the 'director's cut'. He's still a work in progress, but now proposed to join figures representing the Bastard of Burgundy's household. The reason for this change was a talk by Toby Capwell, of the Wallace Collection, that I was lucky to attend a few weeks ago. He's certain that fully gilded armour was rare (due to it's expense) and so restricted to kings and the richest of noblemen - hence the change. I plan to start prep on that group over the winter.

Burgundian Men at Arms (V) - WIP

This is my last planned unit of mounted men at arms for the Burgundians - aside from one for the Bastard of Burgundy, which will represent a command group. These figures are now pretty much finished and will be based in groups of three, with 60mm base frontage, as per the rest of my figures.

All are Perry plastics - most have had some additional work done on either the men at arms or their mounts - the addition of plumes, St Andrews crosses, horse tack, etc.  A few helms from the latest Perry Foot Knights have been attached to these too. Many of these were started several months back and the preparation fo these has taken longer than applying the paint, I reckon. The figures wearing tabards represent Troylo di Rosano, an Italian captain contracted by the duke who was present in the Morat campaign and battle. The other is Hugues de Thoisy who was one of the chamberlain in the duke's household and who may have been at Morat. The flag is a download from the internet and shows  the banner of the 11th Company, with the image of St Margaret.

The pics have been taken on my desk and a lot of the highlights tones, most notably on the reds, are not showing up on these photos. These should all have the base work completed later this week and I'll try to use whatever natural light there maybe next weekend to take some shots of the finished unit. Like all of the other men at arms, I will be adding a supporting row of mounted coustillers and more flag bearers to fully complete the units of Ordonnance men at arms, when the next Perry 'Light Cavalry' plastics are available.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Charles the Bold - take 2.

Oliver of Steel Fist Miniatures has sent me the second figure he's sculpted for me for Charles the Bold, based on Perry plastic man at arms parts. Oliver's sculpting skills are of the highest level and he continues to exceed my expectations - creating a command figure, based on Charles wearing a german style harness over a brigandine and wearing his hat of pearls (looted by the Bernese at Morat and included in Schillings illustrated chronicles after the wars).

The pose is exactly as I wanted and the rendering of the hat has caught the shape just right - the reconstructed version is on display at Grandson castle in Switzerland. I now need to sort out a mounts and some household companions for Charles to create a command stand - this will be more of a vignette, as I already have a base of Charles for gaming purposes. Am really looking forward to painting them and trying to do Oliver's craftsmanship justice. More of that anon.

No more progress on the captain's pavilion to date; I have had change of plans re the construction. I'm trying to be a little more ambitious with the final model (with assistance in making some bespoke parts) and hope to be able to show next developments fairly soon. In the meantime I have been painting horse flesh for another contingent of Burgundian men at arms, which I need to push on with to finish. Oh, and then there's those foot knight vignettes I've started to assemble - too many fronts opening up and nothing getting done....must focus!

Sunday 19 October 2014

Conductuer's Pavilion (I)

This is first step towards building a large tent, or Conductuer's pavilion, for my Burgundian army camp.  The aim is to produce an ornate centrepiece for the camp, representing the largest tent for use by a captain, with residential and meeting round tents joined by a wedge or wall tent. Swiss accounts of the Burgundian camp which they overran and pillaged at Morat, and Burgundian household accounts, depict that the duke had an enormous portable tent, designed resembled a castle with wooden sides and partitioned rooms, in which he could carry out duties, as well as eat and sleep. Re-creaeting this, even on a cut-down scale is beyond me, so this will be the next best thing on a more modest scale.

Contemporary images of tents are numerous in the later fifteenth century. Its clear that noblemen's tents came in various shapes - round, wedge, wall being the most common - usually mixed within a typical encampment setting.

To create a larger tent, I've used an anachronistic reference, deriving from English Tudor images of the 1520s, which show designs for substantial tents for the Field of the Cloth of Gold (taken from original images now lost). These appear to show conjoined round and wall tents, making either separate rooms or larger covered areas that you can move freely within. I've yet to find this joining of two round tents in images contemporary to the 1470s.

My construction is at first stage - nothing has yet been attached together.  I've had the round tents for some time; they are old Battleground ones, which I believe 'Magister Militum' now sell. The roof of the wall tent comes from the recently released medieval tents from '1st Corps' (very nice looking models). I've removed the zig-zag pattern hanging from the roof sections, which is poorly defined and which will be replaced by rectangular ones, running all along from one end to another. cuts grooves to enable them to be attached, and I'll smooth over the joins with green stuff. The metal props denote where the entrance will be, and I plan to cover the sides with thin metal sheeting. There will be two more at the back.

The central section roof will have Burgundian devices added that I've used on my horse barding and blended in, along with some colourful Burgundian flags. On paper its all worked out - the challenge is now to try and execute it to a reasonable level...!!  This will be a mid-term build as terrain pieces are an occasional foray which i have the first half of the winter to tackle, in between completing some more men at arms.  I'll post up progress as we go.

Friday 3 October 2014

Burgundian Household Knights

These are the a contingent of the new Perry plastic Foot Knights figures, representing knights of Charles the Bold's  household, fighting untypically on foot - perhaps defending in vain the Burgundian camp at Morat. There are a some of the new metal standard bearer figures included too. Many of the figures have been enhanced with plumes (my own castings) and St Andrews crosses (green stuff putty) added. The flags in the central base are downloads from the internet and the ones on the side bases are hand painted (Pete - don't look to closely at these please!)

As previewed earlier, these are very detailed sculpts with sharp mouldings, which produce high quality foot knights for the a 1450 to 1500 timeline. Those knights with coats represent knights known to have been in the duke's household at Grandson or Morat, including Signeur de Mont St Sorlin, Chef d'Escadre (killed at grandson), Phillipe de Croy a knight of the Golden Fleece (captured at Nancy), Jean de Luxembourg, a nother Knight of the Golden Fleece who was killed at Morat, and Bailly d'Aval a chamberlain in the household and Claude de Vaudray. All these references are taken from the invaluable Freezywater publication of 'The Burgundian Army of Charles the Bold'.

Very enjoyable to paint and they are thoroughly recommended - clearly a lot of thought and skill has been applied into making these figures. I think we're are in danger of being a tad blasé of the high quality of hard plastic figures that are now offered to us for only a few pence per figure.
I'm now moving on to the last of my planned mounted men at arms, using some of the new head options from the Foot Knights box.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Foot Knights - first batch painted

Here are the first six done; the fine detail of the hard plastic has made them quite easy to do.

I've used my usual method - a fairly well loaded layer of GW silver is applied, just leaving the deepest recesses and on areas of mail, to show the black undercoat. Then a covering of a 50:50 mix of GW washes of black and brown, letting it run into the detail and trying to get some gradual shading across larger plate surfaces. When dry, a drybrush of silver, trying to catch all the hard edges as a highlight. Other non-metallic areas are then blackened again - straps, cloth, scabbards, weapon shafts, etc and then painted.

One of the Burgundian men at arms has blue-finished harness and the figure wearing the coat depicts Claude de Vaudray, a chamberlain in the duke's household, who fought at the battle of Morat. A harness for the foot joust which is attributed to him, and dated about 1500, still exists in Vienna.

The next batch are in progress....

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Perry Miniatures Foot Knights - a review

If someone had tried to convince me – about 5 years ago – that there would now be four boxes of high quality hard plastic later fifteenth century 28mm wargame figures in the market, I would have bet my house against it. I have always assumed that medievals are one of the ‘second tier’ historical wargaming periods, whose interest and sales levels would never support the costs needed to produce plastic figures. But I am so pleased to be so wrong, and so to be able to start assembling the latest ‘Foot Knights 1450-1500’ box from Perry Miniatures!

The quality of these sculpts is, of course, extremely high and reflects the ability of the Perrys sculpting at the larger ‘3-up’ scale needed for producing plastic models – for me there is still a notable difference between freehand and computer generated plastic figures, although that gap maybe closer than it once was. All the helms, armour, belts, buckles and weapons are wonderfully modelled and Renedra have done well to minimise areas where details are inevitably softer, which is only restricted to areas around the bottom of some tassets and is not noticeable anyway after attaching the sword scabbards.

The Perrys have also reflected their wide knowledge of harness and weapons for this period – as re-enactors and through close study of extant armour pieces – and applied them to the figures. So there are six bodies wearing full sets of harness; one a with more  ‘german/gothic’ styling, and two wearing coats over Italian style armour (which makes the altter pair of bodies useful for not only the 1450-1500 period but, with selective choice of helms, for the decade of the 1440s too).

The body poses are excellent. Most are in advancing or attacking poses, with one of the coat-wearing bodies in a standing pose who therefore has more limited options for which arms can be attached to create a  good pose. With the attachment of the arms – most wielding two-handed polearms and hand-and-a half swords – a really active group of dismounted men at arms results. Most of the designs for the harness and of an Italian style I would say. Only one body has a slightly more fluted and angular style more akin to a 'german' style, which is the same for the arms too - again with one of the poleaxe pairs having a german style. So there are no really any limitations in mixing any of the bodies without coats being attached to any arm options. For even more variety of course, the command sprues from both the Bills & Bows and the Mercenaries boxes will give you another four bodies to use these arms and helms with.

The command sprue features a Richard III figure, currently very topical of course, with head options of a lovely rendering of Richard’s reconstructed face (and a useful headswop for other plastic models too) and a sallet topped with a royal crown (against useful for other English or European kings of the period). I particularly like the standard bearer, wearing a coat and who nice and generic - I plan to buy extra command sprues and use him widely with the addition of other arms – such as crossbows, handguns and halbards.

Personally the only slight disappointment is with the helms – mainly as this sprue includes four that are duplicated from the mounted men at arms box - with six new options on the main frame. Now if you’re building an English army of the period – and of course many people will – with most or all of the noblemen fighting on foot then you may not need to purchase the mounted figures sprue. Also I reckon that Michael has already designed over 35 different heads for the period to date – and there are only so many styles before the variations become too subtle to really notice. However there are very useful new heads and my favourites are a raised visored sallet of c 1490s (like those shown in the Beauchamp Pageant) and a deep rimmed kettlehat. More kettlehat variations will hopefully follow in the forthcoming Light Cavalry box - please Michael!

It’s worth noting the assembly process for these figures. Some plastic figures require relatively little assembly – perhaps just head, single arm and backpack – and there are those in the hobby who are put off plastics due to the need to cut, glue and assemble the figures. Clearly the prep time is longer than for most metals, but to my mind the trade-off is significant - it’s the wide range of poses and figure variants that a plastic set brings to your unit or army. In this box most of the two-handed weapons require attaching the right and left arms to the figures shoulders and also glueing a joint in the polearm or the wrist of one of the arms. Now in the Mercenaries box the option to add a polearm/halbard blade creates a weak joint, no matter how much plastic glue you use to weld it together. However it seems that either the Perrys and/or Renedra have considered this and have come up with a much better solution – the joint on weapon shafts is now an L shape, rather than a straight across cut, which significantly increases the surface area to apply glue on and creates a much stronger joint – huzzah!!

My assembled models shown here are still works in progress, sadly I’ve not have enough free time to get beyond initial assembly. They will form a contingent of dismounted Burgundian men at arms – representing a group of knights from Charles the Bold’s household, with some retainers, and displaying related coats of arms on their coats. Consequently I’ve added crosses of St Andrews to a few, as well as applying headswops from other boxes and metal plumes castings. I've also changed a poleaxe head on a shaft for extra variety. Some of the surfaces have had a wash of liquid green stuff, but this isn't really necessary at all, just a whim of mine.

I’ll also add in some selected metal flagbearers, which are showing on the PM workbench at the moment. Pics of the completed unit will be posted as soon as they’re done. Helmets from the Foot Knights set have also been attached to another mounted men at arms unit that at the undercoated stage too.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

A Waiting Game

The release of the next Perry Miniatures box set is almost upon us - it seems a long wait since the Salute preview - and first images of the foot knights have been shared. I plan to use these new figures to create a contingent of Burgundian household knights fighting on foot, as well as some Swiss front rank pikemen. Aside from venturing into painted up more of my AWI, I've used the time to also start preparing another mounted men at arms unit, who'll have selected new helmets to add more variety - although a look at the sprue shows that not all of them are new sculpts, but some useful new styles never the less.

Most of the figures are in state of headless preperation. The knight holding the hammer has a large plume added (from a games workshop figure) and the figure on the right now wears a short cloak (which really has pushed the outer limits of my putty skills!).  

Many thanks to all who ordered castings of the hounds- I look for wars to spotting them on blogs one day. I still have some left if anyone else is interested. 

Roll on the pre-order date!

Thursday 5 June 2014

Release the hounds..!!

I've received the castings of my medieval 'aluants' - very crisp moulds from Griffin Moulds that really bring out the detailed sculpting skills of Steve May.

I've fast-tracked the painting of a set of four, to show them off (the man at arms was already done and waiting to be joined by his pack). I need to investigate a good colour pallet for the dogs, but a quick look at the medieval illustrations I have seems to show few markings; really having just a single colour coat. My favourite pose is the one sniffing for the scent of a deer or boar. The picture below shows the castings, with just a wash of GW Nuln Oil. You'll now spot these little chappies turn up in many future vignettes of mine no doubt!

I currently have some spare packs, which I'm able to offer to sell if anyone's interested. I guess the dogs could be used across the medieval and early modern period, and probably for the ancient period too?
I've costed them at roughly what they've cost me, as this is not a commercial venture, but equally its not cost-effective to just have handful cast up.

So, there are 4 dogs per set (as per the photo) and cost is £3.55 including postage to the UK, and £4.25 for postage to Europe. Payment can be made by PayPal please, made AS A GIFT, to my Paypal account which is
IMPORTANT - Please also add your delivery address to the Paypal payment (or send me a separate email), as I've discovered that Paypal don't always provide this when I get the funds notification!
Many thanks.