EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Galloping Along

Twenty years ago I would not have thought of  painting figures that were not shaded, highlighted,  and as detailed, historically accurate, and least toy like, as possible. I certainly went to great lengths to avoid having horses all marching or worse, galloping, in step.

Well,  I am older, wiser and less mature now but really in a way, this toyish look is accuracy or rather honesty of a different sort.  It is what they are in this context.
Oberhilse Hussars of the Republic, often incorrectly referred to as Guard Hussars. 
I didn't plan this in advance though. It was while I was sorting through horse parts from the Zinnbrigade 1815 English (sic)  Dragoon Horse molds and doing the usual mash up trying to get 6 different horse poses from the 2 rears with 2 tail positions each and 4 fronts, that it struck me that these were toy soldiers. German flats came with such varied and animated horses and many plastic soldier sets included at least 2 or 3 variations in horse poses, but what about the Britain's horsemen used in Little Wars?

A quick bit of research showed that there were a number of horse poses each of which came with a different body. The addition of a head and change of arms produced a new type of cavalrymen. Initially at least sets included 1 pose of trooper and horse and often a different pose of officer, often on a rearing horse, usually painted white as a Grey. (most white horses being technically grey). A few sets such as the Lifeguards later came with 2 trooper poses.  So it was that I was amused to see if I could duplicate this and re-sorted my pieces to get 5 identical horses for the Hussars and a rearing-ish one for the officer. (actually he's just out of step but when I  pull up on the front he looks like he's rearing, doesn't seem to want to stay up with both front legs in the air though and I don't want to add a supporting bush.)

I had already undercoated the officer's horse in burnt umber when I remembered the different colour thing. Rather than lay on enough light grey and white paint to cover the dark brown I painted him Black. Britain's also seemed to have painted most trooper horses as Bays but without the black points on leg and nose or perhaps they were chestnuts with very,very dark tails that just look black. After hemming and hawing I followed suit and painted them mid-brown with black main and tail.

  At least I'm having fun and don't they look dashing? and sooooo well disciplined! I bet the horses would make the charge even without riders. Bugler! Sound Charge!

17 comments:

  1. Dear Ross,

    You can always add white later, highlight the black tails and manes with gray and even paint eyes. Or not....If you like the look that's all that is important and, to be very honest, they are lovely to look at and a joy for the toy soldier enthusiast. As a suggestion, if you are going to add another troop of mounted men simply pick another equine color!
    Wonderful stuff.
    Jerry

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    1. Thanks Jerry. Far too much time went into researching trends from 100 years ago to change them. I won't know if this is a trend or a one off until I start the next unit.

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  2. Hi Ross

    I've always done my horses in a rather stylised and unrealistic way. Most of them are a basic brown colour with black shading on the legs, black mane and tail, a white blaze and from 1 to 3 white socks - very rarely 0 or 4 white socks. Poses I've rarely worried about though prefer officers to have the head held up rather than down.Multiple poses, again I've always liked a single 'other ranks pose' for Regulars, more than 1 pose for Irregulars. Seems to work for me.

    Rob

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    1. The latter bit is the key. I like to throw in the odd dapple grey, esp for a general and in some armies fid units all on bsys or all on chestnuts to make it easier to sort them.

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  3. I recently saw on TV a horse that I couldn't tell whether was a chestnut or a bay. The tail was black, or near black, but the mane close to the body colour, darkish, but a long way from black. I've never noticed that sort of thing before.

    As for horse poses, I've never really concerned myself about variety. But a few years back I did buy second hand a unit of Napoleonic lancers, whose horses seemed to be in the process of rearing. Not a bad pose in itself, but for a 12-figure unit... eee... not so good. What the heck, though: have lance, will prod. They'll have to do.

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    1. There are a lot of horses around here so I do lots of staring.

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  4. Nice toy soldiers!

    I like a little variety in my troops, whether infantry or cavalry of any sort. Partly because I don't like painting too many miniatures that look exactly the same. So I will look for variety of poses, do weapon swaps, different shields, paint on mustaches, different hair colors, etc., as befitting the figures. Regular troops will have the same uniform colors throughout; more irregular ones will have more or less variation depending on how irregular they are.

    In the end, what works for each painter/collector/gamer is all that really matters. It's all good.

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    1. I deliberately decided to go with small units for this so that I could paint a variety of uniforms without painting alot of figures. Actually I've always gotten bored easily painting a lot of the same.

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  5. The "toy look" has a splendour all of its own. Personally I think shiny troopers should receive a plus one in all morale checks.

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    1. Too right, of course they're all shiny on both sides here so it balances.

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  6. I recently finished a unit of Front Rank dragoons that are all on the same horse casting. Despite all the work I lavished on the paint jobs, the unit has a decidedly toy soldier look about it, as if they dragoons are all in a dressage class. At first I was irritated by that, now I find it rather charming. Most hobbyists treat horses as a necessary evil, I think. I know people who paint entire units black, on the grounds that with a black horse you don't have to paint the tack and harness. I, rather intolerantly, call this approach lame and lazy. With your figures in this photo I think you have a nice compromise between variety and a toy soldier quality. Nothing wrong with them.

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    1. I was trying to pattern the unit on what one might get in a box of toy soldiers. Looking through pictures of originals it seems that usually brown horses had brown reins while blacks had blacks, ie they didn't pick them out. I struggled with this but it was a step too far. I painted all the harness black so the officer on the black horse is my exception.

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    2. I was trying to pattern the unit on what one might get in a box of toy soldiers. Looking through pictures of originals it seems that usually brown horses had brown reins while blacks had blacks, ie they didn't pick them out. I struggled with this but it was a step too far. I painted all the harness black so the officer on the black horse is my exception.

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  7. H.G. Wells would be proud of them ! ,Tony

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  8. Dashing fellows indeed and a splendid addition to you games!
    Alan

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  9. Interesting to note how one's taste and style changes. I can certainly appreciate the classic "toy soldier" look. I think it also helps remind one that, in the end, this is a hobby for fun.

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