Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Mark's Little Soldiers, Part 2 +

 I am still rather enamoured with Mark Copplestone's "Little Soldiers", a range of 30mm (more or less) figures representing a few Imagi-nations armies styled for the Inter-war period. I've also added a few items from other ranges

Here is an officer whom I felt looked rather Austro-Hungarian and that's the way I painted the figure:

Painted in a colour called "Liberty Blue", this figure
seemed to have an Imperial vibe.
Dark green facings with lighter green piping...
to be honest, I'm rather pleased.

Here is an officer-type figure who has a real Spanish Civil War aura about him. He even has a tie!

This guy looks really Spanish Republican.
I only noticed the tie as I began painting him.
I'm wondering if more figures will be made in the side cap.

And some figures from various sources and ranges that were fun to paint.

The "crazy pirate monkey"
One of the players in my Traveller campaign has a pet monkey,
and this new figure will fit the need exactly.

Ralph also printed up a few figures.
Here is a sci-fi female that my eldest instantly annexed
for their use in Traveller. I'm fine with this!

All for now. Just so you know, I often paint while watching the Toronto Blue Jays' games. Yes, I'm a fan and saw them at that Rogers Centre in Toronto last week! I'm actually enjoying watching baseball again!

Yes, the cap is an antique, but it's mine!

Monday, 19 September 2022

Mark's Little Soldiers


Yes, it's been a while. No, I haven't moved... or been conscripted... or in hospital. Let's chalk it up to the combination of busyness and laziness. Good, now we can move on.

A while back, I say notice of the release of new figures from Mark Copplestone, figures based on a fantasy clash between countries in the sculptor's imagination. They're listed as 30mm but they stand close to big 28's. Details appeard to be charmingly minimal.

I love imagination... and imagi-nations.

I obtained a few figures and since there are a few I'm quite interested in ("Rufus T. Firefly" for example), I'll probably get some more.

The three Imagi-nations are Slovsko, Panovia, and Bergland. They all have a nice "retro" toy soldier look and are sculped to look vaguely like inter-war troops, sort of just prior to the Spanish Civil War and such.

I like them and I painted them as I wanted to (since I bought them with money and all.) I only have a few and I'll present them here. I don't have names for the two countries I've represented, but I might have names before the blog is done.

First, a member of the National Gendarmerie of the one nation which looks somewhat like early WWII Soviet troops, although the gendarme pictured is rather fancy for a crypto-Soviet nation:

Rather fancy and Casablanca-esque and Clouseau-ish
"Un-occupied Potatoland welcomes you!"

I wanted a general police type figure once I saw it and the Kepi seemed to tell me to set that up. He should have a mustache, don't you think? Maybe later.

Next, an officer, low to middle rank, of the People's Army. I thought a yellow-ish khaki would serve. The crest on the helmet reminded me of the applied crest on Soviet helmets early in WWII.

An officer of the People's Republic of Stroganoff (There's a name!)
RHIP ('Rank has it's privileges.') hence the lighter Khaki breeches.
I felt I had to ink the faces of the figures to bring out the detail.

The People's Army needed people so a people it is. A ranker ready to defend the Brotherland without much political interest or savvy. Again the yellow-ish Khaki, green helmet, black boots, and brown leather belting seemed right.

A tough veteran, rough and ready.
More vodka and perogy, anyone? 

The Bergland troop have a definite Teutonic look to them - jackboots, coal-scuttle helmet, etc. I didn't want to break out the Feldgrau although who knows what the future may hold?

Now who wore the coal-scuttle Stahlhelm? Switzerland? Chile? Argentina? Iran? Nationalist China? Yes, true... but too much grey or khaki. Who else?

Who else indeed! Fianna Fail! ("Warriors of Destiny", but not the political party.) Soon after the army of the Republic of Ireland was formed, they adopted a Stahlhelm copy made by Vickers in the UK. It was worn until the beginning of WWII when the British-style Brodie helmet was adopted. (That other helmet might have led to some touchy moments at the border with Northern Ireland.) So I used the really dark green of the uniform of the Republic's troops with the ruby red leggings, black belting, and black helmets with the Army badge affixed to the front.

An officer of the Republic of Erie (There's the second name!):

Again, light khaki breeches, brown gloves, and a bit of shine to the helmet.
I used Liquitex artist's acrylic paint for that since it has some sheen to it.

And the rank-and-file:
The Irish Army had some rather strange ways of keeping a shine on
their legging and belting, sometimes involving candlewax.
His belts are black although they're hard to see against the really dark green tunic.

Finally, a garda of the Guardians of the Peace, the national police force of the Republic of Erie. I chose a lighter green for the tunic, breeches, and cap. ("Deep River Green", a colour I usually use for SYW Russian coats.) He looks rather severe without much detail, but he is a "toy soldier style" figure.

The figure still looks a bit Teutonic, but I like him. 
Would he be better with an open tunic and necktie?
I don't like ties, so...

There are still some figures to paint, among them two officers. One is wearing a German/Austrian style mountain troops cap with a feather. (I'm thinking Austro-Hungarian alpine troops.) The second has a "garrison cap"/side cap with a tassel in the front like the SCW troops wore. I think you can see where this is going.

Yet to be released are troops in berets, in the garrison cap, in a Balkan-style fur cap, and who knows what else. Machine guns, both light and heavy, mortars, flamethrowers, artillery, and even comic-style bomb blasts are a now available. The ads show more and different to come.

This could be a problem. There's only so much money in the world.  

Monday, 15 August 2022

Fort Erie --- 2022


After two years of delay made unfortunately necessary because of Covid-19, the Siege of Fort Erie was done again this August. It was a wonderful event, although it was blisteringly hot and horribly humid. The photo above was the rainbow over Buffalo, NY after a rainstorm... and not a drop hit us across the river in Ontario. 

(All the photos are to be credited to Laughing Devil Photography, Larry Barnard, Ralph Golin, Mark Psulka, my wife Beth, and a few others whose names I could not find.)

Sad to say, I was not feeling well due to the heat for most of the weekend. I did take part in Saturday's parade and the turn-over of the fort to the American army once the garrison marched out. I had the honour of being adjutant for the US side, which was interesting.

Morning parade

Musicians' call

The exchange of salutes
Following this the officer commanding takes over the parade and the adjutant
does a quick "fade" to the commander's right rear.
Officers carrying canteens/water bottles might not have been regulation,
but that weekend it was necessary! 

The column advances

Prime and load!

A volunteer with the 2nd Regiment of York Militia

The Crown line.
Numbers were down on both sides; a result of the pandemic I'm sure.

The combined 21st & 17th (out of Erie, PA) give fire

Fifes and Drums of the Crown Forces

The Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles closest to the camera
- in green with black facings, musket armed.

The Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada (IMUC)
under their new captain. Huzzah!

First Sergeant Mike deploys his "war face"

Major Phil watches the 25th deploy

The Crown cannon

The afternoon battle, meant to display Chippewa and Lundy's Lane, was shortened because of the intense heat. Everyone was being very careful!

The night battle, the reenactment of the night attack on the fort, is always a load of fun and quite a blast - literally! Beth armed herself with my carbine, a hunting shirt, and undress cap as well as the belly box she bought for me that day and took her place on the wall. Alex's musket would no longer fire at one point, so she handed over the carbine... which he used and now wants me to leave to him in my will. Get in line, Bud!

The view from "the Wall" over the Terreplein of the fort.

Major Phil, and the marching 21st - Marcus, Alex, Mike, and Brendon

Another view from the wall.

It can get smoky.

From the main bastion

And the big BOOM!
Planned, organized, and set of by professional pyrotechnicians!

Part of the well-laid out Crown camp

Along side the road

Dinner our camp - pulled pork, Caesar salad, and "Mr. Jefferson's macaroni & cheese"
- taken from a 1790's cookbook from Monticello.

IMUC had the honour of leading the column.

Jordan in his pioneer gear

The Crown High Command

"Many Strings" intent on loading

Packing, Packing, Packing...

This is a short blog since my part in the event was curtailed. I hope to do better next time... both on the field and in the blog.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

“Without music, we wouldn’t have an Army.”

Much better painted than mine... but they're professionals.

 A number of years ago at the Hot Lead convention Bring-n-Buy, I picked up a French Napoleonic military band molded by Miniature Figurines. I think it's an old set. It sat for many years in a box of yet-to-be-done figures. I finally got around to painting them and lining them up. I have yet to flock the field, but I'm rather pleased with the outcome.

As a person who was a professional musician for a while (which mean I got paid to play, but not that I made my living playing my instrument), these were fascinating figures to paint up. They're using some obscure and often obsolete instruments. They're also playing instruments that are not often seen in North American field bands, like oboes and bassoons, although those can be seen in British bands. Neither the piston valve nor the rotary valve had been invented yet and the woodwinds were played without the benefit of the hole-covering mechanisms used in modern clarinets and saxophones. A Belgian instrument craftsman named Adolphe Sax invented the piston valve for brass instruments (like the Saxhorn - see below) and the Saxophone in the 1840's which changed the playing of music quite a bit from that time on.

Two things: 

1.) The title of this episode is from Robert E. Lee. I don't care for his politics, but I respect his military skill.

2.) Troops marched to a much slower beat in the Napoleonic era. If I recall correctly (and I may be wrong) 65-70 steps a minute. The French later pushed that higher. Normal march tempo today is around 120 steps a minute... unless you're British "Rifle" units who move at an odd double time or Italian Bersaglieri who run in step... even the band! (Look it up! It's wild!) {Bersaglieri}


A Saxhorn - either tenor or baritone - with piston valves
played by an American Civil War reenactor

The woodwinds - bassoons, hautbois, and a clarinet

For lack of a better term, the "hautbois" is just about the same as the modern oboe.

The percussion - cymbals, bass drum, snare/side drum,
a long narrow drum I can't identify, and the triangle

The brass - bugle, natural horns, and trombones
Neither the bugle nor the "natural horns" have valves or keys.

The band front - director of music, "Jingling Johnny", and the Drum Major

The Jingling Johnny/Bell Tree/Schellenbaum
In the piece, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine by Sousa,
the Bell Tree can be heard being shaken in the first strain
and then keeping the beat throughout the final part of the trio.
(Nobles of the Mystic Shrine)

Trombone with a dragon-head bell
I'm sure the sound would be odd. Yeah, it is.

A modern musician plays such a horn.
It's also called a buccin.
The Buccin

A pair of serpents - an odd instrument of wood and leather
with a brass instrument's mouthpiece.
It is not a saxophone... which won't be invented for another 25+ years.

Modern musicians with serpents
The Serpent played

The drum major - one flashy dude

The band - still in need of flocking.

Percussion leads off while in US and British style modern bands
the trombones lead since their shape changes as they play. German
and other European military bands seem to put the trombone to the rear.

I'm sure other modeler's have done better, but
this is my small contribution.

If you're interested in the music of the period, there's plenty available. One of the best pieces in my opinion is Bugler's Dream by Leo Arnaud (Bugler's Dream) which is believed to be based on French Napoleonic cavalry trumpet calls. Of course, there's always The Victory Is Ours /La Victoire est a Nous. (The Victory Is Ours) That shakes everybody up, although it's part of a larger march.