Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Looking For Pretty Uniforms.

It's been a bit on the slow side as regards painting. I've not been in the mood to tackle whole regiments, but instead have concentrated on researching some of the early war ACW units, and completing single figure "templates" for each one that takes my fancy. Of course at a future date, when finances allow, I shall buy more lead and use those single figure templates to paint up whole units, but until then I am just appreciating the painting joys offered by the variety of such one-offs.

Yesterday's attempt was of an old SAE figure of a mounted cavalryman, with a brimmed hat pinned up at one side, and with a large feather in it. My good friend John Preece identified it as Black Horse cavalry. He was correct; the figure is certainly a representation of the early war 1st Virginia Cavalry, under the command of Jeb Stuart, as it appeared during First Bull Run. Now I only have six castings of this figure, and ideally would like some more. But even so I decided to research the uniform and paint one up.

It was quite fun. Not the prettiest early war uniform out there, but it will add a little flavour to the Rebs. Oh, and I know the horse is brown and not black, but it seems that they were not slavish adherents of the Advertising Standards laws, and didn't feel the need to stick to the letter of their product description.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Brothers In Arms

Today was a day for a slight change of direction. Whilst I did crack on and block-paint a load of Union Cavalry and a few odds and sods of Union and Reb Infantry, I also decided to complete one of the little vignettes that came in the box of lead from John Preece.

There're some charming little groups in there, many of which I have identified. This particular one I have not yet managed to, though. I suspect, from the other sets I have seen, that this is supposed to be two wounded Rebs staggering back from the battlefield.

But I thought it would have rather more impact if I made the two figures a Johhny Reb and a Billy Yank. Perhaps they are brothers or past friends, both wounded on the same battlefield, and helping each other escape. OK so I'm a bit sentimental, but why not?

Anyway it seemed to work OK, and I was happy with it.

Monday, 8 February 2010

The Joys Of Painting Spencer Smiths.

Actually, sometimes they are NOT a joy.

As there's no detail to speak of, it's usually a matter of how much one can be bothered to paint on. The thing is that sometimes there is just a HINT of something there in the casting, but one is not quite sure.... For example, I painted up several Regimental officers for the Union forces, and just gave them a black leather sword belt. Even that was barely visible, but as they had a scabbard I knew the belt had to exist. There was a rather vague blob under the scabbard (which seems to be empty, so where's the damn sword?). I assumed that the sword was there and that the blob might well be another leather belt attachment. I painted the blob black.

Once I saw John Preece's Reb officers, I noticed he had painted in the officer's sash on each figure. and that the vague blob was in fact a tassle or two. The fact that the casting HAS a sash is a little more evident on the old plastic Spencer Smiths. And after checking out a few similar poses in the SAE castings I had, the sash could be clearly seen. Oh Poo!!!

OK, I knew ACW officers often wore a sash, but just as often they didn't bother with it. But now I know it's supposed to be on the casting, I am in a dilemma as to whether I paint it in on the Union officers. I've done it on one, and it's a chore on an already painted and varnished figure! I guess I shall not bother, even though the afore-mentioned blob is there... Will I lose sleep over it?

Aside from that, I managed to complete the first Union Brigade commander. This is the first mounted Spencer Smith I have attempted, and I am happy with the results.

And yes, I know I forgot the stirrups! They've since been added. Doh!!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Slow Down. You Move Too Fast.

It's been a slow couple of weeks, certainly as regards my painting. I've not been in the mood, post-Xmas housework and tidying/sorting has been higher on my To Do list, and I also had to take a few days off to visit a very sick friend who is just recovering from a major operation. Lots of excuses, and not a lot of work done. But that's the way of things.

I re-started the other day, and cracked on with the ACW figures. I have now completed the painting on all the Union Infantry and Artillery, and am working on the Brigade and Division commanders. I have a few Union Cavalry in kepis, but am in no hurry to start on them. I also did a couple of mild conversions of Reb Cavalry who's slouch hats were a bit mis-moulded. A few quick snips and a bit of filing quickly turned the slouch hats into kepis and added a couple more figures to my Union Horse. The centre figure is the conversion; the headgear is now close enough for me to be happy.

As far as the Johnny Rebs are concerned, I have based the two Infantry units and the Cavalry unit I swapped with John Preece, and have added two guns and their crews. I am currently working on two more Infantry units and the Reb Brigade and Division command.

I am looking at adding at least one colourful Zouave regiment to each side. But there things are a bit problematic. Spencer Smith produce but a single ACW Zouave, and that one is turbanned. One pose is rather a limited choice, especially as SAE produced many poses for these regiments. So I have to look elsewhere and am wondering how well the Tradition 30mm figures will work. Granted they are over double the price of Spencer Smiths, but they have a larger range of Zouaves including the command figures. Now sadly there are no images of them on the Spencer Smith website... So does anyone know if the Tradition ACW ranges will be a good match for 30mm Spencer Smiths? The last thing I want is bulky modern caricatures alongside the "toy soldiers".

It would not look right.