Paths of Glory- Stanley Kubrick (1957)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Horizon Blue on the Horizon!

Scarab Miniatures is a new company who have already released a very nice range of 1916-18 Austro-Hungarian infantry as reviewed by Henry Hyde in the latest issue (#16) of Battlegames magazine.

It was announced recently on TMP that Scarab would be releasing their opponents the Italians, but it was also mentioned that the first releases of late war French would be due to come out in the near future. I was on to this like a rat to an open tin of bully beef, and on checking their website I saw that Scarab was inviting comments on ideas for future releases.

Not being one to let such an opportunity go by, I duly sent a mail suggesting a number of support equipment and colonial troops, and Scarab were good enough to respond not only that they were planning what looks to be a pretty extensive range, but also sent me a photo of one of the castings that will make a release later this year, a French Chasseur d'Alpine infantryman. Nicely painted, if not quite finished, but it cleary shows the detail, equipment and "character" of the minis. I really like it.

I hope Scarab do not mind me reproducing it here, as it is an inspiring and very nice looking model. I can see that this spring and summer I'll be spending a lot of time in the trenches!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Cpl. Jean-Nicholas le Ma├žon, of the 701 Regt. d'Infanterie, prepares to hurl les Boches from the sacred lands of La Belle France.

A completed mini! Here is the first of the
Poilus, based and ready. I was very happy with the weathering. A judicious wash of Delta Ceramcoat's mudstone gave me just the effect I was looking for, and I was careful not to overdo it.

It helped that the mini was varnished first, as the wash didn't stain the paint leaving ugly marks as had happened too often in the past when I used washes. After basing and weathering, I sealed the mini with a few quick coats of matte acrylic artists fixative, and I was done!

Now to get to work on finishing his #2 and on preparing some riflemen.

Base details...

(With apologies to Siegfried Sassoon.)

Click to enlarge if you want to see closer image, warts 'n all.

I came back late last night from a business trip, but managed to find the energy to work on a few of my poilus. The chauchat gun team is proceeding nicely. the "number two" needs only to have the leather equipment painted in along with his Lebel rifle, and he will be ready for varnishing and basing. The gunner himself is almost completely done; you can see here. I repainted his helmet a lighter shade of blue, given him a coat of varnish, and have started on the base.

Not as matte a finish as I would have liked; there remains a slight sheen. The best matte finish I know of is Testor's Dullcoat, but it is unavailable here in Japan, and aerosol cans cannot be sent overseas so there is no point fretting over the fact. I'll just assume it has been a rainy day along the Western Front. The finish I achieved is well within my comfort zone, though, and I remain pleased with the result.

I have been giving the bases some thought for a long time now, and I have settled on mounting them individually, using the small plastic bases designed to the Flames of War range of 15mm WW2 miniatures by Battlefront. I have a lot of these, and the 28mm models fit them nicely.

This morning I textured the base using acrylic carpenter's putty (a local Japanese brand). Once it has time to cure, the next step will be painting the base and "muddying up" the gunner's uniform slightly. I do not want to overdo this. While in reality a typical poilu was usually drenched in the stuff, working in this scale I don't want to obscure the detail and paintwork with chalky trench slime, but rather I want to suggest a muddy environment without turning him into the Creature from the Sludge Lagoon.

Another consideration is that I'm seriously considering 1919 scenarios set in the Rhineland, amongst the Reds and Freikorps, and in that kind of urban fighting it would look odd to see men who look like they had been recently wallowing in a pigsty.

Here's an actual early colour picture of French infantry in a trench near the Swiss border. Considering the pretty good state of their uniforms, it doesn't look like these fellows have been here too long. A pretty quiet sector of the front at the time this picture was taken, or perhaps a training/ support area in the rear. I certainly cannot imagine them wanting to bunch up too much like that when within spitting distance of the German trenches, and the photographer would seem to be exposing himself somewhat dangerously to take the shot. Or perhaps they had worked out a "live-and-let-live" informal truce with the enemy?

It also seems as if it hasn't been raining for a while which must have been a relief.

Without being sure of the chromatic veracity of the colour process here, it does provide evidence of how the the dye used for the horizon bleu uniforms tended to fade to more of a greyish-blue shade. I do like the contrasting dark blue kepi of the officer.

Finally, a sneak preview of my vehicle park, more of which in a future post.

Hardcore diecast collectors will cringe at what I'm planning to do with that Renault bus and with the Daimler!