Monday, 20 May 2013

French Ligne Taking A Pounding Part Deux

About a year ago I posted a picture of an unfinished French Ligne Battalion in a firing line - I'd simply dug into the "big box" and looked through it looking for something I felt like tackling (like tackling the numerous half finished battalions was too much for me). I'd painted the AB French in firing loading poses I had but needed to bulk out the unit to thirty figures by using some casualties - I don't care what anybody says, if I've spent this long painting them the casualties are going to "count" for firing or melee purposes.

Anyway, it occurred to me that I'd not posted a picture of the completed unit. So here you go:
And what is the first thing I see - that I forgot to paint a musket barrel and bayonet on one of the figures!
And the sharper eyed amongst you will have realised I didn't paint the full 30 figures I intended to either.

But I'd like to think that this captures a unit that well into a firefight, as the ordered ranks start to get broken up by casualties and the regular volleys give way to each man firing as fast as he is able. I'd also like to think that this is a response to those people who say that AB Miniatures lack pose variety. They took ages to paint  and involved lots of colourful language - but I'm pretty pleased with them. And even more pleased that I can count them as done (okay, I know the wounded chap on the command stand needs a little bit more work).

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Battle Honours BSP3 Spanish Infantry Defending Review

Apologies for not posting for a few weeks - I had ten days in Scotland visiting my Uncle, and I've had a lot of work on.  Just a quick photo review of the first of the Spanish infantry packs I bought at Salute. This one was BSP3 Spanish Infantry Defending - £15.00 for 50 infantry including three command sets (although I got 10% off because I'm a megalomaniac who couldn't resist spending more than £90 at the show with the chaps at Timecast).

I've bought one or two bags of Battle Honours troops in the past that have been a bit rough (and I'm not the only one - after the show, Giles and I had a few glasses of wine with Dave Brown and some of the chaps from Loughton Strike Force and at least one of them had had the same issue previously) - the moulds seem to be coming to the end of their natural lifespan on some of the more popular bags and are rougher castings than they used to be. I'm pleased to say, these Spanish are very nice - not as clean as AB castings but generally fine. They all seem to have an issue with a bit of roughness on the lower side of the bicorne, particularly where the bottom of the bicorne and the figure's shoulders are in close proximity - but this is nothing that a few moments with a file can't fix. Apart from that it is the usual vent scrap, a little bit of flash on the bayonets (which seem to vary between quite long on some figures and quite short on others) and a few chunks on the bottom of the base. The metal isn't super hard so clean up is no problem.

So, the first thing to say is that BH don't do separate packs of grenadiers (which is odd as the Spanish generally used grenadier companies in converged battalions) so there are grenadiers wearing their distinctive bearskin mixed in with the regular line infantry in bicornes. Out of the 50 figures 16 are grenadiers. This is also a somewhat haphazardly packed bag (more on this later) in another sense: Spanish Infantry "Defending" made me think of chaps preparing to receive a charge, firing their muskets and so on. And I did see some of those in the pack (8 grenadiers and 12 chaps in bicornes) - the balance of the bag are troops standing with their muskets on their shoulders, and the command groups.

First Picture shows the two different standing grenadiers you get (6x of the one on the left, 2x the one on the right) - I really like these, good detail, a bit of character, nicely cast, excellent figures. The standard bearer I'm not quite so keen on - there's nothing terribly wrong with him, it's a good pose that will work with both the "standing around" figures and the "defending figures" - but he doesn't grab me (as I only got two of these I guess that is okay). And that flagstaff will need to be replaced as it is rather weedy. The drummer is another fine figure (3 of these in the bag) - the black wash really brought out the character on this chap - you can see the flash on the bicorne (I've removed excess metal from air vents and the small amount of flash from the bottom of the base on some figures but, otherwise, these are as bought). And finally the officer - when I first looked at him I really didn't take to him - frankly, I thought the pose looked a bit effeminate (which, given the poor calibre of so many Spanish officers, might be rather apt) but again, now that the wash is on, he is rather growing on me.

And the same figures from behind.

Next up, more rank and file including the two "defending" poses. As far as I could tell there were no pose variants with these two - you just got 12 of the bicorne defender, and 8 of the grenadier. The figures are very similar in pose but aren't just a head swap - the grenadier has gaiters, his cartridge case has a grenade symbol on it and he has the sword bayonet in it's scabbard. And finally we have the three "standing around" poses to finish off the pack - I got nine of the middle figure, three of the chap with the musket over his right shoulder, and two chaps smoking a cigarette.

And the same figures from behind.

Now if you've been keeping pace with the numbers of figures in each pose I've been mentioning, you will see that, while I got exactly 50 figures in the bag, only 20 were actually in what I'd term a "defending" pose - and of those you'd need to use the 8 grenadiers separately. So, unless you wanted to mix in the "standing around" figures with the defending figures (perhaps in the second rank? I have a mental image of the front rank being braced to receive cavalry while at least one chap nonchalantly smokes a fag), you won't have enough figures of any one style to make up a 24 figure battalion. And another problem - grenadiers had officers and drummers who wore bearskins, not bicornes - so the 20 grenadiers in the bag have nobody to command them.

All this means that, for me, the packing of this bags is a bit of an issue. At first glance, without counting figures you'd think "50 figures, 3 command groups - okay, two 24 figure battalions with a spare officer and standard bearer" - and you would be dished once you opened the bag and found what you actually had. Obviously, for me, the solution is to simply buy more (when the maths gets tough, the wargamer goes shopping). So, having a second bag of BSP3 in the drawer, I opened it and had a headcount. Now the chap from Loughton had warned me there was some variation between bags (ie it isn't like Wargames Foundry where there was one mould for each pack, and each spin produced one pack, so no variation in what you got each time). This time round I got the following (1st pack count in brackets):

Officer x3 (x3)
Drummer x3 (x3)
Standard Bearer x3 (x2)

Grenadier Defending x9 (x8)
Grenadier Standing Around x8 (x8)

Bicorne Defending x6 (x12)
Bicorne Standing Around x18 (x14)

So, you can see the proportion of grenadier figures is fairly constant, as is the command element, but the mix between standing around and defending varies a bit. Now, looking at the Deep Fried Happy Mice review of BSP1 Spanish Standing & Firing it looks like you get the same command, and standing around figures, along with some guys loading and firing. It would also appear he got some chaps defending too. Plus he got 16 grenadiers. Whether there was a kitchen sink in the bag too he didn't say.

I should also say that the second bag was much more cleanly cast than the bag I used for the photos - little or no roughness on the bicornes and mostly just vent metal on the rest of the figures.

I'm therefore thinking that you have two options with the BH figures. First, just take the bag and paint what you've got, and then use the grenadiers with bicorne command (they were a slovenly lot, the Spanish) and damn the historical accuracy, and mix up the standing and defending guys in bicorne. Secondly, buy three bags and separate the figures to make the best units you can. The AB grenadier command would work with either the standing around or defending poses so you should be able to get two grenadier battalions from three bags, and a 24 figure bicorne defending battalion and a couple of bicorne standing around units as well.

And, just to complicate matters even more, it seems that the foreign regiments didn't necessarily detach their grenadier companies (irritatingly I can't find the thread on TMP that I saw this), so, if you are painting a nice Irish or Swiss unit you could mop up a few grenadier figures by including a stand of those.  

And a picture with an AB French Ligne figure, a Blue Moon French Ligne figure and a Campaign Games Miniature figure, a Xan Miniatures Voltigeur and an AB Spanish marching figure for comparison purposes. Sadly, the AB and BH figures don't work terribly well together in my eyes - I think you'd need to slip a thin shim under the BH figures to make them go well together.

And this is a rather more "wordy" photo review than I originally intended - I do blether on!