Friday, 28 March 2014

New SYW infantry

The new Prince August 'Seven Years War' infantry

Please note that I have already posted a lot of the information below on Yahoo Groups such as 'Old School Wargaming', 'Lace Wars' and '40mm Wargaming and Collecting', but I thought it better to kick off by bringing it all together in this one area.

Background


During the period since I saw the 'Sittangbad' game at Partizan back in 2006 I have put together a large collection of 40mm semi-flats which are regularly used for gaming. (Currently mostly using the Maurice rules system.)

When PA previewed the new additions to the infantry in their Karoliner range back in July 2012, I emailed them and commented on the new moulds. The gist of the email was that I thought it good to see that the range was still being extended, but expressed my opinion that the figure poses were in general not suitable for wargaming purposes, and that they were missing out on a significant market. I also asked that they consider extending the Karoliner range to allow it to be used for other nations, suggesting that the following be added:

Artillery crews with turned back coats.
Grenz.
Grenadiers in bearskins.
Prussian fusiliers.
Russian grenadiers.
Hussars in busby.

It came as something of a surprise when in April 2013 PA's sculptor contacted me, to advise me that they were going to extend the semi-flat range with a view to adding more mainstream European armies, and asked if I would like to make suggestions on what to produce. As you can imagine I jumped at the chance. Over the last year or so I have had a lot of contact with their designer with a view to producing a range of moulds/figures in poses to fit into 'old school' units, the first of which are now on the market, with others to follow on a regular basis.

(Just in case anyone is wondering I have no financial interest in this range - other than a few free moulds. My main interest is in trying to guide PA towards a range of figures which are useful to us.)

Separate heads


In building up my current Karoliner armies I did a fair bit of head swapping (and I would probably have been happy if PA had just made a few more heads). From the start I was of the opinion that for this new range PA should go down the route of interchangeable heads, it may be a bit more casting and assembly work, but it means you get an awful lot more out of the moulds. (And a lot of us already do it the hard way!)

For example, the initial Prussian bodies can be made up as musketeers, fusiliers or grenadiers.

Cast examples of a Prussian Musketeer and Grenadier with the rods in place.Cast examples of a Prussian Musketeer and Grenadier with their heads attached.


The next release is likely to be a single Austrian (German) infantry mould, this will contain two infantry bodies (advancing and march attack) with four heads (2 x fusilier, 1 x officer and 1 x grenadier*), used in combination with the Prussian command bodies these will allow the Austrian line infantry to be assembled.

So the first four moulds will allow all the figures needed for the following units to be cast:
 - Prussian musketeers
 - Prussian fusiliers
 - Prussian grenadiers
- Austrian fusiliers
- Austrian grenadiers*

If you are building an 'imagination' army the options will become very interesting.

*Update - due to the fact that the march attack figure needed the arm to be separate it was not possible to include the bearskin in the mould; these will be included in the Hungarian moulds.

Generic Detail


It was also decided to go for 'generic' bodies, so for example the different cuff styles on the Prussians will need to be painted on. The logic behind this is that we did not think the market was large enough for a mould for every cuff type (I certainly would not buy them all), and efforts would be better directed at covering a wider range of troop types with a reasonable level of detail than trying to get all the small detail covered. That said it is intended that where detail is provided it will be as correct as can be done (the semi-flats do impose some limitations).

Using this logic the Prussian officer, standard bearer, NCO, and drummers will also be used in the Austrian and Russian armies, but with different heads. As an example see the NCO below.


3102/1 - NCO as Prussian fusilier
3102/1 - NCO as Austrian fusilier

The poses


Historically PA have not seen wargamers as part of their target market, as a result of this many of their figure poses (for example the Rossbach range) are not of much use to us. With this range they are genuinely trying to make figures which are useful to wargamers, as well as catering for their usual casters.

The poses for the first releases were selected based on my suggestions, and in the absence of any better ideas I opted for what I use in my armies. The chosen poses are similar to the advancing infantry in the Irish Wild Geese range (I-903 & I-904), but with a change in the musket angle on the advancing figure to a higher port so that they are not sticking in the back of the man in front. To make the figures more unit friendly I have asked that the figures be sculptured such that they rank up on 20mm x 30mm bases.

Below are photos of a unit made up from the first 3 new moulds (3101, 3102 & 3103), as a fusilier unit. The same body can be fitted with different heads to represent not just fusiliers, but also guards, musketeers and grenadiers.







PA are also working on march attack figures, this is really THE pose for this period, so if they can get it right I think it will be a very useful addition to the range; below are the 'greens' of the Prussian and Austrian figures with tricorn.

Prussian as guard
Austrian as fusilier




















These should be out in the near future, however I understand it is proving difficult to fit this tall figure into the mould, so the figure may need to be broken down so that the musket (and arm) are separate. Below is a unit cast from the pre production moulds to show what they will look like (the bodies for the officer and drummer are from the Prussian moulds).


March attack Austrian Grenadiers (cast from pre-production moulds)

Prince August's plans for this range


The initial issue of three Prussian moulds is not a one off, and they currently have plans for the range to cover all troop types - details of the range are on their site:
http://shop.princeaugust.ie/seven-years-war/

Initially the plan is to cover the following three main protagonists; Prussia, Austria and Russia. Other armies may be covered later if the range proves successful.

Initially 'close order' infantry for these nations will be produced, followed by artillery, cavalry and then light troops, possibly in that order. I have seen photos of some of the preliminary 'greens' for Austrian (German & Hungarian) & Russian infantry, which should be released in the not too distant future. I will post photos once the sculpting is finalised.

Artillery, light troops etc.will be in more active poses as these do not need to rank up.

Feedback


I think the important to stress that PA are designing this range with the wargamers in mind, it is us that they are wanting to sell these moulds to - there is no point in them making moulds which nobody wants to buy.

One of the main aims of this site is to become a forum for discussions relating to the moulds in this new range, and have influence on future releases. I am in regular contact with PA's sculptor, and I know he will try and take on board any constructive comments you have on the range.

So please do two things:

  • Post comments on this site and so influence future releases.
  • Buy the moulds, both PA and myself have put a lot of effort into producing this range, and it is of benefit to everyone to make it a commercial success.

I promise future posts will be shorter, but I wanted to set provide as much backround to the range as possible.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Karoliner Infantry

Building up armies using the Karoliner figures. 


I will look at how we have built up our armies tor the Seven Years War (ish) period using PA moulds, the shortcomings of the ranges, and how we worked around them.

The armies were mostly built up by a group of three of us. I did most of the casting and painted up armies for the French and Prussians, Richard Hattersley painted the Russians, and Karsten Gould the Bavarians and Saxons.

Infantry


The bulk of the infantry in our armies has been built up using the advancing figures from the Irish Wild Geese moulds I-903 & I-904.

Units from I-901 & I-903
Painted up as Bavarians by Karsten
 (The guinea pigs used to have a hutchside seat in many of our games, however as they did not seem too impressed by the noise so they have saved up their pocket money and now have their own shed).







We also have quite few units using the marching figures from the Karoliner moulds K-910 & K-911. However the advancing figures are both easier to cast and clean up easier so are used more often.
K-910 infantry marching & K-906 grenadiers firing
Some of Richard's Russians

There are also a few units of the firing figures from K-901 & K906, both of which cast well, however although they look good in the firing line they don't look good in column, so we stopped using them in close order - they do make good skirmishers though! 

We have now built up armies with 100s of figures, which we combined with the collection of Mark Dudley and the Ilkley Old School players to put on a well received display game at the Sheffield Triples show in May 2012. (Have a look on the 'Too much lead' and 'Ilkley Old School' blogs for more photos).

http://toomuchlead.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/sheffield-triples-game-of-show.html

http://ilkleyoldschool.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/chotusitz-game.html

Sheffield Triples 2012




What are the shortcomings of the Karoliner infantry for use in the SYW?


The Karoliner ranges represent the Swedish army, and provided the units you want to build have a similar uniform to the Swedes you are fine. The biggest problem is that the figures have their waist belts on the outside of their coat, unfortunately by the mid 18th Century most nations, with the notable exception of the French, wore the belts below the coat, so if you want to be accurate then the range has limited usefullness. Obviously if your army is of an imaginary nation it is not a problem.

There are a number of issues if you want to build up historical armies of the SYW era using these ranges:
  1. They cannot represent troops who wore the waist belt below their coats - which is most of them!
  2. There are no Prussian fusiliers in their mitre caps
  3. There are no grenadier bearskins for the French, Austrians etc.
  4. There are no Russian grenadiers in their unusual grenadier helmets
  5. There are no grenz or pandours
  6. There are no Hungarians
We have dealt with these issues in the following ways

1. Waist belts below coats - this really is too difficult to correct, so we have ignored it and painted belts on the outside even if not historically correct.

2. Prussian fusiliers in their mitre caps - we did not bother with any fusiliers!

3. Grenadiers in bearskins - for these I converted an advancing infantryman by adding a head with a bearskin and made a silicon rubber mould. 
Modified figures as grenadiers in my French collection.

4. Russian grenadiers in their unusual grenadier helmets - this dropped into the too difficult bracket, so they got ordinary mitres.

5. Grenz & pandours - I was working on some conversions for these (not many needed), but have not progressed it as they should be covered in the new range.

6. Hungarians - we never got as far as the Austrian army so did not crop up.

The new Seven Years War Range

New figures are coming which will close all of the above gaps - I will discuss these in the next posting.


New Prussians as fusiliers
Probably the start of my remodeled Prussian army.


An Introduction

Why yet another blog?


I've been collecting 40mm semi-flats and posting the odd comment and photo on the Old School wargaming site since 2006. Over the last year or so I have been helping Prince August (PA) putting together their new 'Seven Years War' range of semi-flats, so thought it worth running a blog which keeps you informed of what I know of their plans. I was putting this information on the '40mm Wargaming & Collecting' and the 'Old School Wargaming' Yahoo sites, but it was getting very long winded, and probably annoying to anyone not interested in home casting.

Also I thought it worth giving a bit of background to how the range has developed, and show off some of the games we are playing with the 40mm semi-flat figures.

So first a bit of background.


My inspiration for collecting home cast 40m semi-flats was actually nothing to do with 40mm - or home casting.  I went to the Partizan show in May 2006 I saw the excellent ‘Sittangbad’  game which was put on by ‘The War Gamers’ and suddenly realised that I needed to go back to my war gaming roots - so I decided I needed a new, well actually an ‘Old School’ project. (I had also bought a Subaru Turbo a few months earlier, so had obviously hit that difficult age!)

I really did not want to start another project which would pile up even more unpainted figures, and was conscious of all those part finished, and unused armies I had lovingly amassed over the years.

I remembered that I once had some Prince August moulds for that period, so wondered if all that mountain of unpainted lead and piles of unloved old (but nothing classic) figures could be the way to go. After some investigation I discovered that Prince August’s older HE range of 18th century 40mm moulds were designed by Holger Eriksson (hence HE), the same person who sculpted the Spencer Smith range of 30mm figures which adorn the pages of two of my favourite books ‘Charge’ and ‘The War Game’ - so the idea did have some Old School credibility.

I purchased samples of the moulds from both the HE range, and the newer Karoliner ranges and gave them a go using my ‘scrap’ lead. According to PA's website the master figures for the HE range were initially carved out of wood and still retain some features of a wood carving, they proved quite hard to cast, often required a lot of cleaning up, and need  a lot of the detail to be 'painted in', so although having a nice Old School feel, were obviously going to be hard work to build sizable armies. The newer Karoliners were a little more rounded, more detailed and easier to cast; in most cases they are re sculptured (not by Holger Eriksson) versions of the HE figure, and have retained some of the charm of the older figures.

Both of these ranges represent 18th Century Swedish armies, with turn backs and waist belts worn outside of the coats. This uniform also makes a passable mid-18th Century French, and PA also sell them under the labels ‘French Regiments of 1750’ and ‘Irish Wild Geese’ but they are really the same moulds. So I decided to build myself a French army using the Irish range which are essentially Karoliners, but with a very useful advancing infantryman which only occurs in this range as mould I-903.

I soon collected together quite a few kilos of unloved figures, both from my own 'collection' and from my wargaming friends.........



They were melted down in my trusty old milk saucepan..........
(I have an understanding wife - however I think she still prefers not to see what I am doing in the kitchen. But however understanding, if you melt figures with paint on it is better to do it outside - they give off a lot of fumes!)



Then re-cast using the high tech method of drop casting.....
(Which I generally use moulds paired up so they are more stable, and just use thick elastic bands to hold them together. Note that it is better to use three bands rather than the two shown, just in case one snaps with the lead in the mould!).




And turned into nice new shiny units (well mine are shiny), it really is satisfying turning old unwanted figures into a new army! A unit similar to the one below can be cast using just two moulds:
 - I-903 Officer and Advancing Infantryman
 - I-904 Standard Bearer and drummer:

I-903 & I 904 painted up as Swiss in French service (the drummer and far officer are from other moulds)


I will show how the armies developed from here, in later postings.