A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Friday, 9 November 2012

Spanish Militia - One Small Step

Since my Falcata parcel arrived – and I confess I had given up on it by the time it appeared – I now have the happy problem of having some more Spanish troops to organise and paint.

I spent a few days sifting through various Spanish OOB’s from the Guerra de Independencia – Oman and Nafziger and the relevant bits of the J J Sañudo database – and cross checking against the illustrations and tables in Bueno. The idea is to identify a (fairly) historically authentic formation whose uniforms suit the new figures. I like this kind of homework.

The figures themselves are probably a little early in the war for me. Falcata base their range around the 1808-09 period, and the voluntarios and milicias are consistent with this – lots of round hats and double breasted lapels in evidence. However, such uniforms could have been seen right through to the end of the war – and if I produce anything which is not correct then it is simply a matter of the new uniform supplies not having arrived yet!

One thing that surprised me is that, if you study the OOB of the Spanish 4th Army in July 1813, for example, it is very obvious from Bueno that about two-thirds of the units present had British-made single-breasted uniforms – dark blue with lighter blue collar and cuffs. And presumably they had British LI-style shakos as well. Somewhere in Lancashire, the mills must have been working night shifts! Interesting, but dull – I want some nice, classic militia that look like militia.

I have identified enough sound figures to produce four good battalions. One of these will be an 18-man light infantry unit - with lapels, ventral cartridge pouches, a mixture of trouser/breeches types, and with the skirmishers converted from light infantrymen, suitably re-headed. Falcata managed to send me enough broken figures to allow for head-donors, though to be fair they sent a lot of spare figures anyway. All these figures are pre-production castings, so there has been some cleaning up to do, but they will paint up nicely, I think.

I also have the makings of three units of normal volunteers/militia/provinciales (i.e. not lights) at 24 figures to a battalion. Two of these are in double breasted jackets, with a sprinkling of ventral pouches (nothing to do with kangaroos), and one is a mixed lot, various jacket styles, and a few of these have bicornes. My house standard does not normally provide such lowly troops as these with a mounted colonel, though a fairly ornate brigadier would be in order.

Yesterday I set about painting up the light infantry. Because of the number of body part grafts in the conversions, I decided against risking them in the mail to my normal Peninsular War painter, and to do them myself. I got started well enough – I am a bit nervous about black undercoat, since I require frightening amounts of light to see the detail on black figures – but that was OK. I got them undercoated, and did all the blue bits, but came to a shuddering halt when I got to red, since my main pot of red has turned into something other than paint. To save face, I found an old pot of red with just enough in it to do a single figure, and decided to paint a single pilot figure completely. I hadn’t intended to do this, of course, and it is something I normally don’t do (except when I am sending a shipment for painting in Sri Lanka – separate story), but in fact it’s probably a good idea. Or at least I can make the best of things and pretend it is a good idea.

So at the top of this post you will see the only completed output from yesterday’s session – a private soldier of the Regimiento del Ribero. You are unlikely to have seen one of these miniatures before, since they are not in full production yet, and obtaining them at the moment is a life-shortening exercise. I think this fellow would be ES41 in Falcata’s catalogue if it ran that far.

I used to smile faintly at blog posts dedicated to describing a lack of progress, but here I am doing it myself. Oh well. I have ordered up some red paint, and with luck it should arrive in a day or so. Since I live on the dark side of the moon, it is not simply a question of walking to my nearest stockist. I use a lot of Citadel paints – I say this without any embarrassment (you want to make something of it?) – and the Games Workshop website identifies my nearest stockist as being in Kirkcaldy – only some 17 miles away. This would certainly be true if I had a helicopter handy, or even a motor launch, but the reality requires me to drive through Edinburgh to the Forth Bridge, over the water and all the way back up the other side, which is a mighty trek for a piddling pot of paint. I have ordered online from Amazon – bless them. The paint is reasonably priced, the postage is extortionate, but the whole deal is ever so much cheaper than schlepping to the nearest city and parking in the Mafia’s multi-story arrangements.

The Joy of Robots – my nearest GW store, apparently

So when the paint arrives I’ll crack on with getting this chap some colleagues. The militia-type command figures are rather fun – more soon. There you are – I’ve managed to write another post about hardly anything. Must get out more.  


  1. How do you mean "something other than paint"? Am not an expert, but would guess that all stages of the paint life-cycle, whatever they are, must by definition still be paint in one of its forms.

    1. Erm - right. Well I'm not sure, but it might have turned into cheese.

  2. I'm sure there's still a Games Workshop in central Edinburgh (136 High Street) as I believe my soon to be son-in-law shops there - I know, I know but there's still time to entice him away from the dark side...

    1. Thanks for that Ian - I know you are right - it's still a fair old journey for a pot of paint.

      All right - I confess I have a slight problem with Games Workshop premises. I visited their shop in Dundee fairly recently, and it was obvious they thought I was a wino who had come in to get out of the rain. Worlds collide - very uneasy. I am reminded of Quentin Crisp describing his going into an East End pub - he had the feeling that the darts had stopped in mid-air on the way to the board etc.

    2. Yeah, I feel pretty awkward each time I go into the one here in Bath but it's more the youthful over exuberance that gets me. I like to just sneak in, head for the paint rack, pay and get out but that appears to be against company policy. "So what are you painting at the moment? Orcs? Fruit-bat Warriors? Pointy-eared bad-ass Elves?" "er, um Napoleonics actually" "Oh, cool!" "Goodbye..."

    3. All this fantasy exotica seems strangely impressive, but in my case that may be largely lack of familiarity. For a while I had occasional paint jobs done on Napoleonics by a local hobby-shop owner, who produced breathtaking work on wood-elves, living dead etc - I mean terrific. I was delighted to get his services. It didn't go so well - he complained about how difficult the Naps were - in particular, he said that some of the units he painted for me required 12 or 13 different colours, which he obviously regarded as unreasonably high.

      Well yes, they did, but I thought that was fairly low for a Napoleonic unit. Maybe the Napoleonics boys are pretty cool, at that.

  3. I've got a spare rubber ring if you want to borrow it, it doesn't look too far to swim?
    Nice figures btw!