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

Friday, 20 June 2014

A Useful Oddity – the Scruby Artillery Horse

More on the Ongoing Background Artillery Project (OBAP)

I’m working away to get a bit more progress on my dreadful backlog of Napoleonic limbers -  especially those of the French and their allies – which always nags away at me, and takes up space in the project boxes which could be used for something more pleasing.

Having said which, the limbers and other artillery and logistical vehicles are pleasing enough when they do get completed, but since they are not a priority (i.e. my rules mostly don’t strictly require them to be present) this is a very rare event indeed.

This last week I’ve been preparing some French limber teams for painting. Some of these castings are very small "25mm" from Jack Scruby Miniatures (these days, that means Historifigs), and their artillery horses are strange objects – I rather like them, not least because for many years they were really all you could get in metal 1/72-ish apart from vintage Hinton Hunt (which got prohibitively expensive) and Kennington (whose artillery horse is one of their “Pantomime” jobs, with short shins and an odd gait).

Your hoof-bone's connected to your knee-bone

Note the cunningly twisted draught lines, to simplify casting
Working with the Scruby horse is a bit of a challenge – the master is sculpted with the left front hoof attached to the right knee, and the draught lines twisted through a surprising angle and attached to the tail and the right rear leg – all in the interests of simplifying the mould lines. In its starting configuration the horse does not look very promising, but a bit of fiddling and sawing and twisting and it sort of works. This is not made any easier by Historifigs’ insistence on using an unusually hard, brittle alloy which neither bends nor files very easily, and is known to snap in moments of stress.

The four pairs and drivers nearest the camera are Scrubies - my lacerated
fingers will recover, please don't send flowers
Some I prepared earlier - some French caissons from my last big push on the OBAP
- as always with Scruby 25mm, they paint up better than you think they are going to
I’ve managed to produce another 4 pairs of Scruby horses with drivers this time, and it took me some time to achieve this. They should start getting painted next week. Next batch of painting is (I think) 4 British limber horse pairs (Lamming), 8 French (4 Scruby and 4 of the lovely, but expensive, Art Miniaturen), complete with limbers and cannon (mostly Hinchliffe 20, but some of the guns are of obscure origin – they may be Rose with wheel swaps) and a bunch of Peninsular, stovepipe-hatted Royal Artillery gunners for the Allied siege train (these are NapoleoN castings, but may also include some Kenningtons if SHQ send me some in time).

The gunners are for a series of 3 batteries of 10” howitzers – which is far more than the real Royal Artillery had available in the Peninsular War, but they look good.

Anyway, more of all this sometime in the future. This morning’s excitement is merely a glimpse of the Chinese puzzle which is the Scruby artillery horse. A casting which was designed to be converted before it could be used.


  1. This post (and the last as I'm catching up) has produced a wave of nostalgia. I used to covet the Jacklex Colonial gun teams and service troops and for years promised myself I'd build proper 'tails' for my Napoleonic armies. My tendency towards idleness and naturally parsimonious (I prefer to say frugal) approach to wargaming has always let me down. Nevertheless, I still feel tinges of guilt when I see others making a good fist of it.

    1. If you are implying that I am one of those who have made a good fist, then I must blushingly point to the 40 years it has taken me to get my fingers all in the same place, prior to any clenching. I've always wanted proper wagons and limbers and all that, and am now getting them done, but it is only because I have accepted that - in my case - studied application of OCD to the completion of one period of wargaming is better than dabbling in many, simply because there is a remote chance of my achieving something.

      I have used this opportunity cost argument for too long, I fear. I have avoided starting new armies or new active periods of wargaming exactly because i am getting too old, and don't have the time or attention span. Since I have recently assembled sizeable ECW armies in a year and a bit - from a position of no knowledge and no lead mountain whatsoever - is very pleasing, but also scary. I have to find a new excuse for being unadventurous in my choice of wargames and hobbies - I may have more time than i thought…

      Cheers - Tony

  2. Odd that they are brittle, all of my Historifig castings have been eminently bendable. Did you get them all in one lot?

    In any event they do look good once you have finished them.

    My excuse for not finishing limbers and impedimenta is that my table is too small. Even a 4 horse team takes up a frightening amount of space if it's 40mm. Doesn't assuage the guilt at their absence.

    1. No - they came in about 4 instalments over the last 4 years or so. I have older castings I got from eBay, and they are pretty normal, but the recent stuff is different - if you flick them they make a faint chiming sound more like a component for your carburettor than a war-game figure.

      I wish you wouldn't say "even a 4-horse team" - to save space, even at 20mm scale, my foot artillery limbers and all the caissons have 2-horse teams, which gets me a lot of ridicule from the cool guys...

  3. One of the pleasures of doing 6mm, I am finding, is that from a budgetary and from a table space point of view, limbers and cassions are quite doable. Your finished cassions (irritating how Apple autocorrect wants to change that word to "casinos") look very fine. I see you've painted the riders in the light blue of the Artillery Train, which I applaud. One question, if I may - would limber riders also have been from the Artillery Train, or would they have been Foot or Horse artillery? I am doing some limber teams next and even though it's just 6mm and all rather blobby, I want to get the right uniform colour.

  4. Hi Michael - you will be saddened to learn that my drivers are light blue with dark blue facings for the artillery train, black facings for the engineering and pontoon drivers and brown facings for the logistics wagon drivers. There is no limit to fussiness, as I'm sure you know. Limber riders - I guess they could be anybody, but Minifigs and (more importantly!) Hinton Hunt specifically made their British limber riders gunners, not drivers (and didn't Airfix's RHA set do this too?), so I guess they should be gunners, and it makes sense that French gunners would hitch a ride on the limber, though not the mounted gunners in Artillerie a Cheval, you would think. Yeah - gunners.

    Apple spell correction - tell me about it. For the first time in my life, I have to watch the screen like a proper typist, so that i can see the monstrous suggestions come up in time to catch them. Not helpful. I can see the language evolving further - as it has done with the dreaded txt-speak - so that we actually start using the words Apple provides as replacements. We may as well face up to this - from this point, the carts which carry ammunition round will be known as casinos - you know it makes sense, and in the end it will save time and annoyance...

  5. Thanks Foy. Now that I read your learned response, I realize I meant to type "limber drivers" as in chaps on horses rather than limber (or casino) riders. Can't blame auto correct on that. So the chaps on the horses pulling the limbers. Some sources say that would be Artillery Train types, but I have seen minis painted to make them look like gunners.

    1. Sorry - Michael - misunderstood question! - yes, the guys on the team horses will be from the Artillery Train. Any guys on the actual limbo could be arterial gonads - blast this spell checker...

  6. Seems a shame not to add a couple more horses to each team? Go on, you know you want to!

    1. Well, if you can send me the extra horses and drivers, I'll think about it very seriously. If you are offering to paint them as well, I'll go for it like a shot!

      I have thought about having extra horse pairs standing by, so that they can be attached to the front of the normal stunted arrangements when cool guys are looking on. That is still a possibility. My official, house-standard footprint base for a 4-horse team plus limber and gun is 45mm x 140mm, which is a lot of table for a cosmetic, non-fighting piece!

      It would be nice, but...