Monday, 23 November 2015

FOR SALE Louis XII Guard Archers

My wife would like a Faberge egg for Christmas so in a moment of madness I have decided to sell these chaps, I'm keen to create a mounted version and possibly some more dismounted some point in my life so these will be leaving my display cabinet for a new home.

The Ebay listing is here;

You can see their development in a previous blog post here;

Saturday, 24 October 2015

French Missile Foot II

Throughout this year I have been developing my skill at sculpting, this began with some humble additions to existing figures to more recently attempting to change the entire look of a miniature, the general impetus for which has been to bring the existing Perry figures into the early 1500's for my French and Tudor armies.

As a result I've created some rather unique figures. They take a while to do as essentially I will keep at something - an shoulder, arm or whatever - until I feel it's right, thus with each figure I further my abilities and learn some methods or tricks along the way, what works and what doesn't.

I'm in no rush either so they quietly develop at a slow pace in the background, I've found it's also a break from painting as well as in itself inspiring me to paint so it's win win.

This small offering of 3 figures has been worked upon over the last few months. These are additions to my existing missile foot which, if you compare you can see the development of the sculpting from start to now, you can see how I sculpted the previous missile foot figures here.

In this base I experimented with representing a Swiss and an Italian, or rather, those were my influences while sculpting. There's also a French chap there too. Here I began with the French chap, then Italian and then Swiss, just across those 3 you can see a modest progress in my ability.

It is all trial and error, anyone can do it, you've just got to start.

First up is a French inspired arquebusier;

I sculpted this one quite some time ago so he's fairly modest in comparison to the others. This sculpt involved cutting and filing the livery jacket off the plastic figure then re-sculpting the top of the hose and creating a cod piece. In addition I then added the points for fastening, shirt pulled through at the bottom and puffed up the shoulders. I'm fairly happy with it, I later mastered puffed shoulders with the Swiss figure below and perhaps a bare head with cloth cap may have worked better but he'll pass muster.

Next we have an Italian inspired sculpt;

In creating this figure I felt I crossed a threshold in my ability, as essentially I had to sculpt all of the clothing using a Perry Ansar as my starting point;

To begin I cut then filed away the loincloth, I then sculpted the shirt, using the existing necklace as the shirt collar, this worked quite well. Following that I added the base coat, shoes, arms (both also from the Ansar sprue) and finally the head. This was an Ansar head to which I added hair and a cloth cap. I cut an arquebus in half and glued to the arm. I'm not too sure about the position of the left arm but not bad overall, there's some good movement in this one and I was particularly pleased with the voluminous shirt sleeves.

Finally the Swiss inspired Crossbowman;

This is perhaps my favourite yet. As with the first I began by filing away then re-building the waist, I didn't quite file enough of the rear but not bad nonetheless. The torso began with the undershirt, then the doublet with eyelet fastening showing on the top right and finally the arms and beard.

One key advance here was a tremendous tip; use e45 for moisture rather than water. It helps to have some moisture as you go to keep the flow of the putty pushing and to help achieve the forms you are trying to create, whilst it is possible with water the use of e45 or petroleum jelly just makes it a whole lot easier, you need the tiniest amount, minuscule even but it will honestly revolutionise what you're doing and make it a lot easier.

So here's the complete base, a rag tag bunch just right for French adventuriers with mercenary tag alongs;

Here they are with the rest of their unit, the basing of each stand is on the notion of their engagement in fire and manoeuvre, I'm not sure if that is perhaps a modern tactical application but it looks good for skirmishers.

Apologies for the quality of these photographs, my digital SLR died last week, a very sad occasion, suggestions on a good mid range replacement are most welcome.

These chaps require a suitable command base for which I have made initial progress upon, here's a sneak preview;

I chose an at ease pose for this build, he will stand next to the standard bearer and either another crossbowman or possibly a halberd armed chap.

That's all for now, just 3 figures but progress nonetheless and some momentum with the green stuff, it gets easier with practice, Picasso says it better; 'Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working'.

All the best


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Last Apostle AAR

This weekend myself and Simon Chick were invited to put on a scenario at the British Lead Adventure gaming meeting, a social / gaming meeting of contributors to the Lead Adventure Forum.

If you're not aware of the forum have a look, I have used it for years now as a source of honest critique and as a forum to discuss wargaming, painting and history. They're a most welcoming bunch, very much an online gaming community. For a lone painter like myself this serves to give me the encouragement and discussion that I would otherwise get from a gaming club, it's a god send.

If you don't know Simon you may be familiar with his blogs on the Burgundian Wars & Hundred Years War, whether or not these are your period you will find inspiration in buckets.

We were tasked in putting on a relatively small game that could be played at least twice over a day. I had a particular small action in mind, one which has captivated my imagination since I began collecting my Tudor army, the events of 27-28 July 1513;

The (King's) middle ward once outside the English territory of the Pale were subject to repeated harassment on its way to join those already besieging Therouanne. On this day a force comprising troops from Bolougne and Montreuil under the command of Bayard and de Piennes engaged the English, apparently with a view to capture or kill Henry himself. 

The ward stood its ground and whilst Henry took safe haven among the ranks of his mercenary Landsknechts the ward engaged the attackers with artillery, with none of their own to reply the French left the field (not before a lone knight challenged Henry to single combat - he refused!). When the ward moved on again some of the guns began to fall behind, one of the heaviest pieces, cast with the image of St. John the Evangelist, came to grief and slipped from its limber into a stream. This was a brand new gun (more on this later) and had hitherto not fired a shot, she weighed 3 tons and it was clearly going to take some effort to recover her. 

George Buckemer, a master carpenter from Calais reckoned he could get the gun out, the ward pressed on and he and a hundred workmen and a skeleton guard set to work but a powerful French force had been waiting from a safe distance and fell upon the scene with lance, crossbow and arquebus. The party were mostly slaughtered or taken prisoner but the gun remained mired, the carpenter was later blamed for his over confidence as one 'who would work all of his own head without counsel'.

Henry was somewhat annoyed at the loss of his beloved Apostle, sending Henry Bourchier, the Earl of Essex and a noble commander of cavalry, Sir Reese(sic) ap Thomas back to see if they could rescue the stricken piece. Lord Berners, master gunner was able to secure the gun to a limber but before they could make off a large French force appeared attacking the rear of the party as it moved off. The English responded with great spirit and forced the French to retreat leaving St John to nobly return to Henry's arsenal.

In trying to find more about this I stumbled upon the exact scenario, practically gift wrapped, so to give credit where it is due thank you Jay of solo wargaming I hope you're pleased with our efforts.

On to the Game, the scenario is summarised in the solo wargaming link above, we used Lion Rampant rules with a couple of adaptions; 
  • Infantry units were represented by 2 of my 60x60mm bases, 12 figures in the case of Longbowmen and 6 in the case of French skirmishers.
  • Cavalry units were represented as 1 60x60mm base of 2 figures - we doubled this in the second game.
  • It was then a case of adapting renaissance troop types into the Lion Rampant roster sheets which was fairly easy.
Over to Richard aka Captain Blood for the report with a few additions from me in brackets - I was too busy attempting to umpire and play !

At our British Lead Adventure meeting last weekend, I played in a splendid game staged by two of our resident top medieval modellers and painters, Stuart and Painterman. 
It was a real treat to get to play with a small portion of their exquisitely modelled and painted figure collections.

A quick photo battle report follows.

Points to note:

1. All the figures are from Stuart and Simon's collections and the terrain is also Simon's.
2. The shine on some of the figures is purely down to the light in the room.

The rules used were Lion Rampant, which worked pretty well. There was a quite surprising amount of evading, falling back, running away, and rallying. Casualties were fairly brutal.

The scenario was as follows, based on a real historical event:

Henry VIII's invasion of France in 1513. 

Not far from Calais, one of his twelve large guns of great magnitude each named after an Apostle 'this particular beast being called 'St John The Evangelist' has become stuck crossing the shallows of a river...

Henry Lord Bourchier, the Earl of Essex, along with Sir Rhys ap Thomas have been despatched post-haste with a rescue mission (and a stout wagon) to retrieve the missing artillery piece before it falls into French hands. But the French are also en route with an eye on the prize...

It was largely a fast-moving cavalry action. The forces were well balanced - the English with units of demi-lances, scurrers or border horse, and of course two companies of longbowmen. 
The French with a whole variety of horsemen from heavily armoured gendarmes, through mounted ordonnance archers to mercenary Stradiot cavalry. Backed up by a company of arquebusiers.

[The game began with] the super-gun in question, stuck in the shallows on a bend in the river.

The English Relief force arrives;

At the same time the French make their presence known;

An advance party of mounted archers espie the English rescue wagon, trundling toward its objective;

The English Longbowmen take the field and prepare to see off the French in time-honoured fashion... Not terribly successfully to begin with, but they got better...

Whilst Essex heads straight to the river with the border horse, the demilancers led by Sir Rees ap Thomas, sweep nobly across the meadow to take the advancing French gendarmes head on...

But with the Stradiots almost upon the river, Essex himself plunges forward to confront the gendarmes and drive them back...

As the longbows begin to have a deleterious effect on the French, causing various withdrawals..

...a charge by the border horse forces the stradiots to evade, just as Essex breaks the gendarmes... Leaving the rather strange spectacle of one stand of gendarmes racing off the field as another surges forward into the fray!

Another view of this excitement. At this point, Essex, somewhat wounded, is behind the clump of trees, right. [here you can also see our use of Border Horse to screen the river bank, these chaps from the Percy estates really proved their form in several charge and evade actions]

As the English horse establish more of a secure defensive screen, the rescue wagon reaches the river...

But wait... The routing gendarmes have rallied, turned, and come roaring back in to have another go, leaving the gallant border horse no alternative but to throw themselves in harm's way..

The wagon spends three turns recovering St John The Evangelist, whilst the tide of battle washes around it... 

The Earl of Essex however, is mortally wounded (as can be seen by all those arrow casualty markers) and expires shortly afterwards, as the French arquebusiers finally catch up with their cavalry and start popping away...

In this engagement (we managed two during the day) St. John made it off the table however though with the loss of Essex, one of the objectives, the game was a draw.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, Simon's cart, mired crew limbering in the water and fully limbered gun really made for a visual spectacle, as did his gendarmes charging about the place. This really gave me the impetus to paint up these missing elements from my collections as well as to properly represent at least one of the most interesting 'guns of great magnitude,' the twelve apostles to which Henry had a great attachment as this scenario proves.

None of them are known to have survived though it has generally been accepted that each of the 12 pieces were of the same size, the main source in their regard is the payment for their founding in bronze in Flanders, a whopping £1344, 10s per gun as well as a bespoke carriage at £12 per gun.

Martin du Bellay when describing how St. John fell into the water stated that it was a 'double grand culverin 'of which the army had 12 of the same calibre. Furthermore lists of the wards state the Apostles as being the heaviest pieces after the siege bombards, these go on to state that the Apostles required 30 Flanders mares to pull the ammunition and ancillary equipment. Each Apostle was assigned a chief gunner, paid at 16d per day as well as 8 carters and other crew.

To give you an idea of their size here is a demi-cannon from the Mary Rose which I believe is slightly bigger than a double grand culverin but not too far off.

So, who knows we may see this scenario again with the French fully represented with their respective commanders but a good day had by all. Thanks again for your contributions chaps, I had a blast - see what I did there.......

Bye for now


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Ordonnance Archers Complete !

Well here we are, this feels like the end of a very long journey !

I've been striving to get this unit just right and, as I'm finding with this army, that has meant a lot of conversion work and scouring of books and the web to create a result that I'm happy with.

The nucleus of that notion began here with an essay of  my understanding of the French lance of the early 1500's; essentially the gendarmes were the easy bit, I really wanted to try and understand the organisation of the Ordonnance Archers. 

Unfortunately I didn't reach a conclusion of any certainty, I found source material of lance composition in the late 15c and from the late 1520's so I went for something in the middle.

Once I had a reasonable idea of where I was going to go I focused my efforts upon trying to find some images and the key source was a series of Flemish tapestries of the early 1520's depicting the story of David and Bathsheba, as discussed in the previous blog post, for ease here's the main source of inspiration;

This piece entitled 'rassemblement des chevaliers' shows cavalry in a progress with a mix of heavily and fabulously equipped gendarmes alongside men at arms in older armour and lightly equipped coustilliers, no archers unfortunately but an interesting mix of arms and armament.

In my effort to replicate the processional nature of this piece in some way I have opted for the Wargames Foundry horses, they're a bit smaller than the Perry plastics but not that noticeably. I think i'll no doubt have a more active unit of archers and gendarmes in addition to these.

Perhaps unsurprisingly there are very few appropriate figures out there, some manufacturers have made an effort to give a nod to the French Ordonnance Archer though perhaps because of the evolving nature of them I did not find what was available to be either relevant or at the standard for what I wanted to achieve so the next challenge was to muster my rather infant skills of sculpting and converting to see whether I could do it any justice.

So with the brief of sculpting something with no real certainty as per the research and images in mind I arrived at this conclusion;

Here we have men at arms alongside mounted archers and a coustillier (in blue) thrown in too. I've mixed them up a little basing wise to emphasise the variation. In saying that the men at arms are a bit more of a definite thing and It's no leap of faith to imagine these forming the second line of a charge behind the gendarmes.

As for the archers, from the many months I've been putting this together I have no doubt that they were facsimiles of their English counterparts - scouting, mopping up and in something of a dragoon role on the battlefield. The coustillier, combatant or not depends on interpretation but I felt I couldn't neglect to show one.

The other aspect that I have tried as far as sculpting goes is to emphasise the status and role of the figures in the group; the men at arms have skirts fitted to their armour, within which I have sculpted a simple skirt as well as short and long skirted coats, the standard bearer is perhaps the most wealthy with decorated and slashed coat. This as opposed to the more uniform issue base coats of the archers and the coustillier in his own reasonably well off clothes and a slashed leather jerkin.

This unit has taken a few months to come together, the men at arms were sculpted quite a while ago whereas I sculpted the archers fairly recently, it's probably my critical eye but I can see that there is a difference in my ability over that period. I have been sculpting this week and it certainly feels like I have increased that a few steps again. It's certainly something that gets better and easier with momentum, I suppose it's the same with painting but I do find that when I have a break for a while I have to re-learn a few tricks to achieve the results I want.

I went with just a single banner for these, I'll definitely add more as I'd like to carry on with more figures on this theme. The image on the banner is a mix of a number of contemporary sources; St. Michael from this painting on wood panel from the late 1490's, something also replicated fairly closely in images from 1507;

I then added star emblems which are fairly generic of French symbolism around this time. I opted for a simple red background to differentiate this unit from the Gendarmes which will have the parti-coloured banner with St. Michael and Louis XII's porcupine (also shown above). As with all of my banners this was hand painted.

How on earth you'd wargame with this 'unit' I really don't know ! ha, another reason that I don't really game that much, perhaps that gives me a little more freedom to really try hard at depicting a historical representation. Though I suppose you could vary their use as your whim or scenario required.

There we are, I could be entirely wrong but it's my best shot, I hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as I have !

Next up, some Gendarmes, four to be precise to complete the proportionate representation of the 1513 French lance.

Oh go on then, here's a sneak peek at the initial progress with the points of reference below;


Bye for now


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Work in Progress

It's been a while since my last post, my progress has slowed considerably over the last couple of months due to a mix of work and family commitments along with a general loss of inclination to go near the workbench, a bit of artist's block unfortunately but I've taken a day to myself to get this blog is back in business.

I'm mid project and it's going to take a while (enormous tasks are a bit off putting - perhaps there's a lesson there); I am putting together a unit of French cavalry but as ever I've wanted to do something a bit different, I'm working on a complete unit or lance, so; Gendarme, Man at Arms, Ordonnance Archer(s) and Coustillier. 

The figures are a mix of Foundry and Perry, I did consider using the Perry plastic horses and the Foundry Gendarmes with sculpted armour as I did with my Tudors below but I do quite like the Foundry Caparisoned horse which comes with their Gendarmes, it's only one pose but it's a very nice one. In order to not make that look like a pony all of the rest had to follow suit and use the other Foundry horses so that was an early decision. Perhaps I may do the next unit of cavalry differently, we'll see.

The Foundry packs adequately cover Gendarmes and MAA though there are no Archers, I've never been able to work out if that was an oversight or simply a timing issue, anyway it precipitated a need to fill the gap and with my recent forays into sculpting I considered myself at a point where I'm able to do it so I'm working on these elements of the lance first as comparatively speaking they will be the hardest to do.

If you're interested in the French Lance of the early 1500's I put together a short essay of my take on it in a previous blog post here.

Inspiration wise I've used a number of sources but ultimately the key image is a Flemish tapestry depicting the tale of David & Bathsheba, it's dated around 1520 and was either commissioned or at least purchased by Henry VIII. You can view it in the Musee de la Renaissance just outside Paris or buy the lavishly illustrated accompanying book, one notable piece is the assemblement des chevaliers;

This features what I believe to be the elements of the lance from Gendarmes to Coustilliers with a mix of contemporary and older armours, it's a fantastic piece which I know I'll return to again and again.

I began with the medium armed men at arms; sculpting skirts and being creative with head-swaps on the Perry MAA bodies, I was keen to depict older armour with contemporary clothing as per the tapestry (and other sources such as the Triumph of Maximilian). I'm not quite finished with these but here's a preview;

You can see a pre-painted photograph of these figures via the link mentioned above. 

Next up are the Ordonnance Archers to which I've applied the same approach using the Perry Light Cavalry torsos as sculpting dollies;

This chap is complete and awaits some comrades who are presently mid-sculpt;

Base coat just about done with hair and cloth cap to do (the head is from the plastic Ansar sprue)

Arms and head from a Foundry Landsknecht with sculpted torso.

Also, as I tend to have a few figures on the go sculpting wise here's an arquebusier awaiting some colour;

That's me up to date, it's been good to get back into the saddle, hopefully more to come soon.

All the best