Monday, 11 January 2021

Standing dollies conversions

I've been meaning to do these for a while now and as ever all I needed was a bit of inspiration. In this case that came in the form of having a lot of Perry Mercenaries sprues with handgun and crossbow arms going spare after building the recent Scots pike.

This combined with some standing artillery crew from Steelfist Miniatures that I had and the pliers and hacksaw were out.

I removed the arms from the figures and in 2 cases re-positioned the legs then used the remaining lump as a dolly. 

I took measurements from the Perry plastics and modelled these as closely as I could so that they could comfortably take the arms.

Here they are in their intended use, French missile foot on the home front or as mercenaries in Scots service. The arms i've chosen show that they can be assembled without further sculpting of sleeves - though you can of course do that and no doubt I shall be. 

They also work quite well as longbowmen, again with the right arm combinations they work well without further sleeve sculpting to represent men not in livery or with a bit more work you could have them in base coats as I have done with my existing tudor infantry.

I'm working on another 3 to add some further variation, these will have slashed chests and possibly slashed hose showing at the knee so that they could be used as Flemish, French or Landsknecht or better off English.

The next challenge will be making some arms so they can be used as standing bill/pike but one step at at a time.

I'll post up the remaining 3 when I do them and keep you updated re the casting and availability - it'll be a few months as i'll have to take my place in the queue.



Sunday, 13 December 2020

Scots Pike Complete !

I've put off creating a Scots army for quite a while as the numbers of pike simply put me off but with the circumstances of this year it really was a perfect opportunity to quietly push on with a large project. Every figure a small victory for the day in creating something and having progress, it really helped my mindset a lot especially when restrictions were particularly tight and the nights were drawing in. 

Special thanks to Michael Perry for donating the figures, it was a great boost and gave the momentum to achieve something.

With 2 boxes of plastic Mercenaries to convert the target was to create a block of 36 pikemen, in particular Scots Lowland pike raised from the borders and towns of the Kingdom suitable for the period 1513-1530. 

This covers the 1513 campaign of James IV followed by regency under the Duke of Albany.

In terms of appearance with the exception of the Highlands the Scots looked fairly similar to their English counterparts but unlike the English who were paid for their service the Scots employed a two tier system. 

The best equipped men were sourced from and equipped under a retinue system. They came from the households and clans of the leading nobility, these saw service along the border, in raids into Northern England and in the faction warfare that developed following the death of James IV.

The remaining bulk of a Scots field army were men raised under the levy system which in principle required every man aged 16-60 to serve the crown for 40 days in any one year during times of national emergency. They were required to muster with their own equipment and food for anything up to the full 40 days. Their appearance would be fairly rudimentary and with relatively little or no armour.

Sources for the arms and equipment are listed in the following;

  • Scottish Renaissance Armies 1513-1550, Jonathan Cooper, Osprey.
  • The Anglo Scots Wars, Gervase Philips.
  • The Heart and the Rose, the battle of Linlithgow Bridge 1526, Jonathan Cooper.
  • Flodden, the Anglo Scots war of 1513, Charles Kightly.

With that brief in mind here are some work in progress photographs which show some of the conversions with green stuff and assemblies.

Simple through to more detailed conversions working left to right; 
  1. A simple green stuff (GS) square added to the padded jack, this will be painted up as a livery badge.  
  2. This assembly was made from the foot knights set with a pike added. Prior to the arms I sculpted a base skirt on to the figure to bring him into the early 16c then worked on the pike arm.This involved very carefully shaving off the fingers on the gauntlet of the knight arm and the main body of the hand on the pike arm (leaving the knuckle and fingers) then gluing them together, a stanley blade is very useful for this. 
  3. The figure is from the Mercenaries command sprue, as with the knight I worked on the body first by adding a GS skirt then a German breastplate - along with the choice of armoured arms this then creates a full set of almain rivet.
  4. On this figure I was looking to represent a very rudimentary jack of plates with GS.

More examples of assembly conversions from the foot knights set along with another 16c breastplate and more ambitious almain rivet with tassets. 

The metal head with bellows visor is from a set of Steel Fist armoured landsknechts. The two bare heads with caps added are from the Perry Ansar set.

Fairly straightforward assembly conversions using the Perry Tudor heads, a targe from Dixon miniatures and a converted Tudor Dolly from Steel Fist Miniatures.

All of the above mixed together prior to painting, they're starting to look convincing.

A closer look at some of the figures in padded jacks. The muted palette really makes the faces pop. The figure on the right has a blackened old bascinet, this was created by adding a visor from the Agincourt knights sprue to a head with an open sallet from the Mercenaries set.

Painted up, the conversion work really pays off

 a few more

Another batch ready to go 

Hopefully you can now spot the conversion and assembly choices. The 3 central figures are a converted Footknight with plumes from Steel Fist added, he is flanked by two figures using the Steel Fist Tudor dollies. 

The figure to the left of the nobleman wears a coat with pike arms added straight from the box and a Perry Tudor head. The one on the right is a French Captain, same process only I added slashing to the sleeves with GS.

A group shot about halfway through the project.

All of the above shows the assembly, conversion and painting process that I have applied to the unit the goal being to create a pike block with an appearance as I consider the Scots may have looked like, the formula being roughly as follows;
  • The front rank in full armour to represent the nobility and gentlemen who can afford it.
  • Behind these in full and part sets of almain rivet, breastplates and brigandines to represent men taken from the households of the nobles and lords under the retinue system.
  • The rear ranks feature men in little to no armour pressed into service under the levy system.
Here you can see that in practice;

From the front, the imposing armoured spearpoint of the unit is clear to see.

From the side you can really appreciate the composition of the unit. They're now ready to be based.

An early decision was to build this unit as a basis to add more which is why I opted for the 2 simple banners. I did not want to commit to specific commanders or liveries, these will come later and I can add single bases with flags of particular nobles as I see fit and be able to create large or small pike blocks for relatively little effort.

The choice of nobles will be key as quite a few were killed at Flodden so I will go for those who survived and played a part in Anglo Scots clashes of the period such as the Kerrs and Homes.

The two flags I went for were the Saltire of Scotland and The Lamb of God. The former was an obvious choice and simply needed to be done. Thereafter it was a case of finding something both generic and interesting. From the sources mentioned at the start religious iconography is a prominent feature for Scots banners, those most frequently mentioned are the Virgin, St. Margaret and the Lamb of God. 

Troops from Perth marched under the Holy Lamb which features in the arms of the town granted in 1378. I really liked the palette and imagery on this so I used it as a basis for the flag.

I also used a new toy to create this banner, a £20 A4 LED lightbox, a great piece of kit. It was simply a matter of copying the lamb from this illustration and flipping it for the mirror image. Compared to hours on Photoshop it's a great addition to the arsenal if you want to create your own banners. 

The next task was to create a casualty marker, here's a chap who fell foul of an English billhook. It was created from a Steel Fist Tudor dolly, Perry Ansar legs and arms from the Mercenaries and Light Cavalry set.

As I had everything set up for photography I thought i'd have a bit of fun creating the moments prior to a clash of arms from both the English and Scots perspective.

I hope you enjoyed this, I already have some more pikemen waiting to be painted so I guess this was just the first instalment.

Bye for now and all the best


Monday, 14 September 2020

Scots Borderers and English infantry

The first completed Scots unit for the collection; a border nobleman and his retinue. I had a lot of fun creating these and really got enthused for many more.

The inspiration was reading that border horsemen of both sides often fought dismounted as circumstances dictated, for example James IV had all of the borderers dismount and fight with a pike at Flodden and both sides used them dismounted in less mobile sieges and raids.

So these are a unit of well armed and medium armoured men with various polearms. I also considered having a couple with their bows slung as well but decided to stick to without for now.

All of the figures were converted from the Perry Wars of the Roses range and the standard bearer is from Steel Fist miniatures.

The conversions range from a simple head swap in the case of the standard bearer to bits of kit-bashing from the various plastics, it was fairly straightforward. The only sculpting was adding a beard to the commander in the cloak and cloth caps to two of the figures. here they are individually prior to basing;

The slightly muted palette works well with the jacks and brigandine, it seems to really make the colours pop and it was good to explore the various ranges of earthy shades that I don't often use. The faces also stand out a bit more. 

I like the way that the addition of a beard and gauntlet to the Henry VI figure makes him appear much more warlike. On that figure in particular it was a good lesson in painting black, building the highlights neatly then a final one with a mixed blue grey really brings that fur lined coat out.

The scattering of field signs on the chests and caps of the figures work well and stand out against the muted colours.

Overall, I'm very pleased with how these have turned out, they have a definite Scots look to them.

The targes are from Dixon Miniatures Flodden range.

I hope you like the photograph, the first use of a new toy, a photography light box tent. There are various ones out there but it's much better than my much used but slightly unreliable tin foil lined beer crate.

Another rather bland but very important footnote for these is painting the base of each figure in the colour that I use for basing. it makes a huge difference and i'm slightly annoyed it's taken me this long to figure out !. 

I also recently completed a unit of non-liveried bill, a further experiment in a muted palette;

These were a mix of figures assembled straight out of the box along with some in sculpted coats, I talk more about this process in this earlier post for their accompanying archers;

What I really like about these un-liveried troops is that with the addition of a unit of command they make for a convincing instant border retinue for either side;



Mixed with liveried troops of the Stanleys

For the second picture I based up some foot knights that have been neglected for a while, you can read the background about them and see some close up individual images in this post;

Here's some more images of the stand, the outdated armour works really well for men at arms on the border in the early sixteenth century;

The desk is now pretty much cleared for me to crack on with the Scots Pike, they're coming along nicely so far.

Bye for now


Friday, 4 September 2020

Work in Progress; Scots Pike


Well it was only a matter of time wasn't it.

I have taken great inspiration from the border themed wargames myself and Oli have had this year and finally took the plunge.

These games led me to dig out what resources I have on the Scots to get an idea of what their appearance would be for the period 1495-1525. This covers the latter half of James the IV's reign through to Albany's protectorate. 

The main sources were;

  1. Scottish Renaissance Armies 1513-1550 (Osprey)
  2. Border Reiver 1513-1603 (Osprey)
  3. Flodden 1513 (Osprey)
  4. The Heart and the Rose, The battle of Linlithgow Bridge 1526
  5. The Anglo Scots Wars 1513-1550, Gervase Phillips
  6. Flodden, Charles Kightly
  7. Flodden, Niall Barr
  8. James IV, Norman Macdougal

I found the top five to be of particular use for descriptions, illustrations and photographs.

I welcome any further recommendations.

The increased time at home gave me a rare chance to get reading and suitably inspired me further to get kitbashing with some reasonable confidence of what I was trying to achieve.

My plan is to create a 36 man block of pike comprising four 60x60mm bases each of 9 figures and without banners. This will create the look of a tightly packed block of pikemen and should be suitably impressive when the square is done.

I will then create further bases of command groups with the relevant banners and liveries.

This way I'll have a flexible body of figures that can suitably accompany any retinue. It'll be the building block to work from.

The figures represent an arc of men from the Lowlands starting at those poorly equipped via professional soldiers through to lesser gentry. Most are composite from a few sets with a bit of sculpting.

The real time consuming sculpting to represent men in retinues (i.e. base coats and more up to date kit) will be left to when I come to the command groups and already have this block of men done.

Hopefully that makes sense !

With the above in mind the figures are split between armoured and lightly armoured as well as varying quality of equipment and clothing;

The figures are primarily made from the Perry Mercenaries and Foot knight sets along with bits from the Mahdist Ansar set (2 of the heads). The figure in the coat was converted from a Steel Fist Tudor coat dolly and there's also a Landsknecht helmet with bellows visor from Steel Fist. The small lead shields are from Dixon Miniatures.

There's still more combinations and sculpting that I hope to achieve but I thought I would share the exciting new direction the collection is going by way of this latest progress. 

I hope you like them. 

Here's the links if you'd like to read more on those recent games as well as some from the last few years with a Scots theme;

Siege of Wark 1523

Assault on Ferniehurst 1523

Suffolk's Invasion 1514

Tudor rebellion 1514

James IV's 1513 campaign

I presently have a few projects nearing completion which i'll hopefully get the chance to share in the coming weeks.

Please do get in touch with any recommendations for books, websites and indeed any resources that you think could be worthwhile for this new avenue.

All the best


Sunday, 26 April 2020

Early Tudor Longbowmen

Under the current circumstances I find myself with some additional time so I thought I'd embark on a long overdue project for my early Tudor Army.

Oli Green and I wargame the period using adapted rules and army listings from Lion Rampant for which we have split longbowmen into two categories; 

Garrison Longbowmen
Attack Value
Defence Value
Shoot Value / Range
5+ / 18”
Maximum movement
Special Rules
*Ignore -1 at 12” or more

Shire Longbowmen
Attack Value
Defence Value
Shoot Value / Range
5+ / 18”
Maximum movement
Special Rules

These troop types often feature side by side in most of our games but up until now my collection only featured men in livery coats with no obvious difference which can occasionally cause confusion.

In the early sixteenth century Tudor armies were built around a core of infantry armed with bow and bill. Their organisation in principle did not differ that much from the late fifteenth century in that they were either paid professional soldiers or men from county militias liable for military service. 

Garrison Longbowmen 

Shire Longbowmen

The former category represents men who could be found in the garrisons of the Calais pale as well as at Berwick and some of the border fortresses. The latter represents those raised on a short term basis in time of conflict and/or for local defence. 

The rules were lifted with a minor alteration from Lion Rampant. In early testing we found that expert archers shooting on a 4+ did not represent what archers were becoming in the period so we decided to reflect their better experience and ability by removing the -1 consideration at long range.

My main focus when creating the unit was to make the figures visibly different and slightly less equipped in appearance. I did this by representing most without armour and all without livery. I also made the decision not to have them with a banner or commander to make them a bit more versatile. In this way they could be used as English, Rebels, Lowland Scots and potentially French or Breton troops

Most were converted by sculpting coats on to Perry WOTR figures as per this example from a previous unit;

An easier conversion can be achieved by using the Tudor Dollies from Steel Fist Miniatures with Perry arms to which you can add sculpted sleeves but you can also saw off and swap the legs which achieves futher variety.

Tudor dollies with Perry arms and heads, the two on the right have leg swaps 

Converted Perry figures

Brigandines and padded Jacks were still in use in this period and with suitable heads these Perry WOTR figures make for convincing early Tudors.

Perry figures with Tudor heads (the one in the middle is a Swiss head with cap added)

The completed unit

From a visual perspective they also make for quite a convincing larger body when intermingled with figures in livery. Here's a couple of mock ups somewhere in the borders;

a mixed host of archers

Lord Stanley's retinue

I also painted a casualty marker for the unit using a Perry Zulu as a dolly to sculpt upon;

I painted the figures in muted colours to reflect typical common clothing at the time;
  • Coats and jackets were principally tawny, black, grey and 'sheep colour'. 
  • Hose was predominantly undyed or to a lesser extent tawny or scarlet.
  • Caps are most often depicted as black. 
I found Tawny to be a bit of a challenge, it's a brownish orange but it took a couple of attempts to get it to look right.

For more information on this subject I thoroughly recommend The King's Servants book by The Tudor Tailor, it's a good source for an understanding of how Tudor men were dressed at the start of the 16c

I've really enjoyed putting this unit together, it's most definitely been a welcome distraction. I particularly enjoyed reading about typical clothing and interpreting that through working with a muted palette.

While the mood takes me it seems a natural progression to do some Shire bill in a similar fashion. I think I'd quite like to do a similarly attired command to go with them as well. The relative versatility of the unit and doing these border set ups also has me rather tempted to do one with a Scots banner, we'll just have to see.

I hope you like them

Bye for now and take care