Monday 5 December 2016

German / Swiss Light Cavalry part 1

I've been getting quite involved with sculpting conversions lately and was keen to keep going while the inspiration was there. Following on from my latest rounds of infantry conversions I thought I'd make up some cavalry and as a somewhat flamboyant change what better subject to represent than some mounted German / Swiss crossbowmen.

These have tested my ability in the extreme but it's all a learning curve and I've definitely picked up a couple of techniques along the way.

I had no particular sources of inspiration other than a few woodcuts similar to that above. In the main these were upper body conversions using the Perry light horse figures as dollies. In trying out uncovered ground each figure has had a number of incarnations as I attempted then scrapped things along the way. There's still a little bit more to do with these but I'm fairly happy with them and they'll be a good universal addition to my Tudor & French collection.

Both of these were fairly straightforward builds though they each had to be tweaked / re-done along the way. I had a German influence in mind for the chap in the burgonet and a Swiss for his companion.

I wasn't sure initially about leaving the brigandine and plackart on the German as I don't think I've seen a source showing a Landsknecht armed in this fashion but it worked out well and looked convincing once the arms were on - plus brigandines were in use in Western Europe right through to the 1580's so why not.

The head was a press mould of a Wargames Foundry Landsknecht, it wasn't easy to do and this was the fourth attempt but well worth it. The arms were a real leap for me though I had partially tried the technique previously on a French arquebusier. Basically this involved sculpting the general shape of the arm then lightly scoring the horizontal slash with the side of a pin and the vertical slash very lightly using a scalpel. After that I then teased each vertical slash out with a sculpting tool.

As for the Swiss looking chap I wanted the arms to be of voluminous material which just meant getting the shape and folds right though I did have to file the arms rather closely to get the desired under-shape to push green stuff onto. For the body I sculpted additions to make it look like a leather doublet for which this particular torso then didn't need any heavy cutting or filing preparation.
The head was from a box of Empire archers, it's slightly larger than 28mm but seems to work OK here.

These builds followed a similar format to the above though the figure with the Landsknecht head was rather more complicated to get right. I had a press moulded breast plate that I was keen to use so I cut away the torso to accommodate it and then found I had to cut it a lot more to enable the rider to sit in the saddle - quite a bit of swearing was involved.

Under that I went for a leather doublet covering the chest and thighs. The arms were difficult to appear similar, this was attempt 4 so I'm just going with it but not too bad all round.

Looking at the Swiss trumpeter I think I may re-do the arms or possibly the whole thing. I was particularly inspired by the image below as it required no alteration to the torso though the arms just don't look right so I think I shall return my efforts to this.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this latest tangent, I've been slowly painting figures in the interim periods so hopefully there should be a completed in the not too distant future.

All the best



  1. Pretty firmly brought into the 16th century I'd say, lovely work on the folds on the arms and the empire head looks fine to me.
    Best Iain

  2. More groundbreaking sculpts! Very impressive and convincing GS work the results of the press-moulded armour.

  3. These are fantastic and really have that Germanic feel to them as well. I like the way you have got an old Empire head in there! In fact I think that chap is my favourite, the voluminous sleeves are great.

  4. Dandy conversion work! I have neither the patience nor talent for this type of work but certainly appreciate seeing your results.
    Well done!

  5. Nice conversion/sculpts, looking good.