I mentioned in a recent post that I had been "forced" by my German friend B (who I met at an event in Lithuania almost exactly five years ago) to buy some plastic figures in Orc's Nest which, without her presence, I certainly wouldn't have. I was intending to show the whole unit when it was completed but given that that could be months away I have decided to post the ones I have just finished now.
They are, of course, the reasonably new Perry Miniatures Prussians. Now while I feel, deep down, that wargaming should be, above all, about Napoleonics I have only ever dabbled in it, due to the number of figures you need to paint. I have, of course, my blog about Quatre Bras where I intend to put together enough figures to fight portions of that battle and, indeed, am progressing quite well on my first unit, the 27th Dutch Jaegers. I have even done some work on the next batch of those this past weekend.
I am also interested in the Peninsula and the recent announcement by the Perry bothers of pre-1812 French infantry makes that more likely. I did start a few Victrix plastic French figures for this period but they were horrible to assemble and much taller than their equivalent British. Why can't manufacturers keep figures in the same range the same size? Warlord Games Romans suffer from the same thing and their Roman slave girls (so critical to the depiction of a Roman army) tower over the poor legionaries. They can't all have been captured in Holland can they?
The Legatus with B almost exactly five years ago
Prussians, though? Ligny? Plancenoit? If I was going to re-fight part of Waterloo it would be the largely self-contained action around Hougoumont or, possibly La Haye Sainte, if only because it brings back memories of my Airfix figures. I had no intention of painting any Prussians until B forced me, saying that I should paint more Napoleonics and what better army to do than Blücher's at Waterloo "as it saved the world from the French" (she would, no doubt, appreciate Herr Hofschroer's work).
One Waterloo picture that I had always particularly liked was Carl Röchling's painting of the 1st Pomeranian attacking Plancenoit. It was used on the cover of one of my books, Albert Nofi's The Waterloo Campaign, which I refer to a lot because of it's excellent orders of battle. So it was units involved in this fight that I thought about for my Prussians.
Anyway, with B hovering over the entire enterprise like a sinister black eagle I thought I ought to get started on them or I'd be in trouble. Firstly, they were a lot easier to assemble than the Victrix figures and I put together a sprue's worth (six line infantry and a jaeger) in no time whilst watching Victoria Pendleton shimmer on the Strictly Come Dancing premiere show. When I started to paint them I found that I was actually enjoying doing so! I don't really like painting plastics (although I have no objection to them per se) but the detail on these made them very easy. Indeed, I would say they are easier to paint than the Perry brothers' metal Napoleonics. There is a little bit of guesswork required down the side of the trunk of the figures where the coat fades into the trousers but as this area is largely covered by the sword it's not really an issue. The only downside about them is that the bayonets are very flimsy. Next door's cat, Harry, got into my study at the weekend and managed to jump on them and bend quite a lot of them but they seem to bend back alright.
Harry the cat is always in our house creating havoc
I'm not going mad on the painting, just achieving, hopefully, "good wargaming standard", although I did paint in buttons on the leather greatcoat cover which aren't on the Perry figures. The figures represent the second battalion of the 15th infantry regiment who were one of the first to attack Plancenoit in the closing stages of Waterloo. I have decided to go for four companies of six figures which isn't a huge number but looks good as a wargames unit. I have already started the remaining eighteen and will paint them all together.
While painting the jaeger I remembered that the very first model soldier I painted was a Prussian jaeger and not, as I thought, Airfix Highlanders. My father gave me three bags of 54mm plastic Napoleonic figures at about the time the film Waterloo came out (so I would have been ten). Apart from Prussians they also did British Infantry and French Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard. I set to work with my Humbrol gloss paints and was delighted at the transformation from dull grey to colour. It was probably this that got me hooked on painting soldiers. I remembered that I had given my son a lot of my old toy soldiers to play with when he was smaller and when I looked in his cupboard this morning there was my Prussian; the very first figure I painted. So maybe Prussians are in my blood after all.