Thursday, 5 December 2013

Gone fishing...Er, I mean, playing Battlefield 4!

Molatero is on something of a hiatus at the moment while my friends and I obsessively play the new online multiplayer battlefield computer game!

The novelty will wear off and I will be back to modelling soon-ish! :)

Until then you can read about my BF4 adventure over at my Milgeek blog!

Monday, 18 November 2013

10th Prince of Wales Own Royal Hussars

Having been donated a lovely Prince August 45mm metal figure I've decided to have a crack at making and painting it as a one-off piece of decoration (maybe mount it on a nice piece of wood). I'll be painting it in traditional toy soldier fashion - nicely glossed - but I am having trouble pinning down the exact colour scheme of the uniform.

Left: The colour sample from Prince August's own web site - unfortunately this only succeeds in confusing the issue of what colours to use, looking at additional reference material!

I suspect the only completely reliable way of getting an authentic palette for the uniform would be a visit to the regimental museum, but that's not going to happen! And although my brother has very kindly lent a hand by supplying a few examples of the history of the '10th' in pictures the uniforms changed subtly through the years and so made it a bit difficult for me to pin down just what colours to go for.

After a bit of head scratching I have plumped for this set of pictures on which to base the colour scheme for my model...

The red trousers seem to be a feature of the regiment of the 1890 period.

I may have to accept that I may not get this one entirely right without digging into regimental histories. So, on second thoughts I may just do the best I can and transfer my horseman to the army of Molatero as a 'generic hussar'!


Postscripts: Typically, while trawling the internet for picture reference although finding hard to get definitive colour illustrations of my 10th Hussars kettle drummer I found some wonderful pics of the 3rd and 7th Hussars kettle drummers!

Not colour, but a lovely period piece - 3rd Kings Own Hussars Kettle Drummer...

And, the vital full colour reference of the The 7th (Queen's Own) Hussars kettle drummer from 1992...

There is actually a whole host of very interesting and useful pictorial reference material on their unofficial regimental web site at:

...I just wish something similar was available for the 10th Hussars!


Update: Sometimes it doesn't seem to matter how many times you sift through Google for a subject, a random and quite insignificant change in your search definitions can produces results. So it was this afternoon when, trying again, I came across a site called - although not, as stated, photos the web site does include some nice period postcards showing the full range of Britain's Hussar regiments.

The site includes this wonderful illustration...

It seems very likely now that Prince August's painted model is completely wrong, as the web site shows a common relationship between the jackets within the family of Hussars regiments (except the 21st rgt., which was a lancers regiment). That common feature is the dark blue jacket and none of the depicted regiments featured any use of the sky blue tunic that Prince August has used on it's sample model.

I have a suspicion - that Prince August used the cigarette card of the 10th kettle drummer that I have included at the beginning of this post as reference for it's model. If you look at the card you can see that the inks used do give the impression of a greeny-light blue tunic - but this is simply due to the poor quality or even the age of the card. I do believe it is supposed to be dark blue.

But, I speculate...In any case I found this wonderful lithograph which depicts 10th Prince of Wales's Own Royal Hussars, Officer, Review Order. Published by Legras (Paris), late 19th century...

© Look and Learn / Valerie Jackson Harris Collection

So, I now feel a little better equipped to reproduce a reasonable representation of the 10th's kettle drummer and will now turn my attention to the metal model and it's construction.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A pun that includes the word 'lead'?

Sorry chaps, I can't think of any amusing pun that includes the word lead....I need a cup of tea and a biscuit I think! Anyway, just a quickie from Molatero's top secret military foundry somewhere in darkest Scotland!

My brother posted up this photo of his latest eBay haul...Well, hopefully eBay and not the local church roof! :)

A shed load of lead! And a Irregular Miniatures 54mm soldier I sent him for scale reference.

He says:

"10 Kilos of Scrap Lead destined for my melting pot. Just waiting for my Bismuth to arrive and I can start blending my model metal - Lead, Tin, Bismuth. There is also a pinch of Antimony and Copper (Approx 1% each) which was inherited from the Pewter I used for the Tin content ... 
(Pewter is approx 95% to 99% Tin with varying amounts of Copper and Antimony). 
Church roof to Soldier. Ironic innit"

He is far more eloquent that me. Funny to think that this slab of metal may one day be the front line of Molatero's army!

Cavalry reinforcements from Scotland!

Fresh recruits have arrived from Scotland! Well, by way of my brother's new mini-forge works anyway. He found a Prince August mould on eBay and made me a casting of this lovely kettle-drum horse-mounted musician (sorry, not sure what regiment, but he looks like a hussar of some sort)...

Even inventive my brother scoured eBay and eventually found a cheap pewter tankard which was then melted down to provide the metal for this kit. He told me that Prince August don't do this as a stand alone figure any more, they just make the mould now.

As far as scale goes it's another one of those very loosly defined '54mm' figures - I've sort of given up on expecting a consistent standard scale for 54mm metal toy soldiers now, but this figure comes in at the taller end of the spectrum...

Here I compare one of Black Hat's '54mm' toy soldiers to the
Prince August figure. The cavalrymen's face is a little thinner but
otherwise it's a good match for this taller '1/32' scale soldier.
My rule of thumb these days is to define '54mm' as generally relating to the smaller traditional toy solder's based on Britain vintage models - as exemplified by those produced by Dorcet Miniatures and Irregular Miniatures - while I use the term '1/32' to indicate the taller modern figures made by the likes of Armies in Plastic, Airfix, Black Hat, etc. It's just my own definition, but it saves me from getting muddled!

As a nice 'one off' piece this cavalrymen will come in very hand as a mini-project to be slotted in between my more intense obsessions. I don't intend to create a complete horse-mounted band!

Many thanks go to my brother, Ian, for making such a wonderful job and providing me with this piece.


Edit: My brother came back with the following information about the regiment of the cavalryman:

"It's a 10th Hussar ( Prince of Wales Own) Kettle Drummer. Uniform seems to be early Napoleonic. They changed to the Shako around 1813."

I'm trying to track down some better colour reference guides for this uniform, there's bound to be an Osprey book on British Napoleonic cavalry.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Harry finished!

Huzzah! After much fettling, prevarication, modifying, re-modifying and re-re-modifying, I now have 'Harry' in a state that I consider 'as good as I'm going to get' (...Without playing about with the model for another 3 months)!

The final 'tinkering' phase was set in motion after I hosted my 'work in progress' on the miniature sculpting forum - 'Planet Figure'. I received some very helpful feedback from a member of this community of sculptors and as a result I smoothed out Harry's torso so that his rather over-muscular chest was not so prominent. And I am happy with the result.

As usual, each modification or revision has a knock-on effect, and I ended up having to slightly modify the shoulders, back and arms to accommodate the new profile.

Right, so - revisiting my 'plan' - the idea is that 'Harry' is the 'master' figure for a series of figures that I am calling my 2013 'H' figures. The procedure from here is as follows...

  • 1. Harry is sent to my brother in Scotland where his body and arms will be duplicated in resin - these will provide me with a set of 'working models'...
  • 2. The resin 'working models' will be used to produce a set of basic figures in a range of poses, i.e:

    i. Harry - 'At Ease' or 'Marching' pose
    ii. Henry - 'At Attention' pose
    iii. Harold - 'Dynamic' (firing or 'loading') pose
    iv. Hector - 'Sitting' or 'Riding' pose
  • 3. While all this is going on I will also be producing:

    i. A set of five original heads based on the dimensions of my 'template' head (based on a cross between the head of a 'Black Hat' company figure and the head of an 'Armies in Plastic'/'Airfx' figure.
    ii. A selection of alternatively posed arms.
  • 4. Once these three separate original body groups - bodies, heads and arms - come together I will have my 2013 'H' series figure collection, ready to put together to make whatever toy soldiers I might want!

Hopefully, I will end up with a 'tool box' of basic figures that I can further modify into differently clad and equipped soldiers.

Fingers crossed!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Toy Soldier Magazine - Review Oct 13 edition

I've been involved in many different hobbies in my time, in fact I sometimes think that hobbies are my hobby, and in whatever pastime it is that I am engrossed in I like to buy a copy of one of the printed magazines that cover that occupation. Collecting and painting (and making) toy soldiers is no exception but supporting journals are a little thin on the ground unfortunately, luckily the one publication I have found is a very good one.

Toy Soldier & Model Figure magazine is a monthly magazine and this month it's 76 pages feature a whole host of miniature soldiers from a variety of periods, with it's featured articles covering subjects like; 'Battle of Leuthen [1757] diorama', 'West Point's Parade of Dioramas', and a wonderful centrefold photo piece on a WW2 British Commando raid diorama. Side from these there is a wide selection of updates on the latest toy soldier collectables that have come onto the market.

Soldiers of the World manufactured Crimean War Russians
I like the variety of subject matter, periods and types of 'toy soldiers' that is covered even though I, of course, am mainly interested in subjects that are pertinent to Funny Little Wars. I also appreciate that it's not all about premium metal 'collectables' - there is a regular page just for the latest plastic figures and they even have a slot for those that enjoy 1/6th figures (that's 'Action Man' to you and me)!

However, this month is especially entertaining for the FLW fan as they include a look at the latest FLW publication - 'Little Campaigns' - on their main book review page.

I suppose FLW and wargammer hobbyists might baulk at the niche focus specifically on soldiers (though some vehicles are also tolerated to a degree) but I love to see what's new on the market and Toy Soldier - it seems - is the de facto international shop window for manufacturers, big and small. There always seems to be something that catches my eye or that gives me an idea - and in any case, who doesn't like looking as toy soldiers? 

Finally, I should mention how I get my copy of Toy Soldier. As mentioned it is a printed magazine and can be gotten via the normal channels - either from your newsagent or by direct subscription - but I prefer to read a digital format that is available from - as it means I can read my copy surreptitiously on screen during working hours!

Cost is £4.95, which - when I compare it to some of the hobby magazines I have purchased - isn't too bad, but for some reason there isn't a subsidy for the digital version, in fact its 4p dearer!

'King and Country' manufactured metal Turkish Staff Car - lovely!
Picture Credits: Toy Soldier & Model Figure

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Harry, hands up!

Using Blutack to support the arms while I
work on them was very helpful. It made it
easy for me to detach them when needed.
It's been a hectic week or so since I was able to do any more work on Harry, thanks to a major computer game release (BF4) and an airsoft outing. But, other hobbies aside, I needed to get down to finishing Harry off as my brother is keen to do his magic with resin so we can move onto the next phase of our toy soldier project.

I have got his arms to a satisfactory stage - after several modifications - although I am not altogether sure about the proportions. But I have decided that I could play around forever, continually tweaking the figure, so it's best to just stop while I am reasonably happy with the model otherwise I might spoil what I already have.

So, onto the final stage of making the arms - the hands. I think in a previous post I may have said something like I wanted the quality of the hands to be somewhere in between those of Black Hat's figures and those of Armies in Plastic - and I think that's what I have ended up with. They are a bit chunky, but serviceable and have just enough detail to satisfy my needs.

Now, onto cleaning up my model and smoothing out some of the rough edges.

A little late to the party - Osprey's modelling manual
While undertaking the above mentioned work on Harry I received a long awaited figure sculpting 'manual' - Osprey's 'Modelling and Painting Figures'.

Sadly, on inspection I have found that this booklet covers - mainly basic - techniques that I have already discovered for myself through good old trial and error (with an emphasis on error)! It has lots of pretty picture but little in the way of intermediate or advanced miniature figure sculpting techniques.

I would have far preferred a series of 'how to' exercises on how sculptors recreate specific clothing textures and anatomical features, or step by step photos on how a specific figure was created in detail - what I got was something of what I wanted but with a lot of important steps missing. In fact, the book is a bit short of detail, and short on the number of examples it includes - it certainly doesn't live up to Osprey's strap line for it's series of modelling manuals of 'The complete "how to" modelling guides'.

To be honest, what was contained within in it's meagre 64 pages could be found elsewhere online for free. I found more in-depth tutorials by simply using Google. A good start for anyone who if considering following my pathway into figure sculpting might be to nip over to Planet Figure and join in the community of talented sculptors there, they all seem friendly and willing to help out those who are new to the hobby.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Let's talk rotten civvies

One of the interesting and creative parts of the FLW hobby is the creation of a backstory for your 'imagi-nation', I've certainly enjoyed jotting down a 'History of Molatero' (I must post it up at some point). And like any real nation our little creations go through all the social unrest and upheaval that typified the history of the 19th and early 20th centuries, for although they get little mention our little armies must have little societies of civilians who keep the home fires burning.

Late 19th century Europe was a hot-bed of sedition, revolution and social unrest and so it goes without saying that - at some point - the antagonists in our FLW may very well end up being our very own civilian population!

Of late I have noticed, as I trawl around the Ether-net, that a few fellow toy soldier enthusiasts have added civilian figures to their collections - for one reason or another. These may be intended as 'militia' or irregulars but might very well be used for civilian revolutionaries, anarchists or armed criminals.

Over at '...Little Englander' blog the author has featured a lovely set of 42mm 'rabble' and writes that "...the Maltovian National League (MNL) have organised and armed themselves".

I believe these are from Irregular Miniatures 42mm '19th/20th Century Civilians'. Link to the web page showing these is > here < - though, sadly, Irregular Miniatures still uses 'frames' for it's website so you will have use this link > Home < to view the site navigation (Grrrr, damn frames)!

Naturally, I hoped that we 54mm scale collectors might have something similar that could constitute an embryonic 'citizens' army' and quite by chance I came across some quite useful figures over at the 'I Like the Things I Like!' blog...

Now these are 'Toy Soldiers of San Diego' plastic figures and are meant to be figures for use in an Alamo scenario. But I think they could be easily converted with later weapons if needs be, should your time frame be the later 19th century. In fact, quite usefully, these figures come with 'plug in hands and weapons' so the modification process should be quite straight forward.

Sadly the range isn't as varied as the Irregular 42mm range of figures, but with a little creativity one could mix and match these with some of the more 'generic Victorian' looking TSSD 'Wild West' figures to make a nice little militia rabble. (I feel a new project coming on!)

So there you go, Comrades - should you wish to shed the yoke of tyranny and overthrow your Monarchist and Capitalist oppressors - or indeed instigate some anarchy - then you might want to seek out some of these figures...

> Irregular Miniatures web site

> Toy Soldiers of San Diego web site

...Oh, and if you happen to know of any other civilian ranges - particularly in 54mm - then please do let me know!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

How's Harry?

Boy! This is slow work, but my 1/32 sculpted figure's arms are nearing completion. I've gone with the 'default' pose of arms by the side as I imagine this will be a useful basic set.

Rather unfortunately, as I get closer and closer to getting the arms done I realise that I have the bigger worry looming of the sculpting of the hands. Gulp! I think I mentioned that I 'don't do' hands very well - they have always been a bit of a problem all the way from life drawing classes at school to art college.

Now, I have looked at some of the examples I already have in 54mm (1/32) scale - from those on my AiP and Airfix soldiers, to those that came with my Black Hat figures and a also a pack of Historex arms I bought. The quality of modelling I am looking at producing is something halfway between the chunky mitts of the Black Hat and the delicate hands of the Historex...Hopefully!

In white is the Historex arms and in metal the Black Hat arms. Now, some of
you might be wondering why I am bothering reinventing the wheel - why not
just use the Historex arms? Well, I want a completely original and individual
piece of work done solely by myself and also the Historex arms are a little
long for '54mm'. I found this with their '54mm' armature bodies as well they are
more like 1/30 scale.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Even more uniform reference books - for free!

Reference material is like buses, you can't get any for ages and then a load comes at once! (Sorry, I couldn't resist regurgitating that old chestnut!)

I happened to be doing some late night surfing, just tootling around not looking for anything in particular, when I came across the 'Italian Society of Military History' web site. It's in Italian - naturally - so it was quite a feat of luck that I came across their download section (thank goodness for Google Chrome's translate feature)!

The site has a pretty large PDF archive, the contents of which is offers FOR FREE. I didn't expect much so imagine my surprise when I came across Koppen's 1890 'Armies of Europe' and the NYPL - Vinkhuijzen Collection's 'Uniformi Svizzere 1875-1909'!

Now, as far as I understand both of these antique publications are now in the public domain having been out of publication for well over 100 years, so I was happy to make use of this resource and downloaded...

Koppen's 1890 'Armies of Europe'
Actually, although - of course - the quaintly illustrated colour plates are very welcome this book has wealth of period text describing the disposition and organisation of the armies that it covers. These include; Britain, Germany, Austro-Hungary, Italy, France, Russia, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, Spain and Portugal, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium and Turkey and The States of the Balkan Peninsula!

To be honest, the colour plates are not the best illustrations I have seen - I'm almost tempted to say that they are intended for a younger audience - and to make matters worse whoever scanned this publication did so rather amateurishly and the plates are rather dark (hiding some of the more subtle colours). The example plates I have included here have been Photoshoped by myself to enhance brightness, contrast and vibrance and are now a little more useful.

One of the colour plates for the German army. All together - Boo! Hiss!

However, I was very pleased that the publication included a few armies that are not usually covered and in particular appreciated the fact that the Scandinavian nations were represented.

Norway! Huzzah!

As mentioned, the monochrome printed pages are just as useful, I think, and these include some charming line drawing as well. The PDF includes some 172 pages but a rather nice 'added bonus' were the amusing Victorian advertisements included at the back of the book!

All in all, this is a wonderful volume and definitely fills in some of the reference holes that modern material leaves in the history of European uniforms of the period.

Koppen's 1890 Armies of Europe - PDF direct download link

'Uniformi Svizzere 1875-1909'
Ah, Switzerland! Cookoo clocks and chocolate...And home of one of the damn finest armies in Europe!

No, these sturdy chaps didn't see any action in the 19th/20th centuries, but that didn't stop them becoming one of the more modern, professional and well equipped armed forces on the continent. For sure, if anyone had infringed their neutrality then they would have payed a very high price for doing so.

But anyway, Switzerland - or Army Red and White to put it in Funny Little Wars terms - is a wonderful subject for a book on uniforms as they really do turn out a smart body of men.

The book - some 45 pages long - is actually more of a pictorial study or collection of period lithographs. There is no accompanying text other than some very short captions within the illustrations themselves. But what illustrations!

The rifle is the 1889 Schmidt-Rubin in 7.5×53.5mm.
Unusually for the time it had a 12 round capacity.

The artwork in this collection is absolutely wonderful, realistic, full of character and a delight in detail. It includes individual figure from most organisational arms, each captured in what looks like manoeuvres in the field. It's all very atmospheric and dynamic and - unlike 'Armies of Europe' has been scanned with some degree of expertise.

As well as a glorious reference tome these colour plates would look very handsome indeed in picture frames, they are that attractive. But the real joy of well drawn illustrations like these is the level of detail when it comes to the uniforms, there is little room for doubt as every uniform is captured accurately.

The Swiss army may be something of a niche subject - although I can think of at least one of my readers who will be very pleased with this book - but one cannot help but being very impressed with these superb illustrations.

'Uniformi Svizzere 1875-1909' - PDF Direct download link

My thanks goes out to the Italian Society of Military History for making these publications available freely to it's visitors. You can see it's full download archive here: Società Italiana di Storia Militare - ARCHIVIO LIBRI IN REGALO

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Vive la différence!

Between project tasks I've been slowly assembling some of my 1/32 Black Hat metal French Infantry of the Line figures. They are a nice change of pace from the intense concentration I've been doing with my sculpting project.

The other good thing about this French side project is that it isn't a long term project as I don't intend these figure to be used as a core of some French inspired FLW army. They are a stand-alone set I'm just doing for some fun. (I do have a metal 'Horizon Blue' FLW in mind, but this will be based on the rather smaller '54mm' figures of Dorset and Irregular miniatures. This project is a long term idea and is just in the 'collecting phase' at the moment.)

Any way - Vive la différence!

I do really like the Black Hat '54mm' range - though they are of the larger end of the 54mm spectrum (what I call 1/32 to help differentiate them). They wouldn't be compatible with vintage Britains toy soldiers, for example.

One other thing about the Black Hat range is that it is rather limited. They have a selection of these marching infantrymen and officers, but aside from their artillery team figures they so not have a great variety in poses and supporting characters. So, if you want to build an army based on the Black Hat figures you would have to be prepared to do a fair amount of conversion in order to be able to portray the many types of troops you need.

Anyhoo, it seems this weekend's theme is trying something different as while visiting York yesterday I picked up a little book that is rather off-piste for me.

The paperback reference book is by a company called G.I. and is in the vein of Osprey's reference publications. Called 'Fix Bayonets: U.S.Infantry from the American Civil War to the Surrender of Japan' it's an illustrated history of American uniforms which encompasses the time period that most interests me - 1890-1910 (though the book, in total, covers a period from 1865-1946).

I have never really been bitten by the American Civil War bug and American military history as a whole is a bit of a yawn to me, BUT the one era I do find of interest is my target era when America looked more externally and dallied with what can be described as a 'colonial' state of mind. From the Spanish-American War to the Boxer Rebellion the United States seemed to fall in-line with the other great powers and this was also true of their uniforms.

Although the US Army retained a distinctively American style to their dress, but at least in their 1881-1900 dress uniforms they assimilated a distinctly European influence which perhaps suggested a dalliance with the idea of competing on a global stage before they once again returned to their inward looking politics prior to the First World War.

Circa 1899 - this lovely colour plate from the G.I. book shows a good
selection of US rank and officer dress and campaign uniforms.
Source: G.I. Books - see links below.

Of course the above idea is only my own opinion, but from the point of view of an exponent of Funny Little Wars it seems to me that this short window of time would be the ideal time on which to base a Army Red/White/Blue.

The book itself does not have the series of specially illustrated colour plates that the Osprey reference books have but rather has a small selection of period colour lithographs and photographs at the beginning of the book. The rest of the publication is a chronographic record of the uniforms of the US Army by means of original monochrome photography.

Officers of the 17th US Infantry c. 1884 - note the almost Teutonic look
of the officer bottom left!
Source: G.I. Books - see links below.

Commentary, such as there is, is restricted to the short captions which accompany the photographs. I was left with a feeling that I wanted to know more and so, ironically, might look into whether Osprey do a similar reference book!

The G.I. publication is more of a complimentary item if you are researching the subject and the period, and would - I think - be a very useful companion volume to something like an Osprey 'Men at Arms' book.

Still, for just £5 (second hand from Barbican Books) it is a very entertaining - and educational - booklet. I was unaware of just what the United States was 'up to' during my favoured 1890-1910 period of time. The collection of photographs are excellent and I might even be tempted to seek out the relevant G.I. cavalry volume which covers the same period.

Relevant links:

> Black Hat Miniatures (UK) - 54mm toy soldiers range

> Greenhill Books (for G.I. Books in UK)

> Stackpole Books (for G.I. Books in USA)

> Barbican Bookshop York - a lovely little treasure trove of second-hand books.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Don't hurry Harry!

Things don't always go right. The  first set of arms that I made for Harry turned out to be the completely wrong shape, so I ditched them and started again. Ah well...

This time I am taking my time and trying to do things properly. I had wanted to get Harry up to my brother this week but I don't see the point in hurrying things along as we aren't really on any sort of deadline (and he has his own projects anyway).

Left: I'm using Blu-Tack to hold the armature securely while I work on the arms. Once I have the general shape of the arms I will remove them and start sanding them down into a more finished state.

So, back to square one and this time I'm taking my time.

As you can see I have also cobbled together a temporary head in order to pin down a specific size for when I start making my own heads from scratch. It's a bit of a hybrid based on a Black Hat figure head and features and size taken from Armies in Plastic figures...

The Black Hat head is a good starting point for
a 1/32 noggin. It will allow me to visualise the
size and general shape I need to make my heads.

Black Hat and Armies in Plastic are the two figure ranges that I want my figures to be compatible with so it's important that my design can blend in with their models. The good news is that once I fitted the temporary head the height of my figure came to exactly 54mms - which translates into 5'9" in 1/32 scale, a good average height for this scale.

Onwards and upwards...

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Britains No. 1263 '12 Pounder' light gun

One of those fortuitous eBay finds, these two Britains No. 1263 '12 Pounder' light field guns. Now I was already undertaking my own conversion of a Britains 25 Pounder in order to make just such a light - or 'mountain' - gun. However, this bit of luck negates the necessity of all that hard work.*

They were going for peanuts - another of those sales that had been badly and misleadingly described and so wasn't picked up by the ardent diecast collectors - so I snapped them up immediately (despite having already gone over this months toy budget).

The toy is a pretty simple one and has neither the breech loading nor adjustable elevation of the Britains No. 1201 18 Pounder or the No. 1264 4.7 inch Naval Gun. It uses the spring 'pull back' lever system similar to Britains 25 Pounder gun (and so, in effect, is a muzzle loader). It's also relatively small - being roughly half of a 1/32 figure's height - which is understandable as it is, after all, a 'light' gun.

Historical note: I am not entirely sure what the basis for this model is - or was. It looks to me like an attempt to replicate an early breech-loading piece, a very early version at that as it has no recoil suppressor and is mounted on a cannon carriage. The closest historical piece I can find that is similar to the Britains toy is perhaps the British 1859 12 pdr. Armstrong Gun...

The 20 Pounder version of the Armstrong breech loader. Although these guns had no
shield fitted I no reason why at some point one might not have been retro-fitted.

EDIT UPDATE: My brother has done a bit of research and found a artillery piece which seems to fit the bill as the inspiration for this Britains toy gun. It's the 1892 Ordnance BL 12-pounder 6 cwt. In 1899 a primitive recoil system was rigged but in any case it had a short service life - seeing moves to replace it as early as 1901. Again, the problem is that this gun didn't have a shield in any reference I have been able to find so I must conclude that this *may* have been a bit of creative thinking on the part of Britains (unless anyone out there knows any different?).

BL 12 Pounder 6 cwt in use with the RHA in 1897. Source: Wikipedia

I have it in mind that these shall constitute the light artillery support for my Molaterian Jaegers (they being my designated mountain warfare specialists) and will complete my modest collection of light, medium and heavy artillery for my army, along side those Britains guns I have already collected.

They are well played with but functioning and with a bit of care and attention will provide good service.

*While I won't now need my 25 Pounder conversion for the role I had intended it for I do have a new role for it, so this conversion will continue but in a new guise.

Harry - A call to arms

Having finished Harry's body to a satisfactory level I want to make some quick arms and a head to act as 'scale templates' so while Harry is in Scotland being duplicated in resin I can continue with my work.

I'm not too worried about specific poses - just yet - I just want a couple of arms that are dimensionally and proportionally correct. So, I'm starting with my trusty - and nicely bendy - garden wire again (very cheap from Wilkos) to provide the 'bones' and them I'm applying a thin layer of Milliput.

I'll slowly build up the thickness of the arms until they take the form I want and then I will add the hands. The hands are the part of this project that worry me as I have always found doing hands - in my illustrations - most difficult. Doing elements which are so delicate at such a small scale could be very tricky indeed - especially to a beginner like myself.

Next: Hopefully not gorilla arms!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

eBook: Uniforms of the Belgian Army 1880-90

As mentioned a few times over the past couple of weeks I am somewhat consumed by the history of the Belgian army at the turn of the 19/20th century. However, like so many military themes set in the 'hiatus' period between the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the start of World War One getting good reference material is something of a problem*. Publishers like Osprey, for example, just do not seem to be interested in the organisation of armies during peace time periods, their attitude seems to be that if there is no conflict or campaign military enthusiasts are just not interested!

*Of course there was the Boxer Rebellion and some colonial action, including the Boar War, but otherwise this period - between 1871 and 1914 - seems to be a period of preparation for The Great War!

Anyway, thus far the volumes of greatest use to me have been Haswell Miller's 'Vanished Armies' and Osprey's 'The Belgian Army in World War 1', both of which - of course - focus of the build up and early years of The Great War. However, they do include a interesting insight into the way that European armies transitioned from the Edwardian peacetime uniforms into the drabber battledress of trench warfare.

Liebig S608 Belgian Military Uniforms 1899  - these collectors cards were
given away with their beef extract! Hey, I'll take reference where I can get it!
Picture source: Cigcardpix Flickr album

Well, luckily for me I happened across a slim title from the entitled 'Uniforms of the Belgian Army 1880-90'. It's more of an illustrated pamphlet than an in-depth study but it has the advantage of being an authentic period piece (re-published by the said online reference publisher).

Left: Originally published in 1893, the original pamphlet has been converted into an eBook by (Photo:

This little book contains 12 colour lithographs featuring a total of 59 figures representing the cavalry, infantry, artillery, auxiliary and general staff of the Belgian army.

The illustrations are wonderfully quaint, but equally they are crisp and clear and give a good rendition of the colours of the various arms. Accompanying text is limited, I'm afraid, to one brief line per figure on the opposing page, giving the unit and rank of the soldier depicted. It's a great pity that this scant information has not been expanded on in some sort of supplement at the back of the re-publication, but beggars can't be choosers.

Some thumbnails of the plates showing the great diversity of uniforms
which typified a pre-WW1 European army, even one as small as the Belgian.
Picture source:
The reference that this little book affords me is greatly appreciated and will inspire, no doubt, some very creative and colourful toy soldiers for my army of Molatero! But most of all I greatly appreciated the price of this book...Gratis!

That's right, this eBook didn't cost me a penny.

Now don't ask me why, for as far as I could see this PDF download should have cost me 7.50 Euros - a price, I hasten to add, that I was more than happy to pay - but perhaps due to some strange glitch at the PayPal end of's shopping cart process I could not seem to complete the transaction. Hugely disappointed I abandoned my attempt to buy the item, but on checking my email this morning I found I had been sent a link to the download for this PDF in any case!

Bizzarre! (But, hey, I'm not going to complain!) has some additional eBooks that interest me - mainly on the French army of my target period of around 1890 - so I may be tempted to try and see if the same glitch applies. ;)

But in any case, as I said, for such a niche publication the stated price of 7.50 Euro is definitely worth the paying...IF you can pay that is.

I couldn't resist including this picture of these beautiful toy soldiers...
Slightly later, but still an evocative example of how the Belgian army
entered into the Great War with an antiquated air. This dog-drawn Maxim
unit was made by Beau Geste typified the '19th century' influence that was
soon to be harshly eradicated in the murderous trench warfare of WW1.