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.