Friday, September 28, 2007

Introduction to the Army of the Duchy of M'Eudail

If you have checked out my other blog on the mythical Duchy of M'Eudail, a little detail is probably in order. Since this type of detail would be out of character for such an exalted personage as the Duc de Batau, I shall post it here instead.

I have chosen to use plastic figures almost exclusively to represent the Army, although I am waiting to examine potential recruits from both Historifigs (the old Scruby 25mm range) and Musket Miniatures (25mm AWI range) to fill in any gaps that I perceive. Why plastic? Well, I began this adventure intending to recreate the AWI with some of the great new plastics out there, until these wonderfully crazy Imagi-Nation types got hold of me. I still designate some of the figures I own, and some of the new sets that I'm acquiring, to the AWI stockpile. I will either complete my AWI project, or the Imagi-Nations of Greater Europa will go a-colonizing and need potential opponents.

Working with plastics does create some challenges, as the designer's seem intent (especially the newer Eastern Bloc ones) on putting as many different poses in a set as possible. Probably excellent for the dioramist, casual painter, "New Age" wargamer or child using these as toys. What's worse is that some of the poses are so extreme as to require the actual soldier being modeled to be a potential Olympic athlete! Definitely not Old School Wargaming. Most of us tend to like our 18th century armies to be composed of nice, orderly ranks of disciplined troops all following the lead of their companions. We usually do allow some variety in cavalry at the Charge, but not so much that a "unit" resembles an English fox hunting scene! The plastic manufacturer's also seem to be enamored of the loading pose, and in some cases, the "I have no real idea what I'm doing, so I'll just kneel here awhile" pose. If your goal is to create true OSW style battalions and squadrons, this usually means acquiring more plastic than you really need to get the proper mix of figures in acceptable poses. Another problem is that of standard bearers. Plastic manufacturer's like to completely ignore the fact that many, if not most, battalions of the musket era carried two colors. What's worse, many of them love to mold the single color-bearer in a heroic pose drawn from some painting where the flag is draped around the bearer's upper body like a toga; not the easiest thing to paint and certainly not the proper way to display the colors. I have made it a practice to pick out a suitable pose of figure and create standard bearers for my units. It robs me of a figure that I might use elsewhere, and usually requires some conversion, either by paintbrush or carving or both, to make this figure represent a proper Ensign. This is another reason that I am looking at some possible metal recruits. And finally, there is always the challenge of how to properly convert and paint the "bendy" little buggers. Fortunately, there are enough gamers around the world using plastics now (possibly the only good thing to come out of the DBx movement), that there are several very good sites that offer the latest tips on this, as well as news of which manufacturer's are trying new plastics that take conventional glues and allow different painting techniques. I will be posting links to some of these sites in case, like myself and a few others, you feel compelled to try plastics.

My biggest personal challenge is that I am just starting to get back into the hobby after a long absence and multiple eye surgeries. Once upon a time, I was a "championship" level figure painter, having won most of the recognized US competitions and commanding the highest prices for my painted troops. Where I used to be able to stay up all night, happily painting away to the strains of the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Cream or Hendrix actually shading 15mm and putting recognizeable eyes, lace and tartans on them; I now feel like a half-blind old man wearing 3X or greater magnifiers wishing I could actually see the little buggers and that my hands would stop shaking! I know part of this will just be a matter of re-learning my technique and developing my style within my new limitations, but it is frustrating at times. However, "Onward into the breach!", as the Man once said. Progress reports and pictures will follow, hopefully soon.



Bluebear Jeff said...


Welcome aboard! I've been enjoying Sir William's blog . . . and I find this a wonderful compliment to it.

As for plastics, while I have never tried them, I must confess that I have been impressed with some of the work that a number of our imagi-Nation members have accomplished.

An important thing to keep in mind about your painting is that you are now painting for the wargames table and NOT the display cabinet.

Anything not immediately and necessarily visible from three feet does not need to be painted.

This is quite literally a case of not being able to see the trees because of the forest. The UNIT is what the eye sees, not the details on each of those 40 figures.

So gear your painting to this FUN level. Take the extra time on your command figures if you like, but the bulk of your figures truly need little more than to be "blocked in" . . . unless you still enjoy painting the detail (in which case, go for it).

-- Jeff

Frankfurter said...

This describes me so well ...
"I now feel like a half-blind old man wearing 3X or greater magnifiers wishing I could actually see the little buggers and that my hands would stop shaking! ... However, "Onward into the breach!", as the Man once said."

Okay, so shall we pull up our breaches and get on with it?