Wednesday, 25 March 2015

First riflemen for the 70th Foot

I've finished the first four riflemen for the 70th Foot for the Second Afghan War.  These Artizan Design figures were, as ever, very easy to paint and I am looking forward to getting more figures in what is a growing range.  However, it has to be said that I am not 100% happy with the accuracy of them and this put me off painting them for some months.  My main concern is the helmet, which comes with a flash on the left hand side, a rather puffy pugaree and the strap universally (at least on the figures I have got) across the front of the helmet.  

It looks like the figure is modelled on this illustration from Osprey's North West Frontier 1837-1947 which would be fine except this is the 1897 uniform.  I haven't seen any examples of helmet flashes in 1879 so I filed mine off but the helmet still doesn't look quite right and most of the pictures of troops from the region for this time had their metal helmet chains diagonally across the helmet (as the Perry Indian Army troops for the Sudan do - see below).

In addition they are not wearing the Indian pattern water bottle but the same one as seen in Zululand and Egypt.  For this reason I have given the canteen a white strap not the brown one usually seen on Indian pattern canteens.  The above model shows the Indian pattern water bottle and also the distinctive helmet chain.

On an artistic note, I don't think Mike Owen has really sculpted the puttees very well compared with the Perry Miniatures figures.  They are not flat enough but are like rounded hoops. The Perry Indian Service Dress infantry from their Sudan range are much more what I was expecting from the Artizan figures.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Update on the 2nd Afghan War project

Well, one of the things I was worried about as regards the Artizan Designs figures was that the releases would dry up, as has happened to Artizan ranges before.  This, however, does not seem to be the case with the North West Frontier; with a lot of new releases appearing lately.  I managed to paint one each of the initial release of Afghan tribesmen.  There haven't released any more of these but I do have some Studio Miniatures Afghans on the go too.

Next, I started work on the initial release of the British and Indian troops: Two packs of Sikhs and four packs of British.  I stopped work on them for quite a few months as I wasn't convinced about the accuracy of the British troops' helmets, which seemed to be modelled on the appearance in 1898.  Anyway, I filed off the 1898 style square flash on the helmet and decided to just get on with them.  In the last week I have painted the base coats of the puttees and rifles of the Sikhs and got the base coats of the jackets, helmets, trousers, puttees and flesh of the sixteen British done.  Still a long way to go but some more progress at last.

Corps of Guides

In the interim Artizan have released a host of new packs and this has got me painting again.  For the Afghans there are three types of regular infantry but no officers as yet, so I will leave these for a bit.  There is one new pack of (kneeling) Sikhs so I may get those sooner rather than later.  The first of a planned six packs for the Corps of Guides has been released. I bought a pack of these and have now based and undercoated them.  There is one issue with them in that their rifles are not modelled with straps (unlike the Sikhs) which makes their rifles rather thin and delicate.  They are very easily bent so I will need to be careful with them.  Actually, I discovered that yesterday two more packs of Guides have just been released!  There are also two packs of Punjabi infantry now and a Sikh mountain gun and crew.  Indian artillery crews were notably effective in the mountains.

For the British there have been four more packs of standard British infantry, including a bare headed set and a pack in poshteens plus a mountain gun and crew.  In addition, there have been five packs of Highlanders in kilts and one pack in trews.  

So that is twenty-two packs that have come out since I bought the initial release! 

Encouraged by this flurry of new releases I have painted the first two officers for my first British unit.  One is the North Star tea time figure and I have given him a rather floral Victorian cup and saucer based on a Victorian example I found on the internet.  A present from the memsahib to enhance his Darjeeling!

The second officer is one from the initial Artizan Designs release.  I have put both my officers in the standard blue home service trousers which some units wore at the beginning of the war.  Partly, this is influenced by the old Esci Khyber Pass box which had the British (really just their Zulu War figures re-boxed with a few new Indian army figures) in blue trousers.  I painted some of these many years ago and really liked the look of the blue trousers with the khaki jacket.

Mainly, however, I wanted my first unit to represent my local regiment: The 70th foot, the Surreys, who saw action in Afghanistan in 1879.  There is an illustration of them in the transitional uniform (khaki jacket with blue home service trousers) in Afghanistan on the Queen's Royal Surrey Website.  More on them when I finish my first batch of troops.