Monday, 28 September 2009

Newcastle's Whitecoats & Marston Moor

After a recent visit 'up north' we managed to visit the site of the battle of Marston Moor, just seven miles from York. Contrary to what you may think modern farming and drainage has changed the site although fortunately little or no building work has taken place there so it is easy to imagine the course of the battle. Looking into the events of the battle in more detail the story of Newcastle's Whitecoats famous last stand always grabs your attention. This is one of the reasons why I choose to depict one of Warlord Games plastic regiments as the Whitecoats.

The colour scheme as mainly based on Graham Turner's illustration in the Osprey Campaign 119 book. I may have to tame the painting slightly as the shading/highlighting now seems a bit excessive and random.

Newcastle's Whitecoats - First of many, Pikemen.


To put playing with toy soldiers into some context, here are a few photographs taken from our visit to the battlefield.

Battlefield Monument, raised by the Cromwell Association in 1936, looking towards the Royalist left flank.

Information board detailing the initial battlefield formations.Note the location of the monument.

View looking roughly north-east just in front of the monument. In the middle distance but on the other side of the hedge is Fox Covert. This is one of the possible locations of the famous last stand by the Whitecoats. Ironically Marston Moor is one of the few battles where too much information is available. A number of accounts vary over details.

All these photographs were taken late evening early August. The battle (1644) started around 7pm 2nd July.

Local Royalist Thomas Leveson (Governor of Dudley Castle) also fought for Prince Rupert. Leveson's horse numbered about 200 men.

I will naturally post more pictures, as and when, along with more detailed information on the regiment in due course.

More detailed information is available from the following site:

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Never ending story.

My brother turned up to my flat last night after a trip to Brum and interrupted my painting & internet browsing (greatest time waster since Tetris). He came armed with the new metal command pack and the Essex character from Warlord Games bought from Ian Allan’s book shop. There is a fair amount of heavy flash on the Essex figure which will need cleaning up.

I don't mind the extra work too much because he’d also purchased a copy of ‘The Devil's Chariots: The Birth & Secret Battles of the First Tanks’ by John Glanfield. It looks a promising read.

There is another shop in Birmingham that sells miniatures. I won’t mention the name of the place but

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Parliament Officer & Ensıgn

Another quick update on my ECW painting progress. I've almost finished this ensign, obviously he's lacking a flag (I'm eagerly waiting for a delivery from GMB Designs). He'll also be wearing a big floppy hat but I left it off at the moment as it's far easier to paint the face this way.

I was attempting to batch paint all the officer/ensign figures from the Warlord Games command sprue I have (twelve at last count). However I found this counterproductive as all these miniatures will be having various different colour schemes and I kept losing focus. Therefore I've concentrated on finishing a figure at a time.

Another almost completed figure is this Parliamentarian officer. He's currently lacking highlights and gold detailing. He's also waiting for his hat.

I'm still looking for a satisfactory colour for a buff jackets. I bought a number of Vallejo paints today at the local model show which I hope to use later this week.

These figures here are the same model as the Royalist colonel shown previously . It just shows the number of ways you can introduce variation that is only possible to achieve with plastic miniatures.

3'ish down - 275 to go.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Composition of ECW armies

Using Warlord Games miniatures I’ve chosen the following various regiments in order to give a combination of colourful displays, local relevance to the midlands, regiments I personally find interesting and historical important units.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find that much information regarding one of the main protagonists involved with the sieges & battle at Dudley castle, Parliament's William Brereton, which I would have liked to do. I have though found an illustration and descriptions of colours for the Royalist Colonel Leveson which I've drawn using a CAD package and will then paint by hand. I'll use this on either my Renegade or the forthcoming plastic Warlord cavalry.

Prince Rupert would have been very familiar with the local area, Lord Brooke was killed at the nearby siege of Lichfield 1643 and Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury was relatively local and he had an eye catching flag and his infantry wore yellow uniforms.

Royalist Regiments (colours in bracket denotes uniform colour)
Prince Rupert (blue) - one infantry box plus this regiment will have the 24 musketeers from the six box of infantry and four pikemen,
Marquis of Newcastle (white) - one infantry box plus the sixteen pikemen taken from the sixth box and other remaining spare figures,
Talbot (yellow) - one infantry box.

Parliament Regiments
Lord Brooke (purple) - one infantry box,
Manchester (green lined red) - one infantry box.

To reflect the later numerical superiority of the Parliament forces I’ll be using my numerous Renegade Miniatures to represent Fairfax’s regiment (red lined blue).

The firelocks miniatures will be painted red so they can be used be either side, as Prince Rupert’s firelock troops wore red (his regular troops worn blue apparently). On a similar note the purple uniforms of Brooke's soldiers could also be used to represent Birch’s infantry regiment. All I’d have to do is change the command block; based on information taken from the Sealed Knot website which shows they would then have a yellow flag, although from what I've read this information often has to be treated with caution.

I'm hoping that the resulting armies will make an attractive mixture of historical accurate units and a colourful display of miniatures.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

ECW Colonel again or 1 down 277 to go.

Painting has begun in earnest of my ECW miniatures. The last remaining Warlord Games (WG) plastics were finally primed black last night. It seems that the preparation has going on for months now.

This Royalist officer figure (below) was completed, more or less, last night if only to show my brother that I’m actually started painting his stuff and not just endlessly chopping and changing the plastic figures. He is the same figure detailed in my previous post. He needs 'cleaning' up slightly but I hope to paint the other officers and ensigns to a similar standard.

I will, of course, in the future be painting the figures in batches of multiples of four following Adam Smith’s division of labour principle. Whenever I need inspiration I’ll take a glimpse at the goggle eyed Scot on the back of a twenty pound note. My current rate of one figure a night would see me finished by Christmas next year! I’ll need all the help I can get as I now have 278 WG miniatures comprising of:
6 x Infantry packs = 252
1 x Firelock pack = 18
Armoured Pikemen (metal) = 8

This isn’t including the artillery, Prince Rupert and his poodle or the dozen packs of Renegade ECW figures my brother bought recently. Blimey, it’s quite a sobering thought when you write the numbers down.

Allowing for some sort of social life I’ve been trying to work out approximately how long it’s likely to take me to complete this little lot. If I can produce a minimum of twenty of the bog-standard soldiers a week then I should be able to keep my brother happy and the majority the figures will be finished before (this) Christmas. Another motivation is that I want to complete the majority of the ECW plastics before the Perry’s release their plastic War of the Roses range. I can't wait!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

ECW Colonel

My brother mentioned, after seeing other command figures, that he'd like an officer waving his hat if possible. Strange request I know but I aim to please. He also keeps mentioning that I can chop and change a number of heads and then give them a scarf to hide the joint (yeh, easy peasy!).

So one of the last figures to be altered is this chap shown below. The modifications are only slight. The right hand and thumb were both remodelled and repositioned to give a more natural look and pose. The hat has also been sanded down to give a more uniform appearance.

Looking at the head of the figure I, at first, considered leaving him bald. Then I thought of adding hair with greenstuff but at this point I remembered visiting the Oliver Cromwell museum in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. There they have numerous relics from the ECW. One was Cromwell's enormous hat which looked normal (for the period) but was made from iron and covered with felt. It must weigh several pounds and looked very uncomfortable to wear, although less inconvenient than having a sword or halberd splitting your head in two. Also on display, if I remember correctly, were iron skullcaps. Obviously these would have been worn under the regular headwear and would offer a degree of protection from injury.

Therefore I decided to give this colonel a similar look. The cap was made by simply smoothing down a plastic Monmouth cap. I'm quite pleased how the figure has turned out. Only thing left to do is now paint it of course.

Wombourne Model Show

Last Sunday I visited the Wombourne Model Show to meet up with fellow members of the Pensnett Model Club. It was a nice little show. Whilst there my brother pointed out kits which I haven't seen for years (literally). These Airfix kits (below) I bought there must date from the early/mid 70's. I'm still in two minds as to whether to build and paint these models or leave them boxed as they feel (and definitely look) like collector's items.

Apologies for the quality of the shots, taken as usual on my mobile phone camera.

Even though I was born and raised just five miles away I had never visited Wombourne before. This is quintessential midland English village; there was even a cricket game taking place on the green when we left the show. On the way back to visit my parents I was reminded about the vast amount of history on our doorstep as I drove past Holbeche House, location of the famous 'last stand' of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605.

Because of the numerous Catholic hideaways it's little wonder that the area was called 'Little Rome'. Even for a now relatively quiet and heavily industrialised area there is still an amazing amount of 'history' still to be seen.

For those just interested in Jacobean history, within ten miles of Pensnett alone, there are several sites of note including Holbeche, Boscobel House and Moseley Old Hall. The latter two are where, after the Battle of Worcester, Charles II played 'hide & seek' with the local Parliamentarians. He eventually won the game and was allowed to be king again. The losers lost their heads permanently (his game, his rules).

Date of visit: 6th September 2009

Friday, 4 September 2009

ECW - Taste for Greenstuff

I seem to have acquired a taste for greenstuff, not literally of course but for adding details to figures. Initially I used it to fill in gaps around the arms and the bodies etc. I was running out of ideas for altering existing minis so I thought I'd give a bit of modelling a try. First up is a sash placed round a sargeant's midriff. Simply a rolled length of greenstuff wrapped around the figure's waist and then the creases were added using a metal scribe. I enjoyed it that much I adding another to a similar figure (yep, I really must get out more).

Whilst still in modelling mode I played about on Google images looking for uniform references. Here I chanced upon the cover for Osprey's illustration for the battle of Marston Moor. This picture shows the 'last stand' of Newcastle's famous Whitecoats wearing what I'd describe as personal shoulder bags. These, I realised, are easy to make in greenstuff with any detailing added with the scribe.

With the figure on the left, below, I tried to give the impression that the soldier had tucked his rolled up bonnet under his baldric. Looks it bit too big now but it will do for moment.
Painting of a few of the officers should start next week (honest!)

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

ECW - Progress & Mod 3

More of the same; modified figures to add some variation to the formations.

Marching musketeers. Modified figure now has musket at slope arms position. Original shown on the right.

Clubbing musketeer. Original pikeman figure shown on the left.

Armoured pikeman with tassets (thigh plates) removed. Original figure on the right for comparison.

Three pikeman formed from spare bodies and arms. They look more like pole-vaulters but are acceptable viewed overhead and from a distance i.e. three feet away.

Modified Firelocks (flintlocks). Original figure on right. Spare pistol and sword arms taken from standard infantry pack, trimmed down. Standard firelock right arm removed. Left arms cut and hands repositioned.