Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Montrose Irish, Warlord Games - Part 1

The Montrose Irish boxed set from Warlord Games contains four metal pike, four metal command and sixteen metal musket figures. I won’t repeat the history of the unit that these figures represent as that is all contained on the colour leaflet supplied with the box. And there’s more info readily available on the t’internet about James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose himself. I did notice from the notes that Montrose was actually associated with Newcastles Whitecoats during the war, which is a nice coincidence figure-wise.

The only instance of any Irish regulars serving in the midlands that I know of is that of soldiers that formed part of the Lord Loughborough’s garrison during the siege of Ashby de la Zouch castle in 1644.

I restricted the use of faux tartan to the blankets, although I think I still may have got carried away when it came to painting some the plaid. The leaflet in the box says that these soldiers wouldn’t have carried chocolate box style tartan. Naturally I followed this advice and chose instead to go for a shortbread tin style tartan look. Even then I had to tone down (well ok, completely repaint) a few of the patterns as some of the figures started to look like members of a flamboyant ‘Bay City Rollers’ tribute act.

It seems that for many miniature painters (that’s people who paint miniatures, not tiny painters) tartan is a dirty word and is too much of an effort to even attempt. However following this very useful guide I find painting a tartan effect relatively easy. The only trick or tip I believe is being able to paint in straight lines. I would not recommend using tins of shortbread as a colour reference (even though it may appear that I did). With the godsend that is ‘Google images’ it’s always easier to copy from a real image than trying to rely on just your imagination.

A number of these miniatures have been sculpted to represent war weary campaign soldiers with raggedy trousers and bare feet. A couple even are about to chuck a great big stone at the enemy. These are probably how a great deal of veteran Irish, Scottish and indeed English Royalist troops looked like towards the end of the wars. I’ve read an account that described how highlander soldiers (who you would imagine would have been highly distinctive) were only recognizable as such because they were the only ones who could cope with the squalid conditions whilst they were being held captive inside a cathedral.

As usual these metal figures from Warlord paint up very nicely. The majority of them have been painted with the distinctive white trousers associated with the Irish, an ‘interesting fact’ new to me. Using the excellent Peter Dennis box art as a guide, I painted the uniforms of the soldiers in various colours. There are at least four different shades of green/olive drab and a few with my special version of Hodden grey (IT ISN’T GREY!), made out of a secret blend of 11 shades and colours of acrylic paint, ok it’s actually only three different colours but it’s still a bugger to prepare.

I also adopted a simpler method of finishing the faces on a number of the figures as they appear to have a bit of a squint. Rather than painting the whites of the eye I simply used a technical pen to create the pupil. This is probably a more realistic approach as it avoids the startled ‘Blimey, I’ve just been given a wedgie!’ look.

All the miniatures are based individually as I intend to use these in the same way as highland Scottish figures, as a rabble or skirmish line. If I ever feel the need to use the figures in a larger group I’ll simply attach them using Blu-Tack to a normal 40 x 40mm base.

Part 2 of this topic will detail the four command figures (well, it will do after I've actually finished painting them).