Friday 9 October 2020

Swiss Army Complete


A couple of Steel Fist heroes, backed up by Perry German knights supported by Connoisseur coustilliers  

Although I finished the Swiss pike way back in March, putting the finishing touches to the army seems to have taken ages.

Granted there have been other projects taking over, such as the Landsknechts, Gendarmes, a couple of WW2 commissions, not to mention a strange diversion into 1/35th WW2 plus a ton of basing for a regular client. All in all, its been a very busy year.  

The pike line
So I'm thrilled to have finished this army. I've added a lot of little touches, which all add up in terms of time and the overall numbers. Extra stuff over the 6 pike blocks include 2 x 36 man units of halberdiers, crossbowmen, hand-gunners, German Knights, coustilliers to support them, mounted crossbowmen, a host of generals and individual hero figures for To The Strongest, plus 3 little camp scenes with associated tents, labourers, priests etc

Halberds and horse hang about the rear
I have really enjoyed painting and creating this army, its been a lot of fun, and I'm a bit sad to have finished it. In fact, I'd happily do it all over again, so if anyone wants to offer me a considerable wad of cash for this army I'll do another one! 
Camp scene, manure and prayers
The figures for this army were probably about 25% Perry plastic, backed up with similar quantities of Perry metals and Wargames Foundry figures, the rest being made up by Steel Fist and Connoisseur Miniatures. I used a lot of the Plastic mercenary set, which was mixed up with the Bill/Bow box, plus some Foot MAA, and both the WOTR cavalry boxes. All of those involved mixing up all the different heads and adding in quite a lot of the excellent metal Swiss heads from Perry and the amazing heads from Steel Fist, I also had a careful look at the SF landsknecht figures and used a few of the plainer models as Swiss once I'd changed the heads. Likewise the Connoisseur figures, once they had new Perry heads they scrubbed up very nicely, particularly the coustlliers. Steel Fist also do some lovely separate metal plumes which came in very handy.  
Uri command and heroes
The flags came from Pete's Flags on e-bay with the balance from Flags of War, both of whom I can't recommend highly enough. They really set an army like this off (I think I counted over 50 flags!).  Wire pikes came from Northstar and tufts from all sorts of suppliers
Steel Fist miniatures lead the halberdiers
The camp bits were fun to do. I made them up because I thought they would look nice, and because they are a requirement for To The Strongest! rules. The tents are resin models from Magista Militum, and most of the figures are from the various Perry metal camp follower sets set off with a couple of MDF kit wagons I had.

Perry foot captains
Anyway, there's a Swiss army.
 I've had a couple of games with it, and I was even going to enter a tournament with it for the first time in my life, but I'm pretty sure Covid is going to put paid to that I'm afraid. Not to worry, it will get plenty of use.

Perry crossbows with Foundry handgunners

Saturday 23 May 2020

Here come the Landsknechts

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So, the late medieval/early Italian wars project now boasts about 300 Burgundian infantry, many of whom can double up as ropey Italians, about 80 Burgundian knights and coustillier, again, many of whom can fill many roles, about 70 later Gendarmes, 30 mounted crossbows, and 300 Swiss pike, with about 50 Swiss skirmishers.

Time for some meat and potatoes....The next thing I wanted were landsknechts, lots of landsknechts.
I bought a bunch of Wargames Foundry figures that would fit the bill, but really the whole point of doing Landsknechts was to be able to use the jewel in the crown of the Steel Fist range, which is incredible., off the top of my head they do about 60 different figures....all with different separate heads....the combinations are enormous.

So far I’ve only managed 2 x 48 man blocks plus about 20 arquebussier, but it’s coming along. The original goal is for 6 blocks....but I might well do more

Friday 3 April 2020

Gendarmes: a bit of a comparison.

Heavy French and Italian cavalry 
When I finished the Swiss pike, my original intention was to launch straight into a pile of 200 landsknechts to give them some more opponents, however, I also had quite a large lead pile of cavalry to do, first off was a couple of units of Swiss and Italian mounted crossbows (that don’t feature in this post) and having done them I decided to try some of the many Gendarmes and early 16th century knights that were also sitting in the box. I had figures from 3 different manufacturers which I had accumulated over the past 6 months, a dozen of the SteelFist Gendarmes, 6 charging and 6 with upright lances, 6 late 15th century knights from SteelFist, 8 Gendarmes and 8 archer types from Eureka, and finally 24 Foundry Gendarmes (only 12 of those finished so far).
So, having painted all of the above in this last few weeks I thought I’d give you a brief comparison.
Steel Fist Gendarmes
So first, the Steel Fist figures.  I can find very little to say about this companies figures apart from unstinting praise, beautiful sculpts, great and enormously varied poses, high quality casting and metal, they are excellent figures. They produce 2 different sets of Gendarmes, one charging, one with lance upright. All the figures and horses are different, with separate heads and weapon arms,  and sheathed swords. plumes are also separate,  so the permutations are enormous. If you wanted to get super adventurous you could swap in some of their Landsknecht heads or maybe Perry ones. The horses are all individual barded mounts, if you want to find it, there is amazing detail on them.
 My only very small  issue  with these figures is that you might need to drill out the odd neck to get a better fit with whichever head you choose to place on whatever body.  These are outstanding figures.The best way to buy them is as a set of 6, this way they come in at £5 a figure. Not cheap, but generally you get what you pay for in this life. 
Steel Fist again, remarkable figures- side-show Bob leading the charge.
Now the bad news. Currently the Gendarmes are out of stock and unavailable due to the current emergency. I will be getting another dozen as soon as life returns to normal. I urge you all to do the same (but not until I have my order in).
Earlier Italian Knights from Steel Fist
Somewhere along the way I bought 8 earlier knights on unarmoured horses.  these tie in well with the Perry plastic set, I replaced one of the heads with a Perry one. Not as flamboyant as their later brethren, but similar in style and quality, separate heads and lance arms.
All of the Steel Fist figures look BIG. Nothing wrong with that, and they are the same size as Perry medievals.

Eureka Miniatures Gendarmes, with heavy cavalry support

Next up are the Eureka miniatures. Lovely figures, well cast, great, crisp detail, separate lance arms, alternative sword/hammer/mace arms and weapons, these are really well thought out figures, separate plumes, lovely Barded horses- you can create a lot of variation with these figures, price for these is £28.25 for a set of 8 which is very good value. I will be getting another 8 of the Gendarmes. They also produce Archer/coustillier types which are nice, although without the massive variations of the Gendarmes. Good figures. My only comment would be that are a little bit small,not a lot, but a little,  certainly when compared to Perry and SteelFist. In their own units alongside each other they look absolutely fine, but I would be reluctant to mix them in the same units with the other manufacturers.
Eureka again, very varied and clever designs

Foundry Gendarmes
 Finally we have Wargames Foundry. Wargames Foundry are... well, Wargames Foundry. Consistent, high quality sculpts to good standard. They are sort of benchmark figures. Separate cast lances and sword scabbards, the latter of which fit really neatly into a lug on the figure. Cast on heads. The figures are fine, albeit a tad dull. All in a sitting lance upright pose, little animation, and I guess if you have read this blog you know I like a bit of animation.
There are basically 3 or 4 head variations on 2 body types. Then the horses......I’ve never been a huge fan of Foundry horses, to much shaggy pit pony for my liking. I bought 7 different mounted packs of the Gendarmes....and there is only 1 barded horse type and 4 unarmoured horse. However, I can live with that, what was a bit of a shock was the casting quality. It was bloody awful. Massive lumps of flash, mould lines, the works. 24 figures and horses took me about 4 hours to clean up and assemble, which is a bit poor, and after all, Foundry are charging premium prices for 30 year old sculpts. I bought them on a deal which was great, but if I had paid full list price for them I would have been disappointed. Compared to the more modern figures their age is showing, but, they paint up as fine as they always have.
Another view of Wargames Foundry

Foundry head on

All of these figures were a joy to paint, and I’m really pleased with them, I set them off with a bunch of Pete’s Flags, which, let’s be honest, always make average painted figures like mine look brilliant.
Flags, faces and bases....that’s all you need.

All banners from Pete’s Flags.

Saturday 14 March 2020

Swiss pike complete

It is with considerable pleasure that I’ve finished the Swiss pike. I started this project a couple of days before Christmas so am very pleased to have them done by now. They have worked out exactly how I wanted, 6 chunky dynamic units that weren’t just blokes standing about with upright pikes

The 6 blocks together.

Still got a way to go with mounted crossbows, more handgunners and foot crossbows still to to do, plus maybe some German ally knights

Up close to the charge
left to right: Schwyz/Basel, Glarus/Solothurn, Uri, Berne, Lucerne/Zurich, Basel-Stadt/Appenzell

Uri Handgunners to the fore

Thursday 27 February 2020

Burgundian candy

One of the 3 pike blocks 
 This is partly what re-kindled my interest in the late 15th century. It’s become extremely popular over the last few years - in no small part to the fantastic plastic and complimentary metal ranges put out by the Perry twins. Trouble was, the wars of the Roses never quite did it for me. Seemed a bit dull, but what was going on in Europe at the same time always appeared much more exotic. So where to start? Burgundians were a logical choice, many, many years ago I spent 5 years living in modern day Burgundy, in the environs of Dijon, so I had a slight affinity with the area, and had spent plenty of happy hours clambering around castles and fortified chateau that still grace the area. So Burgundians it was. The vague and not terribly joined up plan, being that Burgundians meant Swiss, which could stretch into The wars of Burgundian succession, and then into the early Italian Wars. Like I said, not that joined up.
Perry knights and coustillier 
Anyway, here are a few pictures of the Burgundians so far. Mostly Perry and Foundry, with a few Steel Fist
Perry knights 

Crossbows and handgunners to the fore

These were a lot of fun to paint

Worms eye view

Monday 27 January 2020

A new direction on an old road

Bern front ranks
In the early 1980s, I, like many others were enormously inspired by the pictures in the early editions of Miniature Wargames of Peter Gilder’s Italian Wars collection and the accompanying range of figures he did for Connoisseur. 
I bought and painted them- a couple of Swiss pike blocks, a few Gendarmes and handgunners etc. Not a lot but enough for a few games with my mates Spanish using the great George Gush rules. Anyway, I think they were sold in the late 80s but I’ve always had a fondness for the armies. 
So last year I thought I’d revisit the period, using the more modern and fabulous Perry metal and plastic ranges alongside some still really terrific Foundry figures (which date from the late 80s iirc).
I’ve even shoe-horned in a few of the better old Connoisseur figures for old times sake. 
On top of this there are some superb figures available from Steel Fist miniatures and good old Front Rank has a few offerings.
So far I’ve accumulated a decent little Burgundian army and I’ll feature those in some later postings but to start with I’ll show a few pictures of the first 2 Swiss blocks I’ve completed.

Uri and Bern
 The intention with these was to make some dynamic looking units. I get a bit bored with units of purely upright pike. Yes, I fully appreciate their practicality but I’m starting to reach an age where I’d sooner do stuff I really like and thinks looks good than feel constrained by practicality! Plus in the aforementioned ranges there are some great figures.
So, the nitty-gritty. I’ve gone for blocks of 48 - 6 wide, and 8 deep to give a beefy look. For the Swiss I’ll be doing 6 of these (although this might, might turn into 12!) to allow them to be used as 3 x96 figure units which should truly look the part.
They are based theoretically on 20mm x 20mm per figure in a minimum of 4s with some more larger multiples. I have ordered a few big movement trays but I’m not sure if I’ll use them, we’ll see. Obviously there is an overhang of 40mm at the front of the unit to accommodate the pikes, this also allows a bit of battlefield detritus and casualty figures to enhance the look. The bases are my tried and tested sand/glue oil paint style with lots of Army Painter tufts and bit of flock.
The figures are a real mix, and I’ve taken advantage of the Perry’s who do extra Swiss heads for their plastic ranges. Steel Fist also do a set of 4 amazing armoured front-rankers with beautiful separate heads, so these have been swapped in with the plastic stuff for more variation

Uri and Bern 
The flags are mostly from Pete’s Flags on e-bay and the lovely Flags of War range. I’m going with 4 flags per block so they really stand out.

So, that’s the bare bones of how I’m approaching this project, I’ll put in more details as I add to this blog when I can give you more Swiss, the already completed Burgundians, before moving on to the Italians and Landsknechts.

Other Swiss blocks planned will be “red/white combination (Zurich and Schwyz) and a blue/white and black and white pair (Fribourg and Lucerne).