Sunday, 8 May 2016

Imperialist Pike II

A few decades deviation from the early 16th century today. A while back I painted up some of The Assault Groups Mid Tudor figures to form a small pike block: . I was really impressed with the figures, especially the detail that had been put into sculpting the armour and the buckles, straps and laces that it was worn with. When The Assault Group expanded the range to add the Valois French I was keen to pick some up and create a much bigger block. I took advantage of a deal TAG were offering at SELWG in October where I think it was 20% off any preorders to be picked up at the show. 

So here they are, 70 figures in total, including most of the original 20 from the first post. They are a mix of The Assault Groups Tudors and Valois French with no head swaps or conversions this time. I would argue the figures can be used as fairly generic pike from the 1530s through to the 1560s, though by the 1560s some of the clothing styles and armour may be a bit dated. They would be fine to represent pikemen in the early French Wars of Religion or even the start of the Dutch Revolt at a pinch. I have painted them up so they can be used to represent different nationalities, they are shown here as Habsburg troops. The flags are by Redoubt Enterprises, I think they are intended for the Thirty Years War but are also suitable for troops fighting for Charles V in the mid 16th century. In fact, carrying these flags, these figures are great for the troops who fought in the later Habsburg Valois Wars in battles such as St Quentin in 1557 and Gravelines in 1558.

So far for this project I have this unit and the mounted arquebsiers: . I am currently working on some shot to accompany the pike. I am going to paint some skirmishing arquebusiers and some marching ones as well. This is more of a side project to my earlier collection though, so I think I will return to the earlier 1500s after that. Saying that I would like to rebase all the Tudor figures I painted up a while ago at some point as well!

Habsburg Pike c.1530-1560

Mid 16th Century Pikemen by The Assault Group

The centre of the block has the drummers, ensigns officers and halberdiers

The block from the side - note the officer at the back with a 2 handed sword

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Hook Guns, Hail Shot or Hand Cannons?

The pictures below are of another small project I have worked on in recent months. I already had some of these Grenadier figures, they call them Giant Handgunners, and posted them on this blog a few years back: I spotted some more packets of these figures at a stall at the SELWG show last year and here they are, based up and added to the original sets. 

There have been quite a few head swaps and a couple of TAG figures accompany them on two of the bases. The figures are intended to be for fantasy but I think they fit rather well into the early 1500s when gunpowder weapons were far from standardised and all sorts of different types were in use at the same time. This style of weapon would probably have been quite dated by the 16th century, more suited to the 15th century, although saying that they do remind me a bit of the Hail Shot pieces that were retrieved from the Mary Rose which sank in 1545. As you can tell from the title I am not really sure what to call these guns. Let me know if you think there are a little too early or too fantasy in style.

With the head swaps and addition on the TAG figures I have tried to make them suitable for the 1490s into the 1510s. I doubt they would really have taken to the field in some kind of unit as shown in the first three photos. That is if they took to the field at all, they look like they would be far more suited to firing from defended positions which is of course how the Spanish preferred to deploy their shot armed troops in the early stages of the Italian Wars. I have shown them integrated with other Arquebusiers which I think works really well and also within a Spanish Infantry formation as a whole. In the last few photos the pikemen are flanked by shot armed troops who are supported by sword and buckler armed Rodeleros. I think the new bases work well with the other figures, the fact there are only two of them on a base doesn't seem to harm the overall look when mixed with the more densely based miniatures which I am glad about.

A small block of Spanish pike supports the gunners 

Spanish Arquebusiers
Spanish Arquebusiers for the early Italian Wars

Spanish Arquebusiers as part of a larger Spanish Infantry formation
Spanish Pike, Rodeleros and Arquebusiers
Spanish infantry for the early Italian Wars

Monday, 28 March 2016

A little more Artillery

In between some rather big projects (I am currently half way through another big pike block) I have had time to work on a few more artillery pieces to add to the already quite varied arsenal in the collection. All three of these pieces I had painted previously but I stripped them down using Dettol and started again from scratch. I kind of wish I had done this with some of my other guns as I painted some of them years and years ago for my old Wars of the Roses collection and I could have done a better paint job now.

The two breech loaders are by Old Glory and the centre gun is from the Dixon Flodden range. On the US Old Glory site the breech loaders are shown put together the other way round, - with the wooden supports at the back and the metal elevation device at the front. This just doesn't look correct to me - all contemporary drawings I've seen show this style of gun with the metal part at the back. If the wooden supports were at the back surely the recoil of the gun would damage them. I may be wrong though - let me know if I have put them together incorrectly!

The crew are a mix of converted Perry miniatures and yet more of The Assault Group Papal Guard converted into artillery crew. I am really finding a lot of uses for that one pack of figures! There is a lack of really nice early renaissance artillery crew in 28mm that aren't in Landsknecht dress. The Foundry and even some of the old Games Workshop Empire figures are excellent but they are all Landsknechts. If you want figures to represent French, Spanish or Italians you have to search a little harder to find nice figures.

So here they are, shown with a small group of French Pikemen supporting. They are fairly generic however and meant to represent artillery and crew for the mid 1490s through to the 1510s. In between the two breech loaders is a more "modern" culverin whose paint job was inspired by Maximillians Zeugbuch, as shown below.

Bronze Gun from Maximillians Zeugbuch 1502

Bronze gun painted to resemble the example above

Two older breech loaders on either side of a more "modern" bronze gun

A view of the guns from the another angle

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Picard Pikemen

It is finally finished! I have completed the extra pike bases that I have been working on for some months now and here are the results. I have entitled the post Picard Pikemen as I chose to photograph them as such for this post. The flags are all interchangeable so these troops could be used to represent French, Spanish or Italians, although having said that I think they are most suitable as French or Spanish. They are best suited for the late 1490s into the early 1510s - after that clothing styles change significantly but at a pinch I would use them for infantry up to the 1520s.

The first photos show two pike units of 16 bases each, around 96 figures per block taking off a few for the command bases which only have five figures on some. I have then included some more detailed images of these command bases as I enjoyed working on them and was really pleased with the results. I have swapped the banners in some of these. In fact it is annoying as I think the rear bases of the pike blocks are better sets of figures than the front attacking bases! Finally I created a big block of 30 bases which is shown in the last photos.

The Perry Miniatures plastic late 15th century sets were really useful as I have done loads of head swaps with them, especially on Assault Group figures. Amidst the Pikemen are also pipes, drums, two handed swords and a nasty selection of polearms. My aim was to create a set of infantry that did not look too much like a late medieval pike block, I wanted enough early 16th century clothing and armour styles present to help set them in the early Italian Wars and I hope I have achieved that? What do you think? Ideally I would like to have units in the collection that could specifically represent Spaniards, Italians and French but this is achieved by other figures - the Italian Infantry with the painted shields, the Spanish Jinetes and Rodeleros and so on, so having more generic pikemen does not detract from the flavour of the armies - especially when they are marching under the correct flags.

I'm going to work on a few smaller projects next as painting this many figures did become quite a task, especially when I was doing minor conversions and head swaps on a lot of them. Six figures per base in close order creates the look I want for the pikemen but it also means you have to paint a mountain of figures!

French Early Italian Wars Pikemen

Picard or Gascon Pikemen

The sharp end of the Pike Block

French Pikemen

French Captains

Another command base this time under the Hapsburg Saltire

The third Command base, under a Spanish flag

A captain and drummer

One of the Pike bases.

Another pike base, these figures are in more Spanish Styles of dress

The big block - 30 bases of Pikemen

French Pikemen from the Italian Wars

French Pikemen c.1500

The block from above

And finally a picture of the big block from the side

Saturday, 16 January 2016

WIP - Pike Block II

 Not the most excitingly titled post to start the new year with I have to admit but I thought I would show the progress of my current project. Initially I was going to paint up 15 more Pike bases of 6 figures each to go with the 9 bases I already have in my collection and make 24 bases of generic early Italian Wars Pike. The megalomania I can be prone to hit sometime during Christmas and I have now extended the project to doing enough bases to make two blocks of 16 bases each. This means I need 138 figures to go with the 9 bases I already have! Luckily I am nearly there, I need to paint 24 more miniatures, prepare some more banners and paint about two dozen different polearms. The horror of painting all the pikes is over and they are cut, painted and ready to be glued when required.

In my last post I mentioned that I wanted more chaps in long coats as seen in many early 16th century illustrations and here are some of them. I have seen this type of garment called a Sajone for Italians, Waffenrock for Germans and a Base Coat in English. I am sure there are subtle differences between and within the national styles. They certainly help to bring the look of the troops out of the late 15th century and into 1500.

I have used The Assault Groups excellent Papal Guards pack for these troops and swapped the heads with Perry plastic heads from all of the different Wars of the Roses plastic sets. I think they work really well, the fit of the heads is very good and the large variety of styles you get in the Perry plastic sets allows a great choice of helmets and hats that were still popular in the early 1500s. Admittedly as one of the TAG figures is holding his hat and is bare headed it does mean that I have ended up with a fair few helmeted guys who are also holding a cap but as there is a shortage of figures in this style of clothing I can overlook that.

I am thinking of painting some Early Tudor troops for my collection in the future. I will probably mix some more of these miniatures with head swaps to make the Billmen. With the addition of longbows and quivers they could also be turned into more archers and this is something I may do in the future as well. I reckon they would look great with white coats and St Georges crosses on them but that is something for the another day.

Finally on the subject of future projects The Assault Group have shown the greens for their Early Landsknechts and they look fantastic: .
To me they look suitable for the 1490s to around 1510 so they will be perfect for my early armies. They really capture the feel of the turn of the century well with the start of the slashed hose and doublets that would later develop into the more "classic" Landsknecht style of the 1520s. As soon as these are released I think a starter block of 72 figures, 12 bases, will be on the cards. They will then be able to join my Spanish troops for the War over Naples 1499-1504.

Italian Papal Guards by The Assault Group with Perry Miniatures Head Swaps 
The Assault Group Italian Wars Figures with Perry Miniatures Head Swaps

Sunday, 13 December 2015

WIP - Pike Block

A couple of posts back I mentioned that I was working on some more generic pike to swell the ranks of my Spanish, French and Italian infantry. This is my progress so far, 72 figures, making 12 bases of pikemen. I had already completed 9 bases, predominantly of figures by the Assault Group. I had been waiting to see if any other manufacturers released more figures that I could use to represent early 16th century infantry that don't look like Landsknechts or Swiss. As this hasn't happened I decided to bite the bullet and have a go at swelling the ranks using more Assault Group figures as well as a big mix of late 15th century miniatures.

So the aim here is to paint up a big block of pikemen that don't look like Landsknechts but don't look too medieval either, they need to have plenty of details that will tie them into the early 1500s and not look like a Swiss Kiel from the 1470s! Ideally I would have liked to have been able to say some are distinctly Spanish, some French and some Italian but for the moment I am just going to go for a more generic look. I may however base them up with this goal in mind, so more Italian style troops will all be on the same base for example.

I have included some pictures from the Wiesskunig (would any of my ramblings be complete without a few!) to give an idea of what I am aiming for. In the first two images Landsknechts can be seen in combat with infantry that look distinctly less "modern" than them, with more 15th century style armour. The longer skirted coats can also be seen in evidence - I have a dozen or so figures in these yet to paint from the Assault Group that will form the back ranks of the block. I am aware that when these woodcuts were completed c.1514-1516 the opponents may have deliberately been made to look more archaic than Maximillians heroic troops, those in the first picture especially look to represent some kind of town guild from the banner they carry. Reservations aside images from the early 16th century focus so heavily of Swiss and Landsknechts that it's great to see some depictions of other infantry.

The third image of the crossbowmen at the edge of a pike block again shows that while the clothing has changed the armour looks much the same as that of the late 15th century, with Sallets and Kettle Hats or War Hats being depicted. Finally I have also included one of Paul Dolnsteins great sketches showing a Swedish Knight in combat with a Landsknecht from around 1500 ( I think I have shown this picture on the blog before). Apart from the rounded sabatons the knights harness is very much that of the late 1400s and I have included a few men at arms in the block in some older harnesses, some complete and some in three quarter harness wearing boots.

Image from the Wiesskunig depiciting what looks to be Guild Militia in combat with Maximilians Landskenchts

Another depiction from theWiesskunig depiciting Landsknechts in combat with infantry in a different style of clothing. Note the figures drowning in the cracked ice in the foreground!

Crossbowmen from the Wiesskuning, note how their armour has changed little since that of the late 15th century.
Landsknecht in Combat with a Swedish Knight from a sketch by Paul Dolnstein c.1500.

The figures painted so far can be seen below. Apologies for the photos, it's very overcast today and I cannot get great light. I have used lots of figures from the Assault Group as they were sculpted specifically for the Neopolitan campaigns of the late 1490s to early 1500s and help to stop the block looking too medieval. Some Perry late medievals have made it into the ranks as well, they are excellent sculpts, the only problem being that they are so perfect for the 1470s-1480s that the ones in coats and doublets need to be hidden amongst the ranks as they are such distinct 15th century styles. I have also added some really old Wargames Foundry figures, a bit of a nostaglia thing for me. I really like these old figures sculpted by the Perrys and could not resist having some of them in the ranks. I think some of them in the half or three quarters armour work really well for this project as they have that feel of the infantry in the wood cuts. The Foundry figures are shorter than the more recent TAG and Perry figures so you may notice I have raised their bases using plasticard - its a good trick and is not noticeable once they are all based up.

So this is the progress so far, still loads of figures to do, as well as the dreaded pikes to cut and paint. I will also paint up halberds and other polearms for some of the miniatures. I have done a few head swaps and added beards and plumes of feathers to some of the figures just to bring them more into the 1500s. This is going to be a big block, or a series of smaller blocks, say 9-12 bases each, that can represent different bodies of infantry.  I am potentially aiming for 30 bases when added to the 9 I have already completed, so too much converting will mean it takes forever, not forgetting that I still loathe using green stuff. I swear I am getting worse rather than better at using it!

Some of the figures who will form the front ranks of the block.

Some officer types and a drummer from the Pike block

A handful of the mass of pikemen!

72 figures completed so far.......

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Italian Infantry

Here are the Italian infantry I have been working on for a while now. I really enjoyed painting them, especially once the horror of painting the shields was over. The shields were made much easier by the use of the old Citadel transfers as described in a previous post. Some were painted free hand but the transfers have really helped to show a few more complex designs. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know I loathe painting heraldry, or more correctly attempting to paint heraldry! Although these aren't heraldic shields, surviving examples show all kinds of motifs which are what I have attempted to reproduce here. I originally had 5 bases of these chaps and have completed another 7 to make quite a formidable group.

They are meant to represent Italian infantry for the 1490s into the 1500s, suitable for use from the French Invasion in 1494, through the French and Spanish campaigns in Naples, up until Agnadello in 1509, though at a pinch I would use them for a bit later. I have seen these troops described as "Rotularii", a kind of Italian assault infantry. They are a useful unit to have as Italian troops were, unsurprisingly, heavily involved in the Italian Wars. They could be found either fighting for the Italian states as mercenaries or militia, here they are shown in Milanese service, or as mercenaries in the service of France or Spain.

I have used Perry Miniatures with a dozen or so Assault Group figures mixed in as well. The pictures below, the first two of which I have shown before on this blog, give an idea of the kind of infantry they are meant to represent. Unfortunately for those of us trying to create miniature armies for this period, fashions at the end of the 15th century changed very quickly so while these may look great for 1490-1500, by 1515 Italian infantry, I would hazard a guess, showed more influence from Landsknecht style dress, though still retaining distinct differences that would have been recognisable at the time. Add to this the regional differences in Italian dress and it gets even more complicated.

Vittore Carpaccio, Arrival in Cologne, from the Legend of Saint Ursula, early 1490s

Detail of the St Ursula Cycle, Martyrdom of the Pilgrims, early 1490s

Infantry from Cronaca della Napoli aragonese c.1498

So in attempt to give a specifically Italian flavour to this unit I have added a few extra plumes of feathers to the headgear. The feathers I picked up from Simon at Je Lay Emprins,, a while ago and they have proven extremely useful for all sorts of small conversions. From the contemporary pictures above it is clear that the Italians were very keen on such plumage! I have also given a few of the polearmed troops bills as these seemed to be a characteristic weapon of the Italians, see the image above. The bill was not solely the preserve of the English Infantry. While probably a little out of date by 1500 I have included lots of Perry Miniatures with "mazzocchios", the fabric stuffed rolls that they wear around their Barbute helmets. Whether they would have been worn or not at this time they are excellent for adding to the Italian "feel" of these infantry.

Finally I don't understand how the polearmed troops could have used their polearms while also carrying those enormous shields! My guess is that a primary role of these troops was in assaulting enemy positions, similar to the Spanish Rodeleros. While the sword and buckler armed men would probably have retained their shields or bucklers for combat, perhaps those with polearms would have discarded their shields or shouldered them once the threat of projectiles had reduced and they had got to grips with the defenders.

In support of such a theory take a look at the below image, which is actually of Swiss infantry leading an assault in the early 1500s. They can clearly be seen using large shields to defend themselves as they scale the ladders, while some of the troops have them slung over their shoulders on straps. While Swiss not Italians in this picture, I would guess the Italian troops fought in a similar fashion. As a nod to this you will see that many of the miniatures armed with pole weapons have their shields over their backs and a strap added to hold them. The straps were just simple pieces of thread glued on before the undercoat was applied.

Swiss infantry assaulting a fortification using large shields

Milanese Infantry for the early Italian Wars

Italian Infantry

Italian Infantry for the early Italian Wars

A shot from behind to show the detail of the shields slung over the soldiers backs

Another photo showing the infantry from the back