Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Mini-Project - Great War Miniatures Highlanders: Part 2


Over the early summer months, I’ve been painting the Great War Highlanders which I blogged about in late May. They’ve taken a while to finish, but I feel that the figures have rewarded the extra time. The miniatures themselves are truly excellent. Followers of this blog will know that I’m a huge fan of Great War Miniatures (GWM) figures, sculpted by Dave Andrews and Aly Morrison – even with that, the late war Highlanders figures (being Packs B011 and B012) are simply splendid. 


 
The late war Highlanders from these packs are sculpted in uniform and kit which is perfect for 1916 through 1918, and I dare say for inter-war conflicts in Ireland, Russia, Afghanistan, and Waziristan to boot. There is a lot of detail on the figures, which reward patience with the brush. They do need some care preparing, as I find that there tends to be small attached pieces of “flash” and tiny spigots attached to the figures from the casting process. Certainly nothing that a sharp knife can’t fix, however. Both the Command and Infantry packs were a real pleasure to paint – the miniatures are a fine tribute to the soldiers serving in the Highland regiments in the Great War.

The kilts have front kilt covers which makes painting simpler, although I felt that taking time with the remaining visible kilts to the rear worth the effort. Painting tartan in 28mm is tricky, and it took time for me to try and get any sort of rhythm. In the end, I plumped for a mixture of a “hodden grey” London regiment kilt colour and an approximation of Black Watch tartan, the unit which I was focusing on being the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Black Watch. For the latter, I worked on a dark green base, with Vallejo Military Green cross-stripes, with the “squares” produced by the cross stripes then being painted in a 50%/50% mix of Vallejo Military Green and German Camouflage Ochre, with a touch of Vallejo Stone Grey.


I then tried, with a tiny brush, to add the distinctive Black Watch quartering stripes in Vallejo Black, to split up the “squares”. Painstaking, but quite relaxing in its own way. The difference in the simpler “hodden grey” colour tone, and the Black Watch style tartan help add a little variety into the unit which I was looking for. 


At this point I should apologise to tartan experts, former Scottish soldiers and historians. I’m sure that the final result looks only passably like Black Watch tartan, and quite honestly probably bears little resemblance to any tartan worn by a soldier on the front line in 1916 to 1918. The contemporary accounts I have written make reference to the ease with which kilt tartan quickly became soaked in wet weather and was a magnet for mud and dirt, even with kilt covers. I have no illusions that Highlanders would have occupied the trenches in dirty, soaking and muddy kilts – but this is wargaming, and making figures visually attractive is part of the fun of the hobby.



I tried to take as much care as possible with the pipers and the officers. Two of the officers I painted in Black Watch-style tartan trews, simply for effect and for a bit of variety. One of the other officers, I painted in a privately purchased fine green jacket and light khaki pants – quite a few of the Great War accounts I have read have made reference to officers having a degree of choice about the precise cut and shade of their service uniforms (although, I confess that I probably stretched the envelope a bit with the almost bottle green jacket on the Highland officer).  Clearly an officer with a substantial private income from his grouse moor in Perthshire.




I converted the Vickers HMG from the early war Highland machine gun from Great War Miniatures, swapping the early war Glengarry heads for a brodie helmet and two Tam O’Shanters (from Woodbine Miniatures/ Gripping Beast). The Gripping Beast heads are really excellent for conversions. At first they look a little, well, unexciting and uninspired – almost plain by comparison with some of the head swaps offered by sci-fi miniature sculptors. But if you ever want to try head swaps, please don’t be put off. When mounted (I pin mine in place), the Gripping Beat heads look excellent, and are an absolutely perfect match for the scale and the heft of the Great War Miniatures figures.



One (minor) drawback with the B011 and B012 packs of GWM Highlanders is that these packs contains only one bomber with a Mills hand grenade. For a British platoon for 1917, one of the sections of eight men would have been designated as bombers. Rather than field eight identical bombers (which would have required me to purchase eight packs of figures), I used the four bombers I had to create four larger 40mm circular bases, each containing one bomber and a rifleman. 



We live in a golden age of figure and terrain availability. That means that when our favourite range of figures comes out but is (to our eyes) less than complete, we wargamers sometimes get slightly dis-spirited. It’s a case of … great figures, but where are the (i) other NCOs, (ii) heavy machine gunners, (c) prisoner figures, (d) casualty figures … and so on.  I confess that I’m the same, and wondered for a while what I would do without more Highlander bombers when I first looked at the GWM range. 

Necessity is the mother of invention, however. Converting figures like the Highlander HMG, and working out how to create a distinctive unit of Highlander bombers, helps make a unit more distinctive, and is rewarding in its own right. Of course, we’d all like our favourite units to have as many variants as possible – but sometimes, we just have to make do. 

 
Finally, I added a wounded piper, from the Britannia Miniatures 1898 North West Frontier range. This is a lovely range of figures, which I’m planning to dip into for some Malakand Field Force style games in the near future. The range contains a wonderful figure depicting Piper Findlater, who received the Victoria Cross for piping the Gordon Highlanders forward despite being wounded at the Dargai Heights in October 1897. With very little work (mainly just adding a helmet, revolver case and some barbed wire, I brought the figure forward to 1917.



It was with great pleasure that I found a painting of Piper Findlater on a recent visit to the National War Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle, and found I'd painted the moustache the right colour!


I also added some casualty figures through converting some Old Glory British late war casualties. This involved trying to add kilts onto the casualty figures, which proved tricky. I felt that the result was passable, but that I needed a bit more practice with the grey-stuff putty to make a good job of these.





All in all, a fun project to work on. If you have been tempted by the Great War Miniatures packs of late war Highlanders, please give them a go, as they are probably some of my favourite figures in the Great War Miniatures ranges. 
 

In the next blog, I’ll add some ideas on using Highland regiments in “Through the Mud and the Blood”.  Hope to catch you soon.

57 comments:

  1. Proper brilliant. Stunning paintwork

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  2. Sidney, your work is becoming almost monotonous in its excellence. Wonderful stuff. I particularly liked Piper Findlater (I think I have a print somewhere). Well done.

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    1. That's very decent of you, Conrad. There's a well known painting of Piper Findlater piping the Gordons forward (again in the Scottish National War Museum). Sadly, I didn't get a photo of the painting on my recent visit.

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  3. Stunning work Sidney !

    The wounded bagpiper are exellent !

    Best regards Michael

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  4. Superb project, Sidney! Love the conversions. Glad to see I'm not the olny one hacking heads off GWM figures.

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    1. Thanks Mark! After you get used to the desecration of the original figure, adding new heads can be a lot of fun. I count you as my main inspiration in that department! I think, for me anyway, the trick is not to do 40 head swaps in one go! Three was fine!

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  6. Really outstanding work on these Sidney! Superb painting and great conversion work!

    Christopher

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  7. A stunning comeback of my most admired blogger!
    So good to see you back in the saddle

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    1. Very kind, Benito. Good to be back posting on the blog!

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  8. You have done a splendid job on these, the piper is a genius touch.

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  9. Inspiring stuff, Mr. Roundwood!

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    1. Thanks Tim! I should add that the Highlanders would be perfectly well suited to any of the excellent Canadian Highlander battalions in the Great War. Sorry, I should have added that in the Blog post!

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  10. Fantastic brushwork on the Highlanders and your photography is exquisite!

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  11. Oh the joys of tartan.... Grand job ..

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  12. They are just wonderful Sidney, inspirational work and fabulous to have you posting again.

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    1. Thanks Michael. Very good to be back, Sir.

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  13. Splendid work! I own a Black Watch tartan kilt and I think your rendition is as close as anyone can come to that difficult creature. I do like the Piper Findlater figure, and can practically hear 'Cock o' the North' playing as I look at it.

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    1. Thanks! The Black Watch is tricky. It looks dull from a distance, but close up is anything but. It is a lovely tartan, though. I confess that some bagpipe music may have been played at some point when painting these figures!!!

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  14. That's some truly terrific painting Mr. Roundwood! One can really see your love for these figures. Among all your other fantastic stuff these are real corkers. Also I forgot to thank you for the painting advice you provided me with. Much appreciated!

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    1. Hi Nick! You're most welcome, and thank you very much! They were fun to do.... still some way to go to rival your masterpieces though :)

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  15. You've certainly taken a 'period' which might otherwise be murderously dull to game and made it an appealing challenge and certainly a tribute to the men who fought. Excellent as usual!

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    1. Gary, that's such a kind comment. Thank you so much for making it. In a nutshell, that's exactly what I wanted to do when I started out on the period a few years ago. Thanks again, mate.

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  16. Exceptional work Sid! I love the seated piper.

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  17. Gorgeous brushwork mate. The tartan is spot on!

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  18. Those are special. Wonderfully done Sidney - as expected!!

    Frank
    http://adventuresinlead.blogspot.com.au/

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  19. Sidney,

    "You've certainly taken a 'period' which might otherwise be murderously dull to game and made it an appealing challenge and certainly a tribute to the men who fought."

    Along with all the many others, this may well be your most valuable contribution.

    Thank you so much.

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    1. Thanks William. That's really very kind of you to say that. If I do nothing else, I'd be very happy with just doing that.

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  20. Wonderful work Sidney! The wounded piper is truly inspired.

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    1. Thanks Curt ! I'll see if I can do one in the Campbell tartan, now!

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  21. Amazing painting Sidney! Stunning!
    Keep up the excellent work.
    Thanks
    Matt

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  22. Fantastic work on these guys Sidney! Love the piper on the ground!

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  23. Those are outstanding! Great work!

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  24. Fantastic work Sidney!!!!!

    Wonderful casualty vignettes too :>)

    Darrell.

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    1. Cheers Darrell. The casualties were tricky. I didn't get the kilts at all right. Knees are difficult to sculpt, was my conclusion!

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  25. Superb painting and conversion work Sidney. The tartan looks very good and it is handy to know the Gripping Beast heads are a good match for GWM 's. The wounded piper is the icing on the cake.

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  26. stunning and inspiring as always

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  27. Good to see you back to painting and blogging.
    These chaps really are very splendid.

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    1. Thanks, Scrivs! Looking forward to getting them on the table at the end of August!

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  28. Hello Sidney!

    Once again I find myself sitting here, staring in wonder at your wonderful painting skill. I doff my hat to you sir!

    Could you tell me what color you used for the tartan? All of the other colors look perfectly normal on my laptop yet the base color for the tartan, and the top of the socks, looks almost purple!

    You mentioned “hodden grey” and "Black Watch style". If I'm understanding you correctly you used a color somewhere between these. Would you be kind and put me out of my misery and tell me what color you used?

    Thanks you - I really appreciate it!!

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