Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

The three Ps

Posted by Martin on October 14, 2008

I’ve resisted the temptation to get involved in all the recent excitement about the Perry plastic Napoleonics (and an honourable mention for the Victrix ones too). After all, if you wanted hot off the press news about the recently released French infantry box and the “3-up” sculpts for the British infantry then there are plenty of other places on the Web where the news is already available and being discussed.

So why bother mentioning it now. Well, this quote from the horse’s mouth is the cause:

The box contains 42 infantry figures in campaign clothing (half in Bardin regulation short-tailed ‘habit-veste’ and half in greatcoats, all in overalls), unit bases to allow you to build units easily and quickly, 2 flags and uniform guides, and 37 additional heads for converting (these include Pokalems, damaged shakos, etc.).

In particular, that last bit about all those additional heads. That’s got me thinking about when the Calpe Saxons are finally available – will these plastic Perry French heads give me suitable raw material for a swathe of head-swap conversions to create truly individual battalions? The heads of the Perry metals are a little smaller and finer than the Calpe heads but the difference between these plastic heads and Peter F’s new style of heads he’s sculpted for the Saxons may prove to be only slight. Food for thought…

The third P is for paint. Specifically, Foundry’s new Napoleonic range. I’ve got to say I’m a little skeptical about this. How many of the colours are genuinely new ones? Austrain White vs. Arctic White anybody? And what about British Redcoat vs. Scarlet? It’s hard to tell without being able to compare them side by side in real life.

And I’m not happy with Foundry’s use of the word authentic to describe the range. I think that’s a bit naughty especially when they actually admit that:

In reality the exact shades of uniform colours varied, often within the same unit!

If you wrestle with the question of historically accurate shades for any length of time you soon realise that the key fact is that the dyes used in Napoleonic times were almost all organic rather than chemical in origin which led to tremendous variation and, crucially, heavy fading when subjected to the rigours of sun, rain and wind on campaign. So if you ever get bothered by a self-proclaimed expert who tells you the red facings on your Kurmark landwehr are the wrong colour, you know what to say!

Still, some of these Foundry colours do look nice – especially the greens. Although I’m not convinced that the French dragoons and chasseurs a cheval were clothed in different shades of green.


10 Responses to “The three Ps”

  1. Phil said

    Yeah, I’d like to see the new foundry paints. If the dark blues really are different I’d be pretty interested as I’m not that happy with the Deep Blue triad Foundry makes now. If the austrian white is really a pearl white rather than relabelling of arctic grey I’d be interested. Someone needs to bite the bullet and find out for the rest of us (and post it on his blog ;-).

    What’s the latest with Calpe, by the way?

  2. Martin said

    Now who on earth could you mean, Phil? 🙂

    In the meantime, this thread on Steve Dean’s forum provides some pictures and discussion of the Foundry paints (though Steve’s scanner looks like it’s on its last legs).

    No Calpe news at present but I might be in Peter’s area week starting 27th October.

  3. Phil said

    Thanks for the pointer to Steve’s forum. I wasn’t aware he was going through them like that. It’s too bad if they’re really too thin. Some of the colors look like they might be good. I’d really like to have an alternative to the Vallejo colors I use for Prussian blue.

  4. Martin said

    Phil, which Vallejos are you using for you Prussian blue and what problems are they giving you? I’m really happy with my recipe of Dark Prussian Blue, Prussian Blue and Medium Blue. You can see pictures of the results in the gallery here.

  5. Phil said

    I use Dark Prussian Blue highlighted with Prussian Blue and I don’t use a third coat. I have two problems with the Vallejos. One is a problem with vallejos in general – they don’t age. After awhile they just get clogged up and you might as well toss them. Otherwise you’re running a piece of wire through the nozzle every time you want to use it. I don’t really need that in my life. The other problem is that both of those blues bead. That’s prolly not the right word, but I get little round chunks pretty frequently that I have to brush out once I realize I’ve got one. It’s a real pain. But that is particular to those two blues (and have occured in multiple iterations of the paint).

  6. Martin said

    I’ve had bottles of both colours for ages (literally years) and don’t have the problems you describe. I wonder if it’s anything to do with storage conditions? I store my Vallejos upside down and in a cool location.

    Also, do you use the paints neat or do you dilute them? I dilute mine using filtered water mixed with W&N flow improver. I add this using a pipette and mix to a thin-ish consistency. This is difficult to describe because we’ll each have our own ideas about what’s just right. For me it’s thin enough to paint smoothly but not so thin that the pigment is too dilute.

    As for nozzle clogging – that’s just a fact of life with Vallejos. I keep a box of pins by me during painting sessions. If it really bothers you, you could decant the paint into a different sort of container (try keeping those old empty ones from Foundry, Humbrol, GW or where-ever).

  7. Phil said

    It’s happened on 2 different sets of blues. Yes, I dilute the vallejos. I usually use water but have used flow enhancer in the past. I also dilute the Foundry paints.

  8. Alan said

    Regarding the possible difference between French Chasseur and Dragoon green; The Osprey books show a much darker green for Empress’ Dragoons and Line Chasseurs compared with the much lighter colour shown in the Line Dragoons book.This may be a printing difference or be meant to reflect a different shade in the real unifoms. Anyhow, since Osprey are widely used as reference books it’s not surprising that Foundry have produced two greens, I also used two shades for my own army based on these books. So who knows? As you say Martin, there was probably such variability anyway that it doesn’t matter. One could even paint veterans in “faded” green coats and new recruits in the darker ones!

  9. Randy said

    I have just picked up the new French blues. The A color is much darker than the previous Dark Blue. The new highlight is very close to the old Dark Blue B. The new B falls somewhere in between the new A and C with a slight bias darker. Since I always found the old C color too light for the French this just might do the trick without mixing up a custom shade.

    I _think_ I prefer the new colors but my final thoughts will, of course, be based on what they look like on a figure under a coupla coats of gloss and a final flat coat. I’ll post a picture when I finish up a company of the Front Rank Middle Guard.

    If someone tries out the new Austrian white I’d be interested. I tend to paint Austrian uniforms to a very light pearl grey and then do the strap work in pure white. At least to my eye it looks better than white on white.

  10. Phil said

    thanks Randy. Yes, I too am interested in reports on any of the other colors. I wonder what the Prussian blue triad is like?

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