Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Recce from the casting shed

Posted by Martin on May 15, 2011

At the end of the UK’s recent spate of Public Holidays, I spent a day at Calpe Towers and it’s about time that I passed on the news that I picked up from Peter F. Normally, we spend most of the time chinwagging in the workshop but this time was an educational opportunity for me in the casting shed.

Peter let me loose (under supervision, of course) to have a go at operating the Calpe Towers casting machine. So, some of you who order French fusiliers in the next few weeks may get ones for which the molten metal was poured into the spinning mould by my own fair hands! Although the figures I cast turned out perfectly well, I can see how I could improve my technique and get more efficient at the process with practice and re-organization of the casting shed to suit a left-hander.

Of course, most of the discussion was about the impending release of French figures and I’ve got quite a bit to impart and clarify on this topic. Firstly, the initial “set” of French infantry will be styles as the “route march” set rather than a “march attack” set. The set will, as with the Saxon musketeers, be split into a number of packs of varying numbers of figures. The difference, however, is that Peter won’t be waiting until all figures in the set are complete to start releasing packs. In fact, as BfK readers will know, the first pack of six fusiliers in covered shakos is already available to order. The other fusilier sets will comprise three figures each and become available as soon as the production moulds for each one are complete. Given that all the figures are sculpted wearing greatcoats, they will be suitable for use as either line or legere infantry (I know several people were asking about that). Peter’s already painted up the pack of six covered shako fusiliers for use in forthcoming advertising and I’ll have pictures of those to share with you before much longer.

The voltigeur and grenadier master moulds were ready when I visited and I’ve seen some castings from them. These figures will be sold in packs of four poses each – after consulting with various friends, Peter has based this pack size on the fact that most people do six figure elite companies, so four is the number of figures needed to provide sufficient variation (also allowing for the fact that lots people include an officer and a musician in these companies). All of the elite company figures wear shakos with the shaving brush style of pompom but close inspection of them is rewarded with all kinds of neat variations – some carry the sabre-briquet while others have the Bardin regulation bayonet scabbard; some have stripes sculpted on to the outside seam of their trousers ready for you to paint red or yellow; one figure has his pipe tucked into the folded up flap of his shako cover; another has a half-eaten loaf of bread strapped to his backpack. You’ll really enjoy looking for, and painting, these little finishing touches.

Some people have asked me about the differences between the grenadiers and voltigeurs and I can report that they would be interchangeable but for one detail. Peter has given the grenadiers flaming grenade badges on their cartridge boxes while the voltigeurs’ ones bear hunting horn badges. There’s sufficient variation in each set but if you really are intent in swapping them, then this is the one area you’ll need to bear in mind – perhaps by filing off the badges and sculpting a cartridge box cover with a little green stuff.

Sculpting work is already in hand on a pack that’ll include an “enthusiastic” figure and a falling casualty figure. There will also be some officer packs and tête de colonne packs. Peter already has these fully planned out but the composition of musician pack (or packs) still has Peter scratching his head. I suggested that it should be made up of a fusilier drummer, a grenadier drummer and a voltigeur cornetist. What do you think?

The new Prussian musketeer trail arms figures are also ready for release and there are master figures for some other new Prussian musketeers but these will probably wait until after the first few French packs are available. We talked about what might follow later in the year and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to Calpe watchers that there will be more Saxons as well as French artillery (I examined the masters for the cannons and howitzers during my visit). As usual, we mulled over some longer term ideas but it’s really much too soon to start talking about them here because some of them might not come to fruition for a couple of years or so (yes, we really are thinking that far in front now).

Finally there was a selection of what I like to think of as wargamers’ walrus and carpenter discussion topics (“the time has come to talk of many things…” etc). Under passing discussion were plastic figures, the correct painting pattern for Prussian line infantry drum hoops, matt varnish, dates of forthcoming wargames shows (mainly Partizan) and the concept of shrinkage.

14 Responses to “Recce from the casting shed”

  1. rob said

    Ah, two men in a shed discussing shrinkage… This blog really is branching out to new topics isn’t it! On a more serious note, it’s great to see that production at Calpe is ramping up. The new french and the prussian trail arms will be great additions, as will the artillery (photos of all asap please!)

    As for the musician issue, I think you have the ideal solution. The only other possibility I can thinl of would be to add the fusilier musician to the tete de collonne pack and then do a elite companies pack with the two elite musicians and a casualty or enthusiastic voltiguer or grenadier.

    All in all, great news.


  2. Rob Baxter said

    Hi Martin

    I think it would be better to tie in the French command figures by type e.g. fusilier officers & drummers, grenadier officers & drummers etc as I just have 1 set of command figures for use with smaller scale units I use for Shako: also there could be separate packs for eagle bearers/ flag bearers for different battalions within the regiment.

    On another note the Winsor and Newton’s Galeria varnish can be as matt as you want it by letting it stand for a few days & pouring off a small amount of the thinner ‘carrier’ liquid that is floating on top of the thicker varnish ‘base’. I keep this in a separate jar to adjust the varnish’s matt effect in case I get the balance a bit wrong.



  3. Hello Martin

    Thanks for the update. These are always welcome.

    My fingers are definitely getting twitchy now with voltigeurs and grenadiers almost available to go along with the fusiliers. And to cap it off the possibility of getting some figures where the metal was poured by your ‘own fair hands’ would be priceless!! 8O)

    Please scurry along with the pictures of Peter’s painted fusiliers. I’m always most keen to see pictures of his painting (for the intrinsic pleasure of seeing them, for seeing Peter’s interpretation of the figures and as uniform references) and more pictures of the figures.

    FWIW, the voltigeurs and grenadiers being supplied in packs of four suits me fine as my 24 figure battalions will be constituted of four figure companies.

    Re the composition of the musician pack: at first blush a pack containing a fusilier drummer, a grenadier drummer and a voltigeur cornetist seems heavily weighted towards the flank companies but if there are plenty of other specialist figures such as tête de colonne then I can live with it.

    von Peter himself

    • Blancard said

      Yep, 4 minis for the flank companies is ideal: from 1813 onwards, French regiments were “light” and you only need 4 minis to represent an elite company.

  4. How exciting! Alarm bells started ringing when I saw ‘route march’ as the first poses, though, I shall have to wait and see some pics before ordering, this sounds as if their muskets might be slung…

    • rob said

      Going by the fusiliers, the muskets arn’t slung, just held in a non-uniform manner (very similar to the route march prussian landwehr on the Calpe website).


  5. Hi Martin

    Great news on the French, eager to see the photos and get some packs!

    I agree with Rob Baxter “I think it would be better to tie in the French command figures by type e.g. fusilier officers & drummers, grenadier officers & drummers etc as I just have 1 set of command figures for use with smaller scale units I use for Shako: also there could be separate packs for eagle bearers/ flag bearers for different battalions within the regiment.” I’m sure Peter will be doing packs of sergeants, porte aigles, fannion carriers and various packs of officers so there could be a great variety of packs available eg centre co. officer, drummer, sergeant as one pack the same for the grenadier and voltigeur cos. Then other packs of say 3 or 4 officers for each company type. Another pack for the 1st batallion of each regiment to include an eagle bearer, and 2 port Aigles and a mounted colonel. A pack of 3 NCOs would be nice.

    On the question of the cartridge boxes having a grenade for grenadiers and a horn for voltigeurs, wouldn’t the cartridge boxes be covered anyway as they are on campaign and wearing greatcoats and shako covers??

    Keep the good news coming Martin!

  6. Martin said

    Thanks for the input everybody! Peter F. does read all this stuff, you know, so you can have an influence on the eventual outcome.

    I just wanted to pick up on a few points:

    First, Ralph let me reassure you that “route march” doesn’t mean slung muskets. All the figures I’ve seen for the set are shouldered arms as Rob surmises.

    Second, I can see I should have been clearer about the tête de colonne packs. These will indeed include things like fanion/standard bearers, eagle bearers and eagle guards. The precise make up of these packs is soemthing I don’t yet know in detail.

    Third, good to see everybody chipping in with their thoughts about the musician pack(s). My suggestion is no more valid that anybody else’s and I’m sure Peter F. values all your opinions.

    Last, Andrew, I can’t recall if all the elite company figures had uncovered cartridge boxes. I know that the fusiliers include a mixture of covered and uncovered ones. I think mixing covered and uncovered items actually adds to the air of a battalio on campaign. You’ll see that some of the packs to come include head variants with uncovered shakos, pokalems and bare-headed figures. You all know just how many figure variants Peter F. always puts into a set!

    • Ralph said

      Well thanks for the reassurance about the slings, Rob and Martin, I shall have to email Peter and get a quote for an initial ‘1811 ban’ to get things moving – gonna need lots for 1812-2012!

  7. Burkhard said

    THX for the update Martin. Would have loved to see some pictures of you casting stuff!

    I agree with the others, who stated that it would be nice to have seperate musician packs for elites and fusiliers. My first idea was to ask for a tambour mayor, but I think he would only look great in all his splendour and that would stand out amongst the campaign looking minis.

  8. Hello Martin

    Unless I’m much mistaken Partizan is on next Sunday, 29th May. Will you be joining up with Peter F. for a leisurely stroll around Kelham Hall?

    If so do you anticipate an exchange of information originating at Calpe Towers and if so do you anticipate passing it on to us, the adoring readers of Befreiungskriege 1813-14? 8O)

    BTW, I cracked and have some French ‘samples’ on order!

    von Peter himself

    • Martin said

      Let me see…

      Partizan next Sunday? Yep!

      Joining Peter F. at Kelham Hall? Yep!

      Exchange of info originating at Calpe Towers? Yep!

      Passing on to the adoring readers? Depends… 🙂

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