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.