I play with toy soldiers. I’ve done so since I was 12 – it was model aircraft kits before then – and on the verge of 48 I still see no reason to stop. I recently picked up a copy of Sharp Practice, a set of Napoleonic skirmish wargames rules from the Two Fat Lardies, with a view to playing some more maneagable, fun games as a break from the serious stuff.
I usually play with 15mm figures, which are not really suitable for skirmish games, so I started to look around at other options. One was to use 28mm metal figures for the tabletop; another, to use Playmobil figures, as favoured by the likes of evilcheesescientist and the Garden Wargaming site. But then an announcement from plastics kit and figure maker Italeri caught my eye: new 1/32 scale (54mm) Austrian and French infantry for the Revolutionary and early Napoleonic wars. These are not too expensive, at potentially less than 80p for a figure, with cavalry no more than twice the price depending on the supplier. And they’re ideal for use in the garden, once equipped with a lawn spike, allowing me to make use of the half an acre in front of the house that otherwise only gets mown.
I’ve painted up some already as trial figures, with the first attempt at a lawn spike illustrated above. The flat-headed galvanized nail is too short for the length of my grass , and won’t be able to cope with the longer grass I’ll be leaving as changes of terrain, sculpted by the lawnmower. So I have to get some two-inch nails.
The figures are given a basic paint job and then both varnished and shaded using Army Painter Quick Shade. Army Painter is in effect a coloured varnish that pools in crevices of a figure, automatically shading it. It is not a craftsman’s tool. To work well it needs figures on which the sculpting detail is exaggerated: on smooth or small figures, it tends to give an even mucky brown coloration. It largely works on the Italeri 1/32nd figures, though not perfectly (close-up view below). However, because these troops are intended for the garden, I don’t intend doing much touching up to get them to look pristine.
What I have to do now is finish painting up the box of 16 Austrians, and then move onto the French infantry. I have already ordered French cavalry and artillery, and some later period Austrians, and am keenly awaiting the release of the French supply wagon set, which will form the basis of many scenarios.