I’ve been back to painting 19th Century figures over the last couple of weeks. Have managed to finish an 1859 Piedmontese infantry unit, along with a French field gun and crew for roughly the same time period.
The Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was one of the driving forces behind Italian unification in the 19th Century. Having been beaten by Austria in 1849, ten years later Piedmont had its revenge, having enlisted the assistance of the French army to defeat the Austrians. The French army I’m working on for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 can also be used in Italy in 1859, since only relatively small uniform changes took place in the intervening years and I’m prepared to conveniently overlook them. I’ve got an Austrian army, so I thought having some Italian troops would be worthwhile, particularly since plastic 1:72 scale Piedmont infantry were readily available.
The figures are by Lucky Toys and, since they mustn’t have been selling, I got three boxes at only £2-00 each (which worked out roughly at the price of a single box normally). The figures aren’t half bad, but I had to very carefully clean off flash and went through three scalpel blades (and four sticking plasters) just getting ten figures cleaned up! In fact, after cleaning just three figures they all went in the bin, but I relented the next day and persevered until I got this ten-man unit cleaned up! It’s very rare for me to get so frustrated with stuff.
The figures are all quite tall and mounted on thick bases but I’ll have to live with that. One of the advancing figures was converted to a colour bearer, although strictly speaking he should be an officer. I painted the flag free-hand since I knew I only needed the one. I used Vallejo Intermediate Blue for the coats, but I think I’ve got grey-with-a-blue-tinge rather than the other way round! The minus points aside, I do quite like these figures. There are enough left in one of the boxes to do another two units (one line infantry and one light infantry) but I can’t see me doing any more than one box worth and keeping my sanity!
While I was on with the infantry I decided to add a field gun and crew to my French army. The gun is a B&B Miniatures French 12-pounder and the limber driver is a Newline Designs American Civil War artillerymen painted as a French gunner. The driver can be removed from the limber so it can also be used for WW1 and WW2 armies (the limber, by Irregular Miniatures, has been painted for years, but the driver has only just been finished).
The three-man B&B Miniatures crew look like how I imagine ZZ Top would look if they’d decided to form a French 19th Century gun crew instead of a band! Most pictures I’ve seen of French troops of the period show them with small, tidy, pointed beards and moustaches so these guys are not really representative in my opinion.
But apart from the beards, the figures are actually quite nice and paint up well. Completing this gun now gives me two artillery units for my French, which is probably enough for now. Despite the wind and rain that seems to be forming the main part of the UK’s early summer weather at the moment, I have managed to get all of these figures varnished and photographed.
I was thinking of putting the two unused boxes of infantry into the bag we use to collect things for charity shops but, given my experience cleaning ’em up, I’m not sure passing these figures on to anyone could be considered charitable!