Chinese For A Change!

After spending quite a bit of time preparing figures to paint in the coming months, I’ve finally got some finished!

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My 20mm Boxer Rebellion armies have been a bit neglected for a couple of years, so I’ve made working on them a priority (for the next few weeks at least).  I’m adding a small number of extra figures and completing extra units, driven by adopting Neil Thomas’ 19th Century European wargames rules for this period.  I’ve started off with my Chinese armies, mainly because they don’t need all that many figures adding to them for now, although I’d like to add more eventually.

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First units to be finished are two rocket launcher batteries (shown above).  When I first started figures for this conflict back in 1996, I scratchbuilt two launchers for Hale rockets from plasticard and plastic rod and added crewmen from the Kennington Miniatures Boxer Rebellion range – these are the figures shown on the extreme left and right hand sides of the picture.  The figures were meant to be spearmen, but I substituted short Hale rockets made from plastic rod for the spears.  To bring these units up to date, they needed some extra figures added so that they could be deployed on unit movement bases.  I didn’t really have suitable figures to act as rocket launcher crewmen, so I opted to add single figures with flags mounted on the bases (since I needed to base them on UK 2p coins to match the original figures).  These extra figures can also serve as HQ units in their own right if I’m not using the rocket units.  I used figures from the Orion 1:72 plastic Boxer Rebellion set and these are very nice figures with good detail and no flash.  I made and painted the flags myself and in the end each flag took as long to paint as two of the figures!  Chinese units carried a lot of flags and generally artillery units used black flags with white borders – the single characters on each flag represent the names of the units’ commanding officers.  I now finish bases differently; the 1996 bases were textured with Milliput and have grass represented with sand (the latter painted green and drybrushed yellow); the 2019 bases are textured with Vallejo pumice, painted and drybrushed and then finished with static grass and grass tufts.

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Next unit is a jingal battery (shown above), in this case crewed by Kansu Braves (braves were volunteer-based units usually recruited provincially, in this case from Kansu province).  Jingals were large calibre small arms, more akin to anti-tank rifles or elephant guns, and they could vary from muzzle-loading smoothbores to breech-loading rifles.  I couldn’t get any jingal gunners so made them from Britannia Miniatures Viet Cong irregulars.  The two-man team on the left and the single figure at the front were painted years ago, whilst the new 2019 figures were the gunner on the right and the unit commander at the rear (the latter being an Orion figure again).

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The original team are firing the weapon with the muzzle supported on the loader’s shoulder and held by a strap.  The other jingal is supported on a bipod and both methods are representative of the way in which these weapons were fired.  For the new rules I’ve increased the unit from the original three-man team to a five-man unit with two jingals.  I made the unit bases from MDF covered with steel paper (to hold the magnetic rubber bases of the figures) adding some surface texture around the figures and drybrushing the finished base.  This doesn’t match other unit bases I’ve got, but when I tried adding extra layers of mounting board with holes cut into them for the figures it looked pretty crap, so I’ve gone with these instead.  I could have added grass, but that would make them more difficult to store, so I’ve left them as plain earth.

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Final unit is another jingal battery, this time crewed by Mongol tribesmen (shown above).  The Mongols usually served as irregular cavalry, and some cavalry units were issued with jingals.  These figures are all plastic 1:72 Strelets 19th Century Cossacks, but they make quite passable Mongols.  The team on the right and the unit commander at the front are, once again, figures from years ago, with the 2019 figures being the gunner on the left and the figure at the back.

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This time the original jingal team are using a weapon mounted on a tripod, whilst the recent weapon is on a bipod.  As with the Kansu Brave battery, the jingals were made from plastic rod and strip, with barrel binding added from paper.

Am pleased to have got these figures painted and I can also include them as part of this month’s community painting challenge, which is great because I’ve lapsed with those over the last couple of months.  Not sure what figures will be getting painted next, because I’ve only got cavalry left to do for the Chinese and I hate painting horses!  Hopefully, October’s community painting challenge will have nothing to do with horses!

30 comments

      • Thanks Ann! I just couldn’t believe it took me so long to do “simple” flags! I’ve agonised a lot over movement trays – I’d prefer them to be more scenic, but that makes them less robust and harder to store, but the big plus is that they speed the game up and let it get played to a conclusion (OK, even if that conclusion is me losing, but that doesn’t matter)! 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, heh, I agree. I would rather lose and see the battle come to a conclusion than a unsatisfactory “fighting called due to lack of time/peasant levies have to go harvest crops/etc.

        I hear you. I have a love/hate relationship with movement trays as well. I have found while they can speed up the game they often don’t work as well for terrain-heavy games. Especially if the units (and the trays) are big.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Amy! It’s proved quite difficult to get figures to make up jingal teams, so I’m pleased to find some I can use (although the Mongol gunners seem to have a very relaxed attitude to recoil judging from their positions – I’ve read that jingal teams frequently used small gunpowder charges deliberately to avoid the vicious recoil)!

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    • Thanks Commander! Yep, flags are paper! I draw out both sides with a bit in the middle to fold round the pole, paint the basic patterns on them, gloss varnish them for handling, wrap them round the pole and stick both sides together, wrap them round a cocktail stick to put the folds in and then add some (not particularly great) highlights on the tops of the folds. Sometimes, if they’re tricky patterns, I’ll draw them in PowerPoint first and then paint them!

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  1. I was looking forward to seeing your Boxer range develop and I’ve not been disappointed. I’ve learnt a lot already! Your scratch building and large calibre weapons are very impressive indeed. I’d agree that the Cossacks as Mongols seems a perfect fit. Great work – keep going! I’m now even more looking forward to you Boxer developments!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, those scratch built jingals (new weapons to me) are very impressive and the conversions are seamless. Others have stated my thoughts well on the flags, and for the tabletop I think that they are just fine size wise. On an upcoming post on BARRAGE (that I hope to get to) you’ll see some Boxer Rebellion terrain that would be perfect for these.

    Liked by 2 people

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