Just A Blip!

Well, after no blogging activity from me during September it’s almost been looking as though October was going to be a re-run! However, that’s not the case and I’ve now caught up on painting and getting photos taken, but this is likely to be just a temporary blip (skip to the end if you want to know why – if you don’t I’m surprised you’ve got this far)!

The main reason for my apparent lack of activity is that I’ve been painting both at home and whilst we’ve been away at our caravan while the weather’s been not too bad! Although this sounds like it means I should be getting quite a bit done, it results in me jumping between preparing and finishing figures. At the caravan it’s more convenient to take infantry figures that just need their highlight layers added whereas at home it’s easier to prepare figures, paint the base colours and work on cavalry.

I’ve managed to stay focused since August at working on my 20mm Paraguayan War armies and made good progress. Painting in September concentrated on finishing some small groups of figures, with October being used to finish two slightly larger units. First up are Brazilian and Argentine artillery crews (shown below).

I’d already got one Brazilian and one generic Allied artillery crew but decided I wanted some more. For something different, I decided to paint a Brazilian horse artillery crew (shown below).

These are Newline Design ACW gunners painted to represent late-war Brazilians. I based the uniforms on figures in the background of a colour plate and a description of their uniforms in another book and they seem to combine various elements of later war dress. The jackets should be longer but I can live with that! I’ve just shown them with an existing gun model but I need to get a lighter gun painted up to go with them.

The picture above shows the Argentine foot artillery crew. These are plastic IMEX ACW figures and look almost identical to my early war Brazilian foot artillerymen with the exception of red details instead of crimson (although in this view its only evident on the nearest figure’s kepi).

I also decided to finish off some extra command figures that have been sitting around primed and based for quite a while. I originally intended these to be HQ units for each of the four national armies involved in the war but instead opted to paint mounted generals for each army. However, the excellent Borders Of Blood rules allow for colonels to be attached to units (which confers advantages on those units), so I thought I’d finish off the two outstanding foot command bases to let them represent colonels (shown below).

On the left is a Uruguayan officer and drummer and on the right their Paraguayan equivalents. The Uruguayans are SHQ ACW figures and the Paraguayans are Newline Design figures, with the Paraguayan drummer having his kepi built up to represent a shako. All four of my “colonels” are shown below – left to right these are Brazilian, Argentine, Uruguayan and Paraguayan. The Argentine officer in the campaign hat is actually based on a drawing of General Mitre, the Argentine commander and president!

Next to get finished was a Brazilian mounted cacador unit (shown below).

Since it was a cavalry unit, I dragged my heels a bit in getting them painted! Mounted cacador units were raised later in the war to operate as light cavalry for operating in difficult terrain but also with the ability to fight as infantry (so more akin to dragoons). The figures are Newline Design ACW cavalry painted in a simple light brown campaign uniform and I’m trying to get more horse colour variation into my units as well! The picture below shows them compared to my cacador infantry unit, both in the same colour uniforms.

As a further comparison, the mounted cacadores are shown below alongside the first Paraguayan cavalry unit I painted a couple of years ago.

Both units are painted using the same ACW cavalrymen figures and its surprising how dissimilar they look just for a different paint job. I changed my painting process for the latest cavalry, just to make it seem less onerous – I’d normally paint all of one colour in a unit, then move onto the next colour and so on, but this time round I decided to paint figures individually, finishing one figure before moving on to the next. I felt as though I really made progress painting this way and in the end felt that I’d done well enough to just paint the last three figures in parallel.

Last unit painted (and only varnished yesterday) is the early war Argentine infantry battalion shown below.

In the very early stages of the war, most of the Allied troops wore their pre-war uniforms before adopting campaign uniforms more suited to the climate. Consequently, Argentine troops could still be seen wearing shakos, fringed epaulettes and quite colourful uniforms. The figures are Strelets plastic French chasseurs from the Crimean War period and come in a box along with Algerian tirailleurs (and I use the latter for Franco-Prussian War Turcos). The figures are very nice and came from a period when every single figure in the Strelets boxes was in a different pose. The chasseur uniforms, however, are not quite correct for Argentine infantry, although not bad – the Argentine tunic was much shorter and the trousers were held in place over the white gaiters by short, buff leather jambieres, which these figures lack. Neither of these faults is particularly obvious when viewing the unit from a distance and I can live with them if it means I get to have an early war Argentine infantry unit in my forces. Additionally, the officer’s uniform is probably too formal for the Argentines and the bugler should maybe not be present (I have a feeling 19th Century light infantry units included buglers to transmit audible commands/signals, whereas line infantry units made use of drums), so I might replace them in the future but I quite like them there for now.

Sorting out Argentine infantry uniform details proved to be less than straightforward. I have three books that cover them, by two different authors, but there are variations across all three books! The most significant variation was in the colour of the belts and equipment straps, being shown/described as white or black. Whereas white straps would look much more colourful in the end I opted for black because any wobbly painted lines would be less obvious! The other variation was in the form of the green uniform distinctions and whether the cuffs should be a solid colour or just piped in green – I opted for solid green, but it’s not such an obvious colour anyway. As with other figures I paint, I tend to ignore very fine lining/piping on uniforms anyway, since they would not be obvious at a distance. These figures took much longer to paint than I’m used to for infantry, probably because of some of the fiddly detail.

Having got all of the above figures painted, I’ve now got only a few units left to do for this conflict (in theory)! Already prepared, based and primed are another Paraguayan cavalry unit and some Brazilian sailors to man a couple of gunboats. After that, I’m not quite sure, since it would be more of what I “want to do” as opposed to what I “need to do”! Another Paraguayan infantry battalion would be useful and there are a couple of Brazilian volunteer units that have uniforms that I like the look of. In addition, a Brazilian ironclad and some Paraguayan canoes would be worth having. Having counted up my figures though I have now got 222 altogether for this conflict but still some room in the boxes for a few more!

I mentioned right at the start of this post that catching up with painting and posting might be a temporary blip. The reason for this is that I’ve got a sort of side-project to work on that I’d like to do next and I don’t really want to post anything about it until I’ve got a reasonable amount to show for it. More than likely this means I’ll go quiet again until the end of November unless I make outstanding progress! Whatever happens, mission creep means it’s unlikely that it’ll all be over by Christmas!


  1. Great work on all John, and you have been very productive, in utilising your time at home and at the caravan. I think your latest cavalry unit, is your best yet, and can really appreciate the extra work on the horses.
    Look forward to seeing your secret project, when you feel ready to post it.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks Dave! πŸ™‚ I think doing bits here and there and switching between preparing and finishing has seemed as though I haven’t done much, although I’ve kept busy. Glad you like the cavalry – they’re quite plain really, but I like them. The “secret” project is not really going to be anything impressive but is something I’ve wanted to do for years!

      Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks Pete! πŸ™‚ Apologies for the late reply, but I missed the notification of your comment completely! I actually prepared, based and primed all four HQs right at the start of this project, painted two and then opted to paint two mounted generals and left it at that. But since sub-unit HQs can be useful I thought it’d be handy to finish them off (and I haven’t got many Uruguayans anyway)!


  2. John, loved the write-up AND there’s a surprise project too secret to share -ooooh I am intrigued! Back to the minis, they look great and the ACW stuff conversions seem effective. Though you are the only person I know that would be able to tell the differences, but you’re a disciplined painter indeed regarding history. Good luck on the nest stuff John!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Great work all round john particularly your work on the hoses, I have a feeling you really like painting them now!! It’s funny how you are changing tack to do something you have wanted to do for years and I have just done the same, great mate go for it, I am curious now and look forward to seeing it down the track!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Pat! πŸ™‚ Once I get them under way I’m OK with the horses, but still baulk a bit at getting round to them! I’ve actually got several projects in the process of planning and starting up that I first considered years ago and now seem to have come back to – in most cases they build upon stuff I’ve already got and fit in with other things. I’ll just have to see how I get on!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hey mate I to still leave them to last even now that I have got over my phobia of painting them!!! Take your time on the new/ old project, john,I’m sure we have plenty to keep us occupied, me I have to catch up with all that our mob have been up to!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Talking horses and baulking, I had another dio going
        Parallel to the RR one but lost the enthusiasm to finish it,push on I thought , that was until I noticed a bunch of cavaliers πŸ€”hum where are their mounts eh !bugger they haven’t even been started 😳. Well that was the decider, packed up for next yearπŸ˜…πŸ˜…πŸ˜….

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Another top post, John! Wonderfully wordy yet pic heavy, something other bloggers ought to aspire to. I must say those SHQ and Newline sculpts look similar in heft, though that may be just a result of your brushwork. In any case, they look suitably officerial, so well done!

    I agree that the early war Argentines bring an element of sophistication to your war effort. I remember the early Strelets being noteworthy for three reasons: the unparalleled variety of poses, the very bulky, wargamer-friendly and thoroughly un-plastic-like proportion of their figures, and the horrid plastic that seemed to defy all kinds of paints.

    Looking forward to the big reveal!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Veroo! πŸ™‚ I could have split the post up into two or three smaller posts but it seemed more sensible to just lump it all together. I thought it was maybe worth adding in a few extra pictures comparing some of the newer figures with earlier ones for reference. The SHQ figures are particularly nice and have quite a bit of detail, and I always like the faces on Newline figures.

      I like Strelets figures and have a few dotted around my armies, most probably being in my Russian WW1 and Russian Civil War forces. I always prime figures with Humbrol enamels and have never really had a problem with Strelets figures, although some of the “rubbery” HaT figures tended to remain slightly tacky until overpainted with acrylics.

      I don’t think it’s really going to be a “big” reveal, given that I’m not painting all that much before posting it up!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve not done very much… blam half a ton of figures are posted πŸ˜‚. As always they look sweet and I love the additional info and attention to detail on where they aren’t quite historically correct with the coats being too short. If you’d kept quiet I’d never have known πŸ˜‰.
    Great way of teasing us with your β€˜secret’ project and then ensuring that we are sat with baited breath until the reveal later in the year. It’s working on me!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Haha, thank you! πŸ™‚ I think it only looks like more because I’ve saved it all up for one post and I imagine you’ve got way more done than me in preparing for your big game!
      If I were you I’d keep up with regular breathing and don’t expect too much from what I’ve got planned – it will not be something big or spectacular, more of a side show next to a track somewhere off a main highway.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. So when do we get to see a battle report with all these beautiful figures doing their thing?
    I know nothing of this war, except what I have gleaned from you, so I would really like to see a battle played out.
    Is there some anniversary approaching, where you can recreate the starting conditions of a particular engagement.
    Or is that what your secret project is all about? Though given that you are doing other things, my guess is that it’s not from this conflict

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Frank! πŸ™‚ Well, with COVID having arrived on the scene proper games have been few and far between, but my last face-to-face game was a Paraguayan War game marking the 150th anniversary of the end of the war (https://justneedsvarnish.wordpress.com/2020/03/01/endgame/). The only more recent game was a trial run with the Borders Of Blood rules (https://justneedsvarnish.wordpress.com/2021/06/01/three-in-one/) so it’s about time I got another game organised, particularly since I have even more troops now. As far as anniversary games go, I haven’t got any planned for any of the conflicts that I wargame, so maybe need to get my thinking cap on!
      I’m not giving out any clues about the new project ’cause then it wouldn’t be a surprise, we’ll all just have to see how it might turn out (me included – I should maybe have a Plan B Secret Project in case it all goes horribly wrong)!


  7. Absolutely stunning stuff mate! really beautiful work. I don’t mind you going quite when you do posts like this that are well worth the wait! Painting in two places is something I might have to do for a portion of next year, though it wont be a pleasant as a caravan sadly.

    Looking forward to seeing what your secret “special project” might be!

    Cheers Roger.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Roger! πŸ™‚ I thought you might like these as you were very complimentary about the Argentine infantry test figure I posted (and I appreciated that). Hope everything’s OK with you, since you mention that you might have to paint in two places next year! If you do decide to paint away from home, I found that being practical about what you think you can get done is the best approach. I’ve been lucky that when I’ve worked away from home in this country I’ve always had a hire car to drive around in so I could easily carry my modest plastic toolbox of modelling gear around with me.

      I should maybe say something like “my project’s not set in the 41st millenium” which would probably cause some people to lose interest and others to breath huge sighs of relief. Maybe best to say nothing then! πŸ˜‰


  8. John if this is “caravan” progress with a side of “new project” then you should be congratulated for your work output, not only do these look great, but it looks like you are rounding out two nicely balanced forces.

    And project creep is a very real and dangerous disease that ensures a project is never done and the lead pile never emptied…I say embrace it and accept that one more unti, or some more terrain is just part and parcel of the great hobby we are all engaged in.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well it may be just a blip but it’s a good ‘un. Lovely work on all of these. πŸ™‚ Interesting that you tend to finish models off at the caravan, I’m the opposite. I’m discovering that I can get a lot of basecoating done when I’m on the road for work but I really can’t manage those final highlights without sitting at my own desk at home. Looking forward to seeing the surprise project unveiled!Β 

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Wudugast! πŸ™‚ Actually I think I maybe do paint more like yourself, but since my painting style is way simpler than yours, and the figures are small-ish, I can usually get away with finishing them off either at home or the caravan. I’m making progress with the “new” project so am hoping to stay on target for the end of November!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A surprise project does sound tantalizing, John! I like the minis you got finished since you’re last update. They have colorful and visually interesting uniforms, I must say and of course, they look fantastic among your collection of terrain too πŸ™‚ I hope you’ve enjoyed the caravan and I look forward to your next update!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jeff! πŸ™‚ For some reason I didn’t spot your comment earlier, so apologies for that! Glad you like the figures. I probably should point out that the only thing likely to be surprising about the project I’ve got underway at the moment is that there’ll be nothing surprising about it! I’ve enjoyed time spent at the caravan, but it’s now getting a lot wetter and darker so might not be away as much!

      Liked by 1 person

      • No worries, John! For some reason, WordPress always makes it so my comments have to approved on your website. I don’t know why that is because your blog is the only place where that happens consistently. I guess I’m dodgier than I thought I was πŸ™‚ I am excited to see what the project is all the same!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Actually, Jeff, it’s me that sets all comments for approval! This is so I see the notification and know I have to go and read it! I can set it to automatically post comments from people who have already had comments approved but I wasn’t sure if I’d still get any notifications about them. However, just occasionally one or two get under the radar so I periodically check site stats to catch up with them So it’s no reflection on how dodgy you think you might be! πŸ˜‰ As far as my project’s concerned there will probably be some disappointed people and I’m hoping I’m not one of them!

          Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s a seriously impressive collection of South Americans for one post! I can certainly empathise about doing a whole lot and then combining them into fewer posts as well, but the standouts for me are the Colonels and just how different the two sets of cavalry are, despite being the same models – I’d have never picked it, funnily enough! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Azazel! πŸ™‚ Don’t know how it happened but I missed your comment so I can only apologise for that (missed a couple of others as well)! I like the Colonels and have them for most of my 19th Century armies. It’s quite surprising how different the two paint jobs have made the cavalry – quite an optical illusion!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. A fine mix of units and figures. I really like mixing and matching figures from different manufacturers and you have done it brilliantly.
    I agree, it is quite astounding how a ‘simple’ painting conversion can transform figures so.
    Regards, James

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi John, thanks for the Borders of Blood reference. I definitely need to translate version 2.0 into English – with some modifiers and extended rules (which ended up making up the Spanish version of the book). As soon as I do, I will send you a copy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Victor, good to hear from you! πŸ™‚ Hope things are OK with you! I’ll look forward to seeing the next version of the rules and I’m still working away at my armies (you can never have too many Brazilians)! While I think about it, would you mind putting the link to the Borders of Blood facebook group in a comment for me – I think I’ve accidentally deleted my link in Chrome!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Sure! https://www.facebook.com/WargamingParaguayanWar / Version 2.0 came after about 10 long games performed by ZOOM with Brazilian, Argentine and Spanish players (in addition to a French one). We play using ZOOM every Saturday. If you want to try it one day, it will be a pleasure. The result is extended rules and improved modifier tables. Everything happened in time to be included in the Spanish version. Caliver has until April to tell me if it intends to make a second edition in English (when I intend to insert these improvements). If that doesn’t happen, I’ll edit it in pdf. and I will send you. I need to organize the pdf file in English with these inclusions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great, Victor, thanks for the link! πŸ™‚ I’m not a ZOOM user at the moment, but might have to give it a try at some point, so thank you for the offer! Here’s hoping Caliver go for a second English edition and it’s good that you have had the chance to have multi-national games and introduce improvements to the rules. I’ll be interested to hear about your progress!


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