Borders Away!

No, I haven’t misspelled “Boarders”! This post features my latest 19th Century Austrian 20mm wargames figures to be finished, a Grenzer (Border) unit, also referred to as Frontier troops. It’s a bit of a run-of-the-mill post I’m afraid, but important for me because I’ve now finished my Austrian infantry for my 1859/1866 army.

These are Waterloo 1815 (that’s the manufacturer) plastic figures of 1859 Austrian line infantry, but I’ve chosen to paint them as Grenzer to give me some variation from the more usual white-coated Austrian infantry. The most usual dress for Austrian infantry in the Second War of Italian Independence was the white kittel (a loose white jacket) but I chose to paint these figures in brown tunics with red facing colours to represent a Grenzer battalion. I finished the rest of my Austrian infantry for this army back in 2016, but I’ve recently added an extra artillery unit and thought some more infantry and cavalry wouldn’t go amiss.

Back in 2016 I’d painted 60 regular Austrian and 12 Grenzer infantry. This allowed me to represent either seven 10-man units or six 12-man units, since the Austrian battalion strengths were different for units fighting the French in 1859 and those fighting the Prussians in 1866. Since I now just represent all these units with 10 figures it meant I had two Grenzer infantry spare, so I decided that if the extra infantry unit I painted was a Grenzer unit I’d only need to paint eight extra figures (hence only eight men in the pictures above). The hardest bit was remembering the colours I’d used for the jackets and trousers back in 2016 (Vallejo Model Color Leather Brown and Grey Blue), otherwise painting was pretty straightforward!

Surprisingly enough, this now leaves me only a six-man hussar unit to paint and, despite the fact that I dislike painting cavalry, I’m quite motivated to get on with them, since completing them will mean the army will be finished! All over by Christmas? Maybe!


  1. Really Excellent John,
    Nice to see some grenzers, my original plan was Austria v France 1859 and then I disappeared down the 1848 rabbit hole. Not realising the Austrians had a wardrobe change in 1850, coatees out kettels in plus shakoes out and tapered stove pipes in or are they very tall kepi’s. I am beginning to think Napoleonics are so simple 🀣 Needless to say I have drifted even further since then. So my Austrians remain unfinished-it would be nice to see at least one finished Austrian army though! Best of luck, now where are those ww1 Austrians and a knife…….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lorenzo! πŸ™‚ As long as you are happy down that rabbit hole that’s all that matters! The Austrians also changed between 1859 and 1866 – the simplest change threw me, in that the infantry started wearing their greatcoats to hide those nice white kittels, but I don’t let that stop me from using them against the Prussians! I still haven’t worked out what your WW1 Austrians are going to be!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on finishing the army! The Grenzer look great and they have a lot of personality too. I’m looking forward to seeing the Hussars. I’d imagine they were a key unit for this army so it’d be a shame not to have some! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jeff! πŸ™‚ The Grenzer, artillery and cavalry provide some colour for this army amongst all the white-clad infantry. I decided to add a hussar unit and an extra gun and crew after re-reading accounts of the wars against the French and Prussians, since the cavalry and artillery gave good service (it also balances this army better against either of those two opponents as well).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharp uniforms on these! Great job, John! A few questions for you. Why don’t you like painting cavalry? Is it the horses or something else? When you paint 20mm minis, are you typically starting with a dark base, a wash, and then one or two highlights?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Faust! πŸ™‚ I think it’s the horses for some reason! For a long time it used to be the colours, but I’m happier with having found a brown that is good for the bulk of the horses I paint. Horse colours are also subject to variation so it means I have to think about that even though all the riders will be wearing the same uniform. I’m not good at doing irregular units, one reason why I’ve been so impressed with the amount of planning behind Mark Morin’s Aztec/Tlaxcalan/Maya armies. All this is crazy really, since a horse takes less effort to paint than a human as far as I’m concerned!

      As for 20mm figures, I’ve found most don’t have the depth of detail to take a wash very well, although it might just be that I really am crap at putting washes on figures (I seem to manage much better with vehicles and buildings). Consequently I paint everything first in dark base colours and then put a single highlight on as a layer. Large areas of flesh should probably have an extra highlight layer but I don’t usually bother. I tend to minimise the number of dark base colours if I think they’ll work with more than one of the highlight layers as well.

      Using the Grenzer here as an example, I painted them black overall, and then used Saddle Brown, Oxford Blue (I think) and Light Grey as the base colours for the flesh, trousers and haversacks respectively. The highlight layers were then applied over them, these colours being the “true” uniform colours e.g. if these were WW2 Germans the highlight uniform colour would be Field Grey and the dark base a black/green mix (with smallish figures I opt to go for a noticeable contrast between the base and light layers, but some people prefer less contrast). The packs, coats, white haversack straps and red facings are just added over the black base colour and don’t look out of place because the black is there principally to shade the brown uniform colour.

      On the rare occasions I’ve painted 25/28mm figures the main difference I’d make would be to add an extra highlight. Hope this answers your questions – afraid I’ve rattled on a bit, but appreciate you asking! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, that’s awesome John! I’m always curious how people go about with historical minis. Especially when they are smaller than 28mm. Thanks for the insight! Some of those colors also work pretty nicely with Fantasy minis too. πŸ˜ƒ

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lord Commmander! πŸ™‚ I remembered that I’d used Leather Brown for the jackets since I hardly ever use it! Almost the same for the Grey Blue trousers, although I wasn’t sure at first and thought I might have used Pastel Blue (one of my favourite colours)! The cavalry are coming along slowly (as cavalry always do for me) – I realised that with a black shade coat I’d not be able to see all the detail clearly, so I dug out a spare unpainted figure to use as a reference while I paint up one of the others in a trial run!

      Liked by 1 person

        • I surprised myself here! I realised after I’d undercoated five in black that I should maybe leave the sixth figure in grey primer and finish one of the others so that I could copy it. I then remembered that I’d got two spare figures tucked away and (surprise, surprise) I found them and got the last figure undercoated in black! It was just a case of remembering where I’d stashed the spare figures!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I usually prime/undercoat in light grey. The black in this case is the base shade coat, since the uniforms are dark blue. In fact this time round I primed overall in the dark earth I use for the bases, since I knew that the shade colours were mostly going to be black or brown (for the horses). One horse out of the six will be a grey, so I used a mid-grey shade over the earth and it covered fine. I don’t get hung up too much on primer/undercoat colour as I very rarely get poor coverage with the later layers.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Roger, that’s much appreciated! πŸ™‚ I hadn’t realised it, but these guys also qualify for the Movember challenge (they’v all got moustaches, which I think were compulsory in the Austrian army for the rank and file)!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s