Tuesday, 12 August 2008


I told myself I wouldn't attempt a hussar conversion from the Perry plastic ACW cavalryman, as it was too complex. But I wasn't listening to myself, apparently. So here's my first hussar attempt.

I think this regiment will become the Landgravine Musetta's Own Hussars, the light cavalry of the Mendelstadt Guard, and the bodyguard of the Landgravine herself. (Rumours have it that some of these handsome gentlemen may perhaps guard her body just a little too closely.)

Their uniform is a design of the Landgravine's own, as no doubt Major Wittering will report on the Mendelstadt blog when a full squadron has been recruited. And the mounts will all be greys, especially imported at outlandish expense from Spain.

But I suspect recruitment for the hussars may take some time, as I'll have to model each one separately. Mind you, the twelve strong cuirrassiers (who are being considered for possible demotion to mere dragoons, given the poor quality of their mounts and their generally drunken behaviour - of the riders, not the mounts) are nearing completion already, much faster than I'd expected. I've been bitten by the modelling bug.

You'll probably see that some of this "conversion" is merely paintwork: the thighknot, Polish cuffs, and lace on the dolman, for example. So what have I actually modelled (just in case you are mad enough to want to do something similar)?

Mirlton: green stuff in a cone (easier than I thought, but it may be hard to make the next one the same size!) with a plume of the same, the cone wrapped in a thin flamme of paper, very much like the original. I used greaseproof paper, after a couple of false starts with ribbon and tissue as this was flexible and yet tough, so when I soaked it with dilute white glue, it didn't dissolve into shreds. My flamme was a little too wide, so that in wrapping around the angle of the slope it creased a little, meaning a lot of teasing was needed to get something that was both flat enough and overlapping enough to be plausible.

Shabraque: the original Perry shabraque has squared corners, so I've shaved the front corner to a rounded edge and built the rear corner to an elongated point.

Pelisse: sculpted entirely from greenstuff, one layer at a time (first a draped diamond for the basic jacket, then two sausages for the sleeves, which are probably not long enough on this model; then greenstuff roughed up by the scalpel for fur around cuffs and the pelisse edge. Finally I used a thread of cotton to model the cord holding the pelisse around the neck (visible on the second photo). I drenched this in thinned white glue so it adhered across the model but also so it was stiff and had a good surface for subsequent painting.

Queue: modelled from greenstuff.

Barrel sash: modelled from green stuff, but with only three cords (not the more reasonable five or seven). As it's almost invisible on the model, I might not bother on the remainder.

Sabretache: made from green stuff as a component separate from the main model, then glued on when it had dried. I originally made a more satisfactory shape than this, but it was so small I lost it. Once it was gluedin place, I added two thin strips of scrap paper for the straps holding it on. (A more historical model would probably use three straps, but I found it hard enough manoevering two pieces into place. Three would need to be thinner, so more difficult to shoft about, and must end up placed in parallel to look right). I've been wondering about trying casting for the first time, so small pieces like this or maybe the mirlton might be a starting point.

What I didn't do:

- worry about the bucket stirrups. Instead, I painted them as if they were part of the boot, using the line of the stirrups to disguise this somewhat.

- worry about the sword and scabbard. These are (obviously) the same as the ACW original and therefore idential to the swords used for my cuirassiers/dragoons. But light cav swords are generally curved whilst heavy cavalry are much straighter (although this by no mean a universal difference). Fortunately this sword is both suffificiently straight and sufficiently curved to get away with being either.

- give him a fusil/musket. I'm reconsidering this as it would be more accurate, and the pantaloons are not really as tight as a proper hussar's ought to be, so a weapon on the thigh would disguise this somewhat.

- put cords on the mirlton. Although having no cords is fine historically, of course, I'd quite like to go the whole hog and add them, but I can't figure out how to do it convincingly and eptly. An attempt with green stuff created cords the size of ropes.

- model lace on the pelisse. I didn't think about the frogging until I'd modelled the rest of the cape, and by then I'd not even left enough room to paint any lace. I'll perhaps try and model the pelisse a little larger on the next figure.

- shave the saddlebags. To me these are the most glaring anomaly on this model, so ought to go, but I'm not sure that I'll be able to model the "missing" bits of the blanket roll and shabraque, if I do. This may be one area where I'm simply saved from the need by sleight-of-imagination.

- paint a dog's tooth border, or a national emblem on the shabraque. It seemed too arduous, really. Also, any such emblem should be the golden phoenix of Mendelstadt, but I've not yet managed to render it free-hand in any way that doesn't look like a five year old's cartoon. (Although there is just a hint of it on the sabretache, pretty much invisible in the photo). More practice needed here.

Even so, I'm quite proud of this one. But now I've three more cuirrassiers to finish, fifteen jagers and five (or maybe even eleven) hussars. SO it might be a while before you see my next effort.

Although, I've begun thinking about dragoons....How would they be different from cuirassiers?

And what about some irregular lancers????


Frank said...

Awesome Noel!!!

But imagine my dismay when I clicked on the pics to enlarge, to get a closer view and they wouldn't enlarge . . . sob . .

Keep up the great work. Truly inspirational.


Adik said...

Impressive! Congratulations!

Major Wittering said...

Frank - I don't know why the images won't expand. Checking through the blog, some do and some don't. I'm not aware of making any decision that affects this. I'll post a query about it.


Major Wittering said...

Update: Having checked Blogger Help, I've reloaded the images and they now expand properly, so you can see all the mistakes!


tradgardmastare said...

Superb as ever- you have a great talent for converting figures - keep it up!
best wishes

Anonymous said...

Most impressive!!


Fitz-Badger said...

I agree, awesome and impressive indeed! You're close to it and know what your vision was so you see the flaws or shortcomings as you perceive them, but to the rest of us it looks great!
I would definitely recommend making one version of some of the common pieces and doing some casting. It will speed up the conversion, make them more uniform and any flaws less noticeable. Add an excellent paint job as you have done on this fellow and you might be amazed how good a unit of them will look on the table.