Since the start of the year I have been reorganising my entire 28mm ECW collection and also adding extra regiments & personalities. This vignette of King Charles I and his standard bearers I finished a couple of days ago and very happy I am with how it turned out. The model of Charles is a Wargames Foundry figure with a Warlord Games plastic sword attached and he is seated upon an Old Glory horse with some additional modelling work to add length to the mane, all of which was inspired by the Sir Anthony van Dyck painting. The Royal Standard Bearer is an Old Glory cuirassier and horse with the addition of a metal arm and plastic flag pole from Warlord Games. The King's Gentlemen Pensioners Standard Bearer is another Old Glory cuirassier and horse with the addition of a plastic flag pole from Warlord Games. The flags of course are from my own Wargames Designs collection.
It is fair to say that being a full time figure painter has its ups and downs in terms of my own actual wargaming experience. Although on one hand I have the ability to paint all my own armies I find that this time is greatly reduced due to customer painting commitments. I am envious to say the least when I hand over a beautifully painted army to one of my customers knowing that my own army of that period (if indeed I actually have one like that) is probably still unpainted or half finished. I remember well the feeling I had when handing over one particular 15mm Landsknect army to a customer and actually telling him how envious I was of him for owning such an army.
I love the English Civil War period and I am really happy that I have actually convinced my gaming buddies to invest in 28mm English Civil War figures and build up small armies that when brought together we can play large battles with. This has not been an easy task and several of the armies (okay all of them) aren't finished yet and to make matters worse there were quite a few issues issues over basing, organisation and rules that had to be resolved. After months of play testing etc. we were finally able to say that we had got the rules and base sizes sorted which meant that the figures and units could be finished off.
Okay, well having set the background for the project I now will get on with the how and where part of actually building up a Scots Covenanter army in 28mm. The obvious place to start was looking at what is out there in 28mm for the period and there are many different manufacturers of wargames figures for this period that I could have gone for, but for several reasons I chose the Warlord Games Scots Covenanters. Best reason of all was cost, they are extremely cheap, next reason was I wanted more of their plastic horses as I just love them, next reason was they are actually really nice figures, and last reason was I really like plastic figures both in terms of the variety you can get from them and the fun of building them up. Okay, with Warlord Games in mind I proceeded to look at the buying options and the army I actually wanted.
The army I wanted was as follows:
Some Generals, based as vignettes on round bases, maybe 3 or 4 bases in total.
2 regiments each of 10 lance armed cavalry
2 regiments each of 10 pistol armed cavalry
1 regiment of 10 Dragoons both mounted and dismounted versions
8 regiments each of 20 pike & shot infantry
Some artillery, maybe 2 or 3 pieces and crews
Some characters, maybe a minister and a sniper etc.
I must point out at this stage that although I use Pike & Shotte by Warlord Games as my rules preference my English Civil War armies are organised in regiments of both pike & shot combined rather than as separate units of pike & shot as defined in the rules. My cavalry regiments are really squadrons and based in one rank. The Dragoons are always in a 10 man regiment whether on foot or mounted. You may have guessed by now that I do not strictly follow the basing suggestions within the rules, rather I use the Pike & Shotte amendments that I covered in separate posts.
So, having identified what I would like to have in my army I decided to buy as much of it as I could in one fell swoop, first stop ebay! My first purchase was 12 Scots lancers from Maelstrom Games for £16.20 and yet another box from another seller for £16.50 both including the postage in the cost, and both saving me almost £6.00 each on the full price from Warlord Games. Next was a Scots Battalia boxed set from Warlord Games as there were none available on ebay and this cost me £60.00 which I picked from from the wargames show in Derby. To these purchases I added 12 dragoons from an earlier ebay purchase that cost me £21.00 including postage, and for a cost £7.70 I had 12 cavalry from an ECW Battalia Starter Army set that I had previously purchased from ebay.
Total cost so far was a staggering £121.40, but for this I did get one hell of a lot of figures and I saved £72.10 on the normal price of buying them all separately direct from Warlord Games. This was a good start and I did know that I would have a few bits and pieces still to add to this before I had the exact amount I wanted, but I also knew that I had these already from my vast unfinished amount of unpainted ECW figures in my collection.
Okay, I had the figures and now it came to sorting them into their respective units for painting and basing, for this I started with the mounted part of the army including the dragoons. The dragoons were pretty straight forward as there are 12 mounted and 12 dismounted versions to play around with but as I only need 10 of each I put the surplus into my extras box as they could be used for other units or vignette bases. Most would have bonnets but not all of them as I liked the variety of head wear that was included in the Warlord Games box sets and it did make them look all the more irregular in appearance.
Now the figures were absolutely fine but my only concern was with the horses, they too were fine, but they were way too big for a dragoon mount and strangely even in the blurb accompanying the box set they mention the small nags that dragoons would have ridden. So the horses had to go, which was no problem to me at all as I simply exchanged them with smaller horses that I already had from Old Glory and Wargames Foundry ECW cavalry. Both their horses again being fine, but a bit small (a lot smaller than Warlord's horses) for ECW heavy cavalry. So an easy fix really, except that the Old Glory horses don't have saddle cloths so they would be made with green stuff.
Now the Cavalry proper, that being the Scots Lancers and normal ECW cavalry that I had bought. Again the horses had to go as again the horses were way too big to be the type of horse or pony that the Scots would have used. Again the answer being to use Old Glory and Foundry horses that I had already and whose riders would be remounted with the plastic horses. Now the thing is about the Warlord Games Scots lancers is that they are essentially the same as the normal ECW cavalry except they have extra metal arms with lances or pistols, some bits of extra equipment and 3 metal riders which are supposed to be the command figures. So in effect you get 15 riders and 12 horses, which is pretty neat really.
The metal riders I decided to put to one side as generals etc. and so with 3 boxes of cavalry I had 9 of these in total, easily enough for my command vignettes. There are only 6 lances in each box set, which although there is some debate as to whether or not the Scots lancer regiments were fully equipped with lances I have to say that I like the idea of my lancer regiments being fully equipped. Fortunately I had 3 boxes of lancers which meant 18 lances, enough to equip 2 units of 10 fully leaving the musician with a trumpet. The pistol armed cavalry were no problem at all and had a choice of swords or pistols at random. The headgear would be a choice of helmets, hats and bonnets, with most having a bonnet, some re-sculpting of the hair would be necessary, but this I had already tried out on a similar figure and can be done very easily with a hot needle shaped tool, more of which in another post.
Warlord Games ECW horses are a really great set of plastic horsesand these horses are each made up of 2 separate parts giving a total of 9 variants from three horses (I know there are 4 horses on the sprue, but two are the same), and it looks like this.
If you take a very knife and cut each horse half in two just behind the saddle strap to make each horse four separate parts it makes a total of 81 variants from three horses, and it looks like this.
Once you start to glue them back together in a variety of new poses they look like this.
When the riders are added the cut lines are hidden and they look like this.
All in all a very simple and effective way of adding extra variety to the horses.
For my ECW cavalry I unashamedly love the plastic horses from Warlord Games, they are big powerfully built and wonderfully sculpted horses that look perfect as mounts for well equipped heavy cavalry. So as I already had a hundred or more cavalry from Old Glory, Front Rank and Essex with cast on saddle cloths I really wanted the horses to be consistent in size and weight within my units as I like to mix & match the figures. Obviously the Old Glory horses were quite small in comparison and could not be mixed in the same units, Essex Horses were a mixed bag with some of them fitting in well and others not so well, and the early ECW Front Rank Horses again seemed a little underfed when compared to the Warlord Games Horses. I could have put them into separate units, but I actually wanted a really good mix of different poses within units and I actually liked all the figures I had.
The problem was obvious the saddle cloths had to be removed and done in such a way that it didn't stick out like a sore thumb that the riders had previously had the cast on saddle cloths. Actually this was easier than it looked so I took my trusty clippers and simply snipped off the areas of saddle cloth leaving the rider and his sword scabbard. The next thing to do was cut the back of the scabbard so that any extra thickness was removed and it looked normal, this done the clipper work was completes and normal clean between the riders legs was done with a knife or file.
For most that was it, less than a minutes worth of work, but for others there was more to do on areas such as the saddle holsters and the rear of the buff coat. First the holsters, these can be really nice on some of the Old Glory cavalry and really awful on others, so I simply snipped off the awful ones and used the plastic ones provided on the horse sprues. Again all really simple and easy to do, but the rear of the buff coat on some of the figures had a really wide and unnatural looking opening so I decided to remodel these with green stuff, which although a little harder to do than the other work it was still relatively easy.
That for the most part was all the converting that I needed to do, but there was the converting that I wanted to do, which was the weapon hands. Old Glory figures have separate weapon hands which you choose to mix & match, which is great and Warlord Games figures have separate weapon arms with lots of spares which is even better. Simply put it was a case of swapping hands or arms as I saw fit to make them look how I wanted, this part was really easy and really good fun. The Warlord Games sprues have extra trumpets and cornet lances which look great and are very easy to attach to most other makes of figure, so the lances especially I use on all of my mounted units.
So there you have it, easy conversion techniques for making cavalry fit on horses they don't fit on. As for the spare horses, they were put aside to mount Scots cavalry and dragoons of all sides who both rode smaller horses, more of which I will cover in another post.
Stephen Wylde BA (hons)