Sunday, 20 October 2013

Waterloo Project: In search of the 95th Rifles

This is my first follow up to the original posting on our Waterloo project
As you'll have read in that I jumped in with both feet to provide about 1000 figures representing something like half our requirement for the actions around La Haye Sainte on 18th June 1815.  I recalled the jargon of my Civil Service days when someone came up with a wonderful new project and needed a "quick win" to impress management. What could I have as my "quick win" to get this task on the road?

Around the famous sandpit and the "elm tree crossroads" the 1st Battalion of the 95th Rifles was deployed. We reckoned we needed about 160 figures at 1:3 figure : man ratio to give a good representation. Luckily Paul and Kevin had around 80 of these in their existing collections so I just needed to provide another 80 and I reasoned that 95th Rifles, being so popular, would be easy to find.

Alban Riflemen come in packs of either Firing or Moving
Well, a quick check of Ebay found some for auction, along with other things I needed.and, as I managed to win various small batches I asked the sellers if they had any Rifles for sale. Within the broad spectrum of "28mm" I'm not too fussy, and in this case I dropped my usual prejudice against buying painted figures as the overall project seemed so large I could justify slightly lesser quality paintwork. Before long I'd gathered a nice little collection of over 80, about 40 of which only need touching up and putting on landscaped bases and varnishing.

I learned, along the way, buying second hand, that there is a surprising variety of manufacturers producing Riflemen as either the 95th or 60th. Most of them I couldn't identify but just accepted at face value. One lot of 12 was identified as by Alban Miniatures, which was a new company to me. I won them and so was committed to buying some more to make up the required company strength.  So, one of the purposes of this posting is to bring Alban Miniatures to the attention of any Napoleonic enthusiasts unfamilar with them and looking for something a bit different in character.

You can also get a neat command pack of four figures.
 This officer is blowing a whistle, not dragging on a fag!
I'll let you explore the Alban website from the link above but they offer a nice selection of British, French and Austrian figures at somewhat expensive prices to my mind, but it depends what you like. Why these are different is because they are designed by Richard Ansell of Minden and Fife and Drum Miniatures fame. That means they are 28mm, but slim and elegant, and not easily blended in with the more usual brands like Perry, Victrix or Front Rank. Hence I have one company only of them in my 1st Battalion.

Here you can see the regimental number decals for the back packs and water canteens. The light blue spot on the base is to help players identify the separate companies as they won't be familiar with my esoteric approach to figure matching in units
A nice bonus I thought is that Alban offer a small sheet of decals of of "95" or "60" back pack labels and also very authentic looking water canteen unit markers. While I might do be able to paint the pack backs numbers I certainly can't paint in this detail on canteens, so they give a touch of class to what are already pretty classy figures. I hope you like my small sample presented here.

Close up the decal of  the Board of Ordnance regulation issue canteen  marking
Below is a picture of some of the rest of my 95th. The company in front are all makes unknown to me, the one behind is mostly Perry metal and plastic. But I draw your attention to the officers at the nearest ends. The one on the right must, I feel sure, be Richard Sharpe in view of the big heavy cavalry sword, which featured in the novels and is of course a long way from the shorter curved sabre of Rifle officers. The officer at the back is a diminutive figure, also with a big sword and I believe he is also intended to be "Sharpe" as he came along with a Sergeant of the same small size bearing a "volley gun" made famous by Sgt Patrick Harper's character in the TV series. I had to mount these two on artificially high sections of base so they would blend, at a distance with their larger colleagues. Whether these little chaps, which remind me of Parkfield Miniatures, will actually make it onto my field of Waterloo in 2015 remains to be seen. 

Here is a view of all three companies, about 60-70 figures, and I've since added more to bring them to 82 .
From the front - unknown makes, then a line of mostly Perry's and in the distance my company of Alban's. These photographs are taken on a prototype terrain tile I made to experiment with different ways of producing "trampled wheatfields" for that muddy day on Mont St Jean.

Assuming I finish them soon my next post on the Waterloo project will be about the 2nd Light Battalion King's German Legion.