Saturday, October 26, 2013

54mm Victrix Voltigeurs Project Completed

Finally completed the Victrix 54mm Voltigeurs project. It was definitely a load.  Ended up using 15 different print references and lots of time on the net pulling prints, and going back and forth as to what I wanted to paint versus what one usually finds "out there".

Just a few points about the box set. They were pretty easy to put together in contrast to a set of 28mm plastic Napoleonics I attempted to put together several years ago. I swore off plastics until I put a couple of cool Warlord 28mm ECW box sets together.  The Victrix 54s do suffer the slings and arrows of most injected plastic figures. I kept finding small mold lines needing clean up and a weird "no mans land" crease between the coat, facings and pants on some figures. Y'all can snicker but I just cleaned this up a little with an X-Acto and painted in the anomalies.  It's a bit of "artist's license" but hey; they're for my collection.  The only other issue that irritated me was that the figures weren't "cut" deep enough in contrast to metal figures.  I'm a "contrasty" painter so I like to use folds and so forth to make the figures a little more campaign style.  Ok, I'll quit whining now and put some pics up. My camera is dated but hopefully my iMac helped the quality a bit.

Here's the unit. Note the non-professional photographer's attempt to get it right. My thinking on this unit was to have a "rogue's gallery" versus a traditional wargamer's unit for the game table.
The Victrix 54s did the job quite well. I'm very pleased with the result. I've also got several gaming options; one is making two (2) units of "Light Infantry" for Ken Cliffe's All the King's Men rules; two is just painting infantry units and inserting the voltigeurs into the units. It would make a hodge-podge of units but would be ok in the more "toy soldier" style of gaming.

The reader may notice I use a different style of shading white. I like a very light brownish tint versus a stark grey most wargamers and painters use. I've found the brownish tint to work quite well for me. To each his own. I do NOT black prime figures, no matter the scale. I use Rustoleum Flat White primer. It's worked for 30 years and old farts like me don't like changing what works.

I was digging around my reference library and found several copies of Haithornewaithe, several Mollo "little books", tons of Osprey comic books, my trusty dusty Knoetl Uniforms of the World, LT Schick's Battledress, multiple Funkens in French and English, plus a really cool copy of "Military Dress of the Peninsular War" dated 1971. I pulled a lot of painting inspiration from the print references. Looks as if I need to splurge on some Uniformology CDs if this Napoleonics project gets any larger. Sure, I've got good print references but any wargamer/collector worth his salt just "needs" more reference materials right? Old teacher's habits just die hard.

The Cleve-Berg Voltigeur-1811 on the right, was taken from Haithornewaithe's Military Dress of the Peninsular War, p.151

The voltigeur to your left was taken from the Funken's Arms and Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars (will be abbreviated AUNW below), p.35, #3.  This reference may seem a bit pedantic but hey, why not do the reference work right?

I use a cool Artist's Color from Asel Art Supply here in the DFW area for the base coat of yellows on all the figures.  It's called Diarylide Yellow. It's made by Golden Arts Centre in NY.  It cools down quite well using my Minwax technique. I DO NOT dip my figures but brush a light coat onto the figure. I can then use a Vallejo light yellow for highlights. The Vallejo paint is just transparent enough to not kill the depth of the deeper yellow. I've tried Vallejo's Golden Yellow and GW's deeper yellows.  They don't get the job done like this yellow.

My attempt at a Voltigeur "cornet" (trumpet to we publicly educated Texans) came from an Osprey comic book. I really don't care for Osprey softcovers but they get the job done.  I didn't attempt the lace work on this figure. There should be alternating red, blue and white lace. I'm just lazy and this figure was at the back of the "git 'er done" area; so sue me!

Every self respecting wargamer and collector "needs" a voltigeur from the Regiment Irlandais. This guy is my attempt at an 1809 version taken from Haithornewaithe's Peninsular War, plate #59. I'm sure the green should be either lighter because of fade or darker because it hadn't faded yet in the field.  I do like the pose from Victrix and played around with three different shades of green in the process. It was a fun figure to paint and stands out on the game table or display case.

This guy was taken from Knoetl's Uniforms of the World, p. 293.  The figure depicts a Voltigeur from Murat's Kingdom of Naples, 6th Regiment.  The photo doesn't do the colors justice however; the facings ARE Orange but turned out looking Red in this photo.  I also probably violated painting protocols by using brass on the musket. I like the contrast it provides and looks ok at the same time.  One can see the effects of Minwax upon the shako cords. All I had to do to finish them out was to put a small dot on the cords to "pop them out".

I like the head and face variants on the Victrix 54s. This breaks up the monotny of painting larger scale figures that are all the same.  I'd like to have an arm that has a shako or an opponent's shako molded in to give a little spice to the figure.  I'm too lazy to convert or gut another figure so if it happens; it will have to be from the manufacturer. I took this figure from Funken's Arms and Uniforms, p.35.  It is more of a "Fantassin" rather than a direct copy of a subject in the print. I like the way the French blues work on the Victrix figures as well. I use a Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue as a base coat, Minwax fills the folds with a softer brownish tint and then I can highlight in the "Dallymore fashion (blob) the highlights of the sleeves.

Another "Fantassin" French Line Voltigeur taken from Funken's Arms and Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars, p.35. The plate has a group of shakos that illustrate the "brush" style of pompom.  I used a bit of artistic license again on this figure; adding some patches for a little campaign look.  I like the variant of the figure catching a quick smoke break. "Smoke 'em if you got 'em!"
I'm using a combination of Liquitex Medium Viscosity White with a topcoat of Vallejo White for belting, pantaloons and vest.  The medium viscosity covers any mistakes and the Vallejo richens the color. I don't know if anyone really cares how I paint or what techniques I use but these techniques have been acquired over the years from master painters. Just wanting to share lessons learned.

The Prince of Neuchatel fielded troops for Napoleon's venture in Spain. They were derisively called "Canaries" for their yellow uniforms. I've seen different interpretations of the "yellow" while researching my rendition. I took this from a plate in Embleton.  Again, the Golden Deep Yellow was the the base color, toned down quite well by the Minwax Royal Walnut, then highlighted in Vallejo Light Yellow.  As I've posted previously, Victrix figures come with an assortment of arm and head choices. This really gives the painter good variations with which to work.

Another Swiss Line Infantry Voltigeur taken from Embleton.  I use a three color combo for reds. This picture just doesn't do the depth of colors justice.  I'm looking forward to painting some Swiss to go with my Napoleonic 54mm collection.

This is a depiction of a Legion Hanovere Voltigeur, 1810 from Embleton, p.97.  Following the French occupation of Hannover, a large flood of Hanoverians went to England and formed up as the King's German Legion. Napoleon and his staff weren't going to let an opportunity to pick up some more fodder slip by.  The British gained about 15,000 troopers/officers. The French did not get 1/10th of these numbers. They served under General Loison between 1808-1810.  They missed the carnage at Vimiero but were present Bussaco as a brigaded force with the Legion du Midi.  The Legion Hanovere were thrown back with significant casulties.  This was a fun figure to paint.

Napoleon ordered uniform changes that some regiments followed but some regiments just tended to "ignore".  This figure represents one of the changes.  Taken from Funken's Arms and Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars, p. 33, figure #3. White uniforms are difficult to get right without either laying on a heavy shade or using the "wash" technique. I don't do that. I use Minwax Royal Walnut and then paint the highlights where necessary. Saves me time when I want to get a project completed in a timely basis.  I don't like to take months to paint a single figure.  My war gaming bud Clay Smith tells me "it would look better if I took more time."  He's right as usual but I am a devotee of the "git 'er done" school of painting projects.

This is an example of a Westfalian Volt. circa 1812. The figure is painted according to Knoetl's Uniforms of the World, p.241.  I've painted Junot's VIII Corps in 15mm, 28mm and now starting to paint it again in 18/20mm as a Napoleon at War army. My friends are definitely not surprised. I can crank out lots of infantry quickly when I paint VIII Corps. I also like to play a less trained Corps to see if I can do better than Junot.  Most of the time, my tactics echo poor Junot.

Here's another Funken "fantassin" Volt. As I've previously gone on and on about; I like the different head variations in the Victrix box sets. This is the first time I've painted full faces on a war gaming figure in years. I used the old Model Soldier Guide step by step technique modified by using acrylic paints and a .03mm permanent ink roller ball pen by Pentel. Yeah, I cheated on the eyes but I don't like to paint them, am not patient when painting them and view the process as a pain in the butt.

The bottom line is that these figures are a super bargain for the 54mm war gamer and collector. They're consistent across the box set and once painted, provide the collector with a strikingly nice looking set.  Highly recommended. I got mine from Ken Cliffe at All the King's Men. His business is highly recommended as well. He does business the right way. I'm looking forward to adding his Cuirassiers, Carabiniers and Line Infantry to my collection soon.  Will post up photos of how they look as a work in progress and completed unit.  It did take 21 days to complete.  This is way more time than I like to paint a project. Hopefully, I've learned how to improve and reduce the painting time. Please keep checking back as this project matures.  I'll see a few of you at Millenium Con in Austin


  1. Nicely done, Steve, and I do enjoy your painting method comments and references to your sources. Wish I was going to M'Con to see them "in the flesh", but my son is in his last year of pee-wee football and I'll be at his next to last game that weekend.

  2. Distinctive figures, very well done.