Welcome to Marauder Moments - a chronicle of the Mortimer Street Marauders; the games we play, the rules we use, the figures we play with and the scenery they fight over. Hope you enjoy these pages and maybe call back to catch up with our escapades.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Italian Artillery on the march 1812 - Fantastical whimsy!

A personal statement about artistic decisions.

Before I wax lyrical about my Italian limber and the pretty paint job and basing I want to make something clear following something which happened on TMP recently. My post re the Highland Light Regiment attracted lots of complimentary comments, rightly as Tony Laughton has done a splendid job of some excellent sculpts. What also happened was a lively discussion about the apparent errors in the paint job and even in the basing, one person describing these as "howlers". This was all very chummy and took the form of a discussion BUT missed the point - these are MY toys NOT an attempt to faithfully reproduce the historical reality which is as vague as the shifting sands of time and possibly rather dreary. The fact is when I commission a paint job I agree with the painter/artist how I want MY toys to look in some detail, even checking out work in progress to keep the project on course. This represents the aesthetic I want on MY wargames table. Nobody else is consulted. People will of course discuss stuff on forums, this is what happens when you post publicly. I get that, I am old enough, ugly enough, & big enough to take this on the chin.

So, understand the above about where I'm coming from with this following set of models.

Back to the toys

Here is my very fantastical interpretation of an Italian limber train heading into Russia in 1812. The inspiration came many years ago when I was researching the Italians as allies of Napoleon, in particular the army which marched in and out of Russia in 1812.      

In order to raise the biggest army possible Napoleon gathered formations from across the empire. The Emperor was keen to have as much cavalry as possible but was short of horses, always a problem for the armies of France. To this end Italian artillery and train were stripped of horses in order to mount French cavalry. This left Eugene to find alternative four legged power to draw his guns and caissons to war. My reading of one source suggested that oxen or bullocks were drafted to the yoke, I forget which book/essay/journal/article this was in, but the story stuck. As a postscript it was noted that none returned to graze in Italy again, which is rather sad.

A proper big piece of ordinance - French 12lb cannon from Elite Miniatures.
This project has sat on the back burner for about 25 years until the Perry's released these ox teams separately from the medieval set they were made for. This kick started the search for bits and bobs and a design decision process of how I wanted this to look. I was not simply after a few Italian artillerymen in overalls/campaign gear trudging eastward. Mine was to have a festive colourful carnival or circus like vibe. 

Perry Miniatures oxen under the yoke, painted by Tony.
The decision was made to have a small marching band or group of musicians to accompany the team giving an upbeat party atmosphere - an almost ridiculous parody but one that accompanies much artwork around military subjects throughout the ages. Call it naive glorification of war.

Check out the face on the white headed oxen - it's so realistic you might expect it to look up and "moo"!  
As we said the Perry's provided the ox teams whilst I scoured the Front Rank ranges to find musicians and character models. The band major was a great find and just perfect to lead the parade.

These two are crying out for a caption competition, go on have a go...  
The massive cannon is from my favourite range of artillery, that of Elite Miniatures, the limber was a spare from the Perrys which someone had knocking around, I think.

A beautiful cornet player beautifully painted, note the pockets on the waistcoat.
"What's in his pocketses?" 
Tony painted the oxen as opposed to Tony Laughton who painted the people. I asked him to paint the oxen as he did a fantastic job on an ox as part of his Saxon Napoleonic train, it was amazing, as are these. Thanks mate. I may still pop a cow pat behind one of them, the devil's in the detail you know!
Lots of gaudy plumes nodding around in this shot! 

The dappling on the rear ox is outstanding, keep an eye out for it.
Sadly I desecrated the red  plume whilst dry brushing the base, since rectified!  
Rich had a pile of thick perspex limber bases cut from someone, not sure who, luckily he gave me loads, thanks my old friend. They are light weight yet strong.

The band.
Sometime ago I picked up the Perry's plastic cottage set x 2 and both the barn and church sets. The latter are for the ACW but seem perfect for any northern or eastern European setting and thus just right for our games. We built them and mounted them on hefty diner plate mats and added scenic bits mostly from that Tajima lot on ebay. Maybe they'll get a post of their own some day soon.

The circus comes to town.

Slightly fuzzy aerial view of the procession heading east to their doom.    
This project came together exactly as I had envisaged - not in the least but accurate but certainly inspired by a small corner of history and a very pretty addition to my Army of Italy.

That's a wrap for this lot. These are gaming pieces so watch out for their appearance in battle reports.
As usual please feel free to comment, best wishes,


  1. Stunning! I love the look of this piece. The basing is terrific too!

  2. Most lovely, I have an great interest in seeing artillery trains for the so called minor states. Having an Italian limber is a great addition to your collection!

    Caption comp: "check Giuseppe, he's off to join the Bolshoi!"

    Probably historically inaccurate however I'm sure your understanding given your lead paragraphs.

  3. That's a great bit of distraction & probably fairly representational of all the jazz that went with sending "the boys off to the front".

    Caption Comp:"Luigi only your Mum could think you look good in that"

    Well done J

  4. Inspirationnal and beautiful, love this one!

  5. Lovely work again, and it doesn't look too fantastical to my eye and especially not for the Italian States.

    I like the use of the Front Rank Spanish flautist - he seems to fit in perfectly.

  6. Lovely. I'd tell the stitch counters on TMP to sod off. There are too many old men who act like old ladies in this hobby. I think your attitude is spot on.

  7. Very nice! It's good to see some one having fun with a project. That's what the hobby is about, after all!

  8. "See this chap in front, his shiny red wellies are howling-ly historically inaccurate "

  9. Spot on, my own army is very shiny, quite accurate but plenty of artistic licence as well, at the end of the day it is the 'eye candy' on the table that matters. Keep doing your thing you are on the right track as far as I am concerned.

  10. Spot on, great 'eye candy' for the table top and that's what matters.

  11. Happily I find myself very much in agreement with your aesthetic statement.

    I'm sure that my long-term fascination with Napoleonic uniforms is the biggest reason for it being my favourite wargaming period, so a splendid piece of work like this which celebrates the mad variety and colour is just the ticket - bravo!