Monday, June 15, 2009

Le Roi danse - La Reine marche

As denoted several times before: For me starting a new gaming project is always an affair of getting in touch with the background - by reading books, watching films or listening to music. However, this approach was somehow reversed by the latest addition to my miniatures' collection. Since my early years I'm a great fan of baroque music, architecture and art. Therefore Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, an icon of this period, has always intrigued me. In consequence one of my first steps into historical wargaming was the search for appropriate miniatures representing Louis' famous army. Back then there were a few ranges, but all of them not my cup of tea. Imagine
my joy (respectively swearing) when Mark Copplestone announced his "Glory of the Sun"-range! Immediately after the selling started, I ordered my first packs. And here's the result:

It's a kind of sample. I just wanted to try if I can handle Copplestone's style. I love most of what he did for Foundry and especially his adventure stuff. Anyway, the variation within his rank & file troops is a bit limited, and he tends to overdraw his figures quite a bit. On the other hand, that makes for expressive characters and clearly visible details. To get an idea take a look at the detail photos.

The miniatures are meant for the period between 1660 and 1680, the time of Louis' wars against the Spanish & German Habsburg and the Netherlands. It's a time of transition: Pikes become obsolete by the introduction of bayonets; battles are won by firepower, the more as the cumbersome matchlocks are substituted for reliable flintlocks; the army is reorganised by state officials, and as such uniforms (famous French grey-white) become common etc.
Unfortunately, other than for the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) there's little evidence what the French army actually looked like at this earlier time. As said above, uniforms were already in use, but not clearly recorded. Therefore my version of the La Reine regiment is rather an interpretation based on the troopers' appearance a hundred years later.

La Reine fought in almost all field battles of the period - which aren't many since warfare was dominated by rather static sieges. But I'm not after trench raiding anyway, so I guess I'll start with some 'what if'-scenarios.
I didn't follow any special basing convention, just my usual 40x40mm bases (with a nice North-West European lawn as can be found in Flanders, Holland or the Rhine area). To date I'm not sure which rules to use for these guys. I've taken a look at Barry Hilton's Beneath the Lily Banners and Crusader's Rank & File, both have their strenghts and weaknesses. Perhaps decision comes when - if ever - my collection will have reached a 'critical mass'...

Some final thoughts about the miniatures:
1) You should be able to cope with Copplestone's style. Skirmish gamers might complain about the lack of variety. Indeed, the miniatures are a bit static, and I avoided boredom only by painting them in groups of 2 musketeers, 1 pikeman and 1 officer. Also the sculpts constrained me to omit painting the eyes, because it just didn't look right (not necessarily a downside).
2) A few miniatures are plagued by heavy flash, quite often in unreachable areas or, even worse, in the face.
3) A minor flaw: Splitting the command groups into separate packs of drummers and officers is quite strange. Furthermore the lack of appropriate weapons for the captains/sergeants (say partisans or halberds) is bothersome.
4) For all its shortcomings Copplestone's range is worth a closer look for everybody interested in this period. Clearly it's a labour of love from a very talented sculptor with attention to details. And, in general, you aren't spoilt for choice, especially for the pre-Marlburian period.
So from me it gets a wholehearted recommendation.

I don't actually know whereto this project is going. Please don't expect any additions too soon - there's also the AWI at hand that calls for another battalion.

Painted in May/June 2009. Additional stuff by GMB (flags) and Front Rank (tassels & scarfs). Film scene from Le Roi Danse (engl. The King Is Dancing), France 2000.


Stephan Huber said...

Wow, these are great! I also felt in love with those CP-sculpts, when I saw them in the newsletter, but got too many other projects on my painting desk.

I really like that grey - interesting to see, how many colours were worn by the french army (white, grey, blue, dark blue - the list is endless!)

I also think, that the blistercombinations aren't the best Mark has ever done- maybe it's a way to get more money, because you need the drummers/standartbearers or officer as well.

As you said, the sculptings are full of details, but very static at all - I really hate those static models - or those which are only "headswaped".

Maybe it's really worth a look in this little range - but have to finish a greek army first!

Giles said...

Outstanding! This the is first full battalion I've seen of these figures, and probably the best I ever will! Interesting comment re the eyes - some figures indeed just don't look right when the eyes are painted in. I'm beginning to find that with Perry figs - I think it's easier to paint the eyes on the figures Alan sculpts than the ones Michael does; that's not a criticism of the latter at all, simply a reflection of different sculpting styles.

Best wishes


Sire Godefroy said...

Thank you both very much! In particular:

Stephan, indeed it's a colourful era. Adding the French regiments originally recruited from Italians, Germans and Swiss to the list, there were lots of different (and lovely) uniform schemes - not to be found in any later period.
Further confusion comes with the varying dyes. After painting French grey-white quite brightly in the past, I decided to darken them a bit this time. I used Granite followed by the first two stages of the Arctic Grey palette (all Foundry). It's up to you, if you like it better or not...

Giles, you really embarass me! Just compare it to what other painters over on Steve Dean's have achieved.
Anyway, regarding the eyes: Leaving them out makes the miniatures look a bit more determined - as if they fix the enemy against the sun. It's a nice effect, although I prefer to have proper sculpts with eyeballs and lids. Just a matter of taste. ;-)


Militia Light Dragoon said...

Absolutely Marvelous!

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Very nice looking regiment!Excellent work!I really like these less traveled periods and your doing a fine job.


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