Sunday, November 12, 2017

Connaught Rangers 88th Foot Regiment (or going down the rabbit hole!)

The regiment of 88th Foot, first group completed for my Peninsular British army.

Ever since I mistakenly painted my Spanish Swiss regiment with red coats and then had to laboriously repaint them all blue I've been itching to try my hand at some real red coats. Originally, when I agreed to start painting Napoleonics, I had a deal with two other gaming friends that one would paint the British, the second Russians and I would paint the French. Two or three years later the Russians are close to being fielded on the table, I have about as many French as I need (for the moment!) and have gone on to paint even more Spanish, as the French were tired of having no one to cross swords with. But our other co-conspirator's British output had been - well - slow. In his defence he has many passions that consume his free time and does work a regular 9 to 5, neither of which are things that intrude on my own so-called life. 

So, in support, I have moved on to doing some British! Sadly, choices for Peninsular British in 1/72 plastic are limited. There are the Emhar figures, nice enough but the detail is thinly etched and hard to paint, and they are a bit on the small side. The only other set out there that I'm aware of is the Hat set of Peninsular British. Although this set looks very good and has a range of command figures included, it is, unfortunately, virtually unavailable any longer as far as I can determine!

Some of the Hat Peninsular British that would have made my life so much easier - sadly no longer available anywhere, it seems! (from Plastic Soldier Review)
I started looking further afield, casting my net wider. At first I thought, having done some reading on the subject, that I might get by with light infantry figures as these regiments retained the stovepipe shako used in Spain and Portugal by both line and light infantry right to the end of the wars. They also sported the shoulder wings rather than the small tufts seen on the line shoulder straps but I figured this to be an easy fix. So I ordered a set of the Hat light. But in all honesty, once I took a good look at these figures I could not bring myself to invest time painting such lacklustre plastic soldiers! 

The Hat light infantry - the right shakos for my needs, but oh-so-wooden! (from Plastic Soldier Review)
However, at the same time I had purchased a couple of sets of Italeri 1815 British infantry. These are a beautifully sculpted set and on the Plastic Soldier Review site I had read that half of these were based on the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment which retained the stovepipe shako to the end of the wars. These, I found, painted up beautifully and easily as Peninsular infantry. 

Italeri British 1815 set - Gloucestershire Regiment) (from Plastic Soldier Review)
However, being as frugal as I am I couldn't bring myself to discard the other half of this set, especially as they included a beautifully done drummer boy, a commander and another figure, probably a sergeant, which looked as if it might, with a minimal of work, be converted into an ensign. 

One infantry figure and the three figures I converted to command stand figures. The second from the right is the sergeant, armed only with a crop that I though could adapt to an ensign. (from Plastic Soldier Review)
So I went to work on these, remodelling the shakos, cutting off and adding epaulettes and shoulder strap tufts where needed, etc. The commander needed to lose his shako and gain a bicorne, and his coat was a bit short on the tails which needed lengthening to work as an 1808 coat. The ensign did indeed take a flagpole very well, but needed to lose his shoulder wings, gain an epaulette and a sword, and have all his gear sliced off and turnbacks modelled in. All these things challenged my fledgling modelling skills considerably, but once they were I thought completed worked well from a small distance. You can see the results and judge for yourself!

Sergeant remodelled as an ensign (left) and sergeant with pike and sword (right).
Ensign (left) and sergeant (right) rear view. The ensign required his gear to be cut away and turnbacks remodelled.

Command stand. The officer has had a bicorne and epaulette added and the drummer and ensign were given new shakos. The ensign also received a flagpole, sword, pouch for flag belt, epaulette and some new turnbacks.

Three quarter view.

Rear view showing lengthened coat on officer and remodelling of back of ensign.
And, of course, having started on these three figures I was soon looking at the remaining five on the sprue and thinking about what I could do with these! Being modelled on the 1st Foot Guards, they all had the shoulder wings and a small emblem on the cartridge case (both easy enough to carve off). Some had pants tucked into their gaiters which had to be remodelled into regular trousers and all of them, including the command figures, had Belgic shakos which had to be changed to stovepipe shakos, with the plume moved to the front.

Original Italeri 1st Foot Guards I converted to Peninsular infantry.  (from Plastic Soldier Review)
A stand sporting three of the 1st Guard conversions with pants remodelled, shoulder wings removed and strap tufts and stovepipe shakos added. The kneeling figure front left and standing firing both had their shakos remodelled while the figure with grey trousers received a shako courtesy of the Hat light infantry!
With the first group of 1st Guard conversions I remodelled the shakos with putty but it was tedious work and they didn't really have the tapering profile of the stovepipe shakos. And then I remembered those Hat light infantry that I had been unable to bring myself to paint and found that those shakos, cut off and pinned to the Italeri figures worked quite well (with a bit of judicious modelling!)

So that's my story of disappearing down the Napoleonic rabbit hole, emerging back into the sunlight with the first of hopefully three or four regiments of British line for our games. And in the meantime I still have my eyes out for that Hat set if it ever shows up!


  1. Excellent! I absolutely love your painting style, this unit is wonderful.

    1. Thanks, Phil. I'm glad you enjoyed them! Now that it's posted I'm finding a few more errors to rectify as the British are all new to me - a good reason to post!

  2. Hey Bill I like them. More to see as on Benno's! And that are some real nice conversions!