So, why aren't they all wearing Redcoats? WS&S 123 cover model.

By Kevin Dallimore.

The Editor had asked me some time ago to do another front cover diorama for his magazine, but my busy schedule had not allowed me to fit it in until Guy very cleverly tempted me with something he knew I found fascinating: the early British redcoats and particularly another chance to paint some models from the wonderful North Star 1672 range.

The 1672* range was originally planned and sculpted by Mark Copplestone for Copplestone Castings as a range called Glory of the Sun**, and is now being expanded and produced by Nick Eyre’s North Star Military Figures. Both Mark and Nick gave me very valuable help in preparing these figures and this article, and also supplied the figures for free as the proceeds for this are going to charity.

*1672 refers to the year 1672 (known in Dutch as Het Rampjaar, the disaster year) when, in the conflict known in Britain as the Third Anglo-Dutch War, France and her allies Münster and Cologne, invaded and nearly overran the Dutch Republic.

**Glory of the Sun, of course, refers to Louis XIV, the Sun King, 1638 – 1715.

This is the period when John Churchill began his military career, fighting for the French in the British army contingent and when he later became, I think, the greatest British military commander fighting against the French, as the Duke of Marlborough in the War of Spanish Succession. The Editor knows of my high degree of interest in this period and in Marlborough in particular as that’s how he lured me onboard.

For me, this is one of the most interesting periods for the British Army, reborn from the turmoil of the Civil Wars and Interregnum and finding its feet again fighting on the side of an unnatural ally, Louis XIV’s France, against the Dutch (surely the natural ally for the Protestant British as later under William III) for the hidden geo-religious reasons of King Charles II. As a bonus, there are the other overseas adventures of Charles II, the new colonies like Tangiers and Bombay, which came as the dowry of the King's wife, Catherine of Braganza, in 1661. The period's magnificence and the costumes' outrageousness give all the inspiration one could ask for! What's more, the period was one of great change with the rise in of mass, uniformed armies giving the wargamer lots of opportunities to paint colourful, historical pike and shot units. Tactically better drill, the pike's decline and the bayonet's rise brought new ways of fighting.

The composition of this group has changed from what I originally conceived: at first I thought of it a as diorama, and even as I was painting it still did not occur to me that I had painted far too many men! Once I had painted them all, I set them up in their diorama positions with some 3-D printed scenery in the background, and sent a photo off. Guy said he liked what I had done but wasn’t convinced about the composition. So we came to a compromise: I would base them as single models as if they were a wargames unit, giving us maximum flexibility for the cover photography. This was fine with me as I am principally a wargames painter and not a diorama man. After all, WSS is a wargames magazine, so why not have a wargames unit on the front cover? It is true, however, that I didn't really paint enough musketeers and now have some scenery and a wooden base bought for the purpose waiting for another use.

All the colours here are Warpaints by the Army Painter.

Obviously the red was an important colour here, and the green was also key, giving a lie to the old adage, red and green should never be seen without a colour in between. I particularly like the pikes and drummer in reversed colours and the officers in their own crazy civilian clothing, further distinguishing them in rank and social status - delightfully making quite a few men in this redcoat unit non-redcoats!

The red for the coats is as follows:

  1. Chaotic Red plus Dragon Red
  2. Dragon Red
  3. Dragon Red plus Pure Red
  4. Pure Red
  5. Pure Red plus Lava Orange

The green for the turn-backs is as follows:

  1. Goblin Green plus Angel Green
  2. Plus Goblin Green
  3. Goblin Green
  4. Goblin Green plus Daemonic yellow

Goblin Green plus Daemonic yellow mixed with Matt white

The painting follows my usual method starting with a black undercoat, and then working from dark to light shades of colour. Many examples of my way of working can be found in my online magazine which is hosted by Nick Eyre’s North Star Military Figures.

The only slightly unusual thing is the hand-painted flag, made from an old toothpaste tube, salvaged, flattened and recycled from the days when they were made of aluminium (oh, the joy!) The flag is mostly painted while it is flat, then carefully bent to shape and only then was the final highlighting added. The design was kindly drawn on for me by my wife, who is a proper artist; all I did was fill in the colours on her design.

Could it have turned out better?
Yes, I should have done more musketeers to complete the unit. As for the colours, I think the green could have been more subtle and perhaps not everybody should have had a five o’clock shadow - and I need a better colour for their proto-beards.

Kev's excellent diorama is up on Ebay until 5pm Saturday the 15th July. All proceeds from the sale are going to the Royal British Legion.

Here is a link to the Ebay auction:

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