Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Making Prussian Soldiers

Matt mentioned in the comments of the last post he was looking forward to seeing the construction notes. My construction of cavalry is a bit simpler than for infantry and artillery. The problem is this:

Those ugly gaps
When I built my Dark Ages troops (in a hotel room while on a business trip) I made each figure separately, then glued them together, then glued them to the bases (when I returned home). And there were those ugly gaps. Now I could fill them in with hot glue, but sometimes that does not look right.

The second problem:

Cheap plastic tube beads
These things are incredibly cheap and make great legs for the horses. Of late I have been using them for the bodies of infantry too, rather than round or square beads, as I did above with the Dark Ages fyrd. When you add the 'rifle' and the hot glue 'arm', the proportions seem better.

With cavalry, you have two points of contact for gluing – the front and the back legs – but with infantry you only have one, and that one small surface area does not seem to be strong enough to hold. Now I have some smaller wooden beads on the way to replace these tube beads, but I wanted to show how I made the last Prussians.

First, I created a template.

Template for Loose Infantry unit
Wait, what? The problem with the bodies being so much small than the head is that it is really hard to judge the spacing between the figures when you are gluing the smaller body down. In order to ensure a nice formation, the template allows you to plan your spacing. This template has a screen of four skirmishers and a formed body of eight in two ranks.

Clamp the template to a second base
Using clamps and a Dremel I can then drill the holes into my base. Note that the holes in the template will get a little wider over time as you keep re-inserting the drill as slightly different angles.

Do a batch of bases
As I work at home and I sometimes have long telephone conference calls, I can sometimes drill a base or two in the spare moments. No one on the conference call is even aware I am in the background drilling away!

My artillery template
I have even made a template for the artillery. The base is used on the short edge, making artillery bases 1/2 as wide as infantry and cavalry bases, but twice as deep. The gunners will be where the holes are while the limber will be in the backfield, facing away from the gun. Turn the horses forward and the gun is limbered; turn them backwards and the gun is deployed.

Back to the tutorial. I now hot glue matchsticks into the holes.

Snipped matchsticks
I snip off the excess length of the matchsticks. I only need a short piece to secure the bead. (The remainder of the match stick will be re-used for the next base.)

Hot glue the plastic tube beads on
As you can see, the plastic tube beads fit snugly onto the matchsticks, securing them to the base.

Don't forget to trim the bottom!
I give the bottom of the base a quick brush or two with a sanding block so the base sits flush with the table.

It seems like a lot of work, but it really is not. I may be able to forgo this step by using smaller wooden beads for the body, like 4mm or 6mm round beads, especially if they provide sufficient hold. But as long as I have those tube beads, I will probably need to do this. (Your get 1,000 beads for about $4.)

This next shot shows the figures with the 'head' on. I do not recommend that you put them on at this point. I have only done it for illustration purposes so you can see the formation and spacing.

They are starting to look like Prussians!
For the rifles I use toothpicks or mini-dowels. As I use the points on toothpicks for spears, lances, and muskets with bayonets, it would take a lot of toothpicks, using center the center portion (saving the pointed ends for spears and muskets), so I use Woodsie mini-dowels.

Not as cheap as toothpicks, because you buy them from the craft store
I use figures in firing and advancing poses, along with the figure holding the rifle 'at the trail' and at 'left shoulder arms'. For firing and trail poses, I cut about a 9mm length of mini-dowel.

No, I don't really break out the caliper
Using that one as a model, I cut the others at "about" the same length. For advancing find the ones you cut a little longer and use those. The longer length looks better for them. For the shoulder arms pose, cut them about 1-2mm longer.

Shoulder arms poses should get longer rifles
So I start with the skirmish line in front. I put a small dab of hot glue on the right side of the figure. Just enough to tack the rifle down.

Step 1 of the firing pose
With the rifle in place I use more glue on top of the rifle (at the butt end) to make an 'arm'.

One of the annoyances of using hot glue are strands of plastic 'hair', created as you pull the gun away from the dot of glue you deposited. I use the same tool for snipping these as I used for snipping the mini-dowels: plastic modeling sprue snips.

For the second rank, I like the idea of using the trail arms pose. Again, tack the rifle to the body with a minimal amount of hot glue.

Add more glue to make the arm and hand.

Don't worry about it being perfect, paint will camouflage it.

Non-metallic tweezers
Because I added the head onto the bodies too early in the process, you may need to use tweezers or a sharp hobby knife to get the rifles on the figure. Better to put the heads on last for this rank because space is tight.

I had to use a few different poses for this rank due to the space being too tight to get all of the rifles at trail. No problem though. Still looks good.

Finally, we put the rifles on the last rank. For this, the heads will need to be on as if the rifles are already attached and they are not perfectly arranged, you will not be able to glue the heads on.

The figure on the left side of the base should get a little more glue so you can paint the arm and hand (as it is exposed).

I use black gesso on all of my wood figures now. It helps fill the pores, so less paint is required, and if you miss a spot with paint, it looks like shadow. It is especially critical you hit the base with the gesso.

No these are not Prussians, they are more Dark Ages troops
Not only does the gesso fill the wood pores, it helps fill in small gaps and helps further glue and strengthen the final figure. I am very liberal with my coating, so it typically takes 30 minutes or so before you can start painting. If you are doing these in batches then by the time you finish with the last the first should be dry and ready to go or close to it.

Next I have to figure out how to make an artillery piece at this scale. Artillery was a problem at the large scale too, but I did finally figure it out, although the piece was big and required a lot of work.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, I did not realize you were using hot glue on these guys. I have been sticking with white glue, we will see if mine stand up to the test of being played with in a game situation. I like how you secured them to the base.




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