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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

K.u.K. and gallant little Belgians, in 20mm

My posts on Austria-Hungary appear to have struck a chord. I have yet to fight my way into the loft to dig out my Tradition 54mm K.u.K. fellows, but I have dug into the drawer of lost causes and found some figures that I painted in 1984/5. At that time, I was an impecunious student (not a commoner) of the noble University of Oxford, and could ill afford money for tin soldiers, so I only possess a few of these Great War figures in 20mm:

They are, as far as I remember, by Imperial figures, and some years later, as a slightly better off school master, I discovered, to my regret, that the company was no more. The moral of that tale for war gamers everywhere is 'buy quickly, and in bulk'! The figures were all early Great War period, rather limited in poses, with poorly rendered weapons, but very nicely done uniforms. What is also interesting looking at these figures now is how painting styles and techniques change:

All painted in Humbrol 'Authentics' (that much, much loved range), but with no washes, or highlighting; yet I remember being rather pleased with my efforts. Also from the Imperial range were some of Belgium's finest from 1914:

Line infantry on the left, Carabiniers on the right, with a solitary Guide following up.

In response to my previous K.u.K. themed post, the Duke of Tradgardland recommended an author whom I had not heard of, and a novel about the Imperial Navy in 1914-18. It is, I am pleased to say ordered through Warwick Books, one of the finest independent book sellers known to me, and I shall have the book by tomorrow. Sadly, the English language cover of A Sailor of Austria by John Biggins is not nearly as marvellous as this German language edition:

More than a few shades of that marvellous hero, Corto Maltese here!

Finally, before I sign off, let me mention an excellent middle-aged man's book on Trieste by the wonderful Welsh heroine, Jan Morris, Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (Faber & Faber, 2001). A book for savouring, late at night, when dark thoughts gather in the corner of one's rooms.


  1. Those are some nice looking figures you have there. What rules did you use?

    1. Sadly, I was unable to create sufficient forces to contest the field of glory. Subsequently, I assembled what, for me, were vast ACW armies in 15mm (over 1,000 figures) which fought many a contest using adapted Featherstone rules (I am of that generation).

  2. I love her book on Venice.
    So small scale ww1 is upon the cards? I too have been tempted by 1914 in 20mm/28mm. Splendid chaps by the by.I picture you painting them to the sound of bells amid the dreaming spires...
    I do hope you enjoy the novel.
    Keep up the search for the Tradition chaps I say!

    1. Morris is obviously a very complex person - I look forward to a biography. And, no, no, no, small scale '14 is not on the cards. My psychiatrist forbids it!

  3. There are so nice little soldiers there and I like seeing the way figures used to be painted and I am sure I can find some of mine to. Styles change and simple style will come back again and some may argue it has with dips and quickshades.

    1. Yes, it would be interesting if someone could do a sort of photo essay on changing painting styles. I wonder if the key change came with the great shift to acrylics?