Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, I reached my goal of having painted 10,000 figures by Jan. 1 2010, and now have a small Early German army with which to challenge my Celts and Romans. (One of the warbands is pictured above).

The actual total now stands at 10,006 figures finished. While I'm happy to have achieved the goal, I won't be setting any similar targets in the near future. It became just a little too much of a high pressure race near the end.

I do still have lots of painting to do, but I'll proceed at a more leaisurely pace from here. Also, I want to devote some of my free time to battles and maybe even some campaigns.

I'll have to see what 2010 can bring.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

First Unit of Russian Streltsi Done

I was hoping to get three of these done before the end of the year, but with the (mostly) gloomy days now closing in fast, I doubt I will accomplish that - which means my Russian army from the early 1600s won't be ready in time to fight a campaign against my Swedes as my first "event" of 2010.

These pics don't show the lace on the front of their coats - lots of fiddly detail on these guys, which is why I need good light for painting. I'm using blue, black and white as the main colors for these guys as it gives kind of "icy" look, which goes well with the cold climte they often fought in - especially against the Swedes.

(With these guys done, the count is now 9,930 painted - only 70 more figures to do to reach the 10,000!)

As far as the history behind the unit is concerned......

The streltsi were created by Ivan “The Terrible” in 1550, and were Muscovy’s first standing army. They first saw combat at the Seige of Kazan in 1552.

Initially, they were only 3,000 strong, but grew in numbers and proved themselves effective on the battlefield, quickly becoming an elite force. At their peak, they were the backbone of the Russian armies that fought the Poles, Swedes and Turks, amongst others. As time passed however, they became more concerned with their prestige and influence than military prowess, and by the late 1600s, did not perform well in combat.

Streltsi regiments were divided into companies (sotnia) of 100 and desyatki of 10, with a regiment (prikaz prior to 1681 and later polk) varying in size from 600 to 1,000 men strong, at least in the 1670s. The regiments were named after their colonel (“Chief of prikazi”), and colonels and officers of higher rank had to be nobles, appointed by the government.

(My units will comprise 45 figures, which, using a scale of 1 figure = 20 real men, gives a regimental strength of 900 men, which fits nicely.)

They wore no armour except helmets, while their issued clothing was semi-uniform from an early stage, with regiments wearing different colours, including red, blue and green. Their name meant “musketeer”, and they were armed with the flintlock musket, which remained in use until the end of the 17th century, when it was phased out. They also carried a sabre, and an axe with a crescent blade (bardiche) which also served as a rest for the musket.

In addition to their participation in military operations, streltsi performed general guard duty, and also carried out general police and fire-brigade functions.

The streltsi became a very conservative body, and soon drew the contempt of Tsar Peter “the Great”, who used their attempted revolt in 1698 to massively reduce their numbers and power. By 1710, they barely existed as a force within the Russian army.

Although they existed for over 150 years their appearance did not change greatly for most of that time. They wore a traditional costume of a heavy kaftan-coat with lacing on the chest, plus a fur-trimmed cap and long boots. Over the left shoulder they had a leather belt (berendeyka) which supported the small wooden containers full of powder, plus another powder flask on the right hip. Finally they also had a bullet bag and spare match cord. The officers would be more finely attired, as you might expect.

Between these guys and all the Russian horsemen I've painted up this year, I'm looking forward to seeing how they perform on the battle field - when they finally do make it there!