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"[GS_] Minifigs Horses- Their Use and Care." Topic


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Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2021 5:03 p.m. PST

Minifigs Horses- Their Use and Care.
© dww 2021. All Rights Reserved

Part One
More or less a treatise on using the Miniature Figurines Limited (UK) Napoleonic and associated range of 25mm horses for wargaming.

I was intending to make a single large posting, however some technicalities arose so I will make a few parts, or serialise when available.

Background
Having been a modeller and wargamer for over 40 years you get to know stuff, and want to do things that break the mould. This includes discovering that what manufacturers make, or describe, ain't necessarily so. Whether this applies to smaller ranges like 15mm I do not know, being that most figres are sold in ‘sets', the adaptations being suggested may be more problematic. See what fits so to speak.

With that in mind I offer a few thoughts on using them for a French army (in my case Consulate/ early Empire 1805 to 1807). Though be aware I'm ‘retro-backdating' to some French Revolutionary corps where I can. So things
also change when ‘going backwards in time'.

Their range is well documented on web site (no pics tho), in an old 1980s actual published catalogue (£3-00 I think) and a digitised version of same.

The range is also incredibly thorough and a masterly made with integral horse ‘furniture' cast on. This can be a blessing or not. I will go through the main range and offer alternatives and recommendations as I use them. The web site listing is also their ordering form- note that the horse variations ‘A' are listed next to the main number, unlike the hard copy catalogue where they appear in a separate part of the page as ‘Extras'.

The ‘designation' assigned to their models are well known for a particular purpose and year or era. However a mixture of horses (meaning as well the horse furniture as we call the saddlery) can be very easy to accomplish; whether for any unit or specialised ones. Virtually every rider will fit every horse- except not- some have long coat tails and are wider than the offering gaps for riders atride the horse may offer. The cause is often the portmanteau ‘uniform case' attached to the rear of the saddle blaket area.

While my focus is the French Grande Armée, I do utilise horses from several other nations where these are quite literally, a near copy or close enough to what the French used. This is probably the most notable amongst the horses used for Generals, staff and mounted regimental officers. I'll actually leave those till last.

A note on the photographs, taken of my own collection- some have been stripped from previous use paint jobs, others new and untouched straight from the manufacturers (now Caliver Ltd). The number of the scale ruler cutting mat nearest the horses head is the same as their ‘N' number in catalogue- rather than annotating all the pics myself. N being for Napoleonic of course, not Horse!

The Cavalry
Easy one first. Let's look at the light cav so necessary and popular among gamers.

Light Cavalry- N 14 French Chasseur/Hussar/Line Lancer (Charging) and N 14a French Chasseur/Hussar/Line Lancer (Standing).
The normal pose cited as charging, or galloping perhaps as best modelled is a long stride pose that does create a few concerns with basing models. However it is a useful and generic horse as described for troopers, elites and some variation of Revolutionary units. Also can be used for variety if making ‘mounted' gunners for early horse artillery.

IMG_4915_H.

While the ‘Standing' model isn't for every unit, they can be mixed in. Where I need and use these are amongst the many generals and command elements that exist- not galloping around the games table but in need a quiet and reflective stop and view of other events.

So trumpeters, guards or guides get these horses. The sheepskin wasn't all that widespread in pre-Napoleonic years, so other horses come into use as well.

A variation I indulge for ADC's horses is the other shown- N 9 British Light Dragoon (Charging) horse with rounded schabraque corners. (There is also the N 9a British Light Dragoon (Walking) variant.

Not typical ‘Empire' but certainly they were seen under French during the Revolution and Consular-1805 campaign. You can also cheat and paint the effect of a rolled/ folded up corner of normal schabraque which is often depicted in artistry.

The next model is N 15 French Guard Lancer/Scout Lancer (Cantering) and N 15a French Guard Lancer/Scout Lancer (Standing).

IMG_4912_H.
As cited these are directed as ‘Guard' horses. However, many units also used the plain schabraque and in particular officers and NCOs, ADC's and some entire units who had alternative sources of supply used them.

Again the walking version is preferable for ADCs and command figures. While not a lot of officers would carry a portmanteau, it seems the sensible ones did carry them if they were likely to be separated from their supply lines or dinner table- and what self-respecting light cavalier wouldn't be out marauding anyway?

The actual officers horse N 16 French Officer Chasseur/Guard Lancer is the

IMG_4913_H.

most ubiquitous and widely used horse for any light cav officer, NCOs, ADCs and even generals with suitable added painted laces. Even heavy cavalry generals are known to have used them pre-Empire. Thus these are certainly NOT just for ‘Guard' troop types.

In addition, the ‘specialist' horse furniture N 17 French Officer (Leopard Skin Type/Galloping) and N 17a French Officer (Leopard Skin Type/Standing) of wealthy and elite officers.

IMG_4911_H.
You will find these amongst all those other light cav types above- again and later into the Empire more used by commanding officers, ADCs to Corps commanders and Marshals, as well as elite company officers etc. Even the odd cuirassier general/commander used them in the Rev-Consular and Empire periods!

The ultimate in wealth and decadence I guess is the tiger skin- N 32 Murat or other Marshalls (sic). While I have no use for a Murat, I've given my 30 yr old painted version to the officer commanding my Mamelukes compagnie.

IMG_4916.

You really do need to examine photos of actual living tigers to get a reasonable painted ‘effect' on this prancing pose.

N33 Mameluke Officer on Tiger skin.

End Of Part One.
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Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2021 2:43 p.m. PST

NB again-
The number of the scale ruler cutting mat nearest the horses head is the same as their ‘N' number in catalogue- rather than annotating all the pics myself. N being for Napoleonic of course, not Horse!
Also note that the 'A' variant (for Alternative?) horse are not all the same pose type either.

Part Two
Commanders, Other Officers and Regimental Officers and ADC's.

I'm being cautious and not heading these as ‘Generals' horses, as while that is one area of application, and perhaps singlely important in games, there are many other types of ‘officer' abundant in the period.

While humans like to adopt the notion that once things are ‘made' there is an unbroken continuum, this period shows us that nothing, not even cast in stone (or lead in this case) is ‘fixed' forever.

While several of the most useful and popular officers horses are given in Part One, we'll touch here on a wider variety. However let's start with the easiest first.

N 33 Napoleon's Horse, a much gilded horse blanket and decoration that is useful for him, but also other senior, meaning Marshals and ‘dignitaries', or commanders-in-chief.

IMG_4908_ N33_H.

See the full catalogue album by DaveW, on Flickr.

With a suitably dark crimson colouration (they were not scarlet) and a toning down of the fringes and lace, any commander-in-chief can use these to differentiate them from subordinate generals.

The fringes can be slightly filed down gently, or even ‘filled-in' with modelling putty to a degree that makes them lest ostentatious.

Now, looking at both the catalogue and range of horses, you will note that Minifigs, rather bizarrely I think, doesn't specify a ‘generals' horse to use.
Yes they do make a ‘recommendation' in the print catalogue, but who apart from me uses one?

Sure you can do your own research etc. but still strange that given the development of our hobby, so much is supplied ‘ready to go' except these important animals. So what to do?

IMG_4910_N6_H.

Well thankfully we are covered. So what do ‘plain generals' use? Well it's not exact as the French design but so close no-one will know- the classic N 6 British Officer Heavy Cavalry (Holster/Walking) and N 6A British Officer Heavy Cavalry (Holster/Standing)- see next photo below for N6A.

It is a smaller horse blanket, classic two (double) tiered holster caps with lace. Note that Minifigs didn't make the 'A' variant an exact copy of the ‘N6'!

So this is the go-to horse for French Generals, commanders, regimental officers and most of the ‘staff' known as ‘Etat-Major' across the structure of armies, as Chiefs of Staff, their Assistants or ‘adjoints', and the various (unless depicting ‘corps' type dress) supporting bodies and corps.

But like having a single figure to represent a lot of generals it does get tedious looking at them. So N 6A British Officer Heavy Cavalry (Holster/Standing) presents, as noted a standing horse suitable for the variety and need for ‘supports' officers. The difference made between the two, is the design of the horse blanket being longer and more pointed corners, with distinctive double row of lace not shown on the ‘N6'.

While Minifigs recommends N 12 French Officer Dragoon/Cuirassier/Carabinier horse (see below) with triple tiered holster caps for ‘Generals', this really only applies to a smaller proportion, and later period subset of them. Shown here with comparative N6A type.

IMG_4905_N6A-N12_H.

It is useful for mainly cavalry generals and staff- the ‘reserve' made up of Cuirassier regiments; Dragoon brigades and Divisions; and the all important ‘corps' of La Garde Imperiale, where nearly every regiment was commanded by a General officer, while some senior ranks of their cavalry regiments also used them. A rather mixed bag (more to follow on this). Again I prefer to show commanders in more static poses than galloping around the field!

You can choose to paint out or not paint the second layer/ line of lace depicted by the N6A to downgrade the effect. Conversely this horse is useful also for trumpeters and officers of the Garde ‘Grenadiers'. Why? Because I believe they erred in their research when they recommend an associated horse, N 13 French Officer Empress Dragoon/Horse Grenadier.

IMG_4906_N13_H.

This horse is similar to the N12 horse, but with curved triple tiered holster caps instead of angular. Now, this is the correct horse type for Guard "Empress Dragoon" officers as specified (even though they are an 1806 development), and the Gendarmes de l'elite officers.

It was also used, in the Consular/ early-Empire for Guard Generals- this may be inferred from the Minifigs ‘Officers' wording but I'm not sure.

It appears from 21stCentury research that many early illustrations confused ‘regimental' and General officers, and thus manufacturers have done the same. While various ‘regimental' equipment was used, and changed, Generals and ‘staff officers' also used ‘some' attributes of the regiments they commanded.

In the discussion around schabraques and holsters the Grenadiers a Cheval, and Gendarmes de l'elite (from 1804 in the Guard establishment but also as used by the ‘line' corps)- for the former used the angular form, and the latter the round ones. Whether this ‘cross-over' occurred deliberately or accidentally as a matter of records made later I'm unsure. The former corps used gold and aurore distinctives; the latter silver and white.


Another horse useful for lower echelon generals and many regimental officers and ADCs is the N 3 British Officer, Life Guard/Heavy Dragoon. This was a widely used form by the French during the Revolution and Consular periods.

IMG_4909_N3_H.

Consisting of a standard horse blanket and single holsters, a demi-schabraque of partial sheepskin was applied over the holsters providing a waterproof cover to them.
You can paint them more or less fancy, or increase the sheepskin cover as a ‘demi-schabraque' as they were noted by Rousellot (I think).

Another early era version is made in the form of a ‘troopers type' N 5 British Heavy Cavalry (Holster), similar to the officers with N6/6A.

Plain horse blanket with single ‘old fashioned' holster cover. In this case I've used one for my 1805 Cuirassiers (trompette 12eme Regiment) who utilised a vast array of extant stores

IMG_4914_N5_H.
and material inventory left over from the later Revolution and Consular periods.

The core ‘12' Cuirassier regiments organised as army ‘reserve' divisions from 1803 integrated both men, stores and equipment from all their ‘Cavalry' regiment predecessors while others converted to Dragoons, taking their ‘stores' with them. As items were replaced and revised under a more diligent Empire from 1804 onwards, so these regimental variations faded from view.

The horse equally fits in for regimental officers or ADCs to generals of all kinds and corps. ADCs were often just seconded ‘regimental' officers on assignment, at first at least, and thus took their ‘regulation horses' with them. While others were permanent and adopted the decorative 'dress' regulations that became the vogue.

End Of Part Two.
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