Thursday 24 November 2022

“Finland , Finland, Finland, the country where I quite want to be…”

 This post looks at the latest unit for my Swedish 1620s/30s army; a unit of Finnish horse, the famed ‘Hackapells’. 

Finnish Horse (the ‘Hackapells’) - 28mm cavalry from 1st Corps Miniatures 

In this period Finland was part of the Swedish Kingdom and so the various Finnish regions provided units of horse to the national army, just as they did in Sweden itself. Although not recruited and equipped differently by design to any other of the Swedish horse, the Finns gained a reputation at the time for: ferocity, scouting, and having an air of Eastern exoticism. 

Their period nickname of ‘Hackapells’ (or perhaps ‘Hakkapeliitat’ in Finnish) referred to their battle cry of “hakkaa päälle!” or “cut them down!” that, no doubt, led to their ferocious reputation.  They often seem to have been used to clear away enemy light horse, such as the Croats, when fighting in Germany, and also to have been used in the role as scouts being Gustav Adolph’s “best Cavallerie for Discoverie”.

As with all of the Swedish horse, it is difficult to be precise about exactly how a particular unit was equipped. We know that in general Swedish horse were often short of armour, and that the Finnish units were from poorer areas of the Kingdom, so I thought a unit equipped only in ‘riding coats’ would work for the Fins. I have seen some suggestion that they wore morion type helmets but I preferred the classic look of the broad brimmed hat, also used in the picture in the Osprey ‘The Army of Gustavus Adolphus (2) - Cavalry’ by Richard Brzezinski.

To represent the Finnish cavalry I have used a set of figures from 1st Corps Miniatures.  (  1st Corps are a long established UK manufacturer of metal figures in 28mm covering an extensive range of periods, including ECW and TYW ranges.  At a recent-ish demo game I was asked if I’d used any 1st Corps figures and I had to admit that I had not, although I’m not sure why (hi to James from Shakos and Sprues!).  I thought this was a good prompt and so when looking for cavalry figures I decided to have a good look through the 1st Corps ranges.  

1st Corps do figures in packs of three but also have ‘unit’ deals for units of 12 figures, which is perfect for my cavalry units. In their ECW range they had a nice set of cavalry with no armour, with soft hats, on galloping horses, and with their sword arms very much suggesting they are keen to cut down the enemy. These seemed perfect for Finnish horse.

The 1st Corps figures are classic metal 28mm figures and needed the typical amount of clean up for figures of this type. The troopers and officer have separate sword hands which have a neat way of attaching to the figures’ arms, and allow a nice amount of variety in how the resulting figures look.  The figures have nice ‘chunky’ details that were easy to paint.  I did do a couple of minor conversions.  I added a ‘Swedish cavalry’ head from Warlord to the officer, and changed the Trumpeter’s montero hat for a broad brimmed hat.   The striking orange coats were again inspired by the Osprey book. 

I couldn’t find flags, known for certain, for the Finnish horse in this period, and so I used a Swedish cavalry cornet from ‘Mikhail Betskii Creation’ that I liked the look of.  1st Corps also do casualties (horses and unhorsed riders) so I was happy to add another ‘wound marker’ base to the collection.  The MDF base is from Charlie Foxtrot.

Next on the painting table I’m looking to try my hand at some resin buildings, which is an interesting change from figures, and the remainder of the Yellow Regiment are also looking at me impatiently from the lead mountain of opportunity! 

Until next time, 

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig (FoGH)


Wednesday 16 November 2022

Salute 50 - Planning For A Major Project Milestone

I find that it really helps my projects to have a target date for them to aim at, and what could be a better target than taking the project to one of the UKs biggest shows.

The 22nd April 2023 will be the 50th Salute show put on by the South London Warlords. As it has been for the last few years, Salute will be held at the ExCeL Centre in the heart of London’s docklands. The Friends of General Haig will be putting on two demo games. One will be my 1627 Dirschau / Tczew game, in 28mm, pitting Gustav Adolph’s Swedes against Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski’s Poles & Lithuanians. The other game will be a Modern 15mm game set in the Middle East (more details to come later!).

Tickets for the show are up for sale here:

Massed Polish cavalry.

Any followers of the blog will be aware that I have been working on the armies for the 1627 Dirschau / Tczew game for a couple of years already, so not too much more to do on the figures. I’m expecting to finish the Swedish army this year, and then complete the Poles, with a crescendo of Hussars, in the New Year. 

Swedish infantry under attack.

Plans for the terrain are also underway.  Here is an outline of the terrain requirements:

  • The overall battlefield will be based on a new fur mat that I am making. The basic shape of 12’ x 6’ is now stuck together, and there is some shaving and painting left to do. 
  • At one end of the battlefield will be the edge of the walled town of Dirschau / Tczew, further defended by earthworks that also encompass the Swedish camp.   The town and earthworks will be using resin models that need to be painted.
  • At the other end of the battle field there will be an earthwork fortified camp for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army.  More resin earthworks along with ‘camp clutter’ required here.
  • There will be two small villages to be added, and also a large area of marsh to be worked out.

Working out terrain placement.
The tricky job of connecting length of fur together. 

As you can see, plenty to keep me busy!  I will continue to provide updates here as the project progresses. 

Until next time!

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig (FoGH)


Wednesday 9 November 2022

Life Guard On Duty

This post covers the latest addition to my Yellow Regiment in Gustav II Adolph’s 17th century Swedish army.

The Life Guard Company - 28mm figures from TAG, Avanpost, Brigade Games and Warlord.

The observant will have spotted that these figures are in grey and not yellow. These figures represent the ‘Drabant’ or ‘Life’ Guard company that were typically brigaded with the Household or ‘Yellow’ regiment. The Life Guard company was the most senior unit in the Swedish army and was always enlisted.  It was the king’s personal guard and so accompanied him where ever he went, including on campaign. While on campaign they would fight in battles alongside the Household (or ‘Yellow’) regiment.

Musketeers and ‘Pikemen’ from TAG

Joining the Life Guard was considered extremely prestigious and it had a high percentage of Swedish nobles and former officers amongst its ranks.  It formed a sort of cadre for the Swedish officer corps with some officers, waiting for appointments, sometimes serving in the Life Guard until a suitable position became available.

While The Life Guard performed ceremonial duties, they were also expected to be effective combat troops, and so were equipped and trained like other Swedish infantry companies; with muskets and pikes. They were uniformed at the King’s cost. As befitted their status, the Life Guard were more richly clothed than other units. Although there is a lot of documentation still available that covers the costs of their uniform, there is very little precise information about exactly how they appeared.

From what I have been able to find out they were equipped with grey clothing in 1622, and had grey cassocks, decorated with silver lace, by 1628.  I have therefore chosen to have my Life Guard in the same style of uniform as the Yellow Regiment, but in grey, and I’ve added some flourishes, like buttons, in silver grey.  The pikemen at some point were equipped with buff coats.  I have chosen to keep them in armour, as this is what the TAG cassock uniformed pikemen are wearing.  I have shown the officers with buff coats under their cassocks.  The pikemen used partizans when on ceremonial duties, and pikes when on the battlefield, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to have the partizans! 

As a relatively small formation I am just representing the Life Guard as a couple of bases, that will form part of the overall Yellow Regiment.  I expect it will be easy to not even notice them amongst the swathes of yellow, but it is the sort of detailed touch that, for me, makes the overall unit fun to collect. 

Command base with Avanpost ensigns and drummer, and officer from Brigade Games

The pike and musket base use the Swedish cassock uniformed figures from The Assault Group (TAG) range.  I also included a command base so that I could have the Life Guard colours produced by Flags of War.  I wanted some suitable officer looking figures and found some in the pile of opportunity that had suitable cassock-like clothing.  The officer, the captain-lieutenant as Gustav himself was considered the captain of the company, is from Brigade Games, and the two ensigns and drummer figures are from Avanpost Miniatures.  I have shown the drummer in a black uniform with yellow trim as these were the colours of Gustav Adolph’s family heraldry.  Musicians are supposed to have fancy uniforms for ceremonial occasions in these colours, but they probably didn’t were them on campaign.  Once again I’ve gone with the pretty option over the more likely! 

Flags from Flags of War

Finally I needed a casualty marker for the Drabants. This one comes from the Warlord Pike & Shotte range.

Casualty figure from Warlord, and counter base from Warbases.

Next on the painting table are some of the Swedes northern brethren, the Fins, and a first for me. 

Until next time!

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig

Friday 21 October 2022

Heavy Horses

This post looks at the latest unit on my painting table, a unit of Cuirassiers for my Swedish army of the 1620s. 

28mm Avanpost Cuirassiers.

This is the second unit that I’ve created using Avanpost’s 28mm resin figures (see the previous one here:  I’m not very confident about the longevity of these rather fragile figures but they are lovely to paint! 

After seeing someone else’s unit with different finishes of 17th century cuirassier armour (hello to Paul Mackay on Facebook!) I decided that I would have a go at a mixture of armour finishes.  I have also always liked the Angus McBride illustration in the Osprey Elites title on English Civil War Cavalry that shows Haselrigge’s lobsters with three types of armour finishes. Untreated metallic armour would have rusted very quickly and so metal armour typically had some form of protective patina added. 

Base coat of mixed gunmetal, black contrast and blue metallic.

Dry brush of steel and dark wash applied.

Blackened armour was probably the most common (and cheapest) finish and this could be achieved by coating the heated armour with linseed oil and soot. To achieve something like this on my miniatures I used a base coat of equal parts of GW Leadbelcher, VMC Blue Gunmetal and GW Contrast Black Templar. Over this a dry brush of GW Ironhands Steel, and then a final wash of thinned GW Nuln Oil.  By adding more of the Blue Gunmetal in the base then a bluer finish can be achieved which was a considered a more desirable, and expensive, finish in the 17th century. 

Base of gunmetal, washed with red-brown contrast.

Dry brush of steel added. 

Russeting was another patina finish which gave a reddy-brown finish, and was most popular in the 16th century.  One 17th century recipe I’ve seen for this suggested oil and vinegar. To represent this I used a base of Leadbelcher with a ‘wash’ of GW Contrast Fyreslayer Flesh. Finally a light dry brush of Ironhands Steel. 

Gumetal base, dry brush with steel, and highlight with silver. Final dark wash. 

It is also possible that some individuals may have kept their armour ‘white’ (plain metal, uncoloured) if they had the available man power to constantly polish and clean it. For this I used a base coat of Leadbelcher, a dry brush of Ironhands Steel, and a wash of Nuln Oil.  For a really fancy finish (for the Cornet) I painted on some VMA Silver as a highlight.

I like the final look of the cuirassier unit in their fancy armour, and it was fun to play armour with the armour recipes. 

The cornet (flag) is from Mikhail Betskii Creation.

The trumpeter rides a Piebald horse, a popular choice in the Swedish cavalry.

As with most of my recent units I added a casualty tracker base for the unit.  This uses one of the lovely Bloody Miniatures ‘Dismounted Cuirassiers’ next to a Avanpost wounded horse.  The base is from Charlie Foxtrot. 

Next time, back to the infantry. 

Until next time,

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig (FoGH). 

Tuesday 4 October 2022

“And it was all yellow”

 This post looks at the latest unit for my 1620s/30s Swedish ‘Yellow’ Regiment. 

28mm figures from The Assault Group (TAG).

The latest unit is another ‘sleeve’ of shot for the expanding Swedish Squadron. All 28mm figures from The Assault Group (TAG). I made one head swap, on the sergeant. The original figure was wearing a Montero, but I preferred to have him in a helmet and so made a swap with a spare TAG figure. 

Rear view showing their swords etc.
Rear view, with the sergeant and drummer on the right hand side.
Casualty from Warlord Games and counter base from Warbases.

I’m definitely getting the hang of these now, and quite enjoying the uniformity. 

The Yellow Regiment, so far. (The command group are from Warlord Games.)

Here are the three completed units together;  the pike unit with two sleeves of shot, and also a command base I completed for the Yellow Regiment sometime ago (all Warlord figures, see here for more details

They obviously know where they are going, and they’re off! (Flags from Flags of War.)

Next on the painting table, a respite from the yellow, and some ‘heavy metal’ horse for the Swedes. 

Close up on the Warlord Games command group.

Until next time!

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig. 

Thursday 15 September 2022

“And it was called yellow”

In this post I look at the latest unit from the painting table, which is again from Gustav Adolph’s ‘Yellow’ Regiment .

Pikemen from the Yellow Regiment - 28mm figures from The Assault Group (TAG).

Following the completion of the first musket ‘sleeve’ last time, I continued with the yellow theme and this time added a pike block. 

Pikemen are more straightforward to paint, than their brethren in the shot, as pikemen do no have the complication of the bandolier with its charges etc. These figures, again from The Assault Group, have full pikeman’s harness with helmet, back and breast plate, and also tassets to protect the thighs. The armour covers up quite a lot of the coat and so there was some small respite from the yellow!

“I’d have been alright if I’d only worn my armour!”

For details of the approach and paints used see the previous post here:

Once the figures were painted I have added brass pikes. Swedish pikes were probably painted black as part of protecting the wood, which I think makes an excellent pike colour. I snipped the pikes down a bit from the 10cm lengths they came in, to 9.0 cm. This was my estimate at getting them to scale with 28mm figures for the 5.3m length that was the real world, defined length, for Swedish pikes at the time. 

Yes, those pikes are as sharp as they look!

These chaps once again look very smart in their matching uniforms and identical poses, just right for Gustav Adolph’s Household regiment. 

Next time the yellow tide continues! 

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig.  

Tuesday 30 August 2022

“Yeah, they were all yellow”

This post looks at the start of a new unit for my 1620s/30s Swedish army; the Yellow Regiment.

Swedish Musketeers advancing, 28mm from The Assault Group (TAG)

“A great body with yellow casacks came up resolutely in formation and with pikes covering their musketeers.” Giulio Diodati, Imperial Quarter Master at Lutzen 1632.

Brief Background

The ‘Yellow Regiment’ was the short-hand or nickname for Gustav Adolph’s Household Regiment that evolved from the Drabant Guard of his father and grandfather.  (It was still properly referred to by the current Colonel’s name.)  During Gustav Adolph’s reign the regiment went through several evolutions. It was always expected to serve on active service, and was often heavily engaged in the action. They were certainly not a formation only used for palaces and parades!  Calling them ‘Yellow’ may actually have followed them being given yellow uniforms in the mid 1620s, and their colours/flags then followed suit in being yellow as well.   (For more general discussion about the Swedish ‘Colour’ regiments and brigades see this previous post .)

When I first started collecting Gustav Adolph’s Swedish army the only unit I already knew about was the famed ‘Yellow Regiment’. Surely a striking spectacle for the miniature battlefield.  Now, fours years later, I am finally starting to paint it.  I suppose a simile for this would be collecting a Napoleonic French army and finally starting on the Old Guard.  Or collecting a German army for WWII and finally getting some King Tigers.  So, it feels like a momentous milestone to have reached.

This sleeve of Muskets has integral command with a sergeant and drummer from the TAG command pack 

Saving the best ‘til last

Why has it taken me so long to get around to this iconic unit?  Two reasons. The first is down to one of the first ‘how-to’ books I read about wargaming, Bruce Quarrie’s Napoleon’s Campaigns in Miniature (still an excellent intro to the Napoleonic period, just perhaps skip using the rules!).  In this book Mr. Quarrie advises on how to go about collecting your chosen army.  He suggests painting a regular Napoleonic ‘line’ infantry unit before every other type of unit. So, for example, paint a line unit, then an artillery battery, then another line unit, then a light infantry unit, then another line unit, then a unit of cavalry, then another line unit, and so on. This means you’ll end up with the majority of your army being line infantry, but you’ll always have something different to paint next to keep your interest going. Mr. Quarrie goes on to suggest that even within this process you should leave the guard until last. His logic is that when you start off painting you will not be as competent as you will be after a dozen or so units.  You want your guard to look their best, and so don’t start them when you’re still ‘getting your eye in’, so to speak.  

I still follow this guideline today.  I try to vary units in my painting queue, even within  the same army, to keep the painting mojo going. I also try to avoid rushing in to those special / favourite units.  The Swedish Yellow Regiment was therefore something to be saved, and savoured.

I like the pose as the musketeers appear to be purposefully advancing on the enemy.

“Yellow is capable of charming God.”  Vincent Van Gogh

The second reason for me taking so long to get to the Yellow Regiment was the colour; the dread ‘yellow’.  As someone who undercoats in black, or at least very dark paint, I have always struggled with achieving good yellows.  This isn’t too much of an issue normally where just the odd accent on a figure has to be yellow, but having the whole figure’s uniform being yellow made me hesitate.  I have watched many videos now on how to paint yellow on figures, many of which have been about some outfit called ‘The Imperial Fists’ who even in the far, far future find yellow an ideal colour to wear on the battlefield. (They are obviously fine soldiers with impeccable taste!). I have tried the undercoat in pink technique, and I have tried many brands of yellow paint, all marketed as giving excellent coverage, but none seeming as wonderful as promised.  In the end it has come down to following the adage of Duncan ‘two thin coats’ Rhodes, and realising you often need multiple coats of some colours, and to let them dry between coats. 

I wanted the Yellow Regiment to have a distinctive look, beyond the yellow uniforms. I decided to have them looking quite uniform and smart in appearance, as befits the Household regiment. I chose to use the Swedes in cassocks from the The Assault Group (TAG) range. I’m not convinced that this style of buttoned cassocks was worn by the whole regiment, but they are very nice figures and they will stand out from my other more rag-tag Swedish units. (I understand that Gustav Adolph did order a batch of longer coats for his troops in the 1620s while fighting in Prussia, so it is possible that his own regiment may have been clothed in something like this coat.)

Figure primed in dark brown

Base colours applied

Wash applied

Highlights applied - ready for varnishing


For this first unit of the Yellow Regiment I started by painting just one figure as a test. I followed my current, normal approach. Brush on prime in a dark brown.  Next base colours blocked in, followed by a wash. Finally highlights to taste.  Happy with the test figure I then cracked on with the rest of the unit.

The rear of the unit.

One down …

The first component part of the Yellow Regiment complete is this ‘sleeve’ of shot. They were surprisingly easy to paint as it’s unusual for me to have such a uniformed unit (I’m normally trying to represent the rag-tag appearance of troops on campaign).  

One thing with having such a distinctive unit is needing a suitable casualty marker.  Sadly there are no wounded/dead TAG figures to match the unit and so I used this Warlord casualty figure.

Warlord casualty on a Warbases 40mm ‘counter’ base.

Perhaps some pikemen next.

Until next time!

Andy @ The Friends of General Haig.