A couple of months back, I picked up a book on the First Afghan War, more on a whim than anything else. It was 3 quid, hardly a sum to break the bank and the conflict did offer some minor interest. The book was "The Return of a King" by William Darlymple and it offered a very exciting glimpse into India and Afghanistan of the 1830s and 1840s. The description of one of the cavalry regiments, Skinner's Horse with its commanding officer Sikander Sahib (James Skinner) was particularly evocative.
Yellow tunics, red belts and turbans, lances and matchlocks, what's not to like? I spent sometime debating whether I really needed to start collecting miniatures from another time period (seriously?) and after some debate, I spent roughly ten pounds to order three packs of Skinner's Horse from Lancashire Games. These are for the Sikh Wars where the regiment also fought, so they were close enough to what I wanted.
These are probably of Skinner's Horse at the time of the Afghanistan invasion. Needless to say, the figures I have did not look like that exactly. However this has never been a problem in the past, nor will it be in the future. After about a week of work, I had my unit.
Needless to say, unpainted they don't look like much, especially the horses. But the detail was there and these are aimed to mass combats, not skirmishes. Whatever faults would be hidden by the mandatory three feet of distance and the unit itself.
Not wanting to spend more time or money than necessary, I did not order an Osprey Book on the Honorable East India Company or the Sikh Wars, I looked around on the web. Lots of images around, including some from a reenactment group. Google them, they are spectacular. This however, from, the Army Museum if I am not mistaken is breathtaking.
As you can see, they fall into that much maligned wargaming category; they paint up well. However, they will more than look the part on the gaming table. I am not sure I did justice to the regiment's original colours (the yellow does not look close enough to the one in the paintings but it looks closer to the one the reenactors use). The white trousers are barely visible, but these are one piece castings, and reaching all the details was not easy. I painted the saddle blankets red, yellow and white, having seen all colours used.
I like the end result. Painting Indian skin tones was an interesting exercise. So was manoeuvring my brush to reach all crevices. Will I paint more First Afghan War miniatures? Yes, they are very colourful and the unit histories are fascinating. I ordered some Bengal Horse Artillery (whose uniforms have to be seen to be believed) and some Sepoys. Will I game them? Maybe. I am thinking about getting either Colonial Adventures by Two Hour Games or Larry Brom's The Sword and the Flame. My units will be based so that they can be used with both of these systems.
That's all from the Greek Geek workbench and London.