I’ve finally begun painting figures for my Philippine project. I’ve finished the Tiger Miniatures Philippine scouts. More about them later. But that brought me to the first of my non American units. Should I choose something easy like your basic bolo-armed melee troops, or try something more difficult?
The unfortunate Spanish troops who unwittingly were swept up in John Hay’s “splendid little war” were clothed in rayadillo. It is a pin-striped cotton garment, well suited in its light weight for the tropics of Cuba and the Philippines. It also has a certain camouflage quality as the stripes just fade into the background. Many of Emilio Aguinaldo’s troops in the army of the Philippine Republic likewise wore these as they looted Spanish supply depots and armories around Manila when the the Spanish happily capitulated to American troops in 1899. I will have about 60 figures to paint in this pin striped garment.
My first unit is of Spanish infantry. There were many Spaniards that guarded Manila until the Treaty of Paris was ratified and the commander of Spanish troops made an implicit “deal” with General Wesley Merritt in charge of American forces in the Philippines. With a nod and a wink, after a brief bombardment by U.S. naval vessels, the Spanish withdrew from fortifications guarding the city. The Philippine forces nominally allied to the American forces, feeling betrayed, looted the Spanish supply depots, taking Mauser rifles, ammunition and many of the interesting Spanish uniforms.
I have no intention of painting the Spanish army of 1898 or 1899. However, there is a suggestion in my reading that some Spanish troops may have joined the Republican forces as well-paid mercenaries or as prisoners fighting for the Republic..
Ugh. Thankfully the Miniaturas 1898 website has some useful painting guides for their excellent figures, including one just devoted to the rayadillo.
I set out trying to paint my several hundred figures for this project using the recommendations offered Javier Gomez “El Mercenario,” the featured artist on the 1898 Miniaturas website. Look, the guy is better than me, a lot better. Not only that but we paint using different styles, beginning with the fact that he is a black primer with highlights kind of guy, while I am a white primers with one highlight and washes kind of guy. Even so I gave it a try. The pictures begin with the figures in process and the completed unit. Here are some of my observations
- Even though I work differently than the method suggested, it went fairly well. The highlighting suggested was interesting, and I could see it working as I was painting.
- The Rayodillo creates a kind of illusion. There is no way anybody can paint tiny little pin stripes that stay straight on a dozen 28mm figures without going blind or jumping off a bridge. You’re only painting groups of partial stripes on the areas where the uniform is stretched tightest–knees and elbows, the skirts of jackets, etc.
- It went pretty fast. I did 11 figures-still need to do the officer-during the Husky game on Saturday I completed all the pin-striping.
- The 1898 figures are a joy to paint. Beautifully cast, well proportioned, crisp detail, but not over-detailed.
- Gomez offered three different combinations for painting and highlighting. I chose the darkest version (Vallejo gray-blue + cork brown, lightened with white in highlights.) I ended up with uniforms that were much darker than I intended. Certainly there are illustrations of this uniform that seems quite gray, but it feels too dark to me.
- I tried to paint the entire unit of twelve at once. I usually paint small units all at once. Just force of habit. My next rayodillo unit I will paint six at a time. I kept worrying about running out of the highlighted colors, and especially when I was painting the stripes (the third highlight.) That also allows me to try to mix two of the different paint formulas for the uniform.
- The pin striping is a challenge. You have to use a tiny brush, and honestly there isn’t a tiny brush tiny enough. You also have to stay on the point of the brush, and that’s very difficult given the angles I found myself holding my brush at times. I feel like my guys often look like they are in prison uniforms.
- Clean your brush regularly. The paint tends to cake at the tip. Thin your paint so it flows more easily off your tip.
This is my first try. It is my only Spanish unit, but I expect to do four units of Philippine infantry in rayadillo as well. I may just stick with it until they are done. Certainly my next unit will be in the pin stripes. We’ll see about the rest. Regardless, I’ll be painting more in my own style for most of the figure, except for the major uniform pieces, ie, pants and shirt and hat. The rest will be all Kevin, for better or worse.
Tiger Miniatures: Philippine Scouts
I wrote about these guys a little bit. They are finished, but I’m pretty non-plused by the outcome. To start with, they just aren’t great figures. The hat is too small. Heck the figures are too small, and the American officers I used are too large. Lots of fiddly detail that is really hard to pick out very well. The good thing about them is they are sort of representative of a valuable unit type.
I started with these guys, and used the Pedro Gomez method. I wasn’t very happy with the outcome. The highlighting over the Dark Prussian Blue just didn’t cgme out very well. I don’t think I was liberal enough with the highlights and the amount of lighter paint–and it just didn’t work that well with the castings.
Best part about these figures was the rifles. Worst part about these figures were the faces. No eyes on these guys. Maybe it’s just my advanced age, but combined with the castings, I just played it safe.
Hal Far Airfield done
I mentioned, a while back, that I ordered the RAF airfield miniatures from Pico Armor. They are by Brigade Miniatures, and they join just a bucket of great 3mm terrain offerings from that British company. There are times I just want to order some of their goodies because they’re so cool. Right, I need another project like a hole in the head.
Just to add to what seems like desolate terrain, I’ll distribute some of the terrain bits I used for my Sluys game back in the day. It would be cool to have some 1/600 scale planes in the hard stands, but I just can’t go there. My wife would kill me. Hell, I’d kill myself.
On the Painting Table
I am preparing a dozen British bombers for their Malta home. There are some great scenarios to use them in, whether it is attacking airfields in Sicily, or giving the Axis a taste of their own medicine with attacks on their convoys. But right now I have my first Philippine unit on the painting table as well as a pair of Vietnam-era electronic warfare planes. These are a pair of Shapeways A-3 Skywarriors, which is very similar to the Air Force B-66 Destroyer. Originally intended to deliver nuclear weapons, they gradually were relegated accompanied bombing missions over North Vietnam while trying to fool Hanoi’s radars.