Napoleon on the Bridge at Arcola, 1796
I had the recent pleasure of obtaining a set of 28mm figures from Eureka Miniatures’ “Wars of the French Revolution” range. The figures, sculpted by Alan Marsh, depict a romanticized version of Napoleon’s crossing of the Alpone at Arcola. I had never collected nor painted 28mm figures before, although I have painted thousands of 15mm Napoleonics from over a dozen manufacturers. Upon first inspection, I was pleased that there was very little flash, and the mold parting lines were minimal, almost non-existent, to the point where only one figure needed any work. The figures measured exactly 28mm from toe to eye.
Having never experienced figures of this size before, I was somewhat nervous about making the figures look good. What qualified me to review these figures? Flesh colored blobs of paint would not suffice for faces and hands. But, undaunted, I set to work preparing the figures for painting. As stated earlier, there was little flash or mold defects to correct, and to be honest, I didn’t remove any parting lines. I applied a flat white base coat (I am a minority, always using enamel based paints) that really brought out the superb detail.
The four grenadiers had a variety of poses, and they appear to be historically accurate and better proportioned than my 15mm minis. Having only experienced 15mm figures, I had to do a little extra research to understand what the musket firing mechanism looked like, and what the turnback badges were supposed to be (they are hearts). I’m sure that I have made some mistakes in my color schemes, but the real issue is the whether the detail is there, and it is.
The only real question was which painting scheme to adopt for Napoleon. Contemporary paintings of the bridge crossing differ significantly. In his 1801 painting Gros shows Napoleon with dark hair, bare hands and white breeches, while Vernet depicts him with lighter (and fuller) hair, gloves, and blue breeches. Chartier’s sketch is black and white, so he was not much help. In the end, I compromised, using dark hair and blue breeches. The figure was sculpted with bare hands, and here is where the only reworking of the figures occurred. The flagpole appears to have been designed with Napoleon’s left hand cupping the end of the pole. This seems to me to be an unrealistic pose, so I modified the hand to allow about a centimeter to extend below it. This placed his right hand just below the paper flag that I printed from Alan Pendlebury’s excellent Napflags website. The pose now closely resembled that shown in the Gros and Chartier prints.
The bridge, sculpted by H.G. Walls, was cast in resin, and represented the only real challenge that I faced. The bridge was cast in three pieces. As is common with resins, there was some warping. Using a little adhesive, I had to fiddle with the railings to get them to attach to the bridge deck, but again the result was pleasing. The detail was nice, with nail holes and wood grain visible but not overwhelming. The detail leant itself nicely to dry brushing techniques.
Overall, I was very well pleased with the design and workmanship of the figures. Very little flash, well-concealed parting lines and well-proportioned features provide a very good base for collectors to make an extremely nice diorama. As an average hobbyist with average skills, I was able to produce an extremely nice vignette from these figures.
Reviewed by Dave Camillo.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2009
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