Forthcoming Gardes Françaises Models

Clibinarium - Some preview pictures of two packs of Gardes Françaises that should be released in a few weeks time. These figures have been based on the images found in Giffart's "L'Art Militaire François" of 1696, an illustrated drill book for French infantry, which shows the uniforms of the Gardes Françaises, in detail unusual for the time. Presumably the Gardes were taken as the model for all French infantry regiments. To what extent this drill was implemented  throughout the army is difficult to say. At this time dress and drill were variable as the King and his ministers strove to impose universal systems and colonels tried to put their own spin on their regiments (which they usually owned). If only we had more such pictorial evidence for the period. A beautiful book, it can be viewed almost in its entirety here.

I took the plate Mousquets sur l'épaule as the model for the musketeer figures, though I decided to replace the matchlock with a flintlock, since the matchlock was declining in ratio to the flintlock from the early 1690's, officially abandoned in the last month of the century. I do take the point that one could follow what was obvious present in these illustrations. I did not want to complicate matters with some figures having matchlocks and some flintlocks and assumed that the Gardes would get the best equipment first. This issue may be revisited with the ordinary French infantry if people indicate that they would like to see a mix of firearms in a pack.

For the pikemen I did not copy a drill position directly, though they are quite close to Pique en terre . I tend to imagine the pikemen standing around a bit bored most of the time, especially as these are not "in action" poses.

The Giffart plates show many of the Gardes in a rough tricorn, usually associated in wargamer's shorthand as signifying the post 1700 period. Guérard's engravings of cavalry also show similar large tricorn shapes in 1695. Of course the transition was gradual and seems to have begun relatively early in the 1690's. I think tricorned figures are fine to use in the 1690's and the unpinned hat is probably fine in the 1700's as hats would go out of shape in the rain. I have given a number of these figures the rough tricorn shape to suggest the growing trend, some in the almost back-to-front position from some of the plates.

Sculpting wise, these figures had a bit of a tortured journey. Owing to the lace on the coat it was decided that it would be best to make a dolly of the musketeer pose as to add them to plain coats individually would have been a time consuming (approaching 150 pointed button hole loops altogether). The first dolly turned out to be too short in from knee to heel, so the 'green' was refitted with longer legs, and the one of the resulting metal dollies was converted to a pikeman's pose with the addition of a cuirass. Then these  second dollies were judged too short from pelvis to knee (so was the first one, logically speaking). Rather than go for a third draft, the casts of the faulty second dollies were put to use. Since they were all flawed in proportion they had to have their legs cut off and their coats lengthened, and that can bee seen in photos where the dolly is plainly distinguishable from the grey putty of the chopped and replaced parts. This defeated the time saving purpose of dollying, but saved the expense and delay of recasting a third draft of the dolly. In the end I was satisfied that the right result had been reached eventually. Unfortunately the quickest way to learn about proportion is to get it wrong.

We are currently awaiting the casting of a new set of blank dollies which are designed to help give a consistent height and heft to all Warfare Miniatures infantry. It is something of an experiment, but hopefully it will be worth the effort. The first figures to be done with the new dollies will be the Gardes Françaises officers to go with these figures.