Box art picture of the sprues

Masterbox Hussars

Project start 2016-03-10

Build thread

I've started assembly of the larger bits. This is going to be such fun..
There's bits of flash and heavy mouldlines everywhere, sometimes obscuring hard to repair detail. Fit isn't too glorious, which means further detail wrecking work. MasterBox have chosen to mould many of the straps and belts directly onto the bodies of man and beast, further complicating matters. Historex horses have been derided for being less than appropriately barrel-chested, but this one is just as bad, and has very thin legs to boost.
Glue needs to set very thoroughly before continuing, so I'm calling it an early night.

The kit includes quite a lot of flexibility. There two different saddles, cloth shabraque for officers, and sheepskin for everyone else, choice of shako or kolbak for centre and elite companies respectively, pelisse worn or over the shoulder, choice of differently posed arms for both of these options. I'm looking into the possiblity of digging up a pair of appropriate legs from the spares box, and squeezing a second figure from all this.

I give Master Box full points for daring to take up Napoleonic subjects and for their general approach, but really, they have a thing or two to learn yet..

I just fillered up the gaps in the various bodies. The scary part will be sanding all this smooth later, while minimising loss of detail; not easy, since some of the seams cut right through some fiddly detail. I'll almost certainly lose some of the moulded on straps on the horse, but then, these weren't so great to start with, and are easily replaced later.

wedged legs

I've done some digging, and found that the hussars' service dress included very simple pantaloons extending all the way down over the boots. With some fiddling, a pair of legs from an Airfix Coldstream Guard should do the job. First stage in that fiddling is fixing the rather silly leaning forward pose Airfix burdened the poor Guardsman with all those years ago. I cut roughly 60% through the ankles, shoved in the tips of some toothpicks as wedges, and dumped some thin CA into the gap to keep things together. Perhaps not for the squeemish, but it had to be done..

issues with the horse

Did I mention the horse had some issues?
Not only is the poor beast rather too narrow, especially the legs and neck, it comes with a saddle that doesn't fit. At all. I'll have to practically rebuild the front half of that sheepskin to lie against the horse, rather than float in the air. Things certainly won't be getting dull with this project..

The rolled up cloak tied to the back of the saddle is OK, but it's end caps aren't. These are supposed to have an outer ring, with the regimental number inside it. MasterBox clearly didn't want to include numerals for all regiments, but at the same time didn't want to restrict the kit a specific regiment. So, they ignored the number, and replaced it with a rather exaggerated decorative rim. Nice save, but I'm not buying.
I drilled 4mm holes in a sheet of plastic, and marked the centre of the roll. I then used the old Mk1 eyeball to align the hole and the dot in the centre and glued the sheet onto the ends of the roll. Once the cement has cured, I'll just cut/file off the excess sheet, and hey presto, one pair of outer rings (or so the theory goes). The spares bin will then supply the numerals; Historex just loves these teeny weeny parts.

milliputted legs

I took the first step in converting the Coldstream Guard legs into hussar service dress.
I'll sand of the excess milliput around the ends of the legs later. I also padded the crotch a bit, effectively shortening the legs just a bit and extending the top part of the trousers. The dolman/pelisse is a very short coat, so more of the hip section of the trousers is visible than with the longer jackets the legs were meant for. It should look better this way.

I cut almost through the sheepskin on both sides, roughly along the line between the strap along the forward 'hump' and the strap that passes around the horse's belly. This allowed me to bend the sheepskin in a reasonable looking way, and then wedge and glue it in place. Once the glue has set, I'll fill up the cavity underneath with milliput, cut off the wedges, and fill the rather horrid gap on the outside with milliput, sculpted to match the sheepskin (once again, so goes the theory). I'll also make sure there's something dark underneath the side panels to give the impression they're dangling of something (I believe there were pistol holsters there..)

status on 2016-03-13

I'd say there's a bit of progress there..
The converted legs look like they'll be up to the job, so I can join them to the corresponding torso. The flung pelisse is ready for painting. The rolled up cloak didn't come out as well as I'd hoped, but is certainly good enough. The saddle will take quite a bit more work; not seen in the picture are two really nasty gashes where I cut through the sides, which will need rework, and the join down the middle could could do with some attention as well. However, having come this far, I will no longer need the horse as scaffolding, so I'm free to start completing that as well.

torso and legs of standing figure

I've joined up the spare torso and legs. Not a bad match.
The torso and legs of the rider tried to separate while I was dong some sanding. I think the only thing that still held them together was the rim of Vallejo putty. Normally I'm not particularly fond of this materials flexibility, but it may well have saved me in this case. As it was, I was able to dribble thin CA into the hole where the head is supposed to go later, which seems to have re-joined the halves. I might give it another dose later, just in case. Given the dubious connection between the parts of the spares guy, I think I'll give him the same treatment from the start.
The flung pelisse is now painted red. With the gazillion cords on the front, I'd like to space out painting the three coats a bit; one is quite enough for a single painting session, thank you.

trumpeter's pelisse

I did the buttonholes (yes really, that's what they started out as..) on the trumpeter's pelisse. Not perfect (and the pictures show up issues the naked eye will never find), but it will have to do. It didn't help that the level of detail here isn't all that sharp, and that I've been 'best-guessing' some of this. The rim and fur edge will have to wait until a bit later.

bad belt

The rear halves of the crossbelts are moulded separately. Not entirely surprising at this stage, they don't line up too well. The one going over the pelisse is workable (only needs a small gap bridged by filler), but the one intended for the dolman is rather more interesting..
It needed bending with pliers to just short of the breaking point, followed by glueing under tension to the ends to line up. Once the connection has set, I'll run some solvent over the tightened curve to relieve some of the stress.

Now, where was I again...
The trooper has been assembled, save for his arms and shako. I had to come up with something to do for his left arm, which (for obvious reasons) is posed to hold the reins of his horse. This chap is on foot, and wherever his horse is, it's not here. I separated the thumb from the fist, bent it upwards a bit, and drilled a hole (big one, 0.65 mm...) at the base of the thumb. Then, with the shaft of the drill still in the hole, I bent the forward part of the thumb down again to make contact with the fist. The hole will be filled with the stem of a tobacco pipe from the Historex odds and ends box.
The shako didn't fit, so I put a blob of milliput into the bottom, and squashed it into shape with the head. Not perfect, but I think it will do. Some fiddling with the crossbelts was also needed.
The trumpeter is progressing very similarly, except that here the left hand was merely opened a bit to be able to run the reins through it. I then added a splash of colour to the figures. The horse is also ready for painting, but I'll have to spend some time pondering how to do the grey coat before I dig in.

Lots of work on skinny bits today; base coat for the horse, and hands and faces for the hussars. The guy on foot has a completely asymmetrical face. The right side looks positively skeletal, while the left side is more normal. I decided this must have been due to some violent misunderstanding in the past, and made the right cheek (or what was left of it) into what can hopefully pass as a mess on red scar tissue. The mounted man ended up with rather wierd eyes; the right eye sits lower on the face than the left. I'm certain I put the eyes just where the plastic had them though.

A bit of a set back in the equine department.
The horse had been given a base coat of dark grey, and today I started putting increasingly lighter layers of artist's oils on. Didn't work. Try as I might, I can't get rid of the brushstrokes. The blending effects on the shades of grey work well, but the contrast with the base colour is too great for my meagre skills.
I'm going to have to give up on this particular attempt for now, but I'm confident I can still fudge a decent result out of it. I'll let the paint dry properly, then revert to the old airbrush and enamels to smooth over the coat.

While doing the hair, I realised MasterBox missed some characteristic details there: no tails, and no braids. Those were de rigeur for any self respecting hussar! Sadly, these gents will have to do without, as we're quite past the point where I'm willing to consider some re-sculpting on these chaps.

I decided I needed to see where the horse was going rather sooner than the oils might like, so I oversprayed today. We'll see if this comes back to haunt me later, but for the moment, I think the fudge is close enough. I depending on how this looks tomorrow, I might hit it again with a mist of white over the top, to create some more colour variation in the coat.
Also, more of those infernal buttonholes

The hussars are now armed, and mostly painted. I'll still have some nervous work on the trumpeter's boots, and may have to use some foul language against the pelisse; if it doesn't line up with the moulded-on strap that keeps it on the man's shoulder, there'll be trouble. The belt from which the sabre and sabretache hang is supposedly moulded onto the legs, but it has become so vague that I dare not attempt to paint it on. Instead, I'll replace it with a 'real' belt made from tape. There's some minor paintwork, and some work on the hats, but I'm confident I'll be able to complete that in time. I'm worried about the horse though. A lot of work left there, and not a lot of time.

Some last minute trickery that may be of interest:
The trumpet cord is made of two threads of different colours from my mothers sewing kit, twisted and then fixed together with a coat of Humbrol Clear.
The reins are made from paper, blackened with a felt tip. Once they were attached to the horse and rider, I soaked them with water to make them supple, and pushed them down a bit. Gravity and drying did the rest. Another one of those cases where you don't simulate, but effectively build the real thing at a much smaller scale, and with different materials.

Picture of the finished models Picture of the finished models Picture of the finished models

Navigation trail: home » figures » Masterbox Hussars