Why has it taken so long to complete the work on my Waterloo project?

I have been working on my Waterloo project (i.e. varnishing and basing my collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures) since the beginning of February … and I still haven’t finished!


As the figures are pre-painted, it should have been a relatively simple task to just varnish the figures and base them … but once I began the project I realised that many of the figures were either poorly painted or had been damaged during transportation and storage. Just varnishing them would have left some of them in a pretty poor state, so I began the process of repairing any damage to the figures I had in my collection.

The process I used to do this is as follows:

  • Each figure is attached to a temporary base (a 40mm x 40mm square of MDF) using latex glue (i.e. Copydex)
  • A quick visual check is made of each figure, and any necessary repairs are made
  • The figure’s footwear is checked and – where necessary – repainted/touched up
  • The figure’s headgear is checked and – where necessary – repainted/touched up
  • Any haversacks, ammunition pouches, and blankets etc carried by the figure are checked and – where necessary – repainted/touched up
  • Any weapons (swords, rifles, bayonets) carried by the figure are checked and – where necessary – repainted/touched up
  • If the figure is on horseback, the horse and its equipment are checked and – where necessary – repainted/touched up
  • Any areas of flesh are checked and – where necessary – repainted/touched up
  • A final visual check of each figure is made, and any mistakes are corrected
  • The figure is then gloss varnished using polyurethane varnish
  • The figure’s base is then painted with matt Grass Green enamel paint
  • Each figure is then removed from its temporary base and glued to its unit base.
  • Each unit base is then painted with matt Grass Green enamel paint (Because the unit bases are made from MDF, they require two coats of paint)

Other than the matt Grass Green enamel paint, the metallic enamel paint used for badges and weapons, and the polyurethane varnish, all the paints used are acrylic paints obtained from a variety of different suppliers and manufacturers.

To date I have managed to varnish and base over 400 figures in a little over four months … and I probably have about 100 figures left to complete.


12 Comments on “Why has it taken so long to complete the work on my Waterloo project?”

  1. Bob,

    Napoleonic gaming is the “black hole” of our hobby. If you include the “Revolutionary” period (as most do) the period stretches out over more than two decades . . . and most gamers spend longer than that trying to “complete” their Napoleonic forces.

    So don't be too hard on yourself, okay?

    — Jeff

  2. Jim Duncan says:

    Morning Bob

    You obviously used the wrong piece of string when making your measurements at the start of the project. In fact you probably used a piece of elastic instead which is why you have taken so long.

    But never mind there will be plenty of playing time left after June 18th as the world will not stop all of a sudden. In fact, according to the Daily Express the next 'end of the world' is not until 2021 so you have plenty of time left.

  3. Bluebear Jeff,

    Funnily enough when I began to write this blog entry I had no idea how many figures I had completed … and in retrospect doing 400+ in four months is pretty good going. I am certainly going to end up with enough figures for my needs … although I suspect that that won't stop me buying and adding additional figures to the collection.

    Now that it is obvious that I am going to miss the deadline I set myself, I am going to take my time completing this project. In fact some additional Del Prado pre-painted figures (from the RELIVE AUSTERLITZ range) arrived in the post this morning, and I look forward varnishing and basing them in due course.

    All the best,


  4. Jim Duncan,

    Good morning to you as well (actually it is now afternoon because I have been watching the Queen's a Birthday Parade … but I won't be too picky about the time).

    It was not until I started that I realised that the task was going to take longer than expected. That and the fact that I hadn't counted up how many figures I was actually going to end up varnishing and basing and that we went going on a cruise, all contributed to my 'overrun'.

    So the Daily Express predicts that the world will end in 2021? If the Dail Mail or The Sun had made that prediction, I wouldn't have believed it, but the fact that the Daily Express made it means that I really ought to take it seriously.

    All the best,


  5. And the figures reflect the care you have taken and will continue to do so.

  6. Ross Mac,

    Thank you for your very kind comment,

    One of the benefits of doing what I am doing is that I feel that I have made the figures my own.

    I have bought ready-painted figures in the past, and never felt any great attachment to them. Because I have done some of the painting on these figures, I don't feel that way about them.

    All the best,


  7. Bob,

    I know EXACTLY what you mean. If I haven't worked on figures, they don't feel like they are really mine. They might be beautifully painted but I don't have an emotional attachment to them.

    — Jeff

  8. Bluebear Jeff,

    I am sure that feeling the way we do about the figures being 'ours' is not that unusual … although I suspect that it is more common amongst wargames of a certain age.

    All the best,


  9. Stryker says:

    Bob, I think you have done a superb job on these figures (400 is no mean feat!). I'm really looking forward to what you do with them next…

  10. Stryker,

    Thanks for your kind comment.

    First I hope to use the figures for a re-fight of the Battle of Waterloo (I promised a friend of mine to stage a wargame of the battle for both of us to take part in as neither of us have ever wargamed it) but after that I have no immediate plans for using the collection. Long-term I would like to set up a campaign where I can use the collection, but I suspect that it will tend more towards the use of imagi-nations rather than historical ones. A lot will depend upon whether or not I continue to expand the collection or leave it as it is.

    All the best,


  11. arthur1815 says:

    I can only applaud all your hard work in mustering your forces, and look forward to reading and seeing how the battle goes on your blog in due course. I do agree with you and Bluebear Jeff that one has to have done more than simply purchase prepainted figures to feel any deep allegiance to them. Indeed, I would feel very guilty of some unspecified offence against the spirit of wargaming were I to do so. I suppose it may derive in part from the fact that many of the founders of the modern hobby – Featherstone, Grant and Wise – painted the armies used to illustrate their books themselves (though I doubt the Brigadier painted the forces in Charge! himself…), and partly from some Protestant work ethic absorbed from my family in my distant youth.

    To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, “A man must have but a poor imagination who can only conceive one way of wargaming Waterloo.” Now you have the forces, you can experiment with different rules, different starting positions/battle plans and the various 'what-ifs?' such as the Prussians arriving earlier/later/not at all. I think that would keep me as happy as a pig in —-!

    Are you going to tackle Quatre Bras, Ligny and Wavre as well, or just focus on Mont St Jean?
    Whatever you do, I wish you joy of it (as Stephen Maturin would say).

  12. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

    As I wrote in reply to Bluebear Jeff's comment, I suspect that this need to feel 'ownership' of one's wargames figures is an age-related situation, and that a lot of younger wargames would not and could not understand why we feel the way we do.

    I hope to be able to re-fight Waterloo as per normal and then – at a later date – re-fight the whole campaign from the moment that the French Imperial Army moves towards the positions of the two Allied armies. I might even see what might have happened if Napoleon had attacked Wellington's army before taking on the Prussians. Would Wellington have been beaten and then made a run for the coast or would he have tried to shake off any French covering force to go to the aid of the Prussians?

    All the best,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s