Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Savoia Starts

 Many moons ago, in fact, frighteningly now over 30 years ago, I was an undergraduate student at the University of Aberdeen, and on cold winter days (and it does get cold in Aberdeen!), I used to head to the library for some warm and a seat in a comfy quiet spot. Formal studies over, I'd look for something interesting to read from the History section and one day I stumbled across a copy of an old book titled "The Defence of Piedmont 1742-48" by Spenser Wilkinson. It was a book published in the late 1920's, largely I suspect for an academic audience, by Spenser, who was a Fellow and Don at Oxford at the time. I have to say that I had no knowledge of the subject matter at all, but the dates looked interesting so I lifted the book from the shelf and started reading ......

It was, quite frankly, fantastic and I was hooked. Yes, it's an academic style history book of it's period, but for those with an intertest of military history of the period it's a gold mine. It features lots and lots of campaign detail, gorgeous maps and covers a period that is so little known, but actually so important in European History of that time. It's a great period, see-sawing in successes and failure from one side to the other. Most English speaking folk, tend to focus on Frederick et al in Northern Europe, but in many ways his theatre and contemporary period offers just as much, if not more, but it's virtually forgotten.

Being a limited run academic book of the 1920's it's very hard to come by and in those pre internet days, and with student poverty in full grasp of me, there was no way I could secure an actual copy for myself. So in the weeks before my final graduation I spent several days, photocopying every single page of it and put it away in a box file for my future reference......

Fast forward more than 20 years later and suddenly I was starting to make figures for this time period, and I thought "what the hell, nobody else is ever going to make these figures, let's give it a go"

So I did!

My first ever Savoia figure, a pose that I've grown to value as time has passed, it combines a static pose, but with just enough "movement" in it to suggest it could be a moving figure as well. This was the first "sample figure" that I painted once it had been cast for production. It now resides in John Ray's collection as a small token of my admiration for his skill and the kindness he's shown me with his time and tips and guidance on figure making over the years.

 Next came some NCO types (two sculpts) made openhanded  to allow for modification and conversion.

And some Musicians

And I did also tweak one of the NCO's to make a bandmaster (never production cast though, sorry Graham)

And finally, I did some basic conversions on the coats etc of the existing French Officers from the Crann Tara Jacobite Range to make some suitable command for the first unit. This was the end product



Donnie McGibbon said...

Superb!! The Savoia figures are lovely and the conflict is a very interesting part of the bigger war.

John Ray said...


I remember with fondness the evening phone conversations, emails and your visit when we discussed sculpting/making miniatures.
You have made some exquisite sculpts. And your brushwork is top table.


John D said...


I agree, the period has always held an attraction to me, and it's very which overlooked, which is a shame.


You are the master! I think your "moment in time" advice was the best tip I've ever had.



Graham C said...

Those first Savoia sculpts were so exciting and inspirational and despite the lack of knowledge re the theatre of operations they sold incredibly well some of my favourite figures.

Der Alte Fritz said...

John, I used your Savoia figures to paint them as “faux Russians” when I started building my SYW Russian army in the days before I added actual Russian sculpts to the Minden figure range. They work very well for some other nationalities’ armies too.


markeejay said...

John, I echo many of the thoughts of others, my small Savoia collection is a regular on the table against their Gallispan foes. I'm still on the hunt for that Wilkinson book and regularly scan Abebooks and the like in hope.