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  • Writer's pictureBlaxkleric

"Charles VIII, Called The Affable, Was King Of France From 1483 To His Death In 1498."

Updated: Sep 5

"He succeeded his father Louis XI at the age of 13."

This 28mm metal model of a Renaissance Knight is produced by "Steel Fist Miniatures" and was bought as part of the ten-figure Code REN 20 - Foot Knights Deal from their Italian Wars 1494-1538 range. The sculpt can also be purchased as part of a pair under Code REN 01 - Foot Knights, and whilst not specifically named as the monarch behind the "French invasion of Italy", was painted with King Charles VIII in mind.

I was actually made aware of this cracking selection of models by Dom over on his "Boots on the Table" YouTube channel, and was planning to use them for some small-level (somewhat fictional) skirmishes set around the Battle of Fornovo in 1495. Indeed, whilst I impatiently awaited the arrival of my initial order, I actually went as far as to pick up a copy of the campaign book "Fornovo 1495: France's bloody fighting retreat" by "Osprey Publishing" in preparation for pigmenting the models.

"Steel Fist Miniatures" WIPs - The Foot Knight was primed, base-layered and shaded

Sadly however, this single miniature not only destroyed any enthusiasm I had for the project. But almost killed off my wargaming mojo in its entirety due to the difficulties I experienced both assembling it, and trying to receive my correct order - as two of the ten Foot Knights were missing having erroneously been sent some duplicates instead. Furthermore, I can't think of another model I've ever worked on which came quite so close to being thrown out of the window I sit beside whilst doing my hobbying.

The first problem appears to stem from the quality of the metal used as the casting was rather poor in places, resulting in some serious cutting/filing to allow the sword's hilt to be held, and one of the plumes immediately broke away from the helmet whilst I was merely holding it in my hand. The joint between the sword hand and the rest of the arm didn't fit terribly well either, so ultimately ended up with a load of super-glue being applied before the limb tenuously held. In addition, because the head would look odd with one pinned plume, I decided to cut off the surviving "hackle" and then pin the pair back - resulting in a slightly odd bunny-ear look to the ensemble.

"Steel Fist Miniatures" WIPs - The Foot Knight slowly had all its details 'picked out'

Painting my Foot Knight was equally a challenge, as I discovered the metal had strangely reacted to the super-glue causing much of the warrior's fluted Maximilian armour and skirt to become gooped up - completely obscuring the detail. This lead to some considerable time subsequently being spent with a modelling knife, carving/cleaning out all the blockages on Oliver James' wonderful sculpt.

With my miniature finally ready for its prime, albeit the folds in the King's cloth still seemed frustratingly soft, it was give a couple of layers of "Citadel" Abaddon Black, followed by a combination of Sir Coates Silver from "Duncan Rhodes Two Thin Coats" and "Citadel" Nuln Oil. The armour and blade were then given a dry-brush of (more) Sir Coates Silver before certain areas of his "Maximiliansharnisch" were picked out using a dab of "Vallejo" Gold" and a dash of "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade - most notably the "grotesque visored close helmet."

"Steel Fist Miniatures" WIPs - Three more Foot Knights have been primed, shaded and dry-brushed

Due to wanting this figure to represent King Charles VIII of France, I decided to apply some "Vallejo" Heavy Blue to the invader's skirt, and then drown it out with plenty of "Citadel" Drakenhof Nightshade. I also attempted to dry-brush a little (more) "Vallejo" over the cloth's folds. But as I feared, the gloopy reaction had rather softened some of the detail in this area, so I soon decided to leave well enough alone. I was also somewhat perplexed by the monarch's waist sash, and initially kept that blue too. However, it looked too much like a nappy to my eyes, so I went back and applied some simple "Citadel" Abaddon Black to the strip of folded material - hopefully suggesting its some sort of belt.

I actually have a trio more of the Foot Knights built and partially-pigmented, as well as an order of Foot Knights Attacking awaiting arrival, so perhaps at some point I will continue this project - especially as I was planning on each side only fielding a handful of combatants anyway. For now though I can't really face another of this company's figures and feel rather deflated about the entire affair...

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