Tuesday 9 August 2016

Sudan: Puggaree Madness - and how to make them from plumbing tape

I blame it on the sun and the unending and incessant heat. I blame it on that and the combination with the vicious and bitterly cold nights. Its this which has brought forth an undying and harsh drought which has lasted months and months; preventing particular and satisfactory relations with the ladies.

This has led to madness.

So I took issue with HaT Industries for making a spectacular line of colonial figures but for a period slightly before the one I chose to model and game.

A period where a defining iconism for the British is the sun helmet.

Where in the one period it is naked and bleached white and in the next it is festooned to a trooper, prescribed in standing orders no less, with a muslin scarf of the Colonel's choosing.

The puggaree. Makes all the difference on the table, even at 1/72 scale. You can see them even when casually walking past a game on the way to get a beer. But HaT's colonial range has mainly focused on the Zulu conflict without puggarees.
Pith helmet: Sudan campaign on left, Zulu campaign on right

So what's to be done?

First you will need: some plumbing tape, white glue (PVA), Superglue, a tiny pointed stick (toothpick or two), some extremely sharp scissors, and not forgetting, a figure mercilessly sculpted without a puggaree.

A Note on Plumbing Tape
Its thin and sticks to your fingers. The thinness makes it a good scale cloth analogue. The stickiness means its hell to handle. That's why the toothpicks are used to position the tape. Remember this for later on.

Step 1: Prepare the Puggaree

Carefully, with a sharp pair of scissors, cut the tape from the end, then gently apply pressure to the cut so that the small slice comes away from the tape. For 20mm (1/72) I try to get the width around 1mm - 2mm, as this is about the right width for a scale puggaree. I also cut about 10cm of tape as I've found this is a good handling length - any more and the tape becomes unmanageable, any less and its just too fiddly.

Step Two: Position the Figure and Puggaree.

Clear your board and straighten out the puggaree.

Find the hat band on the figure and align the puggaree to it - see direction of arrow.

Its the hat band that will be followed when wrapping the puggaree. So, although things are likely to move a bit when first gluing the puggaree onto the figure, now is the best time to get your eye in.

Step 3: Mount the Puggaree
Take some super glue and apply it to the hat, just a little on the hat band on one side of the helmet.

Now take the puggaree and lay it on the figure, ensuring that the tape is running in line with the hat band. This is critically important as if the puggaree is not parallel to the hat band, when we come to wrap the pugaree, the tape will buckle and it looks bad.

Step 4: Wrapping the Puggaree
Preparation is everything for this step, so when the super glue has dried, squeeze out some white glue and ready the toothpick.

This step can quickly go wrong so I found its good to keep things tidy and ordered.

Taking only a little white glue, from the point where the puggaree is already glued to the helmet, dab the glue around the hat band, completely encircling the helmet until reaching the point where the puggaree was first superglued.

Now gently start wrapping the puggaree keeping inline with the line of the hat band.

For some reason the tape really starts to work with you once the white glue is in play, so don't be afraid to put some good tension on the tape when wrapping - the glue is more viscous than your fingers.

Keep wrapping the puggaree until you've reached the beginning, staying inline with the hat band.

Now dab more white glue over the puggaree already glued and wrapped, completely encircling the helmet and first layer of puggaree.

Continue wrapping the puggaree until there are two layers of tape on the helmet.

Cut the excess tape from the puggaree, getting as close as possible to the glue.

Step 5: Shaping the Puggaree
Its not finished yet.

Working as quickly as possible before the glue dries, shape the puggaree using the toothpick and even your thumb to flatten down the tape against the helmet.

I normally crease the front and back, trying to angle the puggaree nearly to a point.

As can be seen above on one of Newline's painted figures, the wraps of puggarees were often angled at the front and back.

Note sometimes they don't look the greatest at this point but don't worry, the tape is so thin that painting can often hide misshapen parts of the puggaree. But the thing is, the tape is thick enough so that the second bind of the pugaree really gives a decent shape which can be emphasized when painting.

So the rest is over to painting, using shadows to delineate the pugaree as best suits the wrap and your taste.

So this figure was from HaT's Set 8180 Gardner Gun and is for my Sudan range so is getting a Naval Brigade paint scheme.

As you can see the final product almost looks like its molded on.

Possibly with 28mm the pugaree should be slightly wider and thicker; wrapped perhaps three or four times around the helmet.

But as I've said previously, yes I know I should get out more - I'm working on it, honest! - but if you've committed to 20mm for Sudan and you've bought boxes of the 'Zulu' range from HaT, then this technique, although insane, will festoon your Zulu figs with pugarees with little effort.

Then there's only the puttees to go... as the Zulu range is issued with chaps... nah that's over doing it!