The Cavalier

The Cavalier – Europe – 1640. 120mm PiLiPiLi XO-05. by Pat Camp 

 My first impressions of the kit…………..

PiLiPiLi’s Cavalier comes in a stout cardboard box with all parts well packaged and protected inside. A colour print and number of “thumbprint” detail views of a completed model are on the box top and opening flap, along with some text relating to cavaliers and the kit itself.

The instruction sheet within the box gives further background information and a table giving the order of assembly and details of the clothing and accoutrements.
The kit comprises 15 parts in various types of resin. The main castings are in a white material that I found to be easy to work. Some details such as the hat, right gauntlet / sword hilt and sword belt are in a semi-transparent resin which, to my mind, does not have a “quality” feel to it. I had two sets of swords, scabbards and spurs in my kit, cast in two types of resin. Neither set was particularly good.

An initial trial assembly of parts showed that some fitting would be needed: this kit is not in the category of “shake the box and the parts will fall together”! So if you like to “build” a model, rather than “assemble” one: this kit could be what you are looking for!

PiLiPiLi’s box art.Let building commence…………

I started with the three major castings for the body and upper parts of the legs. The legs include the lower portion of the buff overcoat and meet the body at the sash with a well-hidden joint. My kit had some casting problems with the legs: resin had bridged across the gap between the edge of the buff overcoat and the breeches. This extraneous material was cut away and I also took the opportunity to increase the depth of the relief beneath the buff overcoat. The white resin material could be cut with a new X-acto blade and worked with a rotary burr held in a pin vice (whilst the rotary burr is obviously designed for use in a drill, they are also useful as a scraper when held in a pin chuck and come in a variety of shapes and sizes which are useful when working on castings and when converting or detailing injection moulded kits).

Numerous dry runs were needed to check the join between these three castings, shaving away material where necessary to get a good fit with minimal gaps. Also check that the legs lay flat onto the coping of the wall, boots locate correctly into the ends of the legs and all mould lines have been removed. Once this has been done, the leg castings were bonded together with epoxy resin and put aside to set.
The torso casting includes the head, hair, lace collar, gorget, an embroidered sword belt, buff overcoat and waist sash. A separate part is supplied for the ends of the sash that are behind the figure. Again, the casting was worked on as mentioned above for the legs. In addition, the detail of the hair was sharpened up using a rotary burr, modelling knife and dental tool. The larger holes in the lace collar were drilled out carefully.

One of the things I wish I had done on my model was to remove the vertical seam from the gorget. Had I done so, I would then had space available to paint in a decorative motif as shown on the covers of references 4&5.

The torso was then bonded to the legs. Once the adhesive had cured, any gaps were filled using Magic-Sculpt and blended in.

Do you paint and assemble, or assemble and paint…. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, and so I think you need to experiment to find the approach that works best for you. The decision also relates to the complexity of the model and being able to reach in with the brush to paint. In this case, I chose to paint the arms, boots, etc separately from the body and assemble them afterwards. But before you apply paint, check the fit of parts and fill any gaps beforehand (as you don’t want to do too much filling and sanding when the model is almost complete). Improving the fit of parts before you paint………..Use trial fits to check the join and alignment of parts. Trim material away as necessary to improve the fit. If there are any gaps visible, then fill them as follows: apply a sufficient quantity of Magic-Sculp to one side of the join and cover this with a piece of Clingfilm. Press the other part firmly into this (making sure you have the alignment correct) and let excess Magic Sculp ooze out. Separate the parts carefully and leave the Magic-Sculp to set. Remove the Clingfilm and file the Magic Sculp to blend in with the contours of the casting. Repeat the trial fit and there should be only the smallest of gaps.

Arms………The sleeves of the doublet are slashed and reveal either the doublet lining or a shirt beneath. I used a small rotary burr to increase the relief beneath the slashed sleeve.

There is a row of buttons down one side of each slashed sleeve, but no corresponding holes or loops on the other side. I think you have a number of options available to you: leave as is, make or paint buttonholes, remove all or nearly all the buttons. If you refer to references (3)-(5) you will see a wide range of alternative designs.

Having looked at reference (1), I decided to add silver loops to the sleeves of the doublet. These were made from thin strips of Fablon wrapped around the sleeve and trimmed to length at each end with a knife. I then added a spot of Superglue at each end and a couple of coats of Klear over everything to make certain the strips do not lift off later on.

The right gauntlet incorporates the sword hilt and this needed a lot of work to get a satisfactory result. The position of the sword looks okay on the model, but I would imagine in practice that the weight of the blade would have been too great for it to be held above the left leg. I think it would have been worth lowering the height of the gauntlet and hilt of the right arm and resting the blade in a slight impression made in the left leg. An alternative might be to fit a lighter weight blade, similar to one used for Fort Duquesne’s Cavalier (see Nov 2002 issue). .

Boots……….The “butterflies” on the boots were thinned by removing material from behind: this also increased the relief between the butterfly and the boot. When lining up the boots, I recommend that you assemble the copingstone to the wall and “sit” the figure upon it before positioning the boots. Also check for sufficient clearance for the spurs.

The bottom section of sword belt needed trimming to fit. The top edge (which abuts against the sash) needed trimming back and the locating tab reduced in depth. The belt loops were also opened up using rotary cutters and a hobby knife.

As a final detailing step, buckle pins and short lengths of loose belt were added to the buckles of the sword belt.

Preparing For Painting………………

All parts were washed, dried and then attached to holders for painting (photo g here: parts attached to work holders, some undercoating has been done). I try and minimise touching the surfaces of the parts after they have been washed. Notice that the parts are set on the holders in the position they will have when attached to the model: this makes it easier to paint the highlight and shading.
Parts were primered using Halford’s acrylic white aerosol spray and left to dry. One or two surface holes were filled using unthinned Vallejo white acrylic paint.

Oil Base *
Oil Shadow*

Flesh tones
Vallejo flesh + white acrylic.
titanium white +  Rembrandt gold ochre + burnt sienna + touch of light red.
Base with less titanium white.

light grey 196 then Paynes Grey added to produce shade tone.
titanium white + Paynes Grey + black + violet + liquin applied as transparent film.
grey shade mix of Paynes Grey + chrome orange deep + titanium white

HR105 grey added to above shade mix.
dark grey mix of Paynes Grey + burnt sienna + titanium white.

Buff Overcoat
(Halfords Primer)
yellow ochre + ultramarine violet + titanium white + Liquin.
Humbrol CNR yellow 125
yellow ochre pale.
Medium shade was yellow ochre + violet, with burnt umber added to this for darker tones.

gull grey 140.
Blue/black shade mix of Paynes Grey + burnt umber + ivory black.

white 34.Rembrandt gold ochre + ultramarine blue + titanium white.

*  Paints are generally Winsor Newton oils on top of Humbrol enamel undercoat unless mentioned otherwise..…
The face was undercoated in a light flesh colour mixed from equal amounts of Vallejo flesh and white. I prefer to paint from light to dark, and let the undercoat provide the highlight colour. Medium flesh tones were brushed with oils and the deeper shade laid in once this had dried sufficiently. Keep the undercoat clear of paint where you want highlights to show, such as the bridge of the nose, top of the cheeks and the forehead. Note that the brim of the hat will shade some of the forehead (also note that a gap needs to be filled between the forehead and hat using the Magic-Sculp method mentioned earlier).

The eyes were blocked in using Humbrol pale grey 183. The upper half of the “whites” of eyes were painted a slightly darker shade (Humbrol grey 64) to represent shadow cast from the upper eyelid. The irises were blocked in with a dark blue mix of Prussian blue + light red. An upturned arc of Paynes Grey + titanium white was added to the lower half of the iris and titanium white to each side of the iris (in the “whites” of the eye). A dot of black was applied to the pupils. Notice that the pupils have been set to “look” further in the direction the head is turned. This gives a more natural look and helps to avoid the dreaded “pop-eyed” stare.

Hair was given a wash of burnt umber for this to settle into the detail. Van Dyke brown was used to shade the curls of hair. However, the overall effect was too light and so a further wash of burnt umber was applied. Van Dyke brown was used to add strands of hair at the hairline down each side of the face. Highlighting was a mix of Rowney yellow ochre + Rembrandt gold ochre + chrome orange. The moustache and eyebrows were done using the same colours but without thinning down to a wash. The excellent plate B2 of reference 4 inspired me to paint a raised left eyebrow that adds a little character to the figure.

The doublet sleeves and breeches were undercoated next. The slashed sleeve was masked with Blu-Tack and the gauntlets, buff overcoat and head masked by cling film, tape and Maskol. A Liquin glaze was applied to the doublet (see oil base in colour chart details of the mix) and, once dried, was airbrushed with matt varnish to give a key for subsequent shading. The edging of the doublet was blocked in with Humbrol 64 light grey and the threads shaded with a dark mix of Prussian Blue + light red + titanium white. The lining was blocked in with Humbrol 82 orange lining. Once this had dried thoroughly, Vermilion oil paint was brushed on top and then removed from the highlight areas with a dried brush. Further shade was added into the folds, scarlet lake + terre vert for medium shade and vermilion + terre vert deep shade (added after the other paint had dried).

The Buff Overcoat was airbrushed with the oil paint + Liquin mix given in the chart over a couple of sessions until sufficient depth of colour was achieved.
The Gorget was undercoated Humbrol Grey 140 and shaded using ivory black + Paynes Grey. (Did you remember to remove the vertical riveted joint detail to give space for a design to be painted in place)?

Silk shirt and sash…. I was not sure how to go about painting the silk shirt. I sought ideas by looking at some paintings by old masters, the following of which I find breathtakingly good: Gerard Terborch’s “A Lady at Her Toilet”, c1660; Bronzino’s “Bia di Cosomo de’ Medici”, c1542 and Bartholomeus van der Helst’s “The Company of Captain Roelof Bicker”, 1639 (which is well worth a look at for the Cavaliers shown). I decided to shade using a sharp change in contrast and used a neutral grey mixed from burnt umber + ultramarine blue to which flake white was added. This was laid into the folds of the white undercoated shirt in two sessions: medium shade first and then, once dry, a deeper shade. Highlighting by titanium white + iridescent white + touch of raw sienna was applied sparingly only to those points which would catch the light. Whilst I am reasonably satisfied by the result, I am sure the aforementioned “old masters” would have a few choice words to say about it!

The sash was painted in the same way. The end of sash was undercoated Humbrol CNR yellow 125 (this is the yellow ochre colour of Canadian Pacific Railways, and I have found it to be a really useful undercoat for leatherwork, wood and gold) and shaded with Rembrandt gold ochre. Once this had dried, braid detail was picked out using Indian yellow + Rowney yellow ochre + Rowney raw sienna. (Photo j here: Rear view of completed model, showing gold trimmed sash).

Socks and silk stockings…The figure is depicted wearing two pairs of stockings. Those visible immediately beneath the trouser are of a finer material, and I chose to depict these as being of silk. With reference to Mr Haythornethwaite, the outer (or “rowling”) pair protected these and were casually worn only partly drawn up or rolled over. These were painted the same colours as the inside lining of the doublet sleeves.
The boots were firstly airbrushed Humbrol CNR yellow 125 all over. Raw sienna was added to the enamel to obtain a darker tone and the spray was directed from beneath and into the folds of the leather. After this undercoat had dried thoroughly, burnt umber was worked in and the excess removed using a cloth and dried brush to leave the undercoat peeping through in the highlight areas. Wipe paint from the brush onto a cloth and keep it free of thinners when you do this. (Photo L here: completed boots and stockings). The boot liners were painted a deep red-grey mixed from vermilion + Prussian Green. I gave the boots red heels, which were popular on the continent at this time.

Sword and scabbard…An embossed or embroidered design has been lightly impressed on the sword belt. I followed this as best I could, but you could follow one of the patterns given in the references (look for that of George Monck, Duke of Albemarle). The belt was first coated Humbrol CNR yellow 125 and given two coats of burnt sienna: this made the detail stand out. The detail and edging of the belt were blocked in using Rembrandt gold ochre. The close up photographs of the belt appear far redder than they are in reality.

Final assembly…

The wall was undercoated grey 28 and then airbrushed Humbrol grey 64 + iridescent white + turpentine (make sure you wear a face mask and work in a well ventilated area – you don’t want to breath in this stuff)! The iridescent white gives the wall a little sparkle. Shading beneath the figure and copingstone was by heavily thinned grey 67.

Oakwood Studios supplied a beautiful wooden base and a nameplate was supplied by Just Name It! Very good personal service by both companies.

final comments.This kit does build into a super model, but be prepared to do a lot of rework and be very careful to dry fit the parts to make sure they align correctly before gluing together .

I do think Cavalier figures make eye-catching subjects and have great potential for conversions; references 3,4 & 5 in particular have some really tempting ideas.


PiLiPiLi cite the following references in their instruction sheet:
(1) Campaigns No18, Vol 3; Sept/Oct 1978.
(2) Uniformes No63; Sept/Oct 1981.
I also found the following interesting and very helpful:
(3)  The English Civil War 1642-1651, An Illustrated Military History” P Haythornetwaite, Brockhampton Press, ISBN 1 86019 8600.
(4) “Soldiers of the English Civil War (1): Infantry”, No 25 Osprey Elite Series, Keith Roberts & Angus McBride.
(5) “Soldiers of the English Civil War (2): Cavalry”, No 27 Osprey Elite Series, John Ticey & Angus McBride.

(Many thanks to Jim Booth and the late John Cox for delving into their archives to ferret these out for me. This article is dedicated to John: he was a good friend to the modelling world and will be sorely missed).
Availability.PiLiPiLi Miniatures, Belgradestraat 68, B-2800 Mechelen, Belgium. Telephone +32-15-41 97 74, fax +32-15-43 38 59,

PiLiPiLi models are available through Historex Agents, Wellington House, 157 Snargate Street, Dover, Kent, CT17 9BZ. Price £35

Oakwood Studios, 396 Ring Road Beeston Park, Middleton, Leeds, LS10 4NX. Telephone +44(0)1132 719595.

Name It!, 12 Savay Lane, Denham Green, Denham, Buckinghamshire, UB9 5NH. Telephone/fax +44(0)1895 832757. Email

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