One of the things I've always loved about the Napoleonic and Revolutionary periods is the great variety of uniforms and the obscurer the unit the better, so painting an Austrian army involves a lot of white uniforms and the occasional side-track into something a little less white.
I've been very conscious of the fact that I have moved away from the initial concept of this blog to build the Austrian army that fought at Marengo. Painting up a pile of French made sense, as did creating a Piedmontese allied army, but I found myself being tempted by the Seven Years War and then War of the Spanish Succession periods. So I had to get a focus back to the Austrians.
I still didn't feel like painting more white uniforms but was determined to do more Austrian troops and a unit that always interested me was O'Donel's Frei-corps.
I'd seen this unit in the Osprey Men-at-Arms book "Austrian Army of the Napoleonic Wars: Infantry", though the information is a little sparse. O'Donel's Frei-corps was raised in Galicia in 1790 and was named after its commander, Oberst Graf O'Donel. The red Hungarian trousers were so different from the usual blue, and the unusual shako with its double feather all gave the unit a very unique look.
There are no miniatures specific to this unit, and as it is so obscure, that I doubt there ever will be. The cost to manufacturers would not get a return on how many could be fielded in a game.
Luckily the uniform is close enough to the early revolutionary Grenz that AB's lovely figures could be used. The main differences were the AB miniatures had visible waistcoats and, of course, the Shako ornaments.
The choices were to either paint the figures as they were, or to do a bit of conversion. I've done both to compare - the conversion involved drilling a small hole, add a little plastic pin, and some green stuff to build the feather, cords and pom-poms. This took a bit over an hour for one miniature and I'm not sure I could do the full unit.
So the big choices, do a couple of conversions and mix them in the unit? Or do them all?
Here's the figures, and any feedback or opinions would be greatly appreciated...