31 May 2023

The Last Almughavar

 Nope, it's not a new Spanish-language film to get history buffs excited, it is instead the final unit of Fireforge Games Almughavars which have finally been snipped from the sprue and added to my Medieval Spanish (& Feudal Spanish) armies. 

As with the others (unsurprisingly) these guys went together really easily, although for Almughavar purists you will see that I rather ran out of left arms and had to give a couple of the guys lurking at the back a shield in order to round out the unit.

The big innovation here was to add in a morning star from the Fireforge Crusading Knights box set, thus giving the lead dude a pretty cool and unusual choice of anachronistic weaponry to lead the line with.

I originally did this by gluing on an army from the box of Knights, which meant his right arm was fully mailed while his left was in Barcelona-summertime attire of short sleeves - something I sort of justified to myself on health and safety grounds to do with using a flailing set of spiked balls as a weapon.

After basing the unit though I realised this actually just looked weird, so I snipped the offending mailed arm off at the shoulder (it came off cleanly as this was where the join was located) and then added a new short-sleeved one which had originally been holding a spear.  

The spear I cut off cleanly just above the fist, and then using plastic cement (airfix glue in old money) carefully attached the handle (?) of the morning star, having also snipped that off cleanly just above the mailed fist that was holding it.

This all pretty much worked OK, as airfix glue melds the two bits together making a very strong join - but just to be belt and braces I also had positioned the morning stars such that I could superglue one of them to the top of the owners helmet for that "second point of contact" to make the joint more stable.  

So, here they are ready to go, with the newly upgraded arm in pride of place. 

(I won't mention that there is a chap in the second rank with a fully armoured right arm holding a mace, who I couldn't quite reach after fixing the figures to the base!) 


24 May 2023

Peter Pig Pikemen

 Peter Pig recently released a rather surprising (for them..) new set of hellenistic pikemen and command, in what looks to the the start of a new range to complement some of their small but perfectly Piggily-formed Greeks, Romans and their enemies (Germans, Parthians etc).

As a general fan of all things Pig - and with a mate putting in an order for some WW2 stuff I could Piggy-back (ahem) onto - I thought I should pick up a set and give them a whirl. 

They are all cast without pikes - very much the modern style I think, and a good idea all round especially for anyone like me who has long since bought a plastic-bristled brush to make endless numbers of 15mm spears out of !

The pikemen figures have one basic pose, alhough I think the heads look in slightly different directions on them - when they are ranked up it's hard to tell.  

The castings are effective when painted and based en mass, as you can see from these who have had a black undercoat with fairly quick and simple drybrushed metal armour, and then some basic colours for flesh added - however I did feel that it would have been rather challenging to paint them "better" than this, as a lot of the detail seemed in hard to get to places on the figures, or perhaps was not as paint-friendly and sharp as I had initially hoped when looking at the castings themselves.

The officer pack has 8 figures too, with a couple of standard bearers, officers with swords and trumpeters. The pikemens shields are of the "tiny" persuasion, making it pretty tough to put any sort of pattern onto them - VVV transfers would I'm sure be too big by far, although I'm told that LBMS may do a very small range for Forged in Battles' similarly small-shielded pikemen that could maybe fit.

Squeezing in a second standard at the rear of the base has allowed me to make up a 12-man ADLG pikeman unit with only 1 pack of actual pikemen and one of officers (who'd do perfectly well as officers for the other PP "hellenistic" set, the 2 packs of City Militia Peltasts in the Parthian range)

The spare officers I used to make up a small command stand with a fairly low-skill banner design to boot!

And here they are ready to fight. 

In many ways these figures reminded me of some QRF Medieval Swiss figures I have in the same army as some from Mirliton - just like the QRF Swiss, the level of detail on these chaps isn't perhaps as good as some other ranges out there, but when massed together it's really difficult to tell the difference - and pikemen are always all about the mass effect.

All in all they are a solid if unspectacular addition to the already extensive roster of  "true" 15mm pikemen out there - especially if you want small shields, angled pikes and open hands. 

Personally speaking having done these I think I'm a bit of a "bigger shield" and "vertical pikes" man myself, as I find that generally more  practical for gaming and it also allows the shield patterns to offset my own sometimes patchy painting standard!

17 May 2023

More Plastic Medievals - this time some cavalry

 In my continuing quest to buy up what seems like the entire Corvus Belli medieval 100YW range in Siocast, the third installment was a pack of mounted sergeants that I actually paid full price for (!!) at Warfare last year (unlike the bring and buy bargain that made up the initial purchase). 

This gave me 18 mounted figures to act as the lance-armed cavalry who support the proper Knights in a host of Medieval armies, these guys being sufficiently generic (for me...!) to work in almost any western -ish (I say that because I might try them as Hussite cavalry one day) European Medieval army.

These guys seemed to be made with plastic that was a smidge harder (aka less "Airfix 1/72nd scale"-style) than the other Siocast figures I picked up and painted earlier in the year. 

I've not seen anything from PSC to say they are now using a newer version of the Siocast resin, but on the basis that Warlord Games have made exactly such an announcement recently it's not an unreasonable guess that PSC have also migrated (or been migrated by the Siocast people?) to a new formulation too.

I used a black spray undercoat on these, in order to give me the sort of deep shadows that make the padded leather jerkins really pop - the best thing about these figures IMO, and well worth making the effort to paint them carefully so they stand out. 

To get some colour into them I did 2 bases with blue jerkins, 2 with red, one with green and one in a more plain brown leather. 

The white bit is a set of diagonal stripes, which were cleanly cast onto the models and pretty easy to pick out with a small brush

I also continued my run of doing 4-spot faces on these guys too - some of them had pretty small faces under those helmets but at wargaming distances they look OK IMO. 

From the back the striped, blacklined effect on the jerkins comes out really clearly

You'll note that these two sets of guys in red do have slightly different coloured reins - again allowing me to differentiate these as separate units or drop them itno different commands in an ADLG army if needed, or to keep them together as well.

Some of the spears were bent, and some others seemed to bend out of shape quite markedly after I undercoated them - which was weird - but they do seem mostly to have bent back into shape with just a little manual encouragement with no need to heat them in hot water or anything. They can't be made dead straight, but they are break-proof so swings and roundabouts there I guess. 

I did try and drill out one chaps hand to take a plastic broom bristle spear, but much to my surprise I found it really tricky to do. 

This was because the arm of the figure wobbled alarmingly (being plastic rather than metal of course) when I was drilling into the hand/gauntlet, meaning I ended up with a pretty ragged and messy hole even when using my Dremel with the uppy-downey lever thing contraption. As a result I basically gave up on drilling any more and left them as they were.  

One thing I did find was that the riders sat a little "wide" on the horses, and being plastic its simply not possible to squeeze the riders legs together to grip their mounts more tightly as you can do with metal figures. 

That means you are relying entirely on the glue to make a good bond between buttock and saddle, as the riders legs are permanently set a bit wider than the horse's backs. 

All in all I'm very pleased by how they have come out, and now I'm frantically flicking through army list books to find an excuse to use them!

10 May 2023

Achilles & The Myrmidions in 15mm

 Having been reasonably succesful with a Mycenean army at Warfare in 2022, and then getting my hands on a proper Trojan Horse at the Alicante event some months later I am now of course tempted to wheel out the Myceneans again at a future event.

At Warfare one of the star units in my army was Achilles and his Myrmidions - but to be honest the figures were not especially "Myrmidion", being mostly these old-style Museum swordsmen sculpts with fairly generic shields.

 So, when Museum came out with a range of Myrmidions, and also Trojan hero figures in their new Z-Sculpts that suddenly seemed like a must-have addition to give me two new units of spiffy Myrmidions with very obvious Included Generals (aka Achilles) leading one of them. 

And here they are - most of the Heroes of the Trojan Age are clustered on the stand on the left, with standard Myrmidions on the right. 

The Heroes are slightly, but noticably bigger than the normal rather slim Myrmidions, and all have unique poses and equipment.

This front-on shot shows the size difference clearly. 

They are nice figures, but I did find them harder to paint than I had hoped as the detail on the figures is really very shallow, which makes spotting which areas to paint, and painting with washes and speedpaints much harder than it really should be.  

There are also some hard to understand elements in the design, especially the "woolly hats" which seem to have horns projecting though them - which to my mind would surely sit better on a metal helmet? 

Perhaps though I've not done enough research and the Myceneans actually had tea cosies over their helmets? 

Here they are from the rear - you can see where I have had to use layered shading to get some texture into the clothing as the figures didn't really do much for the Holy White ArmyPainter speedpaint on their own. 

So, all in all I think they have come out OK - but perhaps not as well as I initially hoped, partly as the detail on the figures isn't as deep as I would ideally have liked, and partly as I found that lack of detail frustrating and as such maybe didn't try as hard as I needed to to adopt the right painting approach for these guys. 

Having painted up a fair few of the Museum Z Sculpts in the last few years I am actually starting to look more critically at them in general, as my experience with these figures is starting to feel like a common thread across all of the others I've painted before now as well. 

Museums Z Ranges look great in the renders, they are nice poses, there's a whole lot to like about them, the price is good, the metal they use has a great pewter-like good quality too - but with so many of us increasingly relying on washes, Contrast and Speed paints to paint our figures, deeper slightly exaggerated details such as those seen on Xyston, or Forged in Battles' ranges are much easier to paint. Their deep details really do come up a treat - whereas some of the details on these Museum Z Sculpts almost seems to disappear even with just an undercoat. 

If only the raised details and undercuts on the figures could just somehow be (I guess digitally?) "dialled up" a little, and perhaps some of the spears thickened too then the Z Range would be as good after people like me have finished painting them as they look in the 3D renders on the Museum site ! 

4 May 2023

Indian Chariots from Museum's Z-range

 Museum's annual January sale is always a good opportunity to buy something I don't really need, and this year was no exception. 

Amongst the bits and bobs to round out existing armies I picked up 2 more Indian Chariots - this time from their new Z range to go with the original sculpts of the 2 I had somehow acquired through complete accident in previous years. 

And here are both of the chariots together - all done in contract paints (of course) for the bright colours and also giving great texture for the crew's skin as well.  

I sort of got mixed up with which crewmember went with which chariot, and I'm not entirely sure where the guy with the palm leaf is supposed to go - but as he is so much fun I squeezed him on the base anyway!

The commanders chariot head on - I used ArmyPainter Speedpaint Holy White for the pale grey horses here 

The ringed effect on the brolly is just an artefact of Contrast Paints - not painted by me at all. The color is Magos Purple.

I now have all 4 Heavy Chariots for an ADLG Indian army - whether I will ever use them in anger is another question entirely!

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