12 Jan 2024

Victrix Successor Pikemen in 28mm

 I've already posted a few articles about my (of course over ambitious) project to create a generic Hellenistic/Successor army in 28mm, which started with the lighter troops and peltasts, and then added some Galatians and some cavalry... all of which was really a rather folorn effort to put off tacking the Phalanx for as long as possible!

The dread of the Phalanx is twofold. 

First up, it's a lot of near-identical, uniform figures, which always makes painting a bit of a chore. But more importantly I had decided that the Victrix spears were simply too flimsy to use as-is, and instead that I would drill out the pikemen's hands and add in metal pikes instead.

If this wasn't too easy, I also decided to go a little off-piste on the headswap front, throwing in all sorts of plastic heads from the spares box (which has all sorts in it!) as well as mixing it up with the rather good range of heads that come on the Victrix sprues. 

Oh, and as if that's not enough, I also got a pack of Successor metal heads from Aventine to shake things up even more, as I do really like my troops to look like battle-worn veterans and the whole "I'm not using standad kit!" thing is a big part of that.   

And, to make things even harder I tried to create that "might not be a real thing" joining-type-bit that wraps around the middle of each pike by using tiny strips of normal paper soaked in quite a lot of PVA glue. 

Oh, and did I mention that I then bought two sets of Victrix Argyaspids on the mistaken assumption that they would be pikemen? They are in fact armed with spears, so the decision to drill out their hands and add metal pikes wasn't even one I had anychoice over in the end - I simply had to do it once I started. 

Dodging some rather chilly and wet spells of weather along the way, I eventually ended up with 2/3 of the total number of guys all primed and ready to start painting.  

And here's an intermediate step, with the LBMS shield transfer rushed into place a little earlier than maybe is sensible simply to give me some encouragement that they would actually be worth the effort in the end. 

What you can see here quite clearly is that there are two sizes of shield - something I only spotted in the nick of time - with the Argyaspid shields being slightly bigger. The bodies of the Argyaspids and Macedonian Phalanx sets are pretty similar, only slight cosmetic differences in the straps that I guess support the shield, but near enough identical so I could use them interchangeably on all of my pikemen.

I also - which you can also see here - used some different arms from the bits box to hold the pikes.  This was in part to create even more variety in posees, but was mostly because it's impossible to drill out 48 plastic arms and hands without messing a few of them up, so you need some replacements. 

Some look a bit clunky but will get lost in the Phalanx I'm sure..?

And, eventually here we are, getting somewhere at last with the Veteran Mercenary phalanx set of LBMS transfers in place and the men mostly finished. 

At this stage I have painted the pikes in my standard Ochre Brown, and used a dark brown to paint the joining-bit bits, so I can use a lighter colour to do a bit of a very basic twisted rope effect later. 

And here's a close up so you can see exatly how basic it actually is.  The guy on the right has been a receipient of a donated arm, which does look a bit odd from this angle. Perhaps he needs to be in the  middle of the block of 12 men? 

This is three ADLG units of 12 pikemen all based up and ready to be finished off with some sand and woodstain.  

If you count you'll see that they are based in 4 ranks of 3 files per base, with each base being a standard 60x60mm. I had originally assumed that they would end up as 4 files and 3 ranks but the shields are just a bit too big, and the pikemen's stance is too wide to make that work without staggering the figures in each rank (which would look wierd for a Greek-style well drilled Phalanx), so 3x4 it has to be. 

At least it gives the shields more room to shine. 

This is the finished  article, a Veteran/Mercenary unit with a right rogues gallery of characters and headgear on display. 

The chap front left is a Gallic cavalry head I think, and the chap in the middle is probably a Turk or Mongol cavalryman who looks ready to fight pretty much anyone!

There is even a Persian in the middle with a fetching blue bubble hat!  

I blended the red shield transfer at the back into the full shield with some paint mixing, but for most of the rest I left a black circle around the shield and then did a rim of bronze, which I touched up again after the matt varnishing stage to give them some extra shine and 'ping'. 

Plenty more random heads on display here. 

I did the linen armour by starting with a base coat of Holy White from Warlord Games Speedpaint range, and then blocked in the big flat areas in simple white, as well as picking out the petruges (?) on their armoured skirts in white too. 

I did try a black undercoat initially but found it too harsh, so the grey of Holy White, and the way it pools and darkens around the edges is a good alternative. 

These chaps have ended up as the Argyaspids - that whole "My Boss's face on my shield" thing must indicate some exceptional level of loyalty to the cause! 

As they will most likely be the Elite chaps I added in the officer, standard bearer and trumpeter to the base - putting the trumpeter at the back and the standard bearer in the middle so their rather flimsy trumpet and flag would be a lot harder to break in normal handling. 

I think there is also a logic to the trmpteter at least being at the back to sound the commands for the Phalanx to follow?

These are the standard Phalangites - slightly smaller shields than the Argyaspids. It's a little frustrating that the info on the Victrix site doesn't make it explicit which sets of shield transfers fit which set of pikemen, but with a mix of types to choose from I managed to muddle through OK.

You can see a lot of the headswaps here - even a chilled out dude in a Cretan floppy hat, who is of course towards the back of the unit.  

Although there seems to be another more foolhardy Cretan in the front rank too..

This was the officer - some of the packs come with 3 extra figures, and rather strangely the command sprue has two sets of legs wearing trounsers as well. 

This isn't really enough to change a full 24-man Phalanx to "Asiatic Successors" (!!) but I did manage to use them and put them in the front rank so visually it does have a material effect on how they look.

The officers in this army are clearly better fed than the rank and file phalangites! 

All in all, I'm really chuffed wth how they have turned out. Drilling out the hands is a real PITA, and nothing can hide thatfact, but I think it's been worth it in the end. 

Now I only need to steel myself to finish off the final 24 to add to the 48 I've already done!

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