Converting Gripping Beasts 28mm Dark Age Warriors for Runequest

A few months ago I was sent a couple of boxes of  Gripping Beast dark age warriors for review. I painted one box rather quickly as my reintroduction into miniature painting and I won’t scare you with an more pictures of the results. Initial thoughts can be found here.

What these guys look like with a professional paint job.

However the 2nd box I decided I was going to use for conversion as I thought  one the main benefits of the figures was there simplicity and thus the adaptability.

However figure conversion and painting takes a while especially when you have a skill set like mine. So after a few months relearning how to paint , glue and photograph a miniature I think I have something to share.

But first please do not think this post is about ‘my amazing figure painting skills’ as you will see from my illustrations, I would described them  as able passable tabletop standard at best. Its more about how this box set can be used to give some value for money for a RPG player who probably doesn’t need 80 Fyrdmen in his miniature collection.

Orlanthi Fyrd

These figure in there organic state are perfect in my opinion for an Orlanthi Fyrd, as they come out of the box with no conversion needed, though a do prefer a look for my rural Orlanthi that is inspired by Celts and other northern Europeans, rather than the current vogue.

All that you need to do is that  ensure in your paint job, is that your metal is Bronze instead of iron. I prefer duller rural colours and blues for my rural Orlanthi in terms of clothing( also easy to paint that yellow and brown chequered trousers).

Dropping a few head from different Celt and German sets,  would add more variation, and a few helmets or shields from Greek and Carthaginian sets may set the group of nicely.

Balazaring Hunters

Possibly my favourite group I made and created, but not strictly a conversion as no extra pieces were needed.  Just a judicious choice of pieces and poses, and a relevant paintjob.

I have used some heads from  a victrix Carthaginian set to give a range of barbarian hairstyles and vary the faces but these would not been needed.

The following tips for piece selection is essential;

  • Use figures with arms away from body
  • No shields to be used
  • Javelins and spears only, no sword or axes, slings may work but I didn’t use them.
  • Using a number of different leather tones Leather paint job for clothing.

As you can see below the results re very convincing.

Lunar Militia

Ok for my Lunar Militia, it was a more fundamental conversion job with heads and shields pulled in from a  box of Victrix Carthaginians I have.

From the Dark  age warriors box, use the body options made for shield use with arm close to body, these are the best for conversion ( but also blends very well with the selection of the Balazarings above as a box of 40 has above as each box has 24 with arms in and 16 with arms out. )

Also choose standard spears as the arm and weapon choice. From the Carthaginian box I choose 8 helmeted heads the same or very similar and 8 split shields of a roman design.

The paint job for the shields is a black and crimsons split design I like and will use for many of my lunar shields because suits, it is effective, it  is stylised and it is also really easy to do.

The uniforms I went with a dusted and dirty white colour, with red sash though the paint jobs would be better if I did them now.

Trashite Fyrd

I wanted these guys to drop into a standard Orlanthi Fyrd men to create a group look which is much more civilised and as a whole could represent a  Tarshite rural militia or Fyrd better.

I used the following techniques;

  • Use assorted helmeted heads from Greek and Carthaginian boxes painted the helmets bronze.
  • Use different shields, with more metal, and some lunar designs
  • Used a similar weapon mix, but also dropped in two curved swords ( a little out of scale but if we were to throw out every fantasy figure with an oversized weapon … )
  • Use less earthy colours so more reds & blues

Pavis Gang

My final large group was trying to put together some figures which could be used as a  group of urban toughs or Pavis street gang. So looking for something urban, no armour, light weapons and a younger look than the dark age warriors have as standard.

So the following design choices were made;

  • Drop in a mix of heads some younger with no beards but no helmets
  • Use no shields, so choose guys with arms away from their bodies if I could.
  • Use cut down arms with spears into clubs, staves and bo sticks
  • Add short swords, knives and swords as weapons where I had them
  • Urban clothes colours in the paint jobs

Unarmed Peasants

Though I didn’t use any of my figures as such these guys would work well for an characters of an unarmed variety anywhere in Orlanthi society, or anywhere else in Glorantha where trousers and leggings may be in vogue.

Characters & Assortments

I also worked on a few random character ideas from the Dark Age , the two below are a work in progress where the idea is riffing of the artwork for the Lunar adventuring party from shadows on the Borderlands. Both based of dark age warriors with Carthaginian helmets again, currently part painted.

The next two fellows are pretty standard out of the box, but pose means they have a more character feel about them.

The fellows were meant to be a burly Chalana Arroy healer, and a Lankhor Myh sage, made by cutting spears down to staff size, and not going with shield options.

The final two are  a later attempt at Chalana Arroy healer and a figure which was originally going top be Joh Mith, which just has the spear removed completely, sheathed sword added  and cloak added( from some Celts kit). However during painting a Santa Claus theme has seemed to have crept in.


Anyway though my painting and modelling  skills may still be described as basic, i’m really happy with the variation and mix of figures i’ve got out of the box. Final plug is you can  find them here for £22:00 which at just over 50p a figure isn’t bad at all for miniatures this versatile.

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