These reviews are looking at the relevance of different manufacturers of ancient historic and fantasy plastic 28mm miniatures in how they can be used for role-playing miniatures in a Glorantha game.
Our requirements are slightly different than those of historic tabletop wargamers, and what makes a great set for a war-gamer will not always be a great set for a role-player.
Will be looking at the following attributes to judge how relevant are the figures to use for role-playing in Glorantha.
- Relevance – How relevant are the figures to use role-playing and for Glorantha in particular, or how easy is it to make the models relevant, with simple modifications.
- Range – How wide a range of figures do they have which could be relevant to Glorantha
- Pose – How engaging and interesting are the poses the figures which can be constructed
- Model Variations – How great a variety of models can be created from the boxes or sprues
- Ease – How easy is it to build the miniatures
- Quality – The general quality of the model in terms of design and execution
- Price – How good is the per model price
- Overall – How all the above combine to give us great ranges of well-priced quality figures which can easily be used in role-playing games set in Glorantha.
So starting with the most important providers and working down.
Victrix produce what I would consider the widest range of plastic ancient figures out on the market. The relevant ranges are centred around Greek, Gallic, Iberian, Carthaginian and a subset of their roman figures.
Build quality is good, designs are definitely realistic and not heroic. However, they are definitely made as unit figures to be part of an army, which can make them harder to use for role-playing. Due to the similarities between figures, and the lack of dynamic poses in some of the earlier ranges.
One thing to watch out for with a number of producers is that they have a tendency to put very similar kits on the market, with only minor changes. With Victrix it’s the Greek Hoplite ranges which really only have differences in the helmets for the most parts, which is great if you are a wargamer wanting unit authenticity, but not great if you want to use the figures for role-playing and wanting a high degree of variation & customisation.
Realism is something I like about these figures, with a realistic(none heroic) scale and attention to detail on historic trappings. Figures quality is very high, build is straight forward and not overly fiddly.
With most Victrix sets the way the arms connect just above the elbow, rather than the shoulder joint means that the figures lack the obvious join at the shoulders which most plastic miniatures have.
Most sprues give you multiple options which also will leave you with a decent amount of parts which can be easily used with conversions with other models & suppliers.
Figures are usually well priced coming in at £0.60 to £0.80 for an infantry figure.
Note: Victrix are due to release dark ages ranges covering Germanic, Viking and Saxon figures. Which look like they are both relevant and also aimed more for the skirmish market. These figures look like they are going to have much more dynamic poses and offer a much greater variation within the range.
Pose: ** to ****
Model Variations: ** to ****
- Carthaginians ***** – 3 types of figure & brilliant for bits box pieces for modifications
- Greek Peltasts and Slingers ***** – Love there crescent shields, great lunars
- Romans Legionaries Attacking ***** A great base for conversions, for all kinds
- Gallic Warriors **** – I’m a sucker for the cloaks
- Spanish Armoured Infantry **** – Very Dynamic figures
- Armoured Gallic warriors **** – Looking very good for Orlanthi Carls
Gripping beast manufactures great straight forward figures mainly aimed into the dark age and early medieval period, which is somewhat later than the figure we are looking for.
They produce some of the simplest and straight forward figures on the marketplace. This simplicity as well as meaning quick and easy lends itself to the figures been easily modified. Heads and shields interchange very well with victrix miniatures too. The miniatures have a variety of poses lend themselves to create dynamic figures.
The focus on the dark ages means that the range is limited in terms of Glorantha, with Dark Age Warriors, Saxons & Vikings being the most obvious figures. These can be great if you like your Orlanthi with a more Saxon or Viking look& feel. This does lead to a ubiquitous amount of chainmail in your figure mix which may not be the most Gloranthan feel.
I was surprised though with the results I got from the Late Roman Infantry which on the sprue didn’t seem right, but has allowed me to create some very nice Glorantha figures from, with a little creativity.
Quality of the figures and design is very good, but the simplicity of the models means that you really have to modify to stop yourself from getting the same models numerous times.
The outstanding aspect with gripping Beast is the price, with figures coming in at around £0.50 per miniature either buying by the box or the sprue, which is pretty much the best in the market.
Model Variation: ****
- Dark Age Warriors ***** – I think most easily modified and versatile figures I have encountered yet
- Plastic Viking SAGA Starter ***** – A good mix of figures
- Viking Hirdman **** – if you like your Orlanthi that way
- Viking Hirdman command ***** – if you like your Orlanthi that way
- Late Roman Infantry *** – A useful base for modifications
- Dark Age Archers **** – Good in small numbers
The largest seller of plastic historic miniatures in the UK, with a very large range of products. Its plastics go through the Greek & Macedonian Period, Roman, Celts, British, Germans, Dacians, Anglo Saxons & Vikings. But no Carthaginians, Spanish or Early Italians in plastic.
The different sets of figures have been designed by various people ( and often bought out ) over a period of time that leads me to believe there is no firm identity to warlord games figures.
However, figures tend to be realistic, have more dynamic poses, a fair degree of variation and be of good quality.
I would, however, say the Anglo-Saxon and Viking sets are difficult builds which have left me not bothering to complete figures, after building a couple of unconvincing figures. One with a pose so bad I turned it into a zombie, with its paint job.
The Greeks hoplites again have different sets, with very little variation between them, but I do tend to prefer Warlord over Victrix due to their more dynamic poses.
The warlord Celts is a sprue that is the main component of numerous boxes ( Celts, Dacian Falxmen, Dacian Nobles, Germans, Britains ) so being aware of this if you want to invest this way, I would always suggest going for Germans or Dacians because you get the Celt Sprues and the additional material for the same price. Also don’t go buying multiple boxes thinking you are getting different miniatures.
A note the Woodlands Indians box are some of the most beautiful figures I have encountered, design for a much later period. A judicious choice of parts can create some beautiful figures to be used for Balazarings and Praxians.
Price is again good with a cost of about£ 0.50 a miniature in most instances, but heading up to closer to £1.00 if buying Romans by the sprue.
Model Variation: ****
- Dacian Flaxmen **** – Celt frames with a handful of mad falxmen torso thrown
- Germans **** – Celt frames with a handful of germans torso’s & leaders thrown
- Woodland Indians ***** – Just beautiful figures
- Celtic Warriors ***** – always worth one sprue of these
- Macedonians **** – The most dynamic Macedonian Pikemen
- Hoplites ***** – The officers make great character figures
Northstar has been producing Frostgrave and Oathmark plastic figures, which are more aimed at the fantasy market.
These are chunky figures with dynamic poses, aimed with skirmish games and role-players in mind as much as the war-gaming table. The biggest issue is they have a more generic fantasy feel which means they are not immediately appropriate for Glorantha.
Well made and designed, but also the slightly heroic scale and decision to use a slightly different style of head join means that they do not modify well with pieces from other sets. However, the sets are pretty much interchangeable with each other.
However, a few things make them worth consideration. The first is that they are currently producing the only plastic set of female miniatures on the market. What’s even better is all the figures have a reasonable amount of clothes on.
Also, the figures are designed to potentially have a lot of personality, and their more heroic dimensions make them very good for character models.
Price points are relatively expensive with cost at about £1.00 per miniature
Model Variation ****
- Frostgrave Gnoll **** – Great for Dog Broo (Ok I know, but they are going to be a thing in my game set in Balazar. )
- Frostgrave Humans Soldiers 2 ****- Good Heroic, fully dressed female figures
- Frostgrave Human Soldiers ** – Good chunky figures but fantasy generics
- OathMark Humans *** – Good chunky figures but fantasy generics
- Frostgrave Barbarians *** – Good chunky figures but fantasy generics
Fire forge produces figures which I find are similar in quality and style to Gripping beast. But which are outside of the antiquity period, but could also be very useful for Gloranthan figures.
The Byzantine Spearmen with their obvious scale mail make convincing Lunar troops or even Balazaring Citadel warriors, step warriors are interesting for un-mounted Grazelander figures.
Price is relatively expensive compared to other plastics at £0.80 per figure.
Model Variation: **
By the sprue
- Step Warriors **** – Great for Pentians/Grazelanders
- Byzantine Spearmen **** – Look great for Heavy Lunar Infantry
- Byzantine Auxiliaries ***
Mantic games position themselves as a more cost-effective alternative to games workshop products. They have a wide range of plastic miniatures pretty much trying to compete with directly with Games Workshop.
The sole reason they are on the list is that North star has put an undead encounter kit from mantic which covers zombies, ghouls and skeletons usually for less than £15.00.
Price and availability is the main benefit for these models, the skeletons have medieval kit that I find hard to justify(EWF maybe). Also, the poses, joins and build quality on the zombies and ghouls is poor, though there are nice detail touches to the figures.
However, you do get passable figures to cover off undead encounters for a very reasonable price. Functional figures that can fulfil a need but nothing to get excited about.
Model Variation: **
There are other producers out there but nothing to justify a write-up. (yes I include GamesWorkshop in that statement).