This post is hopefully the first in a series posts about using currently available 28mm ancient miniatures for Gloranthan Games( Runequest, Heroquest, 13th Age, etc ).
I’ve been wanting to look at using plastic historical figures from the ancient period in Glorantha, for a number of reasons;
- Ancient era figures reflect Gloranthan humans to a much higher degree of accuracy than most fantasy ranges available
- Costs are brilliant at about 50p a miniature, that’s much better value than anything available for fantasy figures at the moment in plastic or metal.
- Plastics are much more ‘mod-able’ than metal figures, so conversion jobs should be relatively easy.
- There are a fair selection of ancient figures in 28mm plastics available at the moment, and most have parts that can be swapped between sets without too many difficulties. this should allow for conversions and bespoke figures.
However here are a potential few drawbacks which I have to acknowledge;
- Some ancient cultures are just too distinctive and don’t have Gloranthan equivalents ( eg Romans)
- As we are not war gamers we don’t need units of 40 of 1 type of figure, so variation and flexibility within a box is essential.
- The realistic nature of gender balance in sets of historical miniatures doesn’t reflect the more revisionist/modern gender balance found in most fantasy systems and Glorantha ( ie it is no good for female charterer models ).
But I believe careful product selection can mean we deal with the first two , but the third can only be worked round, but that doesn’t mean the historical route a bad option for male figures.
The guys over at Gripping Beast miniatures were good enough to provide a box of their Dark Age Warriors for review purposes.
Looking at what you get for your money you will receive 8 identical Figures Sprues containing the following;
- 40 bodies with 5 variations
- 16 left arm open.
- 24 left arm close to body.
- 8 right arms with axe
- 8 right arms with sword
- 8 right arms with horns
- 56 right arms with spear – 7 variations
- 56 heads – 7 variations
- 28 hands with slings
- 40 shields – all Viking round style
- Assorted rectangular basis for single miniatures and groups
Quality : 9/10
Since 1983 when I bought my first ever citadel miniature, metal always felt like quality. I was of the opinion that miniatures were metal and plastic was for ‘toy soldiers’.
These ( and other) plastics figures are really changing this opinion, the definition is excellent. The variation is almost limitless, they can achieve poses that metal figures cant and I believe they will much more durable and less prone to damage.
In comparison to other plastic ancient figures I have encountered, they are less complex and less detailed, but far more flexible and versatile with all parts working with all bodies.
My only mayor gripe is a lack of balance for the figures before they are based. Bases are provided but many are they are multibase for war-gaming, so additional bases are required to base the whole box for roleplaying purposes.
Value for Money: 10/10
The box RRP’s at £22.00 but can often be found for around £20.00 So at around 50p a figure you can’t go wrong.
Also the spares and versatility means that a box of 40 figures can be put to a good number of uses.
Figure Range: 6/ 10
The one gripe is perhaps unfair as it is the reverse side of one of the features, this range is so versatile and useful as it contains no features that ties these models into a specific time or place. Thus you get 16 spearmen, 8 slingers, 8 axemen and 8 swordsmen all un-armoured and a little generic. This make can the models a little bit bland if you don’t mod.
This is in no way a problem in war gaming setting where you are looking for large units of similar troops, for role-players the need for more than 8 of one type of model are rare and is an issue we need to work round.
This would mean in a role-playing setting id use about 20 models as they come from the box, and use the other 20 for conversions into various un-armoured characters, ( i’ve already created a Lankhor Myh Sage and Chalana Arroy healer without needing extra parts)
Ease & Speed: 10/10
Really easy and accessible. I’ve not modelled or painted figures in almost 20 years and i’m making great figures within 10 min’s of receiving the boxes. My 11 year old daughter has never modelled before and she joined in and was making great figures off the bat.
With each miniature need to add a head, one arm and shield to the base body. so each sprue of 5 miniatures can easily be assembled in 10 -12 minutes.
One of the things I love about this set is that every arm piece and head can be used with each body which creates significant variation, and as both can be used at various angles, to further add significantly to the permutations available.
So in theory you should not have any two models looking the same. In fact if you just use head, body and arm combinations you have over 300 piece variations in the set, looking at multiple poses there are literally 1000’s of models which can be made before we start to look at custom jobs and moding.
Appropriateness : 9/10
At first glance the term ‘dark age’ may put off some Gloranthaphiles, but the box is designed to cover un-armoured European infantry form 0 BC to 1000 AD. But there is nothing in this box that could be deemed to make these figures un-gloranthan.
To my mind these guys are perfect without any modification ( just a bronze age paint job.) for an Orlanthi Fyrd, Orlanthi Bandits or a number of other peasant militias that Glorantha may turn out.
Also I believe with very simple modification they can be used in a number of other roles within Glorantha .
If you games focuses around heroes and your after figures for the Jareels and Hareks of Glorantha, these figures probably won’t be for you. If like me you like your game to be gritty and earthed these figures will fit in wonderfully.
If you looking for figures for your gloranthan game i’d actually recommend these figures as a must buy purchase if you want to create a fair selection of un-amoured character from an Orlanthi background.
I see the figures being used by the GM as opponents and allies more so than heroic player characters, but for many of the reason mentioned above I would definitely recommend purchasing a box.
Anyway we should have a post soon on using these bad boys for custom builds of Gloranthan characters.