Sunday, May 13, 2018

Fireforge Byzantines Part 1

This, my Byzantine blog, was my second blog and first appeared (a few days after my Spartan one) back in November 2005.  At the time, with the purchase of the Warhammer Ancient Battles Beyond the Golden Gate supplement, I was very excited about building a later Byzantine army, to fight Normans and Turks.  There were really two sources for 28mm Byzantine figures then: Gripping Beast and Crusader and neither were ideal, really.  In fact I didn't like either company's figures very much which really stopped me proceeding with the project,as I didn't enjoy painting the figures.  In addition, the two manufacturers figures were incompatible with each other.   On balance, I preferred Crusader Miniatures ones (stocky and gnome-like though they were) and they were easier to paint than Gripping Beasts's efforts but Crusader were let down by their cavalry, as their Cataphracts were smaller than the normal cavalry. The less said about Gripping Beast horses the better.  This put me right off.  Put me off for over a decade, in fact, as it is ten years since I last painted any Byzantine figures (a few Crusader archers).  I doubt if  the latter will see service, as Fireforge are promising plastic archers, although they are messing around with an unnecessary fantasy range at present.

However, at Salute this year Fireforge had their relatively new Byzantine plastic infantry, so I thought I would buy a box and see what they were like.  There are 25 figures in the box on five identical sprues plus some plastic individual bases with rounded corners, The figures come with optional kite shields or oval ones.  No option for the teardrop ones offered by Gripping Beast and Crusader.

Each sprue has five leg and torso options, eight helmeted heads, five swords in scabbards, five left arms and five right arms holding spears up right plus one right arm holding a sword.  Not a lot of options then.  There is no separate command sprue but you can buy a resin command set separately ,although that doesn't have a lot of options either.

Stage one was to clip off the parts and then trim them.  I assembled them using polystyrene cement and then stuck them on my standard 20mm card bases. This was relatively straightforward although I tool care to position them on the bases carefully, as they share a pose problem with Victrix's Republican Romans, which I discovered to my cost when I assembled those. If you position the figures with their chest's facing forward then when you attach the shield arm it becomes apparent that the shield will be off to one side and will not, therefore, rank up properly.  You have to put them so that their shoulder are at about 45 degrees to the front of the base to get them to look right.  I stick the shields on after painting so didn't check that with the Romans.

I initially assembled five so that I could check that this would work. It means you have to position the heads at an angle to the torso as well.  In addition, I didn't add the swords until after the arms and while, on the whole, they just fit underneath the left arms, in one or two a bit of carving away was needed.   Assembled,  they look quite nice although the spears look to fat for my taste but they do feel robust at least.

Having done these I then set to on the other four plastics I would need for a Lion Rampant force and also did the resin command.  The latter are much more refined figures and include a commander, a musician and a standard bearer.  The latter has a (rather bendy) resin staff for the banner which I will replace with a metal one, I think, to avoid Airfix Ancient Britain syndrome.  There are two alternative resin banners: one is plain and the other has engraved detail on it.  Assembling the resin figures was a bit of a pig, as even superglue takes ages to dry on them and you need to wait an hour after sticking on one arm, for example, before attempting to glue the next piece.

Next time I will start to paint them and get stressed by their shields!

Friday, January 21, 2011

New early Byzantines in prospect

This, my most unloved blog, hasn't see a post for three years, largely because I was unhappy with the figures available for the middle Byzantine period.  Now, however, Musketeer Miniatures have announced that they will be doing a range of Early Byzantines to match their Goths.  This is very good news indeed as whilst there have been quite horrific delays in their Great Northern War figures the Goths and Early Saxons were delivered pretty quickly. 

Now I don't expect these any time soon but it is a Dark Ages army that I would be very interested in building.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Byzantine Archers

I finished eight Crusader archers today; my first Byzantine figures since August 2006! Very easy to paint (which actually means I was more slapdash than usual!) although rather chunkier than I like. I think I have a pack of cavalry to paint somewhere so maybe I'll do those next. The LBMS buckler transfers help a lot!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Back to Byzantines

I haven't posted anything here for nearly eighteen months and haven't painted anything for even longer than that but, when looking at the Crusader Publishing site yesterday, I noted that they are planning to do some Byzantine Allies in the future. I like what Mark Sims is doing with the Punic Wars; turning out enough packs of what most people think of as subsidiary nations to actually form an army and hope that he will take the same approach with Byzantines.

So I went straight home and got out my pack of Crusader unarmoured Byzantine archers, which I had already based and undercoated. A couple of hours and I had all the base colours down. This morning I added the sand to the base ready to paint the base this evening or tomorrow (as I am out to dinner!). Some of the Crusader figures, these included, are rather small for 28s and certainly they are tiny next to the Gripping Beast ones (see two posts ago) but they are really easy and quick to paint (unlike GB) and I know that they look much better painted. I should really be going for GB as their figures are more detailed but they changed scales half way through the range which was really annoying. Also Crusader do nice Normans, Spanish and Vikings which can be used as Normans in Italy.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Someone has just asked on TMP what a GB Byzantine looks like on an A&A horse. So here it is.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Archer Comparison: Gripping Beast and Crusader

Inspired by the man from Battlegames I have brought the remainder of the Byzantine unit forward on my workbench, now that my first unit of Sudan Beja are finished (although I am still working on the Mahdi!).

I bought a small group of Crusader Archers off Mark Sims on e-bay to see what they are like. As you can see they are very short and stocky compared with the GB ones. Not compatible at all for me. I will probably paint them up and sell them on e-bay unless someone at Guildford wants them.
Standard Bearer

The second figure is finished. Not bad: two figures in nine months! Maybe I don't love them! The figures are a bit basic. Interestingly, I have painted 8 Carolingians in the last six weeks so obviously enjoy painting them more.

I have just read issue 3 of Battlegames where a rather pompous man is showing off that he painted a whole Byzantine army in a month!

This GB figure has a huge nose and looks rather like Parker from Thunderbirds, I think...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Spear Colours

I have always painted my spears plain brown (based largely on the handle of my garden rake!) but a post today on The Minatures Page got me thinking about it and I found this photograph in Kim Siddorn's book Viking Weapons and Warfare. A fair old collection of shades and I think I might mix them up a bit and go rather yellower as a result.