Every year I take an extended Christmas & New Year holiday. So from mid-December to late-January I try and build and paint a new warband, plus other miscellaneous wargaming stuff. 2019/20’s project was building a new Norman / Crusader warband using the variety of Norman miniatures I had in the lead and plastic pile.
First and foremost the aim goal of this project was to paint what I had rather than build a specific Saga warband. So don’t expect and optimised warband post. Secondly this post is also about giving my thoughts on the miniatures I painted.
Crusader – Dismounted Norman Knights with Axes
What is there not to like about heathguard with heavy weapons. Hit hard, have full armour against shooting and die like flies (well when i play with them anyway).
With lots of mail, helmets and axe heads there was a lot of metal and therefore quick and easy to paint. I hadn’t worked out what the colour scheme would be before starting the project, but working my way through these it became red uniforms, with white highlights and blue leggings. Which has now continued across the whole warband.
Unfortunately there are only 4 poses because I really like these models. The level of detail is crisp and simple, I like the shields and there was very little clean up required. The only minus (and it is a very small one) is that the figures are a little chunky compared to some other manufactures, but not overly so.
Wargames Illustrated – Balian D’Ibelin
This is a limited edition figure which fortunately I got before it sold out. He is my warlord when he decides to get off his high horse and hoof it with the infantry.
I am very happy with how this figure turned out, especially since I am not fond of removing flash. This figure require more cleaning than I like and I end up sanding the whole face of the shield to get a smooth surface to paint.
The heraldry on the shield is from the GW Bretonnian knight transfers which I painted over. I liked the idea of a Saxon dragon since I think it suits my idea of a Norman lord wanting a tenuous relationship to a Saxon realm and ties into his retainers whether they be Norman or Crusaders. If the shield was not cast on to his arm I would have switched it out for a kite shield. But I didn’t want to risk butchering the model.
Wargames Foundry – Dismounted Norman Knights
Knights didn’t always fight on horseback and there are times when you just have to get down and fight on foot.
Sculpted by Matthew Bickley, these miniatures are full of character with dynamic poses. These were very easy to clean up and the casting detail is crisp. Compared to the other manufactures in this warband there are more details to pick out on each figure which means they took a little longer to paint. However the extra effort was rewarding. Aside from the variations in armour on the figures, the facial expressions really stand out. The minis are charging full scream into battle.
The miniatures are also as chunky but this is offset by the obvious layering of the gambeson under the mail. I would love a few more.
Warlord Games – Heavy Infantry A
Every warband needs standard warriors and sometimes they are luck enough to have decent mail, even if it means they can’t afford a horse to ride on.
These are part of the Colin Patton’s Saxon Miniatures range that Warlord purchased a couple of years ago. I have dozen of so of the Vikings in this range and they are lovely figures. Like them you get 8 individual dynamic poses, so I was looking forward to painting these.
The unit didn’t end up being 100% Warlord games. I didn’t want the round shields so swapped them out for a couple of plastic ones from Conquest Games and Fireforge kits. The spears were North Star metals which glued into holes drilled though each hand (the ain’t falling off).
They are nice figures, but not as nice as the Viking range. Also compared to the Crusader and Wargames Foundry figures the casting wasn’t as clean and whilst there wasn’t a lot of flash they were more fiddly to prepare. The are also a leaner miniature compared to Conquest and Wargames Foundry, but not massively so.
Crusader – Unarmoured Norman Spearmen
Your more traditional warrior could afford a decent helmet a solid shield and not much else.
With no mail the Crusader spearmen are obviously less chunky and nicely proportioned. The hands were large enough to be drilled out for wire spears which glued together nice and solid.
Having been painting lots of mail it was nice to paint plain red tunics. The casting was clean and the model have sufficient detail to make layering easy and making our highlights.
Unfortunately there are only 4 poses, which given how spoilt we are for unique poses in many ranges nowadays is a shame. But all things considered a different paint job on the shield and slight repositioning of the spear makes them different enough.
Crusader – Norman Knights in Chainmail with Swords
Most manufacturers of Normans have mostly spears, whereas I like to mix things up and use hand weapons too. Hey, they must lose those spears in battle and it is hard to pick one of the ground when you are in the saddle. Crusader and Wargames Foundry sell their cavalry in blisters of 3. Which means you need to have some spares around to make a point of heathguard, buy another pack or get one of each in my case.
Crusader makes nice horses, they are dynamic and generally have clean castings. As I am not fond of painting horses anything that is quick and simple to get a decent outcome gets a big thumbs up from me.
However once painted up and in a unit this is not immediately obvious and given how they paint up I see this as a minor issue.
Wargames Foundry – Norman Knights 1
Like the foot knights, these miniatures have lots of character. I especially like the one drawing his sword as that is unusual in most ranges. The riders were sculpted to fit really well to the horses were a pleasure to paint.
However the horses were another issue. One first look, the horses and poses looked great, but I found myself cutting and filing away lots of solid flash which seemed really out of ordinary based on past experience with Wargames Foundry figures. Then I discovered that the one of the hindquarters of one the horses had failed to fill the mould fully and I needed to green stuff the muscle back in.
Conquest Games and Fireforge Games – Medieval Archers, Norman Infantry and Footsergeants
To keep with the red and white theme I need to paint up some more crossbowmen. As there are no Norman specific plastic crossbow kits, I decided to mix and match pieces from Conquest and Fireforge plastic sets. Whilst I was at it I also assembled another 8 unarmoured warriors as well.
The crossbows on the Fireforge sprue are great, both with and without arms attached. These would fitted to a 50:50 mix of Fireforge and Conquest torsos and then I added heads from Conquest’s infantry and archers sets. I felt that the Fireforge heads didn’t fit the thematic look of the warband so they were left out.
The benefit of plastic is its ease of conversion as I was able to get everything together with just a hobby knife and a file. Whilst I prefer the aesthetic of metal miniatures I was pretty happy with the outcome of the crossbows.
The unarmoured warriors were also assembled from components from all three box sets.
To provide additional variation I added swords and axes to the mix. Keeping with theme, all bar one of the shields and heads came from the Conquest sprues.
These warriors have padded and leather armour and more layers than their Crusader counterparts. So they have a more varied use of the red and white uniform compared to the other units.
How do the scales compare?
Overall the figures from the different manufactures fit together very well. Yes there are some variations, but I consider this no more than what you see as normal height and weight differences in today’s population. To my eyes the Fireforge figures seem slightly weedier, and not being Norman specific don’t fit in as neatly as the others.
As a whole I am very satisfied as how they fit together as a warband. (Note to self, as some stage I need to sand a mm of the bases of the plastic warriors to even up the heights)
Like with the infantry, the cavalry figures scale and fit nicely together as a unit. If it were not for the obvious way in which the Crusader riders sat on their horses I would have trouble telling the ranges apart on the table top.
To finalise the warband and the range comparison I have 4 more mounted heathguard in progress built using Conquest Medieval Knights, Norman Cavalry and Fireforge Mounted Sergeants. I will post them up once they are finished with another comparison photo.
Now For Something Different!
The riders are heavily mailed so are easy to paint and highlight details. What really stands out as an odd point in this range is how the rider have severely bowed legs as if they were sculpted on a piece of dowel. As such the rider’s saddles don’t glue neatly to the horses bases which is a shame.
Eureka Miniatures are based in Melbourne and it is always fun to drop in when they have their store front open and browse through the trays of minis to find something fun to paint.
This is one of there generic robed monks, silently praying for victor and the safe return of the warband from battle.
And every Warlord needs a couple of remounts to keep them going. So Patsy is keeping them safe whilst D’Ibelin goes off to battle afoot.