Thursday 28 February 2013

15mm Gladiators!

In conjunction (and kind of in parallel) with the Antioch project, I have been putting together a collection of 15mm gladiators. At first it seemed that there was only a very limited range - but then I looked closer and found quite a few different companies. Much to the confusion of Mrs Hotspur - who knows full well my opinion of the Romans - I embarked on a mission to sample them all; and I very nearly succeeded.

Below I firstly outline my general impression of the different sculpts and service of the manufacturers, and secondly, compare the same types of gladiators from the different ranges. The names of each manufacturer are clickable and should take you to the said gladiator range. At least the links worked at the time of posting...

Donnington (UK)
Donnington's gladiators fall within their 'originals' range. This can be either a blessing or a curse. The figures can be bought individually which is great, but the sculpts are quite variable in size and quality. This range is set up for slave/gladiator revolts and so several of the figures are equipped in captured Roman equipment rather than for the arena. I only ordered two of the slave women and the hopolomachus figure. I liked the  slave woman with spear; she'll be used in one of my factions in Antioch. The other two were a bit rough.

Museum (UK)
Museum have perhaps the largest range of gladiators with 12 different types. However, Museum figures are quite stylised; very tall and quite.... Germanic looking. Look at 1930s German propaganda posters and you'll know what I mean. They are only available in packs of eight identical figures or a bag of two of each sculpt (24 figures). As I wasn't sure that the sculpts would suit the rest of my figures I contacted Museum about the possibility of just buying a small sample with two or three figures. I was very much put in my place and told I could buy the mixed bag of 24. This is the only range I'm aware of which didn't make it into my collection.

Mick Yarrow (UK)
MY miniatures are OK. Some of them are a bit too chunky for my liking and there was a bit of flash. Mick is really approachable and great at answering any questions you might have. I bought a pack of eight mixed gladiators with weapons attached (they also do a pack with seperate weapons - not sure if they are the same scuplts though) and they threw in a few extra samples as well including a really nice mounted gladiator (Spartacus?). I'll happily use quite a few of these lads and also the gladiatrix who was included in the free sample.

Outpost Wargames Services (UK)
Outpost have five gladiators. Their service is very fast and the sculpts are nice. They are a bit on the fine-featured side and look quite slight alongside the others. This is most noticeable when viewed side-by-side their colleagues from Rebel miniatures.

Stategia Nova (Italy)
These guys were a bit of a late runner in my search but I think these are my favourite 15mm gladiators. They have two packs of six gladiators so 12 different sculpts in total but several are the same types (two or three retiarii etc). The sculpts are a little chunky, akin to the MY figures but with a bit more character and less flash. They are a bit smaller than the Rebel figures but that's not such a problem. The website is of course in Italian, but a little bit of intelligent guess work (followed later by google translator) will see you right.

Rebel miniatures (US)
Rebel only do four gladiators. They state that they are 'heroic' 15mm figures and indeed they are a bit buff. Lovely sculpts but huge against the Outpost gladiators, they seem to look only slightly large alongside the Mick Yarrow and Strategia Nova figures.

Highlander Studios (US)
These guys only do a single gladiator - or more correctly, a gladiatrix. She is confusingly listed in their post apocalyptic  range under the name Carolee. She is a dimachaerus and looks nice on the website. In bare metal she looks quite mannish but I'll certainly be using her.

Now for some shots to show the size comparison between ranges - all captions list the figures in order from left to right:
Murmillones by Mick Yarrow, Outpost, Rebel and Strategia Nova
Hoplomachi by Strategia Nova, Rebel, and Donnington - I include the armed slave woman too as she might pass for a gladiatrix hoplomachus?
Retiarii by Outpost, Mick Yarrow and two from Strategia Nova
Strategia Nova thraex, Outpost thraex, Mick Yarrow thraex, Highlander dimachaerus, Rebel dimachaerus
A general comparison with two Xyston  figures for scale (I'm using them as a sagitarius and a velite); Strategia Nova retiarius, Outpost thraex, Rebel dimachaerus, Highlander dimachaerus, Mick Yarrow thraex

And two shots showing my 16 favoured gladiators. I'll paint all these up as my pool of recruits for gladiator bouts and campaigns. I probably have more than this again in unused gladiators who will fester in the lead pile until such time as I need them; perhaps a Spartacus themed DBX army in the future?

Sunday 24 February 2013

A tiled building for Antioch

With the fresh arrival of Wills OO Scenic Series Pantiles (as recomended by Margard on The Miniatures Page forum), I have been able to press on with the first of the tiled building for my Little Antioch project.

Pantiles alongside a Penguin Classic for scale
I had originally tried to purchase tiles from Plastruct but they wanted to charge me £15 for postage... from the UK to the UK... less than impressed. I ended up buying my pantiles from Gaugemaster who are also here in the UK - very reasonably priced for a pack of four small sheets (A6? - I bought two packs) and with decent postage rates and quick service. Very happy with that purchase indeed.

Here are a few pictures of my first tiled building as a work in progress. Rather than a canonical rectangular temple, I've decided to build a squat little temple based on the proportions of numerous Hellenistic and Roman structures found from the Aegean to Ai Khanoum (Afghanistan). Including the front portico and pilasters, it will have a square footprint with the result that the naos/cella itself will be slightly wider than it is deep.

The facade - well, one of them. I have chosen Apollo as my patron deity for this temple project. This mostly on the grounds that I had appropriate 15mm archers (Xyston Cretans) lying idle. Each pediment will have a central Apollo. The front/East will have a centauromachy scene flanking the big guy using 6mm Rapier figures. The back/west pediment will have two leaping 10mm hounds from Eureka (in the picture above).

You don't quite get the true scale of this building in the photos (13x13x10cm). The thing really is quite massive compared to anything else I've done and by far the most complex. I'm glad I practiced on the simpler structures first.

The construction work was going well too, until the wee bollox beast of Black Mountain decided to attack my balsa wood stash... Ah well, it kept her entertained and was nowhere near as destructive as my son's recent outing with a pen and two of my more expensive reference works.

Below are photos of the remainder of the work to date, all on the roof. This building will take a little time to complete.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Pendraken Painting Competition 2013

Its hard to believe that we are now more than half way through February. As all good 10mm wargamers know, February is the month of the Pendraken painting competition. I entered last year and miraculously scooped a first and a second prize in two different categories. With my £30 pounds of prize credit I fitted out  a whole new set of paints (Vallejo) and bought a bunch of figures from the Pendraken Late Roman range to play Dan Mersey's Song of Arthur and Merlin - a great wee game using the Song of Blades and Heroes mechanics.

This year I'm entering said Late Romans painted with said new paints. Due to the conditions of the competition, I can only enter these guys into the Open category. This category has so far drawn the most entries and also some of the best. Not sure about my own chances this year, but with appropriate prayers to Saint Neot the Lesser, perhaps... perhaps.

The first five photos below constitute my entry. the remainder are just re-posts of the whole collection to have them all together in a single post.


Sunday 10 February 2013

15mm Greco-Roman civilians - scale comparisons

With the strong winds and very Wintery weather we have been experiencing lately on site, I have been too tired of an evening to make much progress on Antiocheia Mikros. Hopefully, I will get a couple of hours this afternoon when the wee lad has a nap to get cutting and gluing. For now I thought that it might be useful to post a couple of shots comparing different companies' take on Greco-Roman civilians.

My itty-bitty city will be populated by passive civilians who are activated by certain triggers to either run away or stand up to injustice with a bit of mob violence. I knew that I wanted a dozen or so to be placed around the table and went on a wee bit of a civilain hunt/glut. I now have more than 50... and have had to impose a self regulating monthly budget to stop the rapidly growing lead pile.

Here are just a few of them:
Figures of authority from left to right - Xyston Seleukid officer, Xyston Rabbi, Donnington New Era Roman in Toga, Corvus Belli Roman engineer and a  Lurkio Moorish skirmisher. I bought a couple of small two figure packs from Lurkio (a great idea) as a test and was pleasantly surprised by how good their service was. However, the figures, although lovely sculpts, are a bit slender and short compared to the likes of Xyston and Donnington, closer to Corvus Belli. I'm happy to use the Lurkio figure as an Arab youth.

Women from left to right - two Donnington New Era Classical women, Donnington Old Era escaped slave woman, three Xyston Greek women. The Donnington New Era women are a bit heftier than I'd like, but then the fairer sex do come in all sizes. The Donnington Old Era slave woman with spear (pictured) is a much nicer sculpt than the slave woman with club (not picture) although both will be used.

Youths from left to right - Corvus Belli Roman engineer (again, quite slight compared to Xyston and Donnington adults), Lurkio Moorish slinger, the Lurkio skirmisher again, Xyston youth with club and two Xyston children.

I will do a similar post for 15mm Gladiators as soon as the two American orders arrive. Of course, I'll post shots of the rest of the civilians as they are painted but I need a sunny day when I'm off work to get all the undercoating done and to make a start on painting some buildings.