Sunday 14 September 2014

Foot Knights - first batch painted

Here are the first six done; the fine detail of the hard plastic has made them quite easy to do.

I've used my usual method - a fairly well loaded layer of GW silver is applied, just leaving the deepest recesses and on areas of mail, to show the black undercoat. Then a covering of a 50:50 mix of GW washes of black and brown, letting it run into the detail and trying to get some gradual shading across larger plate surfaces. When dry, a drybrush of silver, trying to catch all the hard edges as a highlight. Other non-metallic areas are then blackened again - straps, cloth, scabbards, weapon shafts, etc and then painted.

One of the Burgundian men at arms has blue-finished harness and the figure wearing the coat depicts Claude de Vaudray, a chamberlain in the duke's household, who fought at the battle of Morat. A harness for the foot joust which is attributed to him, and dated about 1500, still exists in Vienna.

The next batch are in progress....

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Perry Miniatures Foot Knights - a review

If someone had tried to convince me – about 5 years ago – that there would now be four boxes of high quality hard plastic later fifteenth century 28mm wargame figures in the market, I would have bet my house against it. I have always assumed that medievals are one of the ‘second tier’ historical wargaming periods, whose interest and sales levels would never support the costs needed to produce plastic figures. But I am so pleased to be so wrong, and so to be able to start assembling the latest ‘Foot Knights 1450-1500’ box from Perry Miniatures!

The quality of these sculpts is, of course, extremely high and reflects the ability of the Perrys sculpting at the larger ‘3-up’ scale needed for producing plastic models – for me there is still a notable difference between freehand and computer generated plastic figures, although that gap maybe closer than it once was. All the helms, armour, belts, buckles and weapons are wonderfully modelled and Renedra have done well to minimise areas where details are inevitably softer, which is only restricted to areas around the bottom of some tassets and is not noticeable anyway after attaching the sword scabbards.

The Perrys have also reflected their wide knowledge of harness and weapons for this period – as re-enactors and through close study of extant armour pieces – and applied them to the figures. So there are six bodies wearing full sets of harness; one a with more  ‘german/gothic’ styling, and two wearing coats over Italian style armour (which makes the altter pair of bodies useful for not only the 1450-1500 period but, with selective choice of helms, for the decade of the 1440s too).

The body poses are excellent. Most are in advancing or attacking poses, with one of the coat-wearing bodies in a standing pose who therefore has more limited options for which arms can be attached to create a  good pose. With the attachment of the arms – most wielding two-handed polearms and hand-and-a half swords – a really active group of dismounted men at arms results. Most of the designs for the harness and of an Italian style I would say. Only one body has a slightly more fluted and angular style more akin to a 'german' style, which is the same for the arms too - again with one of the poleaxe pairs having a german style. So there are no really any limitations in mixing any of the bodies without coats being attached to any arm options. For even more variety of course, the command sprues from both the Bills & Bows and the Mercenaries boxes will give you another four bodies to use these arms and helms with.

The command sprue features a Richard III figure, currently very topical of course, with head options of a lovely rendering of Richard’s reconstructed face (and a useful headswop for other plastic models too) and a sallet topped with a royal crown (against useful for other English or European kings of the period). I particularly like the standard bearer, wearing a coat and who nice and generic - I plan to buy extra command sprues and use him widely with the addition of other arms – such as crossbows, handguns and halbards.

Personally the only slight disappointment is with the helms – mainly as this sprue includes four that are duplicated from the mounted men at arms box - with six new options on the main frame. Now if you’re building an English army of the period – and of course many people will – with most or all of the noblemen fighting on foot then you may not need to purchase the mounted figures sprue. Also I reckon that Michael has already designed over 35 different heads for the period to date – and there are only so many styles before the variations become too subtle to really notice. However there are very useful new heads and my favourites are a raised visored sallet of c 1490s (like those shown in the Beauchamp Pageant) and a deep rimmed kettlehat. More kettlehat variations will hopefully follow in the forthcoming Light Cavalry box - please Michael!

It’s worth noting the assembly process for these figures. Some plastic figures require relatively little assembly – perhaps just head, single arm and backpack – and there are those in the hobby who are put off plastics due to the need to cut, glue and assemble the figures. Clearly the prep time is longer than for most metals, but to my mind the trade-off is significant - it’s the wide range of poses and figure variants that a plastic set brings to your unit or army. In this box most of the two-handed weapons require attaching the right and left arms to the figures shoulders and also glueing a joint in the polearm or the wrist of one of the arms. Now in the Mercenaries box the option to add a polearm/halbard blade creates a weak joint, no matter how much plastic glue you use to weld it together. However it seems that either the Perrys and/or Renedra have considered this and have come up with a much better solution – the joint on weapon shafts is now an L shape, rather than a straight across cut, which significantly increases the surface area to apply glue on and creates a much stronger joint – huzzah!!

My assembled models shown here are still works in progress, sadly I’ve not have enough free time to get beyond initial assembly. They will form a contingent of dismounted Burgundian men at arms – representing a group of knights from Charles the Bold’s household, with some retainers, and displaying related coats of arms on their coats. Consequently I’ve added crosses of St Andrews to a few, as well as applying headswops from other boxes and metal plumes castings. I've also changed a poleaxe head on a shaft for extra variety. Some of the surfaces have had a wash of liquid green stuff, but this isn't really necessary at all, just a whim of mine.

I’ll also add in some selected metal flagbearers, which are showing on the PM workbench at the moment. Pics of the completed unit will be posted as soon as they’re done. Helmets from the Foot Knights set have also been attached to another mounted men at arms unit that at the undercoated stage too.