Monday, 28 November 2011

Dux Bellorum: Quick guide to the best historical Arthurian miniatures

One-off Copplestone King Arthur in 28mm
I thought a quick overview of some of the better ranges of historical Arthurian miniatures might be of help to would-be Dux Bellorum players; sure, I know many players already have their own collection of minis, but how can I tempt new players if I don't tell them where they can purchase new, shiny metal?!? And I also know that most of us are always looking for an excuse to add to the armies we already have...

It goes without saying that these figures work equally well for other Ancients miniatures games too (although some sizes of minis are more associated with certain games: De Bellis AntiquitatisImpetusArmati and Field of Glory have strong followings in 15mm, for example, as do Warmaster Ancients and Warmaster Medieval Armies in 10mm; and Warhammer Ancient BattlesHail CaesarSong of Blades and Heroes/Song of Arthur and Merlin, and Saga in 28mm - to name just a few).

There’s plenty of choice of miniatures for this period these days (we’ve never had it so good, trust me), and the list below just picks out my personal preferences. I have no links to any of the companies listed other than Outpost (who published myGlutter of Ravens: Warfare in the Age of Arthur rules). If you’ve not decided on which size of figure to build an army in, take a look at the 28mm manufacturers first, work out how expensive that would be for you, and then work down through the smaller sizes (15mm next) to find your personal balance between the style of sculpting and your bank balance. It’s also worth thinking about the impressive massed look of 10mm and 6mm armies, which really can look like real armies, as opposed to the more abstracted impression given by 28mm and 15mm armies.

You can see photos of figures from some of these ranges on the Dux Bellorum page and elsewhere on BGG. To whet your whistle, here are a couple of photos of my own collection:

My 15mm Essex Late Romans

My 28mm Gripping Beast Welsh

• Gripping Beast:
 The premier manufacturer of Dark Ages models in this size. They offer a huge variety of minis, with good historical research backing up top quality sculpting. They even offer a choice of mounting your warriors on horses or small ponies, depending on the look you’re after. Top notch, my favourite range in 28mm.
• Foundry: A small but beautiful Arthurian range; Foundry are quite expensive these days unless you buy one of their deals, but the minis have the right look for Late Roman and early Arthurian armies and their horses are superb (the mounted Arthur is one of my favourite models ever).
• Tanatus: Roy Eastland’s lovely selection of seventh century Picts and Saxons, although they’re usable for most Arthurian armies. The sculpting is quite different to most other ranges, so they’re very much a standalone option, but if you like the sculpting you can build some impressive looking armies from Tanatus alone.

• Splintered Light Miniatures:
 Excellent range of ‘classic’ Arthurians: the Britons are distinctly sub-Roman, and their barbarian enemies are old-school hairy. The only downside, in my opinion, are the horses, which aren't as well sculpted as the of armoured and unarmoured humans.
• Outpost Wargame Services: The foot command packs have real character, and their horses have the edge over Splintered Light. There’s good variety in the foot packs, less so in the mounted ones; there’s also a 28mm range, but I think the 15s are their best miniatures. There’s an especially good druid/monk miniature praying with his arms spread wide - ideal for making bases of Monks from.
• Legio Heroica: Lovely range of Late Romans and Goths, from which you can make Arthurian options galore. I’m taking a serious look at redoing my armies using these miniatures ... must try to resist (at least until I can sell the old minis)!
• Essex: The ‘wargaming standard’ in 15mm; Essex don’t produce any Arthurian ranges as such, but the sheer variety of miniatures on offer from the Late Roman and later Dark Ages periods means that you can put together pretty much any army you fancy from their extensive catalogue.

• Copplestone Castings:
 Superb minis, intended as fantasy ‘Rohan’ types. There’s no light cavalry except those with bows (less useful for Dux Bellorum), but other than that these will make a superb Arthurian army.
• Pendraken: The best of the ‘historical’ offerings in 10mm - their Late Roman range is very well sculpted, although slightly larger than their other Ancients/Dark Ages minis.

• Baccus:
 Baccus offer good Late Roman, Goth, and Dacian ranges which work well as Arthurians. Easily the best manufacturer in 6mm.

Have I missed any of your favourites off? I’d love to hear if I’ve missed any ranges you consider to be worth a look; plenty of others are out there, especially in 15mm, but I’ve only listed the ranges I personally think are worth looking at. I’ve stuck to manufacturers who produce suitable Arthurian/Late Roman ranges, rather than the later Viking/Norman period of the Dark Ages.