Sunday, 13 May 2018

The Next New Project - The Dark Ages

So as another figure painting project comes to an end its time to think about another. If you missed my last post about the Afghan forces for the North West Frontier you can find it here.
The Afghans effectively close my Colonials figure painting project for the time being. I still need to go back to the terrain aspects of these games and I still have plans for the River Nile, A walled city (Khartoum), and significantly more rocky terrain for the North West Frontier however for some strange reason my terrain building mojo is still missing – hopefully it will return soon because it has been a long time since a big terrain build has taken place.

So in the meantime I have been considering what to do next and at Salute last month I finally decided. The latest venture will focus on the Dark Ages and over the coming months the plan is to build Saxon, Viking and Norman forces of the Dark Ages. I figured with the wealth of plastic ranges available this would be an opportunity to build some really big armies. Fortunately the Vikings and Saxons are fairly generic with their roundshields etc so I suspect many will be pressed into action on either side.

Unlike other recent builds where every figure is based on his own washer and then slotted into a movement tray these forces will all be mounted on 10cm x 5cm bases. Depending on how these look I’ll placing four horse and either eight or ten infantry on one base.

So back to my Salute purchases –

For the Normans I have procured three boxes of cavalry and three of Infantry from Conquest games. The cavalry in particular are great value with 15 mounted troops for £20.

For the Vikings I bought two boxes of Hirdmen from Gripping Beast and a further two boxes of generic Dark Age warriors from the same manufacturer.

Finally I bought a big Starter Saxon box from Warlord games. This was actually procured post Salute on a deal from Warlord – 128 Foot for £60.

By my reckoning each plastic foot soldier is going to cost around 50p and the Horse around £1.20. I’ll go down the metal route for personalities and commanders but that is way off in the future. Using my previous army projects as a guide I reckon I’m going to need a minimum of 1600 figures to field two good sized armies. I’ll let you figure out the maths on how much this is going to cost.

I have already made a start on assembling some of these figures – a box of the Norman Knights and one box of Norman Infantry. Both sets are really easy to assemble although I was frustrated to discover that there were insufficient Kite Shields in the Cavalry box – did the Normans use round shields? Fortunately there are some spare in the Infantry box and I’ll be able to use them. The Norman Knightbox contains predominant mail clad warrior but there is one figure on each sprue in a simple cloth top. The thought occurred to me that I might be able to use these as light Saxon horse and give them the round shields.

A cursory glance at the three ranges I have bought (Warlord, Conquest and Gripping Beast) suggest that there is not mush opportunity to mix the pieces – some have arms joining bodies at the elbow and others at the shoulder. The heads do look more interchangeable and I’ll report back on these in a future post. It took around three hours to assemble these two boxes.

More soon


  1. Good luck, I am not a great fan of plastics.

  2. If you're thinking of the 1066 invasions, you might need some more kite shields for the Saxons - the nobles and their retainers would have adopted them (or started to) by then.

    Some of the Breton and French mercenaries might still have been using round shields.

    I'm looking forward to this project - 1600 figures sounds like it will be an epic :)

  3. Quite an investment in 'plastic futures'. Look forward to seeing this project develop.

  4. A great period for gaming. Have fun assembling all those plastics

    Looking forward to seeing how you do your buildings and if you have longboats etc...

    You may be limiting yourself a bit by having multiple figures bases. Theres a lot to be said for single based figures and smaller engagements - which is the way I went for by Dark Ages project with adventure style games, ship to ship fighting, small battles e.g. fyrd intercepting viking raids and larger battles 100figs or more a side.
    See my Blog the Nothelm Chronicle -->

  5. This will be interesting to follow.

    But.. Those Warlord Games plastics, arent they just reboxed Wargames factory or what they were called. If so... They aint even worth the time for gluing them together... Looking forward to hear your opinion.

    Conquest games have some plastic archers that are excellent, much better then their infantry and their cavalry.

    At the moment I am painting some Rus Vikings so I have borrowed bits from Fireforge Games plastic Russians.

    Dont be afraid to kitbash in bits from other makers here. Some Fireforge Games sergeants bits such as padded armour looks nice in the mix.

    Best of luck with this project, looking forward to what you can make.

    Cheers/ Jonas

  6. I think they are the old wargames factory ones, and they are truly awful.

    But kudos with your continued maniac level output sir!

  7. Crikey! You don't do things by half, sir. Good luck with assembling those plastic figures, I look forward to seeing photos of them in action.

  8. A patient man. I had one box and couldn’t cope, gave them away.

  9. Great project and I eagerly await to see how you proceed. All your projects are so monumental and done so well. I hope you will enjoy Dark ages games. 😀

    But to echo some of the above: the warlord saxons are repackaged wargames factory models are of dubious quality. I’ve seen some people manage to get them to look decent but most people I know only use them when they couldn’t get gripping beast plastics. And GB makes plastic saxons as well. The GB plastics are great and the conquest plastics good if in my opinion a little bit fiddly to get to look right and rank up. I have both in my dark age armies.

  10. Oooo ... do I sense the battle of Hastings on the horizon?

  11. saxons ,normans ,vikings ; they'd make great game of thrones doubles !!!!

  12. Good news for you if those warlord figures are as awful as people have said. Victrix are going to be doing dark ages, and Victrix plastics are just superb.

  13. If it’s the same plastic type as the old war games factory ones, then it’s useable enough if quite brittle and light. Interested to see how this project pans out