Friday, 28 March 2014

Laughing Boy

One of the things I like about Umbar is how its history and geography lend it of a kind of melting-pot position. With close ties to Gondor and Harad, not to mention a reputation founded upon sea-travel, it seems plausible to include a few elements from other regions of Middle Earth.

While the majority of my crew will be vaguely Arabic corsairs (clearly a strong Harad influence in their dress – only sensible, given the climate!), I do want to include a few distinct individuals as characters to flavour the pot.

For some reason, I find hyenas to be fascinating (if repulsive) creatures, and really liked the vaguely hyena-like treatment the Peter Jackon LOTR movies gave to the Wargs. That said, I'm not really a huge fan of GW's Warg models, so I looked for alternatives. These from North Star look like just the ticket – they’re pretty chunky, and will work well as smallish Wargs (at least, I hope they will – I have yet to see them in person).
So, combining my two aims, I put together this little chap (though he's a head taller than my Umbar Marines, which is unfortunate – not enough for me to re-do all the marines, however – they'll all be shorter than their fellows, but they'll all be short in the same unit!):

Bûltungin the Mûmakani
"All I know is that he's from far to the south and he turned up one day with a pack of those hideous savannah wargs in tow. I guess he's some kind of exile or outcast, but he doesn't talk much and seems to prefer the company of those filthy creatures. Still, when he comes along on a raid, those pets of his terrify the locals, so I can see why the captain keeps him around."

More of a fussy conversion than is my usual preference, this one – essentially, I wanted the clothing style of the Perry Sudanese figure that formed the base, but with arms of the Warlord Zulus. Unfortunately, the Warlord Zulu arms attach at the elbow, not at the shoulder (like nearly all other plastic box sets), so I had to build a new shoulder and bicep. Fortunately, the Wargames Factory Numidians were on hand, and even gave me a really useful left arm holding javelins as well as the upper part of the right. The head is simply a Perry Sudanese one, but was the only one I had left and had a skull cap on. As I wanted it bald, I had to shave off the whole hat. The head thus looks a little elongated, but I think it'll look OK when painted.

In game terms, for Lion Rampant, Bûltungin will be accompanied by five hyena-wargs, and will thus be a unit of 'Fierce Foot', which lends it exactly the kind of aggressive, agile melee role I envisaged.

For anyone wondering, the name 'Bûltungin' is a cosmetic Middle-Earthing of a Kanuri word for "I change myself into a hyena".

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