Friday, 15 May 2020

To Horse!

I'm really in the zone with my little force (currently The Nameless Army) and, looking at it, realised that it needed some horsemen to add a little more variety to the rank and file. So, I grabbed a box of Fireforge's Northmen Cavalry to match all my infantry. Now, I really dislike painting cavalry. I've tried doing it with the riders on, the riders off, and never seem to end up with something that I find appealing. The more figures from this range that I've painted, however, the more I've enjoyed them. This is something of a rarity for me, as I tend to see painting as a necessary evil that allows me to put something I've really enjoyed kitbashing onto the table. They're detailed without being fussy, characterful without being over the top, and are really well suited to my minimal, wash-heavy style. If anything was going to help me break my cavalry duck, it'd be this! And it's a really nice kit... with just a couple of minor issues (one self-inflicted, one not!).
The chief annoyance - and the only real criticism I have of an otherwise superb kit - is that while the kit is designed to build six horsemen, not all options are represented equally in the box. For example, the weapon options are sword or spear, and you get six of each. There are six shield arms and six shields. If you don’t want the riders to be carrying shields, you have the option of empty, ‘clutching the reins’ arms… four of them in total. So, assuming you don’t want any of your six horsemen carrying shields, you have to raid two left arms from the command sprue or one of the other boxes – none of which really line up with the reins. Not a deal-breaker, and a more determined modeler could no doubt convert something that worked, but an frustratingly odd choice – especially when the kit offers FOUR banner arms (one on each of the two cavalry sprues, two on the generic command sprue)… but only one banner top (on the command sprue).

Regardless, as I wanted to build light horse, armed with just a spear, I decided to press on and make solving that little matter Future Phil's problem. In due course, I will add two more to this little unit (another lancer and an officer), and probably a mounted commander for the overall force with the remaining options in the box. Because I really dislike painting cavalry, though, I just started with three so that I didn't get frustrated and drag my heels - or, worse, abandon the project (though I confess I did detour a little into another project at one point - more on that later).
So, the kit went together really well - everything was a good fit, there were no awkward "oh, so you can't use that piece with that, I guess" discoveries, and the extent of my conversion work was clipping off the spears, drilling out the hands, and inserting metal replacements. And then I came to basing them and my self-inflicted issue arose. I like a bit of heft to my minis, which is why I tend to use metal discs rather than the plastic ones included in most kits, so I dug out some 40mm metal discs for these horsemen. Had I been using the polystyrene cement to attach the cavalry to the plastic bases supplied, there would have been no issue, but the really small contact points (all three body options have three points of contact, but these are two horseshoes and the tip of a hoof!) did make it a bit of a chore. My superglue-and-greenstuff ‘cement’ should hold them fast, but I can’t shake the feeling that they’re a little flimsy. Oh, for a good, old-fashioned ‘puddle’ base under each hoof!

Painting was really straightforward (as all these kits have been, really). The only real divergence from the infantry was in the horses - I opted for one grey, and one light grey, then added a few little distinguishing features such as socks and stockings. All told, I'm really rather pleased with them, though I'm not sure I'm ready for a whole mounted army just yet!

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1 comment:

  1. I agree that cavalry just aren't fun to paint, but that really bring a nice weightiness to any tabletop force.