Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Plastic Miniatures on a budget - part 2: Humans

So many choices, so little time!
Oh boy. Where to start?

Obviously enough, you're spoilt rotten if you go raiding the wargames world for plastic humans. Half the fun here is deciding how your various cultures map to real-world cultures, if they do. I've restricted myself to Ancient through to Mediaeval figures for now.

It is also worth noting that a lot of the manufacturers listed below will sell you single sprues around the £5-7 mark. And if they don't, there is a thriving secondary market for them on eBay.
  • Gripping Beast do a great range of historical figures for £22 a box
    • for classic unarmoured types, there are Dark Age Warriors - 40 figures with tunic, leggings and bare (usually bearded) heads with a variety of weapons and shields. There's also a box of 30 Archers, similarly dressed, and some Dark Ages, Late Roman and Goth cavalry (12 to a box).
    • if you're looking for chainmail-wearing types (I am, as plate is rare in Altrion) you're spoilt for choice, with boxes of Saxon, Viking and Late Roman/Byzantine figures, depending on what armour, helmets and shield shapes take your fancy. They also do a box of Late Roman heavy cavalry.
    • if you want desert-dwelling types, there are three boxes of Crusades-era Arab troops, a combo box of spearmen and archers, and boxes of light and heavy cavalry.
  • Northstar do six boxes for the Frostgrave game, Soldiers, female Soldiers (the Soldiers II
    Night's Watch foot. Frostgrave soldiers
    and barbarians, and some Fireforge foot
    Sergeants, and some resin cast cloaks a
    friend had kicking around. Lots of head
    and arm swaps - many heads are actually
    from Gripping Beast Dark Ages Warriors.
    box), Cultists and Barbarians,. as well as two boxes of Wizards (male and female). The non-wizards each contain 20 figures for around £20, the wizards 8 for £15, and in all cases contain way more arms, weapons and heads (and familiars!) than you'll need. Usefully, the heads and arms can be a direct swap with the Gripping Beast range, and several others.
  • Conquest Games do a range of figures, including Norman foot and knights, and Mediaeval archers and knights. They're again £20 a box, and the cavalry are excellent value with 16 to the box. Same or similar head design as GB and Northstar, which bodes well for hacking. 
  • Warlord Games. Where to start! Imperial Romans, Celts, Britons, Greeks, Saxons, Vikings.... most boxes are around £20. Warlord's heads are a mix - if the figures were originally from the Wargames Factory ranges (Celts, Caesar's Legions, Saxons, Vikings particularly) they bought, they're a different design, but I think anything sculpted by Warlord is the same head design (the dimple between the shoulders) as everyone else and you can mix and match to taste.
  • Victrix Limited. Again, loads and loads of stuff from Greek to Saxon and Norman. Typically more expensive (£37.50), but with up to 60 figures in a box, if you happen to need a large army to go up against your PCs. Again, look for single sprue deals. Different head design to everyone else, I think.
  • Perry Miniatures. Some of the nicest sculpts by far (the Perry twins are legends in the hobby): we're also moving into the later mediaeval, as their range of useful stuff is mostly of War of The Roses and Hundred Years War figures. They also do some Mahdist Sudanese, who would make excellent native tribesmen. Typically £20 a box, 40 figures for foot, 12 cavalry. Same head design as nearly everyone else.
    Night's Watch cavalry, made up from
    a mix of Fireforge mounted Sergeants,
    with arms from their mediaeval archers
    set and more GB heads.
  • Fireforge Games. Lots of choice for the later mediaeval type - if you like classic knights in armour with surcoats etc their Templar and Teutonic Knights in their Mediaeval range, and the Knights of Albion in their Forgotten World range, are brilliant (they also do a box of four pegasus-mounted knights). Also in the Forgotten World are their Northern Kingdom range, sort of Vikings but wearing quilted armour. Same heads as Victrix, I think.
  • Mantic Games. Again,. a lot of choice here - these are largely ranges for the Kings Of War game, and they have two notable 'human' races, the Basileans, who are very much 'fantasy knights' (including some female warriors, and cavalry riding panthers!) and the Northern Alliance, who are barbarian types wrapped up well in furs. Boxes are around £20 for 20 foot, but be aware that Mantic are a law unto themselves when it comes to figure design so a) you won't be able to interconvert with anyone else without some cutting and applying green stuff, and b) some of their figure sets are made of an odd resin/plastic combo which defies normal plastic glue :D
  • Oathmark is a mass fantasy game by Osprey, with figures produced through Northstar, but it's a sufficiently separate range I thought I'd list it separately. The one human unit so far is £25 for thirty medium armoured quasi-mediaeval figures which do look different to most of the others: largely studded armour and square shields. Being Northstar, they have the standard dimple between the shoulders to accept the head, so swap away!
  • Shieldwolf Miniatures ran a Kickstarter for a range of female shieldmaiden infantry/rangers and paladins in hard plastic a few years ago. They seem to be a bit hard to come by, but are available on eBay for around £25-30 for a box of 20. Marks for being predominantly sensibly armoured (like the Frostgrave soldiers, and despite what the original KS art showed), but they do have a somewhat different way of fitting together - it does look like you should be able to swap heads with the Frostgrave ones with a little bit of filing, which given the range has some brilliant helmetless heads with windblown hair, might be useful. Watch out if buying single sprues as the heads are all on one of the two different sprues for the shieldmaidens. I'm grabbing a box for my world's White Company right now.
  • Games Workshop. Kind of the elephant in the room here: with the change to Age of Sigmar being a skirmish game, there are fewer unit boxes available, and they tend to be wince-inducingly pricey. Their Bretonnians from Warhammer Fantasy Battles are good fantasy humans, but even the eBay secondary market for sprues suffers from hugely inflated prices (£99 for 12 figures? C'mon!)
  • Zvezda Ring of Rule series. Long out of print, but they used to do a box of nine female figures on pegasi, which I would love to get my hands on, if anyone has one! (Edit: Amazon.DE has some in stock for a not-unreasonable price (£26 including postage).
  • HAT do a range of 28mm sets: most of what are useful to us are based on the El Cid era in Spain. They are, if I recall, soft polythene (like old Airfix figures) so take a bit of persuading to hold paint (I suggest brushing on a coat of PVA first and let it dry), and they are somewhat spindly and a little undersized compared to most of the above.
  • CMON A Song Of Ice And Fire miniatures game. These are technically 32mm: a wide range of different looking fantasy human figures. Most useful for our purposes are the expansion boxes, which are £25-30, and contain 12 figures in two different poses, typically. Worth a look if they fill a needed gap, but on the pricey end. 
There you have it. Next up, humanoids - elves, dwarves, goblins. Probably a lot of the same manufacturers again, in fact :D

A side note - I am aware that quite a few of these manufacturers, and others, do metal miniatures. I'm going to cover the best of those in another series. 

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