28mm kitbashed Arab Cavalry Miniatures from Gripping Beast, Fireforge
During the rolling, seemingly endless series of lockdowns and partial lockdowns in 2020 I've been gradually building up an "all options" set of Arab troops to build an army for L'Art de la Guerre in 28mm. The aim is kinda to mirror the 15mm Arab armies that I've enjoyed using in various competitions over the last few years, but also to try a couple of new things along the way - kitbashing and using GW Contrast paints
GW's Contrast paints hit the (GW players and painters) market fairly hard last year, creating a bit of an internet sensation. They are about half way between an ink wash and a proper paint, the idea being they create decent coverage in one coat but also do the job of shading (which is usually left to Army Painter Soft Tone) at the same time, and do so in the same colour as the main paint colour.So far the takeup in historicals has been limited as far as I can see, but I have tried to paint up some Landsnechts already.
In the end I ended up - of course - buying far too many figures for the army, with the cavalry on this page being made up of 5 boxes of plastic figures - a set each of Gripping Beast's Arab Light Cavalry and Heavy Cavalry, a Fireforge Mongol Cavalry set and two boxes of Gripping Beast's latst Gothic Heavy Cavalry - which are basically armoured lancers on cataphract fully barded horses.
I've also got a set of plastic GB infantry, a load of other odds and sods of plastic kit infantry and some metals from GB, Perry, Footsore and others. And a couple of nice General figures as well, which I think are both GB.
I've already posted some of these photos on my Blogger site, but these shots should give an idea of how they go together in the plastic here are some WiP shots of the infantry archers. These are GB bodies with (left and centre) Fireforge Russian Medieval Infantry heads or (right) a Fireforge Mongol Cavalry head, which in combination they do (I think) look quite "Eastern". I have filled the gaps between the joins on their arms with wood filler, which I then sand down later to hide the joins where the figures are glued together.
These are Viking and Medieval Russian bodies with arabic heads from the GB set, and again using wood filler to build up skirts. I have then used Dailami shields (available separately from Footsore) to make these armoured guys into the "Elite" Dailami foot for the army
And this is a set of riders using the GB Elite Gothic Cavalry torsos (with legs), but adding GB Arab heads and a mix of Fireforge and GB Arabic and Mongol arms and shields to turn these supposed lance-armed figures into mostly dynamic bowmen
Experimenting with the contrast paints I tried two different undercoats - this is the same paint on a white, and a Skeleton Bone undercoat on GB infantrymen. The paint is Aetheric Blue
A similar experiment using Talassar Blue
I used contrast paints on a white basecoat for most of the horses, colouring in the barding instead of making them all on metal-clad "cataphract" horses. This does look a little like some of the barding I have on my m5mm Arabs, especially on the Ghulam cavalry from Museum which have similarly well-defined horse armour (like this horseman in the centre here).
They have taken a while to do, what with the building of all of the (60+) plastic cavalry and (50+) plastic infantry, but finally they are getting to a finished state.
Oh, and I also bought an elephant - the one from GB that is technically a Timurid elephant, but as you will see later on, I'm going more for the "Hollywood" effect with this army!
Both are amongst the more translucent colours from the Contrast Paints range
Iyanden Yellow is getting on for orange in some ways, especially here when on top of a white undercoat
The crew are pinned on, drilled through the bottom of each metal figure. I then stuck the pins into the crew, dabbed them in black paint and used that to dab a dot of black paint onto the saddlecloth to give me a position for drilling for each guy
The elephant is resin apart from a few separate metal bits.
Those are the bottom 2/3 of the trunk, the tusks and the tail - which initially I tried to glue in upside down by mistake
The tusks needed driling out of some bigger and deeper holes to hold them
I did think about painting in the flower patterns with brighter colours, but in the end left it with just an ArmyPainter wash of brown as I wanted the main two colours to dominate the look of the elephant
This is Saladin, a Saga figure from Gripping Beast
Unusually for figures with this sort of pose the horses legs seem very firmly anchored onto the base - no risk of them snapping, as has happened with some other Warlord Games figures I've had in the past
The shield is very simple, with a base blue of Ultramarines Blue and red and white edging
The main yellow on the barding is agains Iyanden Yellow, with Gryph-Hound orange for the tassels
The same yellow is used on the really cool cloak.
The charging horse is quite dynamic from this angle - nice sculpt - but I did just realise I may have forgotten to give the rider a flesh wash over his face
This is the second General figure - not quite sure where he's from but my guess is Footsore
He's a metal figure also, cast as a single piece
The Talassar Blue on his cloak is one of the best Contrast colours for Ancients IMO, giving a good coverage but still showing the depth of colour that you need to make it a paint, not just a wash
The horse is painted white onto a lighter grey base - the lightbox has bleached this out a little, but having a very pale horse really draws the eye to the bold colours.
I toyed with the idea of being more ambitious with a pattern on the horse blanket thing, but in the end bottled it. I might go back and try and experiment with making my own waterslide transfers, but the issue with that is that it may need me to mess about and buy white ink - which I'm not sure is worth the hassle.
Here's the first of the completed cavalry bases, on a 60x60 3mm MDF base
The guy at the front has come out really nicely, with a dynamic shooting pose using a GB Gothic body and Fireforge Mongol arms. You can spot the Fireforge arms as their bows have the wrap-around string stuff on the ends and the 'open' hands have very clearly defined fingers
The chap at the front in this shot is mostly GB, but both the GB Arab and Fireforge Mongol cavalry come with separate legs, torsos and arms so its very easy to mix and match
On the horse in the middle you probably have NazdregYellow, Akehelian Green and Creed Cammo (I think)
The orange on the chap on the right is Gryph-hound Orange
The arms and leggings on the bowman on the left is just Darkoath flesh over the Skeleton bone undercoat
The saddle cloth here is Magos Purple on a white base.
All of the horses have been painted using the same technique I used on my 15mm Hungarian army recently - a fairly thin base coat of Coat d'arms horse colours then with layers of Armypainter Soft, Strong and Dark tone getting progressively darker towards the bottom of the legs of each horse. It looks a bit iffy until you apply the final coat of matt varnish, at which point it all comes together.
I'm not entirely convinced that the Fez was a common form of headgear in the medieval arabian world, but he's got such a great face - especially after a flesh wash - that it's hard not to include a few of this particular head in the army!
There are only 3 poses of Cataphract horse in the GB pack, so mixing up the colours - and as here, mixing in some unarmoured horses - helps break them up and make them less uniform, which was very much the look I was going for.
The blue bowcase is from the Fireforge pack - you can see the string wrapped around the end of the bow - and I left the bow on deliberately even though the rider is carrying one in his left hand as well.
My theory was that a really good quality dedicated mounted bowmen might well have a spare bow - and as the bowcase gets glued on separately it does make the figures even more all unique
These three are all on armoured/barded horses, making up the couple of Elite Impact Bow Cavalry that appear in some Arab armies
Getting the three layers with contrast paints is a smidge tricky as they are quite thin and can leak into each other if you are not careful. Fortunately the GB cavalry horse armour scales are cast in well-defined horizontal lines so you can clearly see where to stop painting.
If they were an offset checkerboard pattern it would become much harder.
The Aethermaitc blue on white undercoat on the horse at the front is one of the most striking colours in the whole army
The outer two riders are both Elite GOthic torsos, with the one in the middle being a 2-part Arab rider body
Basing on these is my new-usual glued sand, stained with Rustins Wood Stain, then drybrushed in Stone Golem and Skeleton Bone
Some of the horses I left with metal scales - I'm not sure if this needs toning down a bit further with a wash though, as it's still pretty "silver"
One of the advantages of taking these pictures is a chance to look in more detail at the individual figures
If you look you will see this base has both left handed and right handed bowmen. Perhaps that was a thing, or just me being fairly liberal when assembling them?
This horse is a partial success - I tried to tone down the scale effect on a couple of horses by painting them with diluted wall plaster/filler (polyfiller), and honestly it didn't really work as I hoped.
The general idea was to see if I could make it look like cloth over the scale armour, but really its simply lost a lot of the sharp relief in the casting that the contrast paints use to create their shadows and highlights
Luckily I only did one or two
You can see the clearly defined hand on what I assume is a Fireforge arm on the central rider here
There are relatively few of these fully-beturbaned, really nice heads on the GB sprues, so making them the centrepiece of a base is useful to give them the prominence I feel they deserve
I seem to have missed painting thios guys moustache. With the ink wash I'm not sure its even worth going back to do it though.
Magos Purple with an emerald green Vallejo paint border makes this a very striking horse
The chap in the foreground seems to have his hand on the wrong way round - there are a few of these where the angle of the arm is such that to get the right pose I've used a left arm on the right hand side of the figures body. In retrospect I probably should have used a scalpel to cut off the hand and bow, spun them around and re-glued them on the right way up - with poly cement this wouldn't have been that hard a job
And these are the Dailami, finished
I went for a uniform Talassar Blue for them to make them stand out as an elite unit on the table. And because it's a little bit like the Fremen warrior on the original copy of Frank Herberts Dune that I own in paperback!
These are all Viking or Medieval Russian bodies, some with added skirts
The self-made skirts haven't taken the contrast paints as well as some of the properly-made figures, so perhaps I left a little too much texture on the surface before undercoating them?
Here's a reminder of how they looked beforehand!
The Footsore Dailami shields have a matching set of LBMS transfers, all of which I managed to succesfully cut out and use
In normal service these infantry will be wrapped around either side of the elephant
From the back. On tip I have found is to run a bit of dark wash ink along all of the leather straps and belts, as this effectively black-lines them and adds a bit of texture. Inking the whole armour is sometimes a bit much.
I just went for one consistent blue and let the contrast paint do the work on making variety and texture
Very simple but very distinctive
The shields are metal, which made painting them after gluing on shields a bit tricky as the weight of the shield would tip the figures over!
Here they are next to the Perry Sudanese tribal warriors
I'm using them as the Indian Mountain Tribal warriors that a number of Arab armies have
It did mean a lot of bald heads as the other head in the set has a very distinctive Sudanese hairstyle!
More pictures to come of more of the horsemen in the near future. These figures also get a mention in Episode 48 of The Madaxeman Podcast, which you can play and listen to right here!
Other posts about these figures from my blog
Very pleased with these guys - although that may well be the smell of Airfix glue getting into my nasal passages as I assembled this hodge-podge of horses and men
Cobbling together the individual figures is a real effort, but seeing the finished product of a set of 60-odd cavalry and a number of infantry, all of whom are unique poses even though the horses are a little familiar feels worth it now the work is a long way in the past.
I was also pleased with the outcome with the Contrast Paints. I am not sure if they are a replacement in all departments for regular paints, but if you want to make a brightly coloured silky-looking fabrics they are certainly a very good option. One thing I did notice however was that they seem to rub off the figures a lot more easily than regular paints, so needed a bit of retouching along the way - maybe the answer is to get them varnished pretty sharply after they are finished ?
There was also a reasonable amount of filling to do with these figures, which adds to the workload - but if you don't do it the contrast paints really do show the join lines on the figures even more so than regular paints, so a necessary effort - or something to consider if you are using contrasts and plastic figures?