Saturday, March 17, 2018

Norman Cavalry Test Base

Finished painting the Norman Cavalry test base I put together about a couple of weeks ago.  I was worried if three on a base would be too many, and also I was worried that I wouldn't be able to paint them because they were too close together.  Both concerns ended up being "challenges" but not anything that would change my mind in basing them this way.  That said, with the four base unit, the two in the front are going to be three figures, but the two in the back are only going to be two figures.  My main concern is that the bases are not deep enough to allow two bases with three figures each being able to line up back to front without the horses hitting each other before the bases are flush.  Not only does that not look that great (too close together front to back) but I also want the bases to be flush if I can.  I ran into this problem with my old cavalry figures like the Macedonians and Romans as well but because the unit was several individual figures on a tray I could space them out so that they didn't bump or look funny.  With these, because the number of figures on the base is less important to me or the rules I will likely use with these figures, it is fine if the two rear bases have fewer horses.  Probably more accurate in how the unit would look en mass while moving about the battlefield anyway.  Anyway, here they are.

The Normans themselves are the same heads as the infantry figures construction wise.  The bodies, however, are 1/2" x 1/2" spools (slightly shorter than the more common 1/2" x 5/8" ones you will find in a craft store, I had to order these from my online craft parts supplier).  You need this shorter spool so that the figure does't sit too high in the saddle.  Same arms, same spears, same shields, same paper chainmail skirt as the infantry.  You can't see it in this figure but I did do the legs differently than I normally do.  They use stirrups so I wanted the leg to be straight and extended (rather than bent and clinging to the side of the horse like the Macedonians or Persians or Romans would have ridden during that earlier time).  So I used a tile spacer for the leg (straight with the curved end glued up under the chainmail skirt so that I could pivot the leg to a desired angle easily) and on the flat end I glued a little "foot" also made out of tile spacer.  You can see this better in some of the other pictures.  Also, painting wise, I realized that although I like the larger, extended helmet look I have on the infantry figures personally better, historically that is not what they would have looked like most likely.  The helmet would have been more of a cap and the metal around the backs of their necks and around their face would have been chainmail, so I painted these that way.  I like the other look better from an artistic point of view (this is a LOT of chainmail to be looking at) but historically, this way of doing it is more correct so I am going to stick with this from now on, at least for the Normans.  For their allies, I will probably use the older way of doing the helmets just so we will be able to tell the allies apart from the Normans on the table top.
From the rear.  I paint the tail on the horses but the manes are what I've always used, this extra fluffy pipe cleaner I get at Michaels.
I debated on whether to have the shields at the ready, or slung on their backs.  I think for the rear ranked bases I might actually have one of the figures with the shield on his back.
You can see the rider's leg better in this image to see what I'm talking about with the tile spacer and foot.  In terms of the horses I altered my construction slightly.  I've always been a little disappointed that my horses, unlike Dale's for example, do not have visible "necks."  So for these, I used an axle cap to create the feeling of a neck on the horse.  It works better with these figures too than my old ones because the Normans due to their construction are taller anyway, so without a neck the horses' heads would be too low.  And also even though the horses have necks now and are taller, the Norman riders are still tall enough to be looking over the horse's head, which is obviously important.  I used the same small (the smallest I can find actually) split eggs for the head, and both sets of legs (front and back).  I used a different body for the horse than I usually use as well.  I used to use a 1/2" x 5/8" spool, but I found this "Barrel Bead" that is 5'8" wide 3/8" hole that is also about 5/8" in length.  Not only does it create a smoother and better (IMO) body profile for the horse, it is a bit "beefier" than the spool which again goes better with these Norman figures because they tend to be a bit bigger than my previous attempts at figures like the Macedonians and Persians.

Finally, here is the base in the same picture with an infantry base so that you get a sense for the scale with the infantry figures.
I think they look pretty good together and I'm happy with how they turned out and that even though it was a little more challenging to paint them than the infantry all on the base when I do it, they were still "doable" and I will continue to construct and glue everything first (except the shields) and then paint them (gluing the shields and the manes on as the last step in the process).


  1. Looks great! I will have to do some experimentation with barrel beads. I have some lying around as I was using them as grenadier bearskins and full barrel helmets for medieval knights.

  2. Thanks, I am anxious to see what the entire unit looks like together. Building them now, but they are pretty low on my painting priority list.

  3. Excellent stuff... Coincidently, I'm just scratching my head over how to put together cavalry for my peg soldiers. All I have so far is the horses's head!!! :D Your spool or bead body has given me some ideas though.

    1. Go to the Pennywhistle blog and search through his Zulu posts. He uses the pegs very cleverly for cavalry.

    2. I agree with Dale, he does use the pegs very well for the cavalry.

      With these wooden warriors, horses (or any animals for that matter) have been a constant challenge. I did a Battle of Marathon game a while ago at a convention (2007 I think?!) and I did a sacrificial bull with a wreath of flowers around his neck using a similar construction. But the horses can be a challenge in terms of using pre-made parts (rather than fashioning your own) that are of at least the approximate scale you need.




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