Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wargames Factory / Crusader Love Children Exposed!

I had picked up three boxes of Wargames Factory's 28mm Caesarian Romans during their recent promotion.  I was a little skeptical about them, based on what I'd seen of what others had done with them and posted the results online, but I had a specific project in mind.  Mark Sims at Crusader Miniatures had recently released an Oscan range.  Now I didn't need any more Samnites or other Oscan-speaking peoples, as I had loads of the Samnites that Mark had done for A&A Miniatures.  (Well, not right away, anyway...)  But these new Oscans came with separate heads.  Hmmmmm...

I was inspired by Colleen McCullough's novel, "The Grass Crown", about the last years of Gaius Marius and the rise of Sulla.  A key element in the novel is the Social War, fought between Rome and its former Italian allies because Rome would not extend citizenship to them.  One of the most important Italian peoples, both as staunch allies before the war, and as enemies during it, were the Marsi.  There's not a lot of detail about the appearance of the Marsi (McCullough describes them as splendidly equipped), so I didn't feel too bad about taking typical Italian helmets from the earlier Republican period and using them on standard mailed Roman bodies (in lorica hamata).  I wanted a "different" looking army to use alongside my Foundry Caesarian Romans, or in a Social War "civil war" scenario.

Crusader provides a sprue of four different heads.  I ordered some from Old Glory USA, and they arrived just after Christmas.  Here are some test pieces, using the more static poses from the Wargames Factory sprues (click to enlarge):

One of the standard Wargames Factory plastic heads is on the second figure from the left.  The test pieces have been primed in gray Liquitex gesso and then hit quickly with a paint wash to bring out the detail for the photos.

I think these are going to work very well.  It takes drilling a bit down into the neck to get a good seat for the Crusader heads.  I attached the metal heads with Goriilla Glue brand superglue, and assembled the plastic pieces with methyl ethyl ketone (MEK).

I still need to get a bit better at trimming the Wargames Factory arms at the shoulder joint so that they can be positioned in a more natural manner.  These all look a bit like they're posing for a muscle magazine.  Shaving a little material from the lower side of the face that contacts the body should provide a better result.  I found that I needed to do some shaving and sanding anyway to get a good fit, as the two surfaces that meet are both slightly convex.  They need to be flattened.

I also need to be careful in positioning the arms so that the shields, when fitted, do not run into the adjacent figures.  These all work--just.  But Wargames Factory designs the shield arms so that they seem to be holding the shield well out in front of the body.  That takes some strength to do, I assure you!  So I'll be working on a more relaxed arm position that still keeps the shields from knocking on the neighbors!

I'm very pleased with the Crusader heads.  I think they look fine on the plastic figures.  But using them does add a time-consuming step to what is already time-consuming assembly, and there are 103 legionaries left to assemble.  I believe the end result will be worth it!

I was originally planning to use Foundry Caesarian command sets, as I had several spare.  But their heads are noticeably bigger than these.  Now I'm thinking about going with Crusader's Republican Roman command.  We shall see.  The objective is to create six or so eighteen-figure units.


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