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Monday, 9 May 2011

Carthaginian project

For the next Toy Soldier tournament (Manchester 23-24th July) I have decided to use a Carthaginian army. One of the advantages of Carthaginians is that they tended to use mercenaries from other nations, so if you have armies of that period then you use those figures rather than buying new. So most of the army I have already got. But there is one troop type unique the the army, Libyan mercenaries so I am going to have to do a couple units of those for the army. Like most people who live around the Mediterranean, the skin colour would be dark but not as dark as central Africans. Clothing I have assumed as fairly simple, I think the main reason that the Carthaginians employed those soldiers is that they would be cheaper than using Greek mercenaries (cost-benefit was an important part of war for the Carthaginians).

Now one wrinkle was that I wanted to see if the Wargames Factory plastic Numidians could be made up to look like spear armed close order infantry. They were made for skirmishing infantry but there were enough bits on the sprues to make a stab at close order infantry and so it proved. After a few efforts I found the best looking option was a helmeted head, two arms held close to the body (one for the shield and one for the spear). There are 4 different body variants in a set, two of these made a good spearman and the others could be made into spearmen at a pinch.

My first step was to build the figures in the movement trays. I do it this way to make sure that the units will rank up when formed. Each unit was 20 figures strong with leader, musician and standard bearer but I also made up a couple of spares as well for just in case. The white stuff around the plastic bases is flocking gel which I left to dry out overnight.

Once the figures were assembled the next thing was to put the figures (which have magnetic bases) onto a 'stick' of heavy card faced with steel paper, that allows the figures to be sprayed with primer without being touched.

you can even spray them upside down

Close up on the figures after spraying

Then after spraying. I decided to go for a dirty white shield using my own transfers (a large horse head designed by Kit Burroughs). The rank and file are dressed in unbleached linen tunics, the officer in red. For the next unit I think I will use grey and dirty white (inspired by the film Gladiator). I also decided on iron helmets, rather than bronze. Iron was in general use in the period so should be cheaper to make, if more difficult and the helmet would be stronger. The figures were varnished with Ronseal varnish with a touch of brown paint to give a bit of shading. In the shields I used plain (non-coloured) varnish before applying the transfers. Then at the end the whole of the figure was then varnished with a brush-on matt varnish.

And view from the rear

And who noticed that I glued the standard on back to front? Will I did after building the figures but decided to let it ride.

OK second unit coming off the painting table - just painted the bases so they are still wet!

Lessons learned from the first unit; mix up the colours of the tunics and inspired by the film Gladiator I have gone mainly for shades of grey to almost off white. The shields are a red centre, yellow rim and a jolly little white elephant transfer.

I also (because I mix the skin colour) lightened the skin tone and that way the shading in the varnish stands out more.

So from the front

rear view

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