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Bactrian Greek Project (part 5) - Painted Cavalry

Posted by Adam on May 2, 2014 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (3)

I finally got the chance to finish painting the cavalry that I had assembled from various plastic parts. Although I still have reservations about the Wargames Factory figures they are mainly based on (Persian Cavalry) I am quite happy with the way they have come out.




I will paint a unit of the 1st Corps version of these cavalry to compare before I decide if I will convert any more of these. A Bactrian Greek army could theoretically have quite a few of these so maybe there will be a place for another unit or two.



Bactrian Greek Project (part 4) - Four More Cavalry Figures

Posted by Adam on January 24, 2014 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Getting back into the swing of converting these plastic figures I finally dashed off 4 more to complete a Piquet cavalry unit (they're mainly in 8s.) I decided that there wasn't enough emphasis on lances in the unit yet so the next couple of riders were assembled with hoplite armoured thoraxes, as before with the shield straps shaved off. (One removed and the other turned into the cuff of a long-sleeved tunic.) 


Both received greenstuff pteurges (fabric strips hanging down from the waist of the corselet) to conceal the join at the waist and complete their armour. A 45mm steel pin spear was added to each; one couched, the other at a more upright angle.



The next figure was another bowman. I used a set of arms from the Wargames Factory Numidian infantry box with the bow half raised and the other arm reaching for an arrow. The right hand fitted in a very pleasing way with the open arrow case from the Persian Cavalry set. This figure used an unarmoured upper body so I added greenstuff pteurges at the waist and shoulders to try to look like armour concealed under a covering tunic.



The last figure for this unit I decided should be some sort of officer. I liked the idea of having him in a bronze body armour, but the muscle corselets on the Theban hoplite sprue did not look like an easy conversion into something suitable for a cavalryman. My solution was to use another of the linothorax bodies and to add the flaring bronze cuirass myself. A metalic armour with this sort of shoulder yoke is not typical but I could think of one example in the armour attributed to King Philip from Vergina.


I also decided to give this rider a crest for his Beoetian helmet and a left arm pointing in a bossy way.


Next stage, painting (which can hide a host of bodges!) A light coat of Halfords grey undercoat will also highlight any mouldlines I have missed and rough areas that need a bit more work.


Bactrian Greek Project (part 3) - Some Cavalry Figures

Posted by Adam on December 16, 2013 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (2)

My first attempt at an Iranian lancer for the Bactrian hordes is this chap.



Here I have simply added a bearded head from the Victrix hoplite set to a Persian horseman with the arms chosen as firing a bow. I added a Greek sword from the Victrix box to his baldric and made a shoulder loop so that he could be carrying a lance (kontos) as well as his bow. Although I was quite pleased with the results of my mediocre putty skills in making the loop I was not so sure about the aesthetics of a complete unit so equipped.

Luckily I remembered that somewhere in the spares box* was a pack of combined bow and spear cases that resembled the Duncan Head AMPW illustration. I would keep the one chap with his shoulder loop but the rest would either be toting their long lance or have to rely on the cased version.

(* by "spares box" I really mean one of two dozen possible places in a variety of boxes...)


Although reasonably happy with this start I was slightly concerned that these horsemen were going to look a bit light, rather than charging battlefield cavaly (who also carry bows.) I therefore decided on the next figure to try to add some body armour. My putty pushiing skills not being up to the task of adding the appropriate muscle cuirass to the body of the cavalryman, I decided to have a go at adding scale armour.

In fact I was going to cheat. Rather than cover the cavalryman's body with scales I added a row of scales below his hips and then, above them, the edge of a covering overtunic. A few scales at his throat and the job was done. I had a vague recollection of a reference of  Persians wearing layers of tunics and that was justification enough to save me a lot of work!


The arms chosen for this rider had a Greek style kopis sword and originally shield straps, that needed shaving off to leave a hand heaving on the reins. To improve this image I adjusted the angle of the back legs of the horse model to a rearing position. I did this by the good old method of applying boiling water to the area of the model that wants adjusting and then cold water after (in this case) the angle of the rear leg had been adjusted.


Next up a lancer with his bow in his left hand; maybe swapping from one weapon to the other. For this figure I thought I would try using the armoured thorax from one of the hoplite sprues to supply the heavier look I required. Althought the Victrix box does contain a proportion of hoplites with muscle cuirasses, these do not look suitable for wear on horseback ( the lower abdomen protection would cause it to be impossible to sit down.) So I went with one of the linothorax bodies. Not an armour type in my two reference books for Graeco-Bactrian cavalry but Persian cavalry wear a similar looking corselet on the Alexander mosaic so that is close enough for me.



The hoplite body was "adjusted" with the help of a razor saw (through plastic like butter - a delight!) The new body fitted rather well with the Persian legs, with just a tiny bit of sanding and filling required. A wire lance and Greek cavalry sword completed this chap.


The next cavalryman was a straightforward command figure blowing a trumpet (bugle?) I kept this one simple: Persian body and legs, Greek head and arms. However  next I spotted that the horse earmaked for him had been oil-painted with a rather prominent seam showing on the horse's rump. Doom! I decided I didn't have the patience to repair the paintjob so went for a coverup by modelling a cloak on the bugler draping it across the horse's rump too, hiding the errant seam.




Another way to accentuate the cavalry being "heavy" was to add a piece of  head armour to the horse (a chamfron?) I had a crack at this on a couple  - see the first photo above. Again this is not directly attributed to surviving evidence but similar items were used by neighbouring areas in this period. Next the other half of the unit.


Bactrian Greek Project (part 2) - Some Cavalry

Posted by Adam on November 19, 2013 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (3)

Following my tinkering with the  cheap box of the Victrix Theban Hoplites to produce some Theurophoroi type infantry for the Bactrians, I decided to have a crack at some cavalry figures. (Why not just use them as Theban Hoplites you ask? Well I don't have a lot of faith in the "wargamers' convention" that Theban hoplites wore this style of helmet - more associated with cavalrymen. However I am all for interesting looking armies, so I rarely mock openly! And I already have plenty of hoplites...)


From coins and seals the Boeotian style helmet seems to have been a popular style (with Kings at least!) out in the distant edge of the Hellenistic world. Not a whole lot of information available so I am going to allow myself a LOT of latitude.




Unlike the infantryman conversion, where a swap out of the large hoplon shield can create create theurophoroi type infantry or pikemen, a cavalryman  would require a donor body in the correct sort of riding pose plus, quite imporatantly, a horse. Before I becam dejected at this thought or hacked up any metal minaitures, I remembered the box of Wargames Factory plastic Persian cavalry that I had bought in a fit of optimism last year. I had completed one miniature before disappointment in the finished product and irritation at the assembly process caused me to hurl them into the recesses of the loft.



Once retreived I fished out the improbably large selection of sprues from the box. Rather than the typical four or five large identical  sprues that we are used to finding in boxes of plastic soldiers, there are over 50 mini sprues. These include a bewildering selection of weapons; some clearly of Persian identity others more suitable for infantry (the large sheilds and pikes.) There is also a selection of horses heads to fit on the 12 bodies supplied. Although this should be a good idea for the sake of variety only some of them come with harness moulded on. The others will require some work with modelling clay or could be painted on.


The riders come as seperate legs, bodies, heads and each arm (I kid you not!) The sculpting for these isn't bad except the tunic on the thighs of the cavalryman doesn't quite work  in the way that it sits over the saddle (also a seperate part to glue in position on the horse's back...)  Where the sculting is best it is in the weapons and shields, presumably where computer digital design is at its strongest compared to the complexities of human / horse bodies and clothes.


My sources are the venerable WRG book "Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars" by Duncan Head which has 2 illustrations of what Bactrian Greek cavalry might look like. One is of a cavalryman who could be representative of any Successor horseman buit with the addition of a combined bow and spear case carried on his saddle. Possibly from a guard formation is the suggestion accounting for the very "Greek" look of his equipment (except the bow.)  The second is an armoured cavalryman agin with a cased bow but this time with a long lance held in both hands. The text proposes this is what the bulk of the Persian / Greek cavalry would have looked like. This is great as there is a nice mixture of bronze (presumably) body armour but  eastern style baggy trousers and long-sleeved tunic. What I find extremely unlikely is that these soldiers would have gone to war, as shown, bareheaded.  A man shown hunting without a hat or helmet may not show the same bravado when facing armed opponents I suspect. A the very least a shady hat would be a requisite for spending all day in the saddle in the baking plains of Bactria.

          

My other reference is the 2 volume Montvert Publications "The Armies of Bactria" by Valerii P. Nikonorov. This is slightly more recent and covers a wider time span than just the Hellenistic period, which is quite useful for setting things in context. There are many sketches of coins and statues recording the surviving evidence which is useful to see and  some colour reconstructions. The two cavalrymen shown are both again in muscle cuirrases. One has a sort of Pylos helmet and the other a round, large-brimmed hat, or a helmet in that shape. As the majoirty of the sketches of coins and sculptures are in something more akin to a Boeotian style helmet I will ingnore this discrepancy.





Bactrian Greek Project (part 1)

Posted by Adam on May 11, 2013 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I have had a facination for the armies of these most remote of the Successor states of Alexander the Great's conquests for a very long time. Way back in the early days of Miniature Wargames magazine there was an article (or short series?) giving an overview of the history of these states and the likely components of the armies. The possibilities of a Macedonian style core of pikemen with all sorts of exotic auxiliaries from Iranian lancers through to Indian elephants or complete allied contingents couldn't help but arouse the ambition to field these on the tabletop! 

A Greek / Macedonian core of settler soldiers supplied traditional style phalanx pikemen and perhaps some elite cavalry and other types were recruited more locally. There doesn't seem to be a lot of evidence, images from coins and a few carvings and statuettes pricipally, but what there is suggests there were at least some sort of theurophoroi, elephants and Iranian bow armed cavalry as a part of Bactrian armies of the period. 


The theurophoroi facinate me, as it is unclear whether they were Hellenistic battlefield spearmen, (maybe a development from classical hoplites), or flexible skirmishers with the ability and equipment to get up close and personal, or something different, perhaps imitation legionaries? Maybe a combination of several of these roles if they were full time mercenaries, able to turn their hand to multiple situations. The Bacrtrian Greek ones appear to have Hellenistic roots but could also be locally raised troops with imported elements of kit and training.


There are some very nice figures of theurophoroi available but one of the few Bactrian representations show them possibly armoured and with a pointy helmet (maybe the Greek Pylos hat/helmet.) I was able to cobble together something approaching this from a Victrix plastic hoplite with a new shield and a head from the Wargames Factory "Numidian" infantry  box.  (This is what plastic figure are meant for. Easy conversion fodder. Oh how quickly that razor saw slices through polystyrene!)




I am quite happy with this look, a conceivable auxiliary to the pikemen in the army. I will probably put together a unit of these and perhaps another with Boeotian helmets, as this seem to be the most commonly represented headgear.  I have also now acquired some of the Essex Miniatures Bactrian Greek theurophoroi (photos to come) which have a version of this helmet and their pikeman which sports a very nice late style Hellenisitc headgear.