Saturday, October 2, 2021

Blemmyes: An Early Dollar Store Army

 I started these guys in the early 90’s.

I saw the listing in the WRG book “Armies and Enemies of Rome” and it listed Blemyes as having elephants and cataphtact cavalry. Most of their forces were skirmishing archers.

I saw other lists for them, Irregular Miniatures offered an army in their 25mm lists (now rebranded as 28mm to stay relevant with the trend to larger figures) with elephants, archers, cavalry and camels.

So I was hooked.

Modern spellings have changed to “Blemmyes” or “Blemmae”

As for their battles, the Wikipedia entry is enticing:

 The cultural and military power of the Blemmyes started to grow to such a level that in 193, Pescennius Niger asked a Blemmye king of Thebesto help him in the battle against the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus.[citation needed] In 250, the Roman Emperor Decius put in much effort to defeat an invading army of Blemmyes.[13] A few years later, in 253, they attacked Upper Egypt (Thebaid) again but were quickly defeated. In 265, they were defeated again by the Roman Prefect Firmus, who later in 273 would rebel against the Empire and the Queen of the Palmyrene Empire, Zenobia, with the help of the Blemmyes themselves. The Blemmyes were said to have joined forces with the Palmyrans against the Romans in the battle of Palmyra in 273[13]

The Roman general Marcus Aurelius Probus took some time to defeat the usurpers with his allies but could not prevent the occupation of Thebais by the Blemmyes. That meant another war and almost an entire destruction of the Blemmyes army (279-280).[13][14][15]

During the reign of Diocletian, the province of Upper Aegyptus, Thebaid, was again occupied by the Blemmyes. In 298, Diocletian made peace with the Nobatae and Blemmyes tribes, agreeing that Rome would move its borders north to Philae (South Egypt, south of Aswan) and pay the two tribes an annual gold stipend.[16][13]

I decided to use the dollar store generic WW2 toys that were in abundance and add in toy elephants, camels and use Giant Indians for cavalry.

My first lot of soldiers were the “follow me” GI.

The problem was the bow.

Shields were easy, hole punch rounds, and the quivers were clipped round toothpicks.

But the bows were tough.

Metal didn’t bond well with plastic and fell off if bumped or picked up.

So I tried using dried pine needles of an appropriate size.

They were also slightly curved. But they eventually snapped off leaving me in the same fix.

So I ditched them and went with a running figure, rifle painted as a spear.

The cavalry turned out really nice, I think anyway.

The cataphracts have plasticine armour and a slung spear, no kontos were used.

I recently added a few armoured officers, from the Zvezda Alexander Nevsky box.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Some Late Roman/Byzantine Soldiers Plus Some New Dollar Store Items


These are some infantry, just toys from the Risk game “Godstorm!”

I have some other infantry, loosely based on the Hinchliffe figures and WRG book “Armies and Enemies of Rome”, that I posted here:

Here’s a wider shot:

The cavalry in front are Emhar rowing Vikings with plastic shield on Giant recast horses.

And another

I have a metal command figure I picked up on eBay. He might be a stand in for Justinian or Stilicho. As an aside, author Kieth Roberts book “ The Boat of Fate” has a vivid description of Stilicho. An excellent book on late Rome set in France, Spain and Britain. One of my favourite re reads.

Next up is a regiment of British Waterloo Hussars. These are some of those guys I picked up a while back from eBay. I did some touch ups to the chipping of old Humbrol paint and coated with a seal of wax. Nice figures but the original owner never painted up the trumpeters or kettle drummers.

Finally some new made in China dollar store toys.

New poses!

And they are close to 1/72 scale!

Unfortunately I had to get these on eBay and not my local store. I guess with shipping backlogs it will be some time before I see them here.

Anyway, here’s the eBay photos which show the poses in two colours and an idea of their size:

Here’s my own size comparisons:

Top row left, Airfix Paratrooper pretty close in scale, next pair is the  1/76 scale “Follow me” GI officer who is towered over by the new guy.  The last two pairs are Airfix Waterloo French and they aren’t too badly matched size wise.

Bottom row: a made in Hong Kong GI next to the new pose, quite a difference, and finally a couple of pairs of 1/76 scale Matchbox figures being dwarfed by the new guys.

Over all the new figures are crude, but the  poses are unique and for me, someone who cuts them up, drills them and slathers them with plasticine, I have to say I’m pleased. Some poses have wide spaced legs which might make mounting them on horseback that much easier.

Anyway, a curiosity perhaps, but one with some use.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

More Plasticine Soldiers

 Here are some more plasticene conversions and some complete plasticene figures I’ve made.

First up is my attempt to have some of Marlborough’s Danish corps.

The infantry are made in China US GI’s in the “follow me” pose with toothpick guns. In support are two squadrons of dragoons.

As for the uniforms, I used an article in Military Modelling from the 90’s, but a perusal of Charles Grant’s book on the armies of the wars says the coats were all grey and only the pants and stockings were colourful. Oh well, Knotel says they were yellow. I’m completely lost on the flags, I know there should be two, but I’ve seen multiple designs, so I just made one up. Oh yes, I started on the green regiment as well.

The horse. A couple trumpeters, the yellow commander and the dragoons. Except for the commander, they are those Thai cowboys I found. Commander Yellow is an Esci Scots Grey.

Up next are a couple of Greeks. The mounted guy is Pausanias, formerly a Marx 7th cavalry trooper. Hopefully fighting Persians is more successful than the Indian confederation, but he did end up in a bad way too.

The wounded guy sitting on his shield is made entirely of plasticene and mounted on a poker chip.

These guys are made of plasticene and seated on plastic zoo camels. They are created from the Funcken drawings of Napoleon’s Egyptian adventure. 

I thought I’d make some British soldiers in boats for a Quebec game, but this is as far as I got. Plasticene men in a made in China boat. They still need a base and toothpick oars. And a flag.

And now a return to the desert, with my start of a Sassanid army. I put about a dozen infantry (WW2 Japanese officers with plasticene shields and headgear), on a base meant for 24 figures. I have pinched the idea from Pony Wars, the old rule set Peter Guilder adopted for his Sudan games. A handful of men can represent a horde.
The clibinari are Lucky Toys Revolutionary War horsemen with plasticene cloaks and hole punch shields. I just painted the face metal for armour.
The light cavalry are plains Indians with some new hats.
The elephants were a real find. Hinchliffe miniatures.  I got them on eBay. All I had to do was put them back together and touch up the paints.
Hopefully these guys and their friends will square off against Bellisaurius in front of Daras one day soon. I didn’t post the Byzantines as I can’t find them. I use all kinds of boxes and only recently have I begun to sort them out in eras. The Thirty Years War/ECW/Rocroi armies are in my bedroom, the ACW is in the hall and WW2 are stacked precariously at the top of the stairs. And the Napoleonics are under foot. I wouldn’t have it any other way.  

I was asked in the questions below which plasticene brand I was using.
Currently I use Plastalina by Craft Smart. It’s $5, very reasonable.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Some Oddments I’ve Been Working On

 I’ve taken a bit of a break now that the lock down is over (for now…) by getting out and walking and listening to podcasts.

So here’s some items I’ve had on the go for a while now…

Polish Napoleonic lancers from the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, and a couple of fanciful horse guns. Giant toys with Esci riders. The lancers are Esci lancers on Thai Giant copies with plasticine shebraques.

Austrian foot artillery and an ammunition wagon. Odd looking  perhaps but I based it on a Minifigs model I saw in a French wargame magazine, “Uniformes”.

A selection of stuff. Heading is a group of Mexican militia. Suitable for Cinco De Mayo or even the Mexican Civil War. Converted Indians from the Lucky toys Revolutionary War Set.

Next is a toy coach I dolled up to be a European coach, suitable for a highway man or woman (Mary Ferrers) or for Marlborough to offer to Clerembault.

In the centre  is a Hinchliffe 25mm Marshal Murat from their Personalities range. I always had a weak spot for Hinchliffe. The other weak spot was in my wallet which couldn’t afford them way back when.

The coach again making a hasty exit stage right.

Finally a mix of 25 mm figures. I often buy mixed lots of figures and this is a result. Several Spanish generals painted up rather fancifully, one was horseless so he got a plasticine saddle and a Thai Giant horse. The Royal Foot Artillery guys are manning a gun from Eagle Games.

In the back are a couple of Minifig ADC’s painted up as fanciful dudes, maybe Spanish?

And the rest are Prince August Waterloo figures. I love finding these in eBay purchases as their lack of detail and over all smoothness make them true toy soldiers that look great in bright colours and gloss.

Well, that’s it for now.

I’m still working on Edgehill. Hope to have it up soon.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Some Useful Ancients Cavalry

 Dark Alliance figures have been making Lord of the Rings inspired figures in 1/72 scale.

These, and there are two sets of 12 figures each, are based on the Rohan cavalry, but could easily be used as late Roman era goths, Huns, and other types, as well as Eastern European cavalry in the early medieval period.

I painted up 3 boxes of each.

Nice detail, solid figures.

The only quibble is that the riders can eventually pop off the saddle as the legs are kind of a tight fit.

I think the best recourse would be to shave off some plastic from inside the leg or secure the rider with a metal pin and glue.