Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Some 6mm Huns

...In which our protagonist proves his continuing existence by taking his first tentative steps back into the blogosphere (and the hobby) in many long months, and decides to tackle a new project in the bargain.

Noble Huns... if that isn't an oxymoron.

Yes, after many a moon, I'm finally back behind the brush and keyboard! The long hiatus is over; I've been painting again, and what's more, I've actually been gaming, much to my own surprise. While some of you may be dismayed, it should hardly be surprising to anyone that break of the better part of a year has caused my old projects to fall by the wayside. So make way for the new Mike's Leadpile-- same great taste, but all new recipe-- now with 25% more salt (yes, you heard me: 25% more salt. It's not like you're eating it, so even you health-nut types shouldn't complain)!

Tell us about this new project, you blathering nitwit

Huns, I hear you ask? Seriously? Yes. And in 6mm, too. This despite the fact that I've already got Late Imperial Romans in 10mm. If experience has told me anything, it's that restarting a project in another scale is always a terrible idea... but here I go nonetheless. The thing is, 6mm is my favourite scale-- for me, the balance between physical size and amount of detail is perfect, and I'd much rather be doing something in microscale nowadays rather than anything larger. Also, Baccus has a more-or-less complete 6mm range for Late Rome and her enemies, while (sadly) Pendraken does not in 10mil, despite years of waiting for such a thing to be producted. Also a consideration is that Baccus has been so fan-friendly that I feel like they deserve another little burst of business from yours truly.

The ubiquitous Hunnic horse archers, in all their 6mm glory.

Anyway, my impetus for (re)starting with the Huns is that the range is really small-- only three figure codes, two of which are essentially the same. It pretty much comes down to "buy two units, and you've seen the entire Hun army range". Admittedly, this isn't a great justification for starting a project, but history gives us many examples of much more elaborate things being done for equally murky reasons-- and I've certainly done worse myself in the past.

Speaking of Impetus, that's the plan. Basic Impetus, actually, since my return to active gaming has seen the continuation of my previous shift towards the philosophy that Simpler is Better (within reason). Also, free is my favourite price, at least when I'm doing the shopping. Eventually, I hope to paint up a couple dozen miscellaneous bases from Baccus' Late Imperial Roman, Hun, Goth, and Sassanian Persian lines, which should allow me to field opposing BI armies of various flavours. Most of the marauding/migrating barbarian types of the period ended up fighting either for, alongside, or against pretty much everyone else (and frequently all three), so for a minimum expenditure I should be able to have a go at all sorts of different figures, and be able to game with them too.

Hunnic nobles, front and rear. The bright blue tunic on the one rider is rather jarring; I wouldn't paint it that way again.

So just how good are those 6mm Huns, anyway?

They're not bad, I'll say that much. That may not sound like a sterling recommendation, but in actual fact it's nigh impossible to sculpt a really good Hun. The problem is, no one knows what they looked like. No dependable picture has come down to us. The written descriptions of the ancient writers tend to describe Huns as hideously scar-faced and filthy-- but modern scholars point out, rightly, that these tend to amount to little better than sensationalist and/or propaganda pieces, hardly to be trusted. We don't even know if the Huns had oriental features, like modern Mongols, or if they were caucasian, like modern Turks. Some fortuitous archaeology has given us some examples of broken Hun weapons, but that's about it. This all leaves the enterprising sculptor with... not much to go by, actually.

Baccus AHU1 - Hunnic Horse Archers - Galloping

Consequently, the fine folks at Baccus have given us Hunnic horse archers wearing Mongol-esque clothing, right down to the fur-trimmed hats. Maybe this is anachronistic; maybe it isn't. As I said, no one knows. At the very least, these Huns carry bows with prominent 'horns' or 'ears', which is good; on the other hand the bows are sculpted with symmetrical upper and lower arms, which is bad (Hunnic bows were asymmetrical). The 'Galloping' horse archers come in three different poses, two with drawn bows and the other more relaxed. Notably missing are archers performing the "Parthian shot" and left-handed archers (the Huns were reputedly ambidextrous), which would have allowed for a little more variation in basing. Nevertheless, the quality of the sculpting is a definite step up from older Baccus work, and the casting is crisp; out of a dozen figures, the only defect I had was a single miscast bow, which was easily replaced by a bit of wire.

Baccus AHU3 - Hunnic Nobles

The other code I put to the brush were the Hun nobles. Unless the sculptor knows something I don't (which, admittedly, is perhaps likely), these seem to belong to the realm of highly-speculative-for-aesthetic-reasons. I've never heard of lance-armed Huns, although there are certainly other examples of 'Sarmatized' steppe peoples, so these are at least within the realm of plausability. Giving these guys lances was likely just an easy way of giving the Huns something visually distinguishable from the run-of-the-mill horse archers. The helmets are also a nice touch, with a clear Gothic/Sarmatian flavour to them. One thing that would've been nice is if these figures were available with open hands-- I suspect those lances won't long retain their straightness on the gaming table.

So do you have anything else to say for yourself?

Yes, actually. Keep an eye on the Leadpile, because-- I can't believe I'm saying this-- barring calamity, you can expect a veritable flurry of posts here in the near future! I'm hoping to show off some more new projects, revisit some ongoing ones (including the oft-promised W├╝rttemberg division for Borodino), and maybe even paint up some of the innumerable random figures that have been languishing in the pile.

More soon!