24 March 2009

More barbarians

Finally had some time to finish some more Celts & Germans, as I keep writing.

As always, click the photos to enlarge.

First is a comparison photo showing some figures I recently recieved, Celts from Wargames Factory and Renegade, and early Germans from BTD. I tried to include a couple different figures from each manufacturer, like the "fat guy" body from WF, and a command figure from Renegade. I should have included a shield armed figure from WF, but there are a couple in the next pic, below.

Styalistically, they're all over the place. WF seems to be going with smaller, more natural proportions, Renegade with an exaggerated "Cabbage Patch Kid" look, and BTD is somewhere in the middle. Each has its advantages. "Fat guy" aside, WF look the least cartoony, but then some of the detail is so small that it's more difficult to paint quickly, whereas the minimal detail and large surfaces on the Renegade figures paint up easy (with a larger brush, even.) Since I use more layering than washes when painting, the larger surfaces also allow a smoother gradient on the Renegade figures.

Still, as much as I like large detail (as previously mentioned in regards to the Foundry early Germans), the Renegade Celts start to step beyond the line as far as the "cartoony" look goes. (In their defence, however, I love the WWI Early War French that I got from them. But that's for another day...)

As I excitedly mentioned when I got them, I really like the BTD Germans. They've got a nice balance between detail and paintability. I think the Germans are more cleanly sculpted and better posed than their Celts (photos posted previously.) I prefer the Foundry shields, but I can live with these. I particularly like the pose on the guy on the right. My initial feelings about this line haven't really changed. I really like them and wouldn't mind picking up a few (hundred) more, but I'm wary about the delivery issues.

As far as the Celts go, here's a few more I painted at the same time I painted all the figures above...

As mentioned, they've got some smaller details/proportions. This isn't necessesarily a bad thing. Compare the swords, for example, to the mortar trowel the Renegade guy is carrying. (For this reason, I only ordered the Renegade spearmen.) So I like the proportions of the hands, standard, shields, etc. They work well. I think the spears that are part of some of the shields could have had slightly smaller shafts, but I just cut down the one in the second guy from the left, above. I also liked the variety and extras on the sprues. I really liked that there were a variety of weapons, including slings, in the kit. Something I hadn't thought of, but I also liked that a couple of the javelins look like little more than fire hardened pointed sticks. Simple, but nice touch.

When I stopped by the WF table at Cold Wars and talked with Tony & Howard, my first comment was that I didn't care for the seams at the arms. They are especialy noticable on the bare chested guys. But when I looked at the samples they had on their table, the seams were un-noticable. I asked about it and was taught the trick of brushing a little liquid cement over the joint, so I will have to try it. (I've always used the cheap tube stuff, though a friend has tried to get me to switch before.) This is the second or third "trick" I've learned with the WF figures. This may partially be because I'm more familiar with metal figures, but it seems that there's a small learning curve to getting the most out of plastic figures. Trimming the neck and occasionally the waist (noticed that on the zombies) really makes a big difference. It's a quick/easy fix because of the plastic, but still something I didn't initially think of.

Although in some places they seem to have improved on the depth & crispness of detail over the previously released Romans, I found the Celts to still have some issues with this, and the detail was a a bit inconsistant. The heads are the most noticible thing for me. Some of them look absolutely great. It may be hard to see in a photo, but I really liked the heads on the two outside figures in the pic above. Very nice detail, well proportioned, east to paint. The second guy from the left, though, had pretty much smooth hair. Strangely enough, I just painted a base color and then dropped a thin wash over it and it actually looks pretty good. But I would still prefer actual hair. They recently posted a pic of a WSS figure that looks like it's got better hair, so I'm hoping they're still improving on this. But still, I would have liked all the heads on the sprue to be consistant. Some of the eyes seemed a bit weird too. The head in the center looks a bit Muppet-y because of eyes too close together.

The other detail issue I had was the belts. They were just so small and detailed that it would/will get a bit annoying painting an army of them. Like the hair, it's just another point at which a little exaggeration and "cartoonyness" helps someone painting a pile of figures.

That actually brings me to something I mentioned in my review of the WF Romans -- that I think a lot of criticism is coming from people who haven't seen the figures. I will agree that the detail is a bit shallow in places, and as I state above, I've got my share of criticisms. But they're actually fairly detailed models in many places (with the exception of some places like the lack of hair I mention above). But just as I said that it's a bit of a pain to paint tiny & subtle details (more proportional to reality than the exaggeration of most 25/28mm figures), it just doesn't show in the pics. Take a look at the renders on the WF page. There's a whole lot of detail that would probably show up great if they were 1:1 scale models. So I think some of the criticism of the sculptors is a bit unwarrented, or at least misdirected. In my humble opinion, it's more a lack of translation from full size down to a 1" tall figure than a lack of talent for sculpting humans. Almost like the opposite end of the Renegade comments I made above, in which the exaggerations go too far.

So my now longwinded review ends similarly to the Roman review. After meeting the WF guys in person, I wanted to give the new figures a glowing review. But realistically, what I can say is that although they've made some steps forward, over the previous Romans (which I actually prefer due to stylitic reasons) in terms of detail, extras, variety, etc., I think there's still room for improvement. But once again, for the price, I think the figures are hard to beat. I still think these are better than their Old Glory counterparts, for example, which are actually more expensive. Anyone expecting Foundry quality is once again looking in the wrong place, but one should hardly expect that at like 1/6 the cost. (Actually, I'm not fond of the new Foundry Celts from what I can tell from their pics. I'd get some to examine them in person, but I'm too cheap to buy from them anymore, unless it's one of their uber-deals on figures I already know are good. I assume they don't send samples anymore.)

Compared to their competition for plastic Celts at Warlord Games, I think they've both got their pros & cons that put them fairly even, in my opinion. I think that one of the only advantages Warlord has is their detail. But that's a fairly important factor. Wargames Factory, on the otherhand is less expensive, has better poses, more variety and more "bits" in their kit, and less contorted orc/GW "waaagh!" faces. ;) After I paint the entire box of WF Celts I may have more to say about it. The annoying poses on the Warlord Celts was enough to keep me from buying any more, from a practical wargaming stantpoint, but I didn't see that until I painted a full box.


  1. Very good, thorough review- thanks very much. Although I have misgivings, I will probably have a go at a box. I was surprised to see that they are marginally smaller than Renegade/BTD.

    BTW I have a lot of the Renegades, and always cut the swords down or replace with spears; it gets pretty quick, with practice.

  2. Tom,I dont have your email. April 17th,5ish,if you want to tackle the"FOG" at Wallyworld. I can do Late Reps,very early Imps,Classical Elephantine Indians,and now Medieval Irish,complete with Leprechauns. Opponents would be one of the above,or the evil Slewkids,with long,pointy sticks.I'll have to talk to "R" to get your mail.


  3. Thanks for the details, It's good to see all the ranges up against each other. I love the new Warlord Celts and use them for skirmishers with their crazy poses. However, I do know what you mean and would find it hard to fit them into a base of six standing. So with that in mind I may look into WF.
    I too love the BTD Germans, they are cheaper than Foundry and get away from the cliche Loin cloth, bone wielding, woolly nutter image, which I think is a good thing. Also with their deals you can get quite a force together.
    Funny enough, I too only ordered the spearmen from Renegade for the same reasons, Now they would fit into a base of six with no problems at all.