Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Wargames Atlantic: Plastic Persian Infantry Reviewed!

Today we will take an extensive look at the brand new Wargames Atlantic Persian Infantry! These new 28mm hard-plastic multi-part miniatures are the first set of their new First Empires miniature range. The First Empires range covers a wide swath of time starting with the first civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean through to the conquests of Alexander so plenty of interesting possibilities!

The mighty armies forged by Cyrus the Great, Darius, and Xerxes dominated the Eastern Mediterranean for centuries until finally falling to Alexander. Led by the elite Immortals, Persian armies were built from the many kingdoms and tribes conquered first by the Achaemenids including the Median, Lydian, and the Babylonian empires.  This box set can be used to create the infantry of Persia. They are in Median dress with heads suitable for several satrapies and allied tribes.

The Persian Infantry Miniatures

The boxed set contains enough hard-plastic parts to create 40 28mm infantry with weapons including bows, spears, kopis, and sagaris along with command options. These miniatures are supplied on 8 identical sprues each containing enough parts to create five warriors with an assortment of edged weapons and bows. The miniatures are supplied in a nicely illustrated box with artwork by the talented Peter Dennis and pictures of the painted miniatures by Jacksarge Painting, Matthew Leahy and Jeff Jonas which are a great painting reference. The miniatures were digitally sculpted by Emel Akiah and are tooled and manufactured in China.

As mentionned before each sprue contains five standing bodies in a variation of poses including an archer unleashing a volley, with the other poses being more flexible in their stance and weaponry. All of the miniatures are dressed in the common Median dress which was a more or less knee high tunic with close-fitting sleeves along with close-fitting trousers very comfortable for daily and military life. Their clothing would be multi-coloured and decorated with geometrical designs with the most common colors being used blue, red, green and brown to name a few. More expensive colors such as purple would be worn by kings and generals while orange and yellow tones were more likely worn by  soldiers such as guards and Immortals. Uniformity was mostly found with professional army units while the other lesser trained soldiers and formations were wearing a variety of clothing and colors depending on their origin and local clothing customs.

Herodotus described the equipment of the Median and Persian infantry: "They wore soft caps called tiaras, multicoloured sleeved tunics with iron scale armour looking like the scales of fish, and trousers. Instead of aspides they carried gerrha with their bows cases slung below them. They carried short spears, large bows, cane arrows and daggers hanging from their belts beside the right thigh." Of the five bodies included three bodies wear either scale of quilted armour which looks like a rather high ratio of armour as these warriors were normally lightly armoured but that could be my own impression as sources also mention that armour was also worn underneath their clothing. All miniatures are also equipped with a scabbard holding the typical Akinaka short sword for close combat action although ranged combat would have the preference of the Persian Infantry.

Next to the bodies the sprue contains no less than 16 heads, offering a very good selection of the various headdresses being worn in the multi-cultural Persian army and their numerous allies. The included headdresses are the common tiara, a cloth headdress that could also cover the lower face, the Median round cap and the headband. Also included is a helmeted head and a wolf-skin headdress which was a sign of high rank so probably most for suited command miniatures such as the standard bearer. So plenty of useful heads are included to create some truly unique soldiers! Check the close-up pictures below for a better view of the included heads.

Taking a closer look at the weapons and shields we see the inclusion of plenty of bows, spears, kopis and sagaris which covers about everything needed. The prefered weapon of choice for most of the Persian Infantry was the composite bow which was used to blanket and weaken the enemy with deadly arrow volleys. This tactic based on massed long-range archery was used as the Persian army had only a modest amount of heavily armoured soldiers to withstand prolonged clashes with better armoured enemies. Although the lack of armoured infantry was partially solved by hiring Greek mercenaries or training their own native alternatives, archers were still by far the largest infantry contingent fielded.  For this reason it is nice to see the possibility to assemble three archers per sprue as is the inclusion of the Gorytos, the interesting combined bow case and quiver for soldiers handling their secundary melee weapons such as spears, swords and battle-axes but still carrying their primary weapon in the Gorytos.

The melee weapons included are the common spears used by the Sparabara meaning shield bearers in their task to protect the more numerous and vulnerable archers from enemy infantry and cavalry. These soldiers wore quilted or scale armour and large rectangular leather and wickerwork shields (Spara) and were capable of holding their ground with a protective shield wall. Allowing the famous Persian cavalry and chariots to attack the enemy from the rear. These infantry formations were quite large and were depending on the period ten ranks deep, with the first rank being the spearman while the nine other ranks were archers. The last rank often also featured light infantry armed with melee weapons and officers, most likely there to keep the middle ranks in their position while moving or facing enemy assault. Although trained and courageous, these Sparabara soldiers forming the backbone of the Persian army could not withstand prolonged melee combat with better armoured soldiers due to their own light armour and weaker wickerwork shields. The large rectangular shields could be carried by the soldiers or could be put in front of the formation in a stand alone protective wall allowing the soldiers to use their own bows or melee weapons instead of handling the shields. Although an impressive sight, these shields would offer little protection against an enemy foot soldier assault and would more likely be designed to protect against enemy arrows while also offering a sense of safety and defensive position for the defending soldiers against the enemy cavalry and chariots.

Next we have the Sagaris, these were battle-axes used by the Takabara which were light infantry mostly recruited from territories that incorporated modern Iraq and parts of Iran. These battle-axes were very light and easy to handle yet still capabale to penetrate helmets and armour. The light infantry was also further equiped with other weapons and their typical crescent-shaped light leather and wickerwork shield (Taka). The light infantry was deployed on the flanks of the army in between the cavalry and infantry supporting both elements while also defending the flanks of the army. The Sagaris was also used by the regular infantry and cavalry of Persia and their allies. Last but not least we have the Kopis single-edged cutting sword which was particulary effective when wielded by cavalry according to Xenophon, the Athenian historian and soldier. The last shield type included, is the Dypilon, an oval or round shield with openings on both sides possibly for allowing spears to be deployed in a tight shield wall. These shields would be used by the Kardaka, which were an attempt to recreate the famous Greek hoplites from native soldiers so probably among the better armoured and trained soldiers. I hope you found this additional information of interest but note that the Persian Infantry came in many forms and combinations so to be honest you can assemble these miniatures as you pretty much like, so create and combine as this multi-part set is really great for this purpose. Think that covers most of the sprue components so let's take a look at the assembly.

Assembling your Persian Infantry

The assembly of these miniatures went really quick and was great fun as the amount of different options is very good allowing you to create some cool looking soldiers in no time. For this review I have assembled a good amount of miniatures to get an impression of the possible options and ease of assembly. The sprues are well-designed so minimal hassle with difficult sprue vents in hard to get places and very minor fine mouldlines. Another point worth mentionning is that despite the many small and thin parts, I have managed to assemble the miniatures without broken parts. I was really worried about snapping the spears, arrows and swords but was again happily surprised to see that the plastic was really sturdy and took the handling and cleaning of the parts very well which is point certainly worth mentionning. The only issue I encountered was when cleaning the arm holding the really thin arrow but only with this single part you really need to be very careful.

So to conclude the assembly phase, the miniatures are good quality and the casted details are deep enough to make the painting easy using washes or drybrushing. There are some issues such as the mouldlines, thin arrows but those are very minor compared with the ease of assembly thanks to the good design and good quality of the plastic. Was happily surprised with the possible poses and the speed in which I managed to assemble the miniatures as shown below. This set has also great conversion potential with some very minor changes you can create even more unique poses and soldiers. For example you can change the firing archer into a spear throwing skirmisher by adding a spear arm and changing the bowhand or just slightly altering the angle of his bow adding more individualism to his firing pose. Create a cool standard bearer by taking a spear arm and adding a crescent shaped shield to this spear to represent the banner, the possibilities are endless and that's great for both creativity and realism. Shown are some spearmen, multiple lightly armoured archers and some skirmishing light infantry armed with a range of different weapons.

The Scale Comparison

In the picture below I have added some Wargames Foundry miniatures from one of their Persian ranges. Looking at the picture the new Wargames Atlantic miniatures are quite usable with these metal miniatures although the latter are bulkier in body and weapons but quite a good fit on the tabletop I think.

The Conclusion

This first model kit for the First Empires miniature range is most certainly very useful when creating the large armies of Persia during this historical period as they are both affordable and good quality with plenty of options. I can also see these miniatures being used to convert other plastic miniatures creating all sorts of fantasy and science fiction characters, soldiers and adventurers for your tabletop wargames and miniature roleplaying adventures. Yet another cracking set from Wargames Atlantic and even more cool miniature sets already being developed as we speak!

The quality and price of these miniatures is good, with one boxed set containing 40 hard-plastic multi-part miniatures retailing for £25.00 with further discounts for larger amounts of boxed sets. I can see these miniatures being very popular due to their affordability and usefulness when fielding the large Persian armies of this particular period. You can buy these miniatures directly from Wargames Atlantic or from other distributors and retailers worldwide. Picture of the painted miniatures below taken from Wargames Atlantic.

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Disclaimer - We received these miniatures from Wargames Atlantic for reviewing purposes. Please note that this doesn't influence our review as we always strive to supply you with our own independent and honest opinion about the wargame products reviewed.

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