Thursday, July 30, 2020

Wargames Atlantic: Plastic Dark Age Irish Warriors Reviewed!

Today we will check out the Wargames Atlantic Dark Age Irish Warriors! These  28mm hard-plastic multi-part figures are the first set of their new Blood Oath miniature range. The Blood Oath range covers the fall of the Western Roman Empire through to the Viking period. Descendants of the fierce Celtic people, the Irish engaged in constant warfare between tribes on their island and were famous for their raiders who took treasure and slaves from lands across the sea. Irish dress and weaponry changed little from the fall of Rome through to the Viking era and beyond.

The Dark Age Irish Warriors

The boxed set contains enough hard-plastic parts to create 30 28mm warriors armed with spears, swords, slings, axes, and the iconic shillelagh along with 10 Irish wolfhounds. These miniatures are supplied on 5 identical sprues each containing enough parts to create six warriors with an assortment of weapons, command options and two wolfhound miniatures. The miniatures are supplied in a nicely illustrated box with artwork by the talented Peter Dennis and pictures of the painted miniatures by Andrew Taylor and Andy Zeck which are a great painting reference. The miniatures were digitally sculpted by  Rob Macfarlane and are tooled and manufactured in China.

As mentionned before each sprue contains six standing bodies in a nice selection of different and interesting poses. The miniatures are represented in typical clothing and wear the léine, a more or less knee high linen tunic-like garment and the brat, a sleeveless, hoodless woolen cloak that could be wrapped around the body. Talking about the cloaks or mantles, two individual cloaks are included on each sprue allowing you to better cloth your bare-chested warriors or add some more layers on your other warriors. The miniatures also wear trius trousers both short and long and the ionar jackets. Both of these clothing pieces were combined with the tunics and cloaks although these trousers and jackets seem to be mostly worn by the lower class. All of the clothing had mostly natural colors as that was the cheapest although these fabrics could be dyed so more colorful cloaks and tunics would certainly be worn by the more wealthy. These pieces of clothing were held in place with belts, brooches and pins of copper, silver or even gold. All of the warriors included are barefooted which was very common as only the very high nobility wore shoes in those days. Another great advantage of the simple clothing is that the Irish dress changed little from the fall of Rome through to the Viking era and beyond so plenty of tabletop encounters are possible with these fine warriors.

Next to the bodies, the sprue also includes ten heads offering a nice selection of individual heads. The included heads have a large variety of hairdress from simple long hair and bald to what seems to be braided hair. Most of the heads also have facial hair in the form of beards and moustaches adding lots of individualism and realism to these fine warrior miniatures. There's only one helmeted head as metal armor was very expensive and only affordable for the higher class warriors and nobility hence the inclusion of only a single helmeted head on the sprue.

Taking a closer look at weapons we see the inclusion of spears, swords, slings, axes and the iconic shillelagh which covers most of the weapons needed to equip your daring warriors. The bulk of the Irish warriors would be lightly armed with javelins and spears as those were both easy to make and affordable. The main battle tactic of these fierce but lightly armed and armored warriors was to harass and weaken the enemy before attacking their demoralised enemies in close-combat. Next to their javelins and spears, these warriors would also be equipped with an agile small round shield  or buckler of which plenty are included on the sprue. Also included on the sprue is a single sling and stone throwing arm which were also used to harass and soften the enemy and was used by both warriors and elders, women and youths in support of their warriors while keeping themselves at a safe distance from the enemy.

One of the coolest pieces of weaponry included is the iconic shillelagh which is a club typically made from a stout knotty blackthorn stick with a large knob at the top. These clubs were carefully polished and decorated by their owners and also used as walking sticks when travelling the rough Irish countryside or herding cattle across the lands of Ireland. In some cases the knob of the club was even filled with lead making it heavier and therefor more lethal on impact. On the sprue we can also see some swords and axes which were most likely used by the higher class warriors as those were more expensive weapons but these could also be seen with lower class warriors as swords and daggers were also used next to their more commonly used javelins and spears. Also included are some loose scabbards and daggers to further arm your miniatures.

The model kit contains a very large amount of shields including small round shields or bucklers, large oval leather covered wicker shields, large round wooden shields and even some very ornated bronze shields. Next to the weapons we also have the inclusion of the obligatory command accessories such as a common blowing horn and an animal skull to convert some of the spears into banner poles for your standard bearers if desired.

Another great part of this particular model kit is the inclusion of two multi-part Irish wolfhounds which have an important status in the history of Ireland. These great hounds of war were extensively used for both warfare and hunting and were solely owned by the Irish kings and the nobility. Sometimes battles were fought for the possession of these highly-valued dogs and their ferocity in battle was feared by many warriors, even attacking charioteers without hesitation.

Assembling your Dark Age Irish Warriors

The assembly of these new miniatures went quick and was once more great fun as the amount of different options is very good allowing you to create some nice warriors with minimal hassle. 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. To be honest reviewed quite some of these miniature sets lately and the quality has always been great so was expecting this quality again of Wargames Atlantic and they once more delivered it with this new Blood Oaths boxed set.

The following positive things sprung to mind when assembling the miniatures. You may have noticed that there are both sleeved and bare arms on the sprue that fit either the bare-chested or clothed bodies, should you be distracted you can't miss as the two types use different connection designs which is a great touch. 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 some of the thinner parts 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. When assembling and looking at the design I could only find two minor issues, the first thing is that I would have prefered more javelins and maybe bows instead of the large quantity of shields. Another issue is that the dogs can only be assembled in two poses, so you can't switch the different sides to create even more poses so again a minor issue but worth mentionning.

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. 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. In the pictures below you can see the different warriors and dogs assembled.

The Scale Comparison

Below you can see the comparison pictures with some other popular plastic miniature ranges. Featured are the Conquest Games Norman Infantry, Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors, Archers and Saxon Thegns alongside the new Wargames Atlantic Irish Warriors. As you can see these new miniatures are quite comparable in size with the miniatures from the other plastic miniatures lines.

The Conclusion

This first model kit for the Blood Oaths miniature range is most certainly very useful when creating Dark Age Irish armies and warbands as they are both affordable and good quality with plenty of options. The boxed set contains everything you need to assemble a great-looking warband or unit for this period with a large range of included weapons, shields and even wolfhounds. I can also see these miniatures being used to convert other plastic miniatures creating all sorts of historical, 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 (30 warriors and 10 wolfhounds) retailing for £25.00 with further discounts for larger amounts of boxed sets. You can buy these very useful miniatures now 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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Bluewillow said...

Great review, I will pick some up just for the dogs, but useful as skirmishers for Irish, Scots, Welsh and Bretons I think

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Don_Wilbraham said...

A very informative review -- and the photos and comparison pics are amazing. I've assembled three of these boxes as part of a project to complete a Celtic themed warband for Saga (suitable for Irish, Scots, and Welsh). These figures are sculpted in a superior manner, using a very durable plastic that is easy to work with, and won't easily snap off like other competing brands (Victrix). The match is so close to Gripping Beast, that I've been able to incorporate some of those figures with mail and helmets with the parts left over from these kits. I'm really looking forward to more releases from the Dark Ages range from Wargames Atlantic.

Wargame News and Terrain Blog said...

Thanks much appreciated and also quite a big fan of their quality miniatures!