Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Curse You Angus McBride!!!!!! (UPDATED)

     I know that it is poor form to speak ill of the dead, but this goes back many years. In 1984 Angus McBride's work for Osprey's Man-At-Arms series #154 Arthur and the Anglo-Saxon Wars featured a stunning picture of McBride's reconstruction of what Arthur probably looked like in reality. The combination of subject matter and McBride's brilliant artistry left me wanting to build a Post-Roman British army with a model of the cover as my command stand. Having no one in my wargaming group that wanted to undertake building a Saxon army the idea languished for decades, rekindled every time I happened to see the cover as I was in my library. Look at the picture below to see what I am going on about.

there is a strong likelihood that I would kill to get the original artwork

     Well, things happen and times change. Rules that have been published recently now longer demand the 300+ figure commitment that an old-fashioned WRG ancients army would  require. Saxon armies can be as small as a few dozen figures (thank you SAGA) thus a Post-Roman army became a plausible project once again. But, somewhere in the intervening decades I had mislaid the figures that I had bought for my "King Arthur's Army". This setback left me following other pursuits for a while, that is until I saw the Gripping Beast "Dark Ages Cavalry" box. Suddenly the gravitational pull of the period (and particularly the evocative artwork of McBride).
     Feeling compelled I promptly bought a box of Gripping Beast Late Roman Infantry and a box of Dark Ages Cavalry with the intent of knocking together a Post-Roman force for SAGA or Lion Rampant. But foremost in my mind was making an effort at replicating the McBride artwork in 3-D. Another project for my already overburdened workbench!

the Dark Ages Calvary provided a body that was suitably posed

but it needed a bridle hand that was empty 
so I raided one out of the Late Roman Infantry box and deprived it of its sword

I do love plastic kits for this sort of thing

right arm in place

the Later Roman Infantry also provided an helmeted head

which lacked a nasal, so I carved a shred of plastic off of a bit of sprue
 and trimmed it to size before gluing it to the model

the horse, while a very good model in its own right, 
lacked the energy present in the McBride painting 
so I began hunting around

don't be fooled by the tragically bad box-art
Conquest makes some truly fine miniatures

this lovely horse is an example,
I cut the hooves away from the base to get a pose-match to the painting

and this is why I never keep the reciept.....the salesman thoughtfully tucked this on into the box when I bought it, check the date......five years in the "to do" box and I never even opened the kit until now


a cape was also needed, 
I remembered that the Fireforge kits all were well-equipped with capes, 
one was promptly donated to the cause

and it fit perfectly!

a pretty good likeness, if I say so myself!

Arthur and his mighty steed

the next subject was a Romano-British militiaman,  he was assembled from a mish-mash of parts from Wargames Factory Celts, Gripping Beast Arab Light Cavalry and Later Roman Infathry

 the hardest figure was the crouching Welsh auxiliary, unable to find kilted legs that were crouching in the manner of the painting I had to settle for a kneeling pose, again, a raiding of the extras-bin provided the parts for this Frankenstein's monster of a figure

primed in flat white I began painting 
the color tends to pull the figure together

I had my doubts about this guy
 but he seems to have turned out OK

that shield needs a repaint however!

and I am still far from happy about this guy

the draco standard bearer is straight out of the box

as is his buddy

     I will post further as painting progresses
     I had a bit of time and got the figures almost done

I started by blocking in the white horses with repeated washes of white paint
I only know two ways to paint white; first is black prime and lots of heavy dry-brushing which is fast but only barely acceptable results. Second in a dark gray prime and them building successive layers of white paint very thinly applied

the second method is terribly slow but gives better results in my opinion

next the riders got a bit of shading as well
normally I would leave the rider separate to ease painting 
I got all excited when I was building these models and stuck the riders on, oops!

the horses were coming along nicely .......

.....the riders still needed some work

and we won't talk about the two infantry

by the fourth round of highlighting the horses were in a satisfactory state

time to get serious about the men

the repainted shield of the militia soldier looked much better,
the Welsh archer is still giving me fits

I might go back and change the color of his poants

and the five-o'clock shadow needs some work too

the cloak over his shoulder is rolled tissue

shading and highlights on the cavalrymen turned out pretty well
perhaps a touch too subtle

not finished, but closing in pretty fast


  1. Looking great so far!

    McBride... the artist that launched a thousand armies.

  2. Anton I have a large Saxon army. Along Normans and Romano British.:)

  3. Holy crap! That is awesome! Looks just like the photo. You have to paint up a Saga warband. Myself and three others have warbands and we will gladly game with your Romano-Brits.


  4. As a copy of the same volume has been setting on my shelf, calling to me for many years, I find your post both haunting and inspiring. You've done an excellent job capturing the energy and passion of the cover illustration.

  5. Just seen this post, I'm collecting a Romano British and Saxon dux bellorum armies just because of that cover!
    Best Iain

    1. You can view the finished product in the post "I am Arthur, King of the Britons" a bit further on.