Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Horse is a Horse

Last year, I purchased a shedload of Essex Arab and Tang Chinese figures from a webstore that was closing down.  A number of them were cavalry and unfortunately they were riders only - no horses. But at well under a dollar for a 28mm figure, I couldn't pass it up.  However, finding compatible horses has been a bit of a quest, but I like the hunt. Essex's would of course be perfect, but after rather high shipping costs and currency exchange, I was looking at about a $4 horse. Wanting to keep costs low, I looked at a variety of plastic sources.

HaT is a manufacturer of mostly 1/72 soft plastic figures.  I have a Macedonian and Persian army from them.  They are good figures, but no one seems to game ancients in that scale - it is either 15mm or 25/28mm.

HaT must have recognized this and has begun putting out a line of 28mm El Cid era figures. They still do not seem to have much of a grasp of the wargame market as their figures are upscaled from their 1/72 line.  Details like chainmail and faces are indistinct compared to any other plastic 28mm products on the market.  Most striking though, are the proportions. The HaT figures are more accurate, with a figure about 7 heads tall, whereas most 28mm figures run 5 or 6 heads tall.  This can make HaT's visually incompatible side by side - if that matters.  Because all I wanted were the horses, which don't seem to suffer from scaling issues, I bought a box:

Three identical sprues come in a box. The horses and riders are single piece models, in a hard, slightly glossy plastic. The horses are good, the riders are the weak point. 

On the other hand, they are inexpensive.  I can get a pack for under $16 at a "big box" hobby store, or pay a little more via the internet.  That's a decent price for 12 plastic 28mm figures - but are they worth it in terms of quality?

Below, here are some of the Essex heavy cavalry mounted on HaT horses.  All it took was a little shaving of the saddle and some file work on the rider.

Essex Arabs on HaT horses.

I was tempted to work on a unit using the included figures. I clipped off the original heads and glued a spare head from the Gripping Beast plastic Arab box.  Since the head is what are eyes are most drawn to, this conversion goes a long way to make these figures compatible with other 28mm lines. 

HaT Arabs with Gripping Beast heads

Below, a comparison of the converted HaT to similar models.

From left to right, Old Glory, the converted HaT, Gripping Beast and Artizan. 

The same horses for my Tang China cavalry

Overall, the HaT's are a good, but not ideal way to supplement your early Arab or Moor army. In light of the recent announcement from Gripping Beast that plastic Arab cavalry is coming in April, I am afraid these might not be so useful after all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February Painting Update - Finns, Irish and Scots

No historical content this week, but a few pictures of my painting efforts these past couple of weeks.

More Dark Age Finns, this time some Black Tree Design unarmored Bondi:

Also from Black Tree, some skirmishers with Javelin.  I kept them nondescript enough to use anywhere from the Byzantines to Ireland.  

Four Irish mounted fianna from Gripping Beast: 

Finally, mounted Scot warriors from Crusader Miniatures:  

Surprisingly, these were my only disappointment.  Usually, Crusader is my favorite manufacturer, but these were a bit of a let down.  Part of is my fault for mistakenly ordering the wrong pack (I wanted the Thegns with chain mail) but I was also a bit disappointed in the casting quality.  The horses were fine, but the men had excessive flash, and the faces are "muddied."