Sunday, 28 February 2016

Miniature Spotlight: White Knight's/The Assault Groups Dwarf Knights

I have always loved dwarves. I can't quite put my finger on why, maybe it is because they are the most characterful of armies. Or at least they should be.
They weren't my first fantasy army (that honour goes to Brettonians) but early on they captivated me. What is not to love about a race of diminutive Brian Blesseds? I came to Warhammer Fantasy in the heady days of 5th Edition, but I think we were on 6th by the time I switched to the short chaps. I was frustrated, however, by the lack of variety with in the Army Book. You had dwarfs. Dwarfs with Heavy Weapons. Dwarfs with Heavy Armour. Dwarfs with Cannons. And Dwarfs with Mohicans. That was about it. They were a slow plodding army, essentially you formed a block and held it.
Never mind I thought, when they get a new Army Book they'll get some new troops, something with some character. 7th edition came and went, but no new book. And then eventually 8th. I was beginning to tire of Warhammer Fantasy by this point. Units of less than 20 were pointless, bigger was better, but that was an awful lot of characterless plastic to buy. My dwarf army was still largely unpainted, and I had little enthusiasm to change this.
And then came the 8th ed. Dwarf book. It was big and glossy and pretty. For the first time in some while I went into an actual bricks-and-morter Games Workshop. What new units had they come up with? How had they injected some character back into the army? In short: they hadn't. It was the same army as before. With pretty much the same units. Just now it was twice the price. I put the book back on the shelf and left the shop.
New games took my fancy (and a couple of old ones). Mostly skirmish level, with few enough miniatures that painting is a joy not a chore. Frostgrave, Bloodbowl, Necromunda, Song of Blades and Heroes, along with pencil and paper RPGs.
But there is definitely an appeal to seeing a big fantasy army on the table top: pennants fluttering, uniformed troops, war-machines and monsters...
All this, rather long, preamble is a way of saying that this week I shall be looking at the Dwarf Knights initially sold by White Knight through his blog, and now via The Assault Group. I came across the original blog a while ago and ordered these knights. Then I backed a Kickstarter run by The Assault Group aiming at bringing the miniatures to a larger audience. I haven't received my miniatures from them, but looking at the updates expect to do so in the next couple of weeks.
And so with out further ado, lets look at the miniatures:  

As you can see they are beautiful, characterful sculpts, by John Pickford. They are at the more cartoony end of the spectrum that appeals to me, but this is more evident close up. At table-top level they look more...well a Dwarf Knight is never going to be realistic, but you know what I mean.
The armour is High Medieval with feathers and pomp aplenty, so they are not going to fit a more grim or dour aesthetic. I believe the original idea was to produce dwarfs that fit with the old Marauder range, and these certainly do that. In terms of GW's Old World, these Dwarfs would live on the edge of, or even in, The Empire.
There is a good level of detail on the sculpts, by which I mean it falls somewhere in the middle of the range, enough to look interesting with out feeling the need to fill every flat surface with trinkets and skulls and flagons and skulls and chains and skulls.
They are multi-part kits, which to me is something of a con. Yes, it allows for more variety, mixing up heads, torso and horses (ponies), and also the front rank can have lances lowered, with back ranks raised. But I have a pathological hatred of gluing stuff together. I only notice after the glue has dried that I have gaping holes, and various body parts back to front. I will happily spend an our or two painting a miniature, but five minutes gluing it seems like a waste of time.

Above are dwarfs from (left to right) Wargames Foundry, White Knight/TAG, unknown & Citadel. I had thought the unknown Dwarf was Marauder, but looking at The Stuff of Legends it seems not, old Citadel? Anyway, they scale well in terms of height. I do not own any other mounted Dwarfs and so can not say whether the ponies come in too large or small, but they look right to me. As I said before the features are slightly bolder - bigger noses, probably slightly larger face overall, but this is not enough to cause too many problems.

These Dwarfs are going to form the core of a new army: a grand alliance of Dwarfs and Halflings. The latter will be supplied by Westfalia, via their Kickstarter and no doubt will find their way onto this blog when they arrive (March was the schedule, we'll see).

I'm going to start small, with an Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes band, then develop this into a Dragon Rampant force. From there..? I don't know yet. I have yet to find a flexible, mass battle system that can replace Warhammer Fantasy. But there's no hurry, I have a hundred or so stunties to paint first.

Terrain Making: Static Grass Clumps

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