The Waving Flag: 15 mm Arab Camel Archers (Essex)

Sunday 9 July 2023

15 mm Arab Camel Archers (Essex)

This is one of my "hobby haul" from Phalanx last month.  They are the first camels for my Arab Empire armies.  Imagine an Arab army without any camels!

I wanted Essex figures as I usually find them a pleasant change of "painting pace" compared to Forged in Battle.  Plus I have no intention of fielding large numbers of camel riders so buying a large pack from Forged in Battle wasn't really an option.

In the end I was glad only bought one pack.  Usually, I find Essex figures quicker and easier to paint, but not this time.

The reasons why these took so long are given later but first a full set of photos:

Figure Review
The figures are AEA7 Arab: Camel rider with bow from Essex Miniatures which contains three figures in one pose.

The rider was well up to standards I expect from Essex, as were large parts of the camel (face, neck, legs, & hooves), and a dream to paint. Sadly, not all of the camel was as well sculpted.  This photo from the Essex website shows the problem:

In essence, the shaggy coat of the camel is very poorly sculpted and not very shaggy.  The upper body of the camel is neither smooth nor has it surface detail deep enough to highlight by dry brushing or to take a wash.  It's also too complex to remove with a file.

Painting Tip
As the detail of the coat was so poor I had to rely on creating an impression of a shaggy coat with paint alone.  This is a significantly different approach to my usual style.  The technique I used is as follows:

  • Choose the base colour for your camel.  I found it easier not to undercoat the whole camel until the coat was finished.
  • Undercoat the shaggy coat in a colour slightly darker than the base colour chosen for the rest of the camel.  Try and avoid using too dark a colour.
  • Add a layer of spots all over the coat in the base camel colour.
  • Add a second layer of spots in a slightly lighter colour.   Place this layer so they are centred on the spaces created by the first.
  • When dry, wash the coat with a very dilute brown umber wash (I use craft paint) or a flesh wash depending on the base colour of the camel.
  • Apply two further layers of spots & wash again.   You should find it easier to place the spots at random with each layer.  With every additional layer the pattern will look less and less like rows of spots.
  • Repeat the two layers of spots & wash steps as necessary to get the depth of colour required.  At some point only the highlight layer of spots will be required.
  • Apply as many coats of washes as required to blend the shaggy coat into the rest of the camel.
  • Finally, edge the coat in the original coat base colour.
  • Paint the remainder of the camel as normal.

If this seems like a lot of work it is because it was.  It helps if you are doing two or more figures at once as you need to allow the spots and washes to dry fully before applying the next layer.

Having said that, I was experimenting nearly all the time not least because I chose three different base colours for the camels.  If I had to do it again I hope it would be quicker.

Value for money
These were a bargain (of sorts).  I bought the three camels second hand for £3.00 against the RRP of £4.50.  Forged in Battle are £15.00 for eight.  That's £1.00, £1.50 & £1.88 per figure respectively (without factoring in postage).


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