The Waving Flag: 15 mm Macedonian Heavy Cavalry (Xyston)

Saturday 29 June 2024

15 mm Macedonian Heavy Cavalry (Xyston)

This is something of a first for me (well second really).  Last Saturday I bought twelve painted and based cavalry from the bring and buy at the Phalanx show in St. Helens.

I've only ever done this once before (and also at Phalanx) but these figures were just what I needed for my Hellenistic project; were at a really good price of £2.00 each; and had a decent, if basic, painting style.

I have surprised myself by reworking them in less than a week!  I have never done so many figures so quickly.  Here's what most of them look like:

At first I thought these were from Xyston, but I couldn't find them on their web site.   Eventually, having ruled out most other manufacturers, I realised they were a selection from ANC20028 - Armoured Greek Cavalry with Boiotian Helmets.  This took a while because the picture on the web site has been reversed showing left handed cavalry!  No wonder I was confused.

The plan
My intention was to quickly highlight the figures and rebase them.  Needless to say it didn't work out, but it was still a quick mini-project.

What I bought was:

  • Based on MDF with very dark groundwork.
  • Block painted to a decent standard with a nut brown ink wash, so very old school.
  • All bar one of the horses were the same colour: chestnut.
  • Gloss varnished.

What I intended to do:

  • Rebase to match the rest of my Hellenistic collection.
  • Highlight those areas (skin, linen armour, etc) where the ink wash was far too heavy.
  • Repaint four horses to increase variety.
  • Dry brush the mane and tails of the horses, add white socks and flashes, highlight their noses (I know), and add some metallic highlights to the tack.
  • Apply a matt varnish.

What I didn't want to change:

  • The still bright, but ink washed, copper armour thereby saving me a lot of work.  Conversely, the other metallic areas, spear tips etc, were far too dull and benefitted from a touch up.
  • The dark lining of the linen armour.  This is not something I would do normally as I now prefer a more subtle contrast.  However, the plan was to rework them not completely repaint them.

The rework itself
Removing the bases was easy enough although, to my surprise, it wasn't as quick as I'd expected.  Soaking for a few hours wasn't enough and most bases were left overnight.   The removal of the bases did mean that I had to repaint all the lower limbs of the horses but that was to be expected.

After highlighting the first few riders I realised that the painter had made the same mistakes on nearly every figure.  In essence, the boundaries between certain areas weren't always cleanly defined.  This was most evident between the left arm and the edge of the cuirass, and the edge of the tunic and the legs.

So, before any highlighting, I repainted the boundaries, and associated shadows, with burnt umber to match the ink wash.  Then I could highlight the areas directly, but it turned out far quicker to repaint the arms and legs

All this went quickly, with a production line approach at times, except when I found spots where the castings hadn't been cleaned properly and I had to get my scalpel out.

The one big problem
This occurred when it came to matt varnishing the horses: the gloss varnished chestnut horses refused to dry matt.  I tried all my tricks and none worked to my satisfaction.

In the end I simply applied a thin coat of burnt umber, or leather brown, to all the brown horses before adding the final horse colour and varnishing as I would normally.

To provide a top coat that would varnish well I used craft paints, as they always dry matt, using two thin coats to give the right depth of colour.

Despite having to repaint all twelve horses the sculpting of the horses made this incredibly quick because the tack was so beautifully defined: Forged in Battle please note.

Closing remarks
This was something of an experiment.  The base of brown ink washed colours meant I end up with a slightly different style to my current approach.

As I wanted these done quickly, I took a more relaxed approach; positively speed painting (by my standards) which was both relaxing and fun.  They are not prefect but they'll do.

The value of repainting other's work is debatable.  I paid £24.00 for painted and based lead that would have cost £15.0 with a of delivery charge between £2.50-5.00.

I paid a small premium for the benefit of dealing with painted figures and not having to start from scratch.  Not too bad on balance, but I wouldn't want to do it with a large amount of figures.

List of all the project posts


TWR said...

An interesting post. The miniatures have come up very well, but it reinforces the challenges of buying a few miniatures for use in existing army.

Vexillia said...

It certainly does. The very least I'd expect in future is repairing the horses caused by removal of the old bases.

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