Comparing Plastic Vikings
Following on from last week’s post, I’ve decided to replace my Viking archers as I’m not very impressed with the cast quality or bendy bows on the Warlord’s metal Viking Archers that I’d picked up for the project originally. I decided to use this as an opportunity to answer a question that I see come up fairly often – how do the 28mm scale plastic Vikings available on today’s market stack up to each other in terms of quality and size? I’ll be breaking down my thoughts on the following kits:
Our first contender’s offerings come in the form of Viking Bondi and Viking Hirdmen kits priced at £20 each or about 63p per model. They share a weapons/head sprue so the difference between these two kits are limited to the torsos and arms. Assembly of the miniatures was relatively painless – though I found the necks to be far longer than they needed to be. Assembling a model without trimming the neck down will result in an E.T.-like appearance. There are other issues that I have with the kits that can’t be solved with a hobby knife – namely the Lego man appearance caused by the open hands and the length of the torsos compared to the legs. The axe-wielding warrior above is an example of this. The kits are supplied with flags and transfers for shield designs but without bases of any kind. Personally, I don’t think that either of these kits would be suitable for use in skirmish-scale games. They might look better ranked up with multiple models on one large base but for Saga I think that there are better alternatives. Perhaps when Wash and I tackle a larger scale system I’ll return to these models but for now they are going to take up residence in the cupboard of shame with the rest of the unpainted miniatures and half-finished projects.
In comparison to Warlord Games, Gripping Beast only offers a single Viking kit. They do, however, produce generic “Dark Ages” kits that are suitable for representing the unarmoured warriors of the period. The Viking Hirdmen kit will set you back £22 (about 46p a model), the Dark Age Warriors kit is priced at £22 (55p per model) and the Dark Age Archers kit comes in at a modest £18 (60p per model). Like the Warlord kits, the Hirdmen and Warriors have some wonky proportions (the arms are quite long compared to the height of the miniature). Unlike the Warlord Kits, the GB Viking sprue contains bits to customise the models with things like pouches for holding Anglo-Saxon gold or seaxes to convince Anglo-Saxons to give up their gold. Assembly of these models is a bit more fiddly than it is for the Warlord kits. Arms don’t fit snuggly against shoulders and you should expect to do plenty of chopping and filling before the models are ready for an undercoat.
The archers are a different beast entirely. They are supplied in 3 poses with three head options. The arms are attached to the torsos and quivers and daggers are attached to each waist. There seems to be compatibility between the kits allowing for head swaps to add some variety. In a skirmish game duplicate models stick out like a sore thumb so I don’t recommend this kit for someone looking to get a full unit of 12 archers out of one box without doing some basic kitbashing.
It should come to no surprise to anyone who has read my previous post that I think that the Victrix models are the best available in today’s market but the kit is also the dearest at £38 (63p per model). What the models lack in variety they more than make up for in detail. I’ve already detailed my misgivings about the packaging and instructions provided in my previous post so I won’t bother repeating them here. The only real downside to this kit that I can think of when viewing it through the lens of someone assembling a warband for SAGA is that there are no archer bits.
Whilst Victrix is clearly the winner when it comes to Huscarls, Bondi with Spears and Hirdmen there is competition amongst Warlord Games and Gripping Beast when it comes to archers. Given the choice between Warlord’s Viking Bondi kit and Gripping Beast’s Dark Age Archers, I chose the latter even though they only come in three poses and aren’t “obviously” Vikings. Luckily, I have extra heads from the starter set and these fit the archer bodies with minimal fuss so a quick kitbash will add some variety to the unit and tie it in with the other Vikings. That being said, I find the GB plastics quite charming so they’ll likely make up a unit further down the line.
Viking Leader Progress
Work has begun on my leader and his base-mates. I’m following the steps from my guide but I’ve rushed ahead a bit on the leader himself as I was eager to see how a coat of Shyish Purple would look over my usual undercoating technique. I applied a coat thinned with water to ensure that the Stone Grey highlight was still visible and I’m quite happy with the result. The purple cloak marks him out as an important individual but isn’t overly bright.
I also made a start on my first piece of scenery – an Anglo-Saxon house. The walls have been finished (perhaps they are a bit too grimdark but I couldn’t help myself) and all that’s left to do is colour in the wooden detail, glue some grass to the base and apply some straw to the roof. This particular kit did come with a roofing solution but it resembled a toupee rather than a thatch roof! As you can see from the pictures below it is about the right height for my purposes and should look great once its fully painted and ready for pillaging!