Wednesday, December 30, 2020

North Star Oathmark Skeleton Infantry

I was really excited when North Star announced their plan to release a set of multi-part plastic skeleton warriors with European Bronze Age-style armour and weapons. There are many sets of plastic skeletons on the market, but most have rather unrealistic looking skeletons and armour and weapons that are too fantastical for my taste. In my opinion GW has some of the best skeleton warriors available - I haven't bought any of Mierce Miniature ones - but these North Star ones are right up there with them.

One of the issues I have with skeleton warriors is their armour and weapons. Most fantasy wargames and RPGs are set in the medieval or pseudo-medieval era, and skeleton warriors are usually styled as the reanimated remains of the long-dead warriors (well, long enough for the flesh to have rotted away, at least); the idea of having skeleton warriors sporting what are contemporary armour and weapons just seem off to me. Zombies, yes. But for skeleton warriors, I want a more archaic style.

When I started my RPG campaign in Terrinoth, I imagined that the civilisations there went through a similar progression from Stone Age to Bronze Age and then Iron Age, as our own did. That means that when the PCs explore (aka loot) any ancient tombs, they should come across artefacts and remains from these eras.

When preparing for my Barrowmaze campaign, I wanted to give an European Bronze Age aesthetics to parts of the complex, and to that end I bought a few Etruscan warrior miniatures to paint as bronze statues - I wanted a visual contrast between the arms and armour the PCs had and those used by the civilisation that created the burial complex. I was unable to find any figures of skeleton warriors from the Bronze Age other than those of classical Greek style, which was not what I had in mind. So you can imagine my joy when I saw the first pictures of the North Star figures.

The figures are multi-part, with the torso and legs coming in one piece, and separate arms holding weapons, and heads/skulls. As with all multi-part skeleton figures, there is not a lot of surface area at the connection between the parts, which would make the assembled figure fragile. To overcome this, I drilled holes at the bases of the skulls to allow for a better fit between the neck and the skull, and for the arms I aimed for at least one more point of contact between the arm and the torso. 

For these archers, this meant having the bow or bow arm touching some part of the torso, or gluing the arrows to the bows (to the correct side of the bow, I might add) such that there was a whole mechanical connection running from one shoulder joint through the arrow, to the bow, and then back to the other shoulder joint. As you can see from the picture, there were a few ways one could do this and still make the poses look natural.

For the spearmen I either rested the butts of the spears on the bases, or else rested the shafts of the spears on the rims of the shields.

Similarly for the figures holding one-handed weapons, I glued the weapons to the rims of the shields, giving the look that they are shielding their weapon hands while waiting to strike.

These guys still need to be put on bases, and I will also need to eventually make a banner for them, but for now they are ready for my RPGs. I look forward to using them in my next game.