It’s been a long time since I did any miniatures work, but the figures were calling me this long holiday use-or-lose season. And with 2 weeks at home, the time was ripe for completing a Dwarven army. Long an after thought, I never really had enough figures to field a reasonable dwarven 25 mm army, but I have always been a big dwarf (oxymoron?) fan. So I gathered all of the various bits of lead from the old days and went to work refurbishing and modifying. The army would consist primarily of figures from the late 1970’s and 1980’s, but it had to look good and lead to a balanced force for game play. After my fried Rick gave me his old fantasy collection, which included 16 vintage Ral Partha dwarf spearmen, I knew that after refurbishing these well used figures, and with some old junk painted up along a few new purchases, I could get a good sized force for the gaming table.
The army is comprised of the following figures: The aforementioned Ral Partha figures (Dwarven spearmen with some old swordsmen and axe men of the same line I had from high school), 16 old Minifig Dwarves of various poses I had collected along the way, 36 Heritage LotR (elan merch) figures (my personal favorites), a few newly purchased Mithril dwarves (that are somewhat out of scale from the old 25 mm lines but useful in the right places), and some converted old human 20 mm? cavalry. Not sure where all of the cavalry came from, but the Heavy Cav was stamped “England” on the bottom of the base, and some figures were old Ral Partha Scythian composite bow horse archers stamped 1984.
In order to give the Dwarves a fighting chance on the battlefield, I assembled some plastic ballistae I bought several years ago in the excellent Zvezda Fantasy Fortress set (See my previous blog on using their dragons as mounts for ring wraith types). These give them some missile weapons that can be used on the battlefield, because as we all know Dwarves are not the best archers in middle earth (which begs the question why did I paint up and convert the Light Cavalry when they are primarily armed with composite bows, but I can easily fabricate a back story to explain that, which is one major advantage of FANTASY MINIATURES). The Mithril figures are used give the infantry element missile capability. I used the Mithril Travelers set as crewmen for the ballistae. The final assembled models with magnetic bases and unit stats are in the picture…
Next I needed to give the dwarves some sort of cavalry. Since they are not shaped optimally for horse riding, they can ride ponies. We know that from the last Peter Jackson Hobbit movie when Thorin and the gang ride Bjorn’s ponies all the way to Mirkwood. And at a good clip, too, with goblins on their tail. In order to give my Dwarves a cavalry element of sorts, I used some old out-of-scale human cavalry as Dwarf stand ins. Although they are too skinny to be real dwarf like, from a distance its not all that critical IMO. I did give them big bushy beards, high saddle backs, a cloak (green stuff RULES for making cloaks), and a few helmet and horn combinations to convert what were apparently Norman Cavalry (with Rohirrim painted shields intact since Rick did a great job hand painting them) into dwarf substitutes; these figures were previously converted into Riders of Rohan but just don’t blend in at all with my Heritage Elan Merch Rohirrim Cavalry.
The main advantage here is the use of scale creep against the evil miniature manufacturers. As we all know, true 25 mm fantasy figures were killed off long ago primarily by Games Workshop in order to make kids buy their new “epic scale” product. But these cavalry figures were so old, as to be totally out of scale even when used with most vintage 25 mm miniatures, let alone today’s figures. So converting from humans on horses to dwarves on ponies was a great way to use otherwise useless figures that were well painted and otherwise pretty much ready for the game table. If I were to do this over, I might have removed horse from rider and formed a Dwarven Beer Belly for these riders, but that was out of scope for this conversion. I did have 6 other unpainted Scythian horse cavalry that Rick included in his generous bequest that eventually got the Dwarf Belly Treatment (not recommended for humans with high cholesterol/blood pressure).
It comes to mind that Dwarven pony riders should not get that much of a charge bonus, although I did use the Green Stuff to give the Heavy Cavalry high backed saddles that look pretty good, so maybe they wont fall out of their saddles and should hit on a pip higher when formed for the charge? But if you still don’t want your Dwarves to charge, take away their credit cards (sorry, it had to be said). Here are a couple of shots of the new (not converted figures). One unit with Green Stuff cloaks and one without. All the newly modeled figures were given the long beards and this time big Dwarf Bellies!
Here is the final army (for now, and without the new cavalry). Its shown with unit statistic markers for the excellent new Ares Exultant gaming system (coming to hobby store/internet soon I hope). I have given the Dwarves a Mountain Giant (they needed at least one very powerful ally). If they need to face a larger foe on the game table, I have decided that they could always bribe the giant Badger Cavalry (outstanding old figures from Off The Wall Armies) to fight on their side for a share of their gold.
Even the stupidest goblin commander knows not to mess with Dwarves defending along a linear obstacle, especially when they have artillery and a mountain giant on their side.
With Badgers riding giant pecking birds protecting their flank, they are a fell host indeed!