An unboxing from the Dark ages - Wargames Atlantic Irish


I have always had a soft spot for Celts. The idea of those wild people from the North West of Europe, their "fingers up to authority" feeling against the Romans etc. I toyed for a while with trying to make an historical army but never really found a system or players local enough to me to consistently play it. The recent swell in mini agnostic games that are designed to be so has changed that. I was after some javelin throwers for my slowly growing Kings of War Northern Alliance list. This is intended to be my slow burn and use the models I love so what better place than to get some of those Celts I always fancied assembled and painted. 


I like models to be simple enough to be functional but still have plenty of visual interest to paint. Scouring the options from vendors such as FoundryPerryoldschoolminis, ebay and facebook trading groups I couldn't find anything that fitted the lead cast approach so turned to plastics. I think I must secretly be an airfix model style hobbyist at heart as I really enjoy  the clipping from sprues and flexibility a plastic kit can get you when ranking up for a unit. Yes I love old lead and the character it has but converting can be slightly more time consuming. Step up Wargames Atlantic. The Dark Age Irish fitted the bill very well. Not only did it give me more than enough bells and whistles on the sprues but it also comes with some nice little dogs, perfect for snow foxes. On top of that they're currently on sale!


The rankings

I am going to try something a little different with this and I may try the same with other new product lines I buy. It's a noble ambition but I will try and allocate a rating on a number of criteria that I think are important in minis. Yup, it's completely subjective but I have had more than a couple of decades' worth of messing about with toy soldiers so figure I can give a reasonable opinion. Each will be on a wonderfully arbitrary scale of 1-7. It's impossible to state what "7" or "1" are and it's all meant to be relative but should hopefully provide a guide. 

Aesthetic/Style

Does the mini or set of minis fit with the style it's being marketed as? Does that fishman really look like one or more that someone stuck gills on a rhino?

Cast/Detail Quality

Are details crisp and well defined, is there heaps of flash or miscasting? Are the mould lines in sensible places (not down the middle of bloomin' key focal points like faces). Is that blob meant to represent a piece of cloth on that orc's backside or its arse cheek?

Pose Variety

Not completely relevant for single minis but when in a unit a variety of pose is generally preferable. Yes there are times when it looks really nice to have stuff ranked up and the glory days of the monopose GW have some appeal (See here for very out of date update on this). Can you make your unit of orcs/space zombies/elves look like they are individuals and not clones?

Build Flexibility

Are there options to equip units with different weapons, shields, standard bearers or musicians? are there fancy pants bits for unit champions of heavy weapons for the big guns? Do you get more head options than a Hydra could dream of?

Build Simplicity

Flexibility and variety is great but if you need to spend a week's hobby assembling a unit out of the box it may not be what you are after when building an army of a few hundred figures. Are there enough contact points for those feet onto the base? Is that very very thin contact point a good idea for gluing stuff together?

Bonus Stuff 

Are there any nice little extras on the sprues. Tokens, pets, other mins or spare bits that you can use to represent stuff in games? It's hard to define what these are but you'll know them when you see them. 

Cost

What's the value for money. I'll try and ignore any sales or mega deals etc and give a rating on what you actually get for the cash when looking at the above criteria. Cost is hugely subjective and I find largely impacted by quality and quantity of stuff. 


The Box



The box contains 5 sprues all identical with 5 torsos and 2 dogs per sprue giving an impressive 30 infantry and 10 dogs. It retailed at $34.95/£25 plus shipping from their webstore but was on sale at £20 when I bought it. 

Aesthetic/Style 6/7



I think think the feel of the warriors really fits their wild rugged feel. They are true 28mm scale not heroic so the weapons etc are a bit more sensible in proportion. There's a whole lot of hair going on in the form of beards, shaven mowhawk style and full heads of hair adding to the unkempt feel.


The bodies are a collection of bare chest with rough trousers and single piece long shirt things with a belt across the waste (I am sure these have a technical name). A nice touch is the optional cloaks which are going to be great fun to add patterns and some freehand to. The dogs give a nice feel of non-pedigree pooches, more lean hunting dogs so fit the style nicely. I think there are a couple Shillelagh to use too which is nice. 

Very much in keeping with the modern view of what warriors were and wielded. 

Cast/detail quality 4/7



Casting is in hard plastic and it maybe a function of the age of the moulds but they are very crisp. There is a lot of good relief in the details to help guide the painting and there were no miscast pieces. The mould lines are some of the smallest and finest I have ever seen on plastics, so good there too and needed minimal clean up. A big bonus for me is that all of the heads had the mould lines around them rather than across the face. The face is often such a focal point of the  model it's always a pain having to delicately clean it up. 

They are not full on resin quality so don't max out here but they are still good, every part is obvious what it is cast as and there is good depth

Pose Variety 5/7


There is a mix of standing and slightly running poses. All have their left army as part of the main torso leaving the head and right arm to give variety. The spears are in both overhead and underarm grip allowing the act of throwing or fending to be built. Some full on running poses would have been nice to add to the dynamism but it's a trade off I think with component compatibility. 

Not fully modular so I can't score it top marks but also not monopose and have enough to make a unit look different. 

Build Flexibility 5/7

Here's where the kit really shines. There are enough of a weapon to make a whole unit with that same armament. Often when you get a kit like this you can build a max of 2 spearmen per 3 but with the Dark Age Celts you can build all 5 with spears or hand weapons. There is a single sling per sprue too. There are enough for each model to have one of 3 different types of shield and a couple of fancier ones for leaders. There's a musician's horn and by choosing appropriate bits you can distinguish a model as a leader. 



What is missing is a standard and there's no clear way to add one really.  A note on the cloaks. There are two different sculpts. One fits really nicely but the larger, looser one I couldn't get to align properly on a lot of the poses I had made so sadly won't be using it. It just looked a bit open at the top and that it wasn't really over its shoulders. The bare chested models are a slight pain as their arm attachment leads to a slight gap in the shoulder that needs filling.

For a single kit the variety is very good. Would only really be made outstanding with the options to add a standard and a way to ensure the cloaks fitted universally.  

Build simplicity 6/7



In the simplest form each model is 3 components. A body, a head and a right arm. This makes it pretty straight forward to construct. It's helped further by the torsos and right arms coming in matching pairs. The bare chested models have a ball shoulder joint which matches with the socket type fitting on the arms. This is nice as it means you can't accidentally fit a clothed arm to a bare chest. 

Very simple to assemble. Lovely for creating a whole army

Bonus stuff  4/7



The shields to me are a bonus as it means I have a nice set of matching ones I can use on other models. The dogs are also a great addition. For KoW it means a whole second unit as a biproduct. There are loads of spare heads and weapons too which is always nice.  

Dogs and extra shields are a great addition

Cost / Conclusion 6/7

At £20 for 30 infantry and 10 hounds for the cast quality and variety I really can't fault it. The interchangeability and spare parts means I'll likely grab another box or two as I can then kit out some regular warriors or maybe even start that full Celt army I always planned. 

I'll be looking forward to painting them up and getting them on the table. Also to explore what else Wargames Atlantic have on offer. 

Feedback

Feel free to suggest any other things you wanted to know about these minis and I'll make edits or take it on board for the next review 





Comments

  1. Crusader (via Northstar) have nice metal dark ages Irish and Scots. But you can't go past the number you get from WA. You've now got yourself most of a Celts or Barbarian army list for Rick Priestly's Warlords of Erewhon. The army lists are on his site "This Gaming Life".

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