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Alternative Miniatures to GW Bretonnians PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sir Guy des Bontemps   
Sunday, 30 September 2007
This article is an attempt to provide some personal experience and reflections concerning the use of miniatures from other manufacturers as alternatives to Games Workshop's Bretonnians. It thereby hopefully addresses two Round Table of Bretonnia forums on this topic (see Check out these miniatures and Early Bretonnian army).

 

Background

I've had a long-held fascination and interest in medieval history and this was a major influencing factor in my choice of Warhammer army. My collection of Bretonnians comprises almost exclusively all of the previous release of miniatures, since I am not a fan of the current ones. However, I'd been a collector of Bretonnians since well before the current release was even hinted at and I'd already amassed a 3,000-point unpainted army by the time the current miniatures were put on sale.

My whole involvement with Warhammer and Games Workshop itself was due to my buying Warhammer Quest (the final version of the game, before it was discontinued by Games Workshop). Quest combined many of the aspects and fulfilled the expectations I had for such a game. Subsequently, I wanted to expand the scope of the game, by adding more miniatures and giving them greater challenges to overcome. And that's when it turned into a general 'addiction' for expanding my collection of fantasy war-gaming miniatures.

Having collected the full range of Bretonnians available from the previous release, I wanted to expand my army whilst trying to avoid duplicating the individual miniatures. I must confess that I begrudgingly added a unit of Men-at-Arms and another of Peasant Bowmen from the current release, along with one or two individual miniatures (in particular, both versions of the Bretonnian Lords and the standing Damsels of the Lady figure, but that's as far as I was willing to go!).

Whilst wanting to expand my Bretonnian army, I also wanted to keep with its medieval theme. In addition, I wanted to introduce other elements of the Bretonnian population and society, and add some other adversaries for the Bretonnians (and my band of Quest heroes) to battle against. So I started to look at miniatures available from manufacturers other than Games Workshop that would meet my criteria. In my search for suitable miniatures, I believe I've now looked at practically all the other sources of figures available in the fantasy and war gaming marketplace. I can tell you for certain that there are more than plenty of these sources and of varying quality, scale and size (plastic miniatures are very often sculpted in a thinner form that their metal counterparts).

Scale versus aesthetics

Without entering a long treatise about scale, let's just say that the scale height of a miniature is supposed to represent the average height of a human, usually measured from ground to eye level. However, some manufactures measure their miniatures from ground level to the top of the figure's head (minus any headgear, such as helmets). To complicate matters, the traditional scale for fantasy and war gaming, I believe, is 25mm, but some manufacturers introduced a 25mm 'heroic scale' which equates (approximately) to 28mm. Hence we find many fantasy war-gaming miniatures currently produced in 28mm scale, the Games Workshop's Warhammer range being among these. And, yes, there are miniatures that are now being produced in 30mm scale‚?¶

What I've discovered, in my quest to expand my Bretonnian population, is that 28mm scale is not standardised, i.e. miniatures that are said to be 28mm scale are not all the same standard height. The picture below demonstrates this quite clearly.

25-28mm_scale_comparison.jpg

However, does it really matter that not all 28mm scale miniatures are the same height? Simply put, No! Because in reality, no group of four or five humans share the same height, shape, size or body mass. Besides all this, I've never lost sight of the fact that this hobby of mine is about fantasy war-gaming; the emphasis being on fantasy, i.e. it's 'make believe'.

What does matter to me is that the miniatures, I finally selected to expand my Bretonnian population (and their adversaries), not only meet my criteria, but are also esthetically pleasing in their overall appearance and quality of craftsmanship. Therefore, it's very much a case of personal choice.

Conclusion

So, what advice would I give to anyone thinking about whether or not to add miniatures from manufacturers other than Games Workshop to their Bretonnian army, or any other army for that matter?

Firstly, consider carefully what basic or specific criteria the miniatures must meet, for example:

  • Army: Bretonnian; Wood Elf; Chaos; etc

  • Functional role: General members of the civilian population; a particular warrior or hero; a member of the merchant class; a courtier or noble; an adversary; etc.

  • Theme: Early Bretonnian warriors; general medieval appearance; a diorama portraying a jousting tournament or a court scene; a particular event from Bretonnian history; etc.

Then consider whether or not the accuracy of the miniature's scale is of personal importance to you. For example, you might prefer that the miniature you're adding to your existing army must match the scale height of all the other figures. Note that this will tend to restrict your final choice of non-GW miniature.

However, if the non-GW miniatures are going to represent: (a) an entirely different race of human or beast, and (b) comprise part of an army against which your Bretonnians are going to fight, then the miniatures can be physically larger or smaller in scale height than your Bretonnians. With a Chaos army, for example, there is a mix of humans and human / beast mutants, so a non-GW miniature of a slightly different scale would blend in without much difficulty. Don't forget that Lizardmen vary in size and height, for example, or that there are just plain short folk like the Dwarf race. So, there's a fair degree of flexibility in the feasibility of having miniatures of varying height and size (scale) in your army.

If you are concerned about the differences in sculpting style, as well as scale height, then you could always add a group of non-GW miniatures to your Bretonnians, for example, as a separate unit of say, bowmen, men-at-arms, armed peasants or even as a mercenary (Dogs of War) special unit. On the other hand, if you were creating an army to represent a completely different era of Bretonnian history, then all your non-GW miniatures could be selected from a range produced by one manufacturer that best meets your theme's criteria. For example, The Crusades range from Perry Miniatures could be used to represent an early epoch of Bretonnian history and, by so doing, scale and style doesn't present such a major issue, since all the non-GW miniatures will match.

Finally, the other factors that will play a part in what miniatures you select are based much more on personal preferences, such as:

  • Plastic versus metal, i.e. quality and level of sculpting detail.

  • Price and value for money, e.g. 20 miniatures for ¬£20 versus 6 miniatures for ¬£10.

  • Available ranges of figures and scales that match your criteria of theme and race / army.

  • Modelling / sculpting craftsmanship and personally favoured manufacturer or sculptor, or any combination of these.

  • The individual miniature's aesthetically pleasing appearance‚?¶

Once you've considered all these facts, I suggest that you buy one or two miniatures from your chosen source, or sources. These will help you finally decide which miniatures you want to add and how you will use them in your existing army (or armies). There's no better way to help you decide than to actually see and physically handle the miniature/s. By buying just one, or two at most, you won't have wasted a lot of money if the actual miniature doesn't live up to your expectations or preferences.

References

During my search for sources of alternative miniatures, I have viewed a great many manufacturers' websites and ranges of miniatures, though mostly restricted to the 25mm and 28mm scale. Just how many actual websites, miniatures and hours of research are beyond recollection. However, as a consequence of this activity, I have purchased a good range and number of miniatures from different manufacturers, which are listed below (with those of a few extra personal favourites) along with their website addresses. I suggest that you take a look at these in the hope that it will reduce your own 'quest' for alternative miniatures.

Black Tree Design (Historical Late Hundred Years War range) www.blacktreedesign.co.uk

Crusader Miniatures (Medieval Europe ranges) www.crusaderminiatues.com

Dark Sword Miniatures (All available ranges) www.darkswordminiatures.com

Ebob Miniatures (Rebellion, Medieval & Fantasy ranges) www.ebobminiatures.com

Gamers Quest (Mega Miniatures Fantasy and Dungeon ranges) www.gamers-quest.co.uk

Gripping Beast (Normans, Crusades, Teutonic & El Cid ranges) www.grippingbeast.com

Hasslefree Miniatures (Humans & Demonettes ranges) hasslefreeminiatures.co.uk

Mirliton SG (Historical 25-28mm ' Diorama Kits range) www.mirliton.it

Perry Miniatures (Agincourt to Orleans & The Crusades ranges) www.perry-miniatures.com

Reaper Miniatures (Dark Heaven Legends ranges) www.reapermini.com

Thunderbolt Mountain (25mm Arthurians range) www.thunderboltmountain.com

War Games Foundry (Medieval ranges) www.wargamesfoundry.com

West Wind Productions (Dwarf Wars ' Nordvolk range) www.westwindproductions.co.uk

Zvezda (25-28mm Fantasy range. Plastic minis) - very difficult to find now, but some items are still available from www.ontracks.co.uk

I hope you've found this article both topical and useful.

Geoff Buss
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 October 2007 )
 
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