Friday, 6 July 2012

The Greenjackets

This is the smaller of my two crossbow units (the 20-strong, full-command, Marksmen of Miragliano are to follow). The motivation behind creating them was simple: when looking at all the excess weapons from my Empire Militia box, it occurred to me, ‘there’s enough crossbows there to make a whole regiment’.

Empire crossbowmen
How easily you boys could have been halberds.

To get some uniformity, I gave them all Dark Angels green jackets (the sharpshooters of Sharpe must have been in my mind), with the usual Shadow Grey trousers and Desert Yellow hats. Unlike the larger rank-and-file unit of crossbows, I saw this one as more a ‘light company’ of woodland patrollers (and I realise that giving them bows would have been more sensible in that case).

Despite only having two variants on the crossbow arms, I was pleasantly surprised at how different the models could be made to look. One model is carrying his crossbow pointed down, like a rifle; while another has it raised almost too-high, as if it has just been brought to bear, which gives it a dynamic look.

Empire crossbowmen
Chosen men: Tongue, Perkins and Cooper.

Using only ‘hat’ heads – but still keeping to my aim of making each head unique (not just in the regiment, but across the whole army) – meant a wee bit of converting. Models who already wore hats just had the usual adjustments to their facial hair (I particularly like the muttonchops on the eyepatch head).

I tried a simple trick on the models with steel helmets – put a thin strip of masking tape around the brim, which covered up the rivets and looked like a hatband. Now both models look as if they are wearing bush caps – continuing the ‘patrol’ theme.

Empire crossbowmen
Chosen men: Hagman, Harris, Harper and ... uh Kowalski.

But my favourite conversion came when I attached a flat cap (snipped off another model) onto the ‘bald, moustached’ head. Covering up the rest of the baldness with green stuff, it wasn’t until I painted him up (choosing blond hair at random) that I realised who he reminded me of.

Empire crossbowmen

I immediately promoted him to lead the unit.

The last two members of the regiment were metal (I guess I used up the other Mordheim models to make war machine crew) – a few extras from the Marksmen of Miragliano. The models are actually designed to carry crossbows, but either because they wouldn’t fit with the rest, or because I’d run out of metal crossbows, I had to improvise with their hands (the scale is not quite right, so these delicate lads have big sausage mitts) and stick plastic crossbows on their backpacks.

The musician is carrying a Goblin horn (cut down to a simpler hunting horn – if you notice where I put the mouthpiece, when he blows it, he will deafen his neighbour). The chap brandishing the sword was meant to be the unit leader (I usually like to have only the leaders with distinctive weapons), but that was not to be.

Empire crossbowmen
Sorry buddy, but if you looked like Lord Flashheart, you'd still be running this crew.

So there you have it. Crossbows are very Tilean, and I daresay they’ll come in useful (when they’re not jockeying with the Marksmen for inclusion). They’d have probably seen more action if they carried longbows, but hell, I’ve got Wood Elves for that.

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