Sunday, 6 April 2014

"We come from the land of the ice and snow" - Viking Hearthguard for Saga

We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!

On we sweep with threshing oar, Our only goal will be the western shore.
Led Zeppelin, "Immigrant Song"

Whilst I could scratch up a Viking force from existing figures I have, it wouldn't be terribly authentic, and anyway, where's the fun in that? Based on very favourable experience with them, I decided to build my Viking army as far as possible using Gripping Beast plastics. As all Saga-ites know, a warband consists of three types of troops, hearthguard, warriors and levy plus the warlord.

Two and a half points of Hearthguard

The Hearthguard are successful professional warriors, who would be expected to be well equipped, so these are all fully armoured and heavily armed, with sword, axe and spear, and dressed in (for the time) colourful clothing. Two units of hearthguard requires eight Viking figures, but in the first instance, I did a sprue-full.

First point...

A single sprue from the Viking Hirdmen box contains ten armoured bodies, all without heads. Some have the shield arm moulded in place, some are separate. This allows double-armed men to be built very easily. Each sprue gives you shields, fourteen heads, numerous spare arms and a slew of extra weapons to use where you like.

Second point...

The sculpting is as usual for GB - crisp and clean, with deep cut detail. Anatomy is good, and these are solid, strongly built men, reflecting their status (and hence access to the best grub!).

Moulding is good, in the usual hardish Renedra plastic. Mould seams are minimal and easily removed. In one or two places, there is evidence of some flash appearing - hope the moulds aren't wearing out!

Last few.

Assembly is easy, and all parts fit well, and allow for plenty of variation. I have to say that one or two of the poses you can come up with are not entirely convincing, so playing about and doing lots of dry runs (old modellers' term there!) before reaching for the glue is definitely worthwhile. Blu-tak is your friend in this.

These chaps get relatively brightly coloured clothing - reds, greens, yellows, even a bit of blue. The shades are slightly muted, since these were vegetable dyes, but certainly a bit more eyecatching than the usual variety of greyish browns and brownish greys! The clothing is further jazzed up with details on collars, cuffs and hems. Bright, contrasting colours work well here, and would appear to be historically correct.

Fighting to the last

The final step of course is shields. These are not the sort who are going to enter a fight with a plain white, black or grey battle-board. These need a variety of colourful backgrounds with bright, vibrant designs on top. Home-made decals were my solution, as freehanding the whole lot is a bit too much like hard work!

So, I now have two and a half points worth of troops. I'll do a couple more at some point and round out the hearthguard to three points. But next, some rank and file!
Closeup view - might be the last sight you ever have!

 Merry Meet Again!


  1. They look lovely.
    I have a box of Vikings I bought at Salute the day they were released.
    Maybe I should assemble them one day...


  2. A great band of warriors - fearsome and great shields.

  3. They look lovely! At first I thought the shields were freehand (which has been the solution for my Vikings and took me freaking long), but even if they are "just" decals... it takes craftsmanship to design those on the PC as well!

    1. I freehanded some of the designs on these and the Picts, and then converted them to decals,which is MUCH easier than freehanding them directly. You can work at a decent size then shrink to fit.

  4. They look fantastic! I recently bought some second-hand Vikings (mix of Gripping Beast plastic and metal), already painted but could use some touching up. Nice to get some inspiration to tackle the job. Led Zep is perfect background music to play to SAGA to :-)