Saturday, August 7, 2010


A Journey to the West (aka Pilgrimage to the West) is one of the Four Great Novels of classical Chinese literature. The novel describes the adventures of the Monkey King, Sun Wukong, and the monk Xuanzang's pilgrimage to India in search of original Buddhist sutras.

The story and characters are well known in Asia, so it is no surprise that Caesar has produced a limited run set of figures representing the main characters in the story.

There are two sets of figures, which differ only in the Sun Wukong figure provided. The first set (P001) consists of Sun Wukong wearing a circlet (after he has joined the pilgrimage), Xuanzang, Zhu Bajie, and Sha Wujing. Zhu Bajie, and Sha Wujing are two part figures with a separate right arm that plugs into the body.

Images of painted figures from Bryan at Always Model

The second set (P002) has Sun Wukong in his guise as the Great Sage Equal of Heaven wearing a phoenix feather cap, but the other three figures are the same as in the first set.

Images of painted figures from Bryan at Always Model

The figures are nice representations of the characters in the story, though Sun Wukong seems to be modeled a little more on the movie/TV version of the character, since his features are more human than monkey-like.

I end with a comparison between the Male Loresong Faen (Iron Wind Metals 67-003) from the IWM Arcana Unearthed line of miniatures with the Caesar Sun Wukong figures. When I first saw the Faen figure with the staff, circlet, and sideburns, the first thing that popped into my mind was that it was the Monkey King. I was originally going to do a conversion of this figure to make Sun Wukong, but I'll reconsider that project now that I have the new Caesar figures.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kingdom of the Dwarfs

The characteristics of mythological dwarves are often mixed with those of other mythological races such as elves and trolls. In Norse mythology, the beings called svartálfar (dark elves) are essentially dwarves. They live underground, fashion cunning artifacts, and are generally avaricious. They also bear a resemblance to trolls in that they turn to stone when exposed to sunlight.

Even their size can vary, with ancient images depicting dwarves being the same size as humans. In general though, modern fantasy has set the height of dwarves between 3-4 feet in height. This allows some lines of 15mm dwarves to be used with 1/72 scale figures. Described below, are examples of the various types of dwarves that I currently own.

The first group consists of five plastic dwarves from Caesar, and one from the Age of Mythology game by Eagle Games. The Caesar dwarves are just a tad too tall for my tastes, but they could be used as the taller race of mountain dwarves.

The next set of six images cover the The Shadow Corp/Blood Dawn dwarves sculpted by Rene Perez. They are solid and bulky without being too tall. Of all the dwarves in this entry, I think these are my favorite sculpts.

The next pair of images are of 18mm dwarves from Eureka. They match up very well with the Shadow Corp dwarves, though they seem a bit stiff in comparison.

The next four images are of 15mm dwarves from Black Raven Foundry. These dwarves are are smaller than the Shadow Corp and Eureka dwarves, and much lighter in build, though the height difference is not quite as apparent due to the thickness of their bases.

The next pair of images are of the dwarves produced by East Riding Miniatures. These are true 15mm dwarves with a nice stocky build.

The next images are of dwarven crossbowmen from the Warlords line produced by Grenadier. The bases on these miniatures are very small and uneven so that the figures tend to tip over at the drop of a feather.

Comparison of dwarves blowing horns: Shadow Corp, Eureka x 2, and ERM.

Comparison of dwarven sorcerers: Shadow Corp x 2, and Eureka x 2.

Comparison of dwarven arquebusiers: Caesar, and Shadow Corp x 2.

Comparison of dwarven crossbowmen: Caesar, Shadow Corp, Eureka, Grenadier Warlords, Alternative Armies HOT, and SLM.

Comparison of dwarven axemen: Caesar, Shadow Corp, Eureka, Eagle Games, and SLM. These are the best dwarves for use in 1/72 fantasy. The Caesar dwarves are somewhat too tall for me, and I'm not a big fan of the SLM dwarves sculpted by Bob Olley due to their over-sized heads, but others may have a different opinion.

Comparison of smaller dwarven axemen: BRF, Alternative Armies HOT, Mongoose/Rebel, Alternative Armies TTF, ERM, SLM x 2, and Tin Soldier (I think). These dwarves are either too small, or too slender for me. One possibility is to use them as gnomes instead.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Do you like movies about gladiators?

Well, I'm back from a great vacation in Europe, and thought I'd share some photos from the Gladiatores exhibit that is currently on display at the Colosseum. I'll have to apologise for the pictures beforehand, since there is a lot of glare from the morning light reflecting off of the exhibit display cases.

The armor is part of a collection belonging to Silvano Mattesini, an architect and historian who has commissioned various craftsmen to create reproduction armor and clothing based on his original research. I was only able to find a reference to one of his books, Le Legioni Romane, which has a preview on Google Books.