|Byzantine Kataphractoi cavalry in 28mm - castings from Gripping Beast|
This is a unit of Byzantine Kataphractoi heavy cavalry (like, really heavy) in 28mm. There are 16 models in the unit, all from Gripping Beast. The shield decals and banner are from LBMS. What is the personal significance? As I said, it's silly, so I hope you will laugh at me, or maybe with me! Allow me to elaborate...but I apologize in advance for a lengthy post. Feel free to skip and go back whatever Dallas recently posted - it will be cool AND more to the point.
|View of the full unit - 16 models, in two ranks of eight models each - two models per base, on 50mm square bases|
I think we all have a gaming period or setting we wish we could/would try, but just can't seem to get to, for whatever reason. Often those reasons are practical - after all, it's a hobby, time is limited, real life gets in the way etc. The subjects are too complex (anything Samurai) or nobody has sculpted the figures you need (Patagonian Tree Lizards with AK-47s in 15mm - where's the Kickstarter for that?)
But sometimes it's all in your friggin' head - and so it has been with my head and the idea of collecting and painting a force of Byzantines.
|Unit command figure and standard bearer..I tried to pimp the ride for the commander a bit, as he would be fairly high ranking and/or bad-ass (or both) to lead a group like this in the Byzantine military|
|Long spears - kontarion (I think) - and note the maces hitched to their belts for "follow up" work...|
|Archers were integral parts of the Kataprhactoi formations|
|Much less armoured than the fellows up front, but those horses still say "we're ready for real trouble" and they have some barding to back it up...|
And painting stuff that looks cool is a primary motivator of the wargaming hobby/affliction, right??
|Musician is the only one with his face exposed...can't blow that horn through the chain mail!|
|Kontarion lowered for action at the front rank, while a fellow rider brandishes a siderorabdion in preparation to whack someone who really has it coming...|
Why the hang up? Well, the reasons are pointlessly complicated and really only valid in my own rat-maze brain. You might say they are a touch...Byzantine.
|The shield decals and banner are from LBMS. I can confidently report that I hope this will be the only LBMS banner I will ever fiddle with again, but as always the shield decals are top-shelf...|
Fast forward to Painting Challenge VII in 2016-17, and MartinN's submission of many beautiful Roman figures, in particular his "West" Theme entry that year of Roman heavy cavalry. Not only was his brushwork incredible (no surprise there, of course!) but it immediately brought to mind the Byzantine Kataphractoi I have obsessed about for years. So exotic, menacing, devastating and cool looking, they echo the Persian clibinarii of ancient times. Nick's submission brought all of my interest in Byzantines right back! I resolved the day I saw that post to finally get off my @ss and get painting some Byzantines.
Yet even with that resolve, it took a lot of time to get going...lining up the figures, the banners, some shield decals etc...and the many other projects and passions like 30k, Team Yankee and other things popping up of course devoured brush time, energy and passion...but finally, finally, FINALLY...my first unit Byzantine in now completed! These heavy duty bad-boys are COVERED head-to-toe in armour, and so are their poor horses. It all looks a bit alien and a bit familiar all at once. The chain-mail face covering in particular seems like a 7th century version of NBC gear. If you see people wearing the stuff, it projects extreme authority, order and power, without any actual reassurance those things might normally confer - their mere presence indicates your immediate surroundings are likely in some manner of dire peril...
Kataprhactoi would have been the central core of a Byzantine force, probably from the mid 7th century through to the 11th century (and maybe later?), particularly in the eastern theatres. I'm not sure these chaps would be much use tramping through the mountains in pursuit of Bulgars. But kicking ass in the middle east? Oh yes. Bring. It. On.
|Kontarion lowered to sort out some contrarian issues of the Byzantine era...|
The overall formation would charge to contact, skewer their opponents with the long spears and fill them with arrows. Meanwhile, up front, the maces came out for smashing purposes, and once the enemy wavered and broke, the whole group would ride them down and smash them to particles under the hooves of the heavily armoured horses, with further mace-and-sword-work applied on an as-needed basis. Thanks for coming out...
|Another view of the command group, backed up by the mounted archers|
For colours I
|Another profile view...this post is so long and boring, at least I'm trying to compensate with a bunch of photos...|
The castings from Gripping Beast were not the easiest to work with in terms of assembly ("fit" to the horse was not well-achieved), but they are so fun to paint! The shield decals were OK to work with. As for the banner, I loved the graphics, but in terms of process I would rather get a root canal than use LBMS stuff for another banner. It would be so much better if it was just printed out on nice paper, instead of the runaround of sticking it to paper, then cutting that out etc. But overall I'm thrilled to have these fellows finished! As they sit on the shelf, I will imagine them riding down at the forefront of some assault as part of Nikephoras Phokas' run of re-conquests in the 10th century while I prepare to add further units to this collection down the road.
|One more photo of the whole lot for kicks|
If you have read this far and are not yet asleep, I salute you - you have great patience, a heroic attention span, or possibly a procrastination problem. Maybe a blend of all three! With 16 mounted castings, this notched another 160 points toward my 1,000-point painting goal.