3 Points of Mongol Hearthguard (12 figures): Gripping Beast Mongol Heavy Cavalry
For anyone who may have noticed, it has been nearly a month since my last post. August doldrums aside, this is in part because I have been engaged with painting my Saga Mongol Hearthguard contingent. This was a big departure from my norm, being my first multi-figure foray into medievals, with all that this entailed (unfamiliar painting techniques for body armor, horse barding, and whatnot; my first experience with shield transfers--complicated by domed shields--and non-standard uniform and kit). One month, basically, to complete 12 figures--I always said I was a slow painter!
When getting started, I found that there were few examples of painted Gripping Beast Mongols on the interwebs to help inform my approach (aside from those in the Gripping Beast catalog,which I will comment on later in this post). It would seem that there aren't alot of Mongols out there in the Saga-sphere. Thus, I hope that this study will be of interest to anyone curious about Saga Mongols or who may be embarking on these figs. As usual, in this post, you may clix pix for BIG PIX...
Mongol Guard In War Mask from the Netflix Marco Polo Series
Inspired by both sources and the war masked Mongol guards in the Marco Polo Netflix series, I made sure that my Hearthguard included a healthy contingent of these intimidating fellows.
I also took a crack at some lacquered/colored armor (red and blue), as well as a figure in blackened armor. There were lots of options for adding color and delivering variety when it came to handling the horse barding.
Although there was great variety among the figures, where I did have doubles (above), I varied the color schemes, weapons, and shield options between the figures. The hand-painted shield in the upper right picture is based on an example found in an exhibition on Mongol arms and armor (found online). In the case of the pair in the lower picture, I modified the second figure by taking off the standing plume and adding a horsehair mane (out of green stuff). I added horsehair manes to several other helmets that didn't have them as well (I wanted my Mongols to have horsehair manes--black, of course!).
This is another minor modification. I used the leader in the Gripping Beast High Command set (pictured at the top--with the triple plume) and substituted a horsehair mane out of green stuff for the standing plumes: opinions may differ, but I think this fellow looks much more intimidating and business-like in this headgear. I also did the horse barding in alternating lines of gold and steel. The warmask is black with highlights of brass and gold, rendering an impressively dark visage for this fellow, I think.
The saddle blankets, quivers, and the bow holsters provided options for adding color as well.
I think the illustrations of the Gripping Beast figures in the online catalog, although professionally painted to a standard I could never approach, make the figures appear more stiff and cartoon like than they actually are. By way of illustration, here are two of my favorite sculpts from among the sets I received: very different than the impression the sample images render. The figure on the left is actually from the Timurid command set (I added the horsehair mane to this one as well: it comes with a naked spiked helmet).
You gotta love any historical weapon set that has a warhammer shaped like a hand holding a spike--don't mess with the Mongols!
One criticism I have is that the hand position is unsuited to the lance or mounted spear. Thus, I dumped the idea of using those weapons and instead went with an unconventional look of mainly axes, maces, and warhammers--with a few swords tossed in.
The new Hearthguard divided into two six figure units as it might appear on the Saga table along with my recently completed Warlord and War Drummer. Next step will be to get some practice with them ahead of our Saga Game Day.