Years back I bought loads of ex-Citadel Wargames Foundry Normans and Vikings, with the intention of converting them as Men of Rohan to go alongside my 1980s Citadel Lord of the Rings. The project never materialised. Years later, I’ve dredged up the figures to make a historical Norman force.
The figure’s spear was replaced with a length of brass wire topped with a plastic spear point (which I later switched for a Goff Ork helmet spike). The banner is tomato purée foil cut to shape with a scalpel. To move the figure slightly away from the Viking look, he’s got a Norman kite shield. I later decided to Normanise the figure a little more by sculpting a t-bar onto his helmet. He still has the long hair and trousers that give him a hint of Scandanavia, plus I plumped for a Nordic dragon motif on his shield.
The design and colours are lifted wholesale from a Little Big Men Studios banner (sorry guys, but I’ve bought a load of your Legio X transfers recently so you’ve had some cash off me). The design seems to be a variation on William the Conqueror’s banner, so I’m unsure if they borrowed it too. The design also pops up in Nico’s fabulous Norman army, which has inspired a lot of my own collection.
I had fun researching the shield designs – Normans give you licence to paint everyone as an individual with their own proto-heraldry and colours. The unit champion, Lord Weuere de Hallam, has a pair of entwined griffons on his shield – a variation on the family crest. Here you can also see the mud and blood splats applied liberally on the unit to distract from any irregularities in the sculpting, casting and painting.
The force has had several Saga outings, and I hope to grow it to a fully-painted 6-point force as soon as I can figure out how to paint horses. Can’t have Normans without lots of horses. I do deeply fantasise about having hundreds of troops for Warhammer 3–8E outings, but that’s at least several years off at my current painting rate.
I entered the all Normans I’d finished as of April into the Salute 2017 painting contest. Normally I paint miniatures specially for the contest (like these Algoryn last year), but I just took all the figures I’d got finished from my Saga force and blu-tacked them to a piece of plasticard. To my utter surprise and delight, I won Gold in the Historical Regiment category! I thought with them being painted to be “gaming standard” and also released in 1987 they’d be outclassed by regiments of newly-released plastics painted in NMM. Those Perry sculpts still got it.
I originally mixed together unarmoured archers with armoured sergeants as they were simply all the figures I had finished painting from across my Saga force, and I wanted the biggest mass of troops I could manage. It made me uneasy blending different troop types in the same regiment, but my friend Rob reminded me that was the Warhammer mindset speaking – only able to conceive of rectangles of identically-armed troops. In real life, Dark Age warfare was just a jumbled scrap of dudes with assortments of kit. Reading up on the period I discovered that King Stephen had used the tactic of mixing together archers and dismounted knights at the Battle of Standard Hill in 1138, so what was initially a bulking-out cheat turned out to have good historical grounding.