I’ve not had a lot of time to work on troops over the past few weeks, so it was with great relief that I finally managed to complete the archer element of my unit of levies for my Saga Northanhymbre warband.
My 12 levies will be composed of 5 archers, 5 slingers, one commander and a musician. Having decided a couple of years ago that I didn’t really want to paint metal figures anymore, I was just about to give up searching for suitable plastic figures and buy metal archers, probably from Black Tree Design, when I bizarrely decided to have a go at converting some of the figures from the Gripping Beast Dark Age warriors set! A few weeks of hacking, chopping and drilling has resulted in five archers eagerly recruited into the ranks of the dirty dozen levies.
All in all, it was mostly quite good fun, although I did have one bow snap in two when I tried to string it. As you can see from my pictures, none of the archers are firing their bows, but I think they look as though they could be busy milling about the battlefield, looking for an opportunity to loose off a shot or two at some unsuspecting Norman invader. Of course, I doubt that my amateur converts will be able to put up much resistance to those Norman crossbowmen, but they might just score a lucky hit or two.
I experimented with different bows and ended up with a mixture of actual metal bows, mostly supplied by Saga Forum group member ‘Whippety John’, who very kindly sent me a load of archery related bits and bobs in the post, and others, which are old Gripping Beast spears, cut and bent into shape. These did become a little delicate with all the bending and shaping, so if you decide to have a go yourself, try to work them as little as possible.
At some point, it was suggested that I had someone carrying spares and supplies to the rest of the archers... Well, you could say that that is what is going on here!
Arrows came exclusively from my Wars of the Roses figures. They are probably a bit on the long side, but I think they look good enough now that they are stuck on and painted. I reckon that Anglo-Saxon archers probably didn’t have a great deal of specific equipment for their trade, so sticking a quiver’s worth of arrows through a belt would have been a common enough method of carrying them. This was simple enough to replicate, by gluing the arrows near the belt and adding a little green stuff to create a strap to hold them in place.
As an alternative to this, I noticed a picture of some skirmishers training in the Osprey Anglo-Saxon Warrior book. One of the archers has a long thin quiver fastened to his belt and I managed to create something which looked pretty similar, by using a small piece of cocktail stick, filed round at one end and having the feathery end of some more of those ubiquitous Gripping Beast Wars of the Roses arrows stuck on the opposite end of the quiver. In retrospect, I wish I’d thought of this earlier, because I really like the look of the quiver fastened to the archers belt.
Rear view of my favourite of the quintet... The quiver is a piece of cocktail stick rounded at one end and the top of a Wars of the Roses bundle of arrows stuck on the other end.
With only five figures to convert, I think this was a worthwhile task; I didn’t have to pay to buy yet more figures, which would have been metal anyway, and I now have some unique figures in my warband. If I’d had a unit of twenty-four archers to create, It would definitely have been a different story; way too fiddly and far too nerve shredding stringing those delicate bows!