|Photo of the box label|
My usual FLGS has a big sale about this time of the year, basically to do inventory reduction, and they tend to offer pretty deep discounts on merchandise that has not been - shall we say? - 'a hot seller'. Normally, I stay away from the big shopping sprees because I don't like big and noisy crowds, but Fifth Daughter wanted to stop in and puck up her weekly ration of comic books. I browsed the back corners and the darker areas of the shelves, and came across two old boxes of plastic figures.
These are Wargames Factory 'Numidians', and are (I presume) no longer in production due to the excessively troubled history of the company. I tend to shy away from their products, firstly because I din't have any use for the vast majority of their product line, and secondly because the quality of their figures varies pretty wildly. I'd already gotten the very nice Victrix 'Numidians', so I wasn't all that willing to take a chance on these - unless the holiday sale discount could weaken my resolve, I wasn't going to get these.
I asked one of the store's people if I could neak a peek at what was in the box, and I would up grabbing both boxes on the spot. (Something like 56 figures, across both boxes.) Two things sold me on these: the castings actually looked pretty good - unlike the 'Republican Romans' from the same company, these had nice and crisp details - and the figures are a guy in a tunic. With a choice of arms, all with open hands.
Let me repeat that. A guy in a tunic, with open hands.
All of the weapons and accessories included in the box - and you get a heap of them, too! - are on separate sprues. So, these figures can be used for literally anything that I need for my games. Artillery crews, light infantry, palanquin bearers, townspeople, merchants, servants, family retainers, and that guy who pushes a broom around the hallways of the temple complex.
Here are some reviews, if you like:
I should also mention that there aer enough spare arms in this set to fix the Republcan Romans set that the store was nice enough to sell me after we found out that none of the right arm sprues had been packed in that set; so, these sets are even more useful, as far as I'm concerned. (The WF Romans are still 'mushy', in terms of their detail, but this is going to be better then just tossing them in the trash.)
Back in the day, both Phil and I used to go through piles and piles of John McEwan's very handy generic male and female figures; we were using them for all sorts of things like galley rowers, moving crews, and the like. (I went through fifty of them doing the rowers for the little dispatch galley I made for Phil out of a Heller kit, back in about 1982.) I love to get figures like this; most miniatures companies tend to shy away from them, as these kinds of figures don't have any real use in 'classically serious' wargames - you usually don't need a dozen Ancient Egyptian trumpet-blowers and fan-bearers on the game table, unless (like me) tou like doing parties at the palace or the triumphal entry of the player-characters after their latest victory. (See also Verdi's "Aida".)
As I've noted in these pages, you can get these sorts of figures from Mike Burns at Dark Fable, and Howard Fielding's Tekumel Project also has figures that do very nicely for my kind of games - priests and priestesses, for starters. You can also find useful figures in the Crocodile Games ranges; Foundry also used to have a lot of miniatures like this in their historical ranges, but I don't know if any of them are still available. I have a batch of treasured 'Macedonian Characters', which are guys in tunics with straw hats:
These lads have been in a great many games, mostly as those much-put-upon-fishermen who are always being 'persuaded' by the players to take them someplace in their boats. Foundry figures are hard - if not impossible - to get locally, so mail-order is probably the only way to go if you're in the US. Ral Partha also used to have a lot of these sorts of figures in their historical lines; I have a batch of trumpeters and fan-bearer for those 'sword and sandal' epics I love to put on. And, they are still available, too:
Miniatures like all of these are inspirations for adventures; both Phil and I used to come up with scenarios for wargames and adventures for RPGs based on some miniature we'd found in some obscure corner of the hobby - and I still find that kind of inspiration, as with these unexpected treasures from the back of the shelf...