Don't be afraid, we'll turn this into a Warhammer thing and look at these models strictly from a Warhammerer's point of view. I promise.
Warlord Games' Pike&Shotte range always tempted me for various reasons. If I'm not busy painting Space Marines or playing with Space Orks or Dark Elves I do enjoy the occasional historical wargame (just like I enjoy playing other Sci-Fi/Fantasy stuff as well). However, I can't see myself collecting a whole 17th century army or two in 28mm scale (Warhammer size) , mostly for lack of space (10mm scale on the other hand though... ;-) ). However, if you're interested in an Empire army for Warhammer Fantasy Battles, these are highly interesting of course. Dirt cheap plastics, high production quality by the looks of it. So mostly I was curious and I've got this lingering plan of an early 17th century themed Empire army.
That was all I needed for getting this box. So let's dig into it.
Very pretty artwork, probably by one of the prolific Osprey Publishing house artists. We got a Warlord games logo, the Pike&Shotte logo, the name of the formation and what you get ('18 multi-pose, hard plastic and metal Firelock Musketeers').
The back of the box has some historical information on Firelock musketeers, a picture of the whole unit assembled and painted as well as a list of the box contents.
In the box we got 16 single one-man sprues of firelock musketeers, a sprue of flat Renedra bases, and two full metal models for a drummer and a Captain. Haven't seen that kind of sprue in a while. Immediately 2nd edition 40k and 4th edition WHFB starter boxes come to mind.
16 times the same monopose body, each sprue comes with two pairs of arms and hats for some variety.
The models also come with oval "bases" cast onto the feet of the models. I'm not hugely into those to be honest but if you absolutely have no patience I guess they come handy when glueing the fellas to their bases. ;-) Otherwise you can either just glue them to the bases as is and smoothen out the bumpy edges with milliput or green stuff or just throw your basing grit and grass onto them. Nobody will notice, especially in a larger armies.
The casting quality is very good of course (cast by Renedra) although I have to say that the fit of the arms and the torsos could be better. Mould lines are present but no worse than what we're used to from GW models.
One thing I really like about this kit (and from what I heard, that's the fact on all the plastic Pike&Shotte kits) is that the hats are seperate pieces. This of course also helps a lot with "warhammerizing" the models by using hats or helmets from GW empire sets. Be careful about head swaps though. The heads are a bit hard to fully remove as the longer hair connected with the shoulders and some heads from GW boxes may end up looking too big but we'll get into that later.
What disappointed me is the total lack of beards though.
If you're familiar with things like the Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors and many other plastic kits by several UK companies you will have seen this kind of sprue.
If I was gaming with miniatures on these bases I think that I would cut down some of them to get something like two models per base. But that's the beauty, you either get to use the many multi-model bases or just cut them apart or indeed glue them together.
In the picture I already had cut out some bases (six single 20mm square bases, a longer 80 by 20mm one and a 40 by 20mm one).
I really like the elaborate downside on these bases with the tiny nubs. In most cases though people will just use regular 20mm diameter square bases. You can buy those seperately from GW or from several other manufacturers.
Warlord Games' metal models (glued to bases in this pictue) are a bit hit and miss at times. The captain and drummer in this set though look beautiful. Captain has a very dynamic charging pose, partizan lowered, shouting. The drummer looks likewise, aiming a pistol forward.
Now here's a thing I like about Warlord Games' boxes: There's a little sheet in there too with further historical background, some painted examples and more background info and pictures. Not really necessary for our purposes, but I think it's a rather nice add-on in general.
Here's a selection of models from the box built and semi-based. I put them on round high bases (not included in the box) because I have sinister plans with them (skirmish-y things. These will double as huntsmen in my potential future empire army so round bases won't hurt them as much. Mostly though, round bases was what I had lying around.) These are just eight so one short of half of the total box contents. One tip I only noticed when I started painting them - don't glue the hats on before painting. Leave them off, paint and glue them on in the end. Makes your life much easier. ;-)
I also filled the gaps at where arms and torsos meet with putty. This is just a must and you'll be happy you invested the extra time when you paint them.
If you plan to use those in your Warhammer Empire army - they may look a bit 'late' for Warhammer Empire army but it's not too bad. All you need to add is some Warhammer-y square bases and there you go. I was curious, so I made some mock-up kitbash things just to see how some random Warhammer empire bits fit:
The hat is taken straight from the Greatswords sprue, arms with greatsword are from the State Troops champion, pointing arm is from the Greatswords sprue and box arm is from the Huntsmen box. As you can see, the GW bits are a nudge too large but can be overlooked due to wide sleeves. I would say that you can use bitz from the newer boxes without problems. When it comes to the Militia box or the general box I'd be cautious. Overall, good fit as Warlord Games' models are quite on the "heroic" end of 28mm scale.
Here's the obligatory size comparison shot:
From left to right: Wargames Factory's Apocalypse Survivor, Warlord Games Firelock musketeer, Games Workshop imperial musketeer, Warlord Games Firelock Storming Party Captain, Gripping Beast Anglo-Saxon Thegn.
In terms of size - it's pretty much the same. Warlord Games' models certainly lean towards the 'heroic' 28mm scale, albeit not quiteas much as GW's models. Still, they're rather buff compared to 'true' 28mm scale. This is why I think that they fit really well into an Empire army.
Picture: (c)Warlord Games, 2013
So what's the overall verdict? For the price of £12.00 (price from Warlord Games website, Sep. 2013) you get 16 plastic and two metal figures. That's 75p per model plus 2 metal models on top for free. They rank up nicely too.
So if you're looking to add something to your Empire (or indeed Dogs of War) army - this is an inexpensive addition to your collection. The parts are 100% compatible with other models from the Pike&Shotte range and I would definately suggest trying to mix and match a little if you have some other models from that range because the fact that the plastics are eighteen times the same model does show. Adding beards helps though and it's not all that hard to do. They go well with most GW Empire bitz. There are no skulls on them or much in the way of pious parchment but as we all know, there is enough extra stuff on all Empire sprues to turn them to Sigmar (or Morr, if you swing that way) rather easily. The weapons are a little smaller than on GW models (this shows on the drummer's pistol especially) but it's not a big deal. If you want a standard bearer on your unit of musketeers it's not too hard to convert one of the arm pairs who hold the musket up to hold a flagpole instead.
This concludes my review. I hope that you found it interesting and maybe you got a bit interested in this rather inexpensive, yet very pretty looking alternative.
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