Wednesday 1 February 2017

Operation Cowboy

I find the motorbikes in USAriadna deeply disappointing. Not physically, but conceptually so.

They might be great miniatures and the bikes definitely fit the anime asthetic but they just don't gel with the riders for me. When I think American wilderness and frontier towns I don't think of bikers, I think of cowboys. Do cowboys ride bikes? Not a chance. Bikes run of petrol (or gas, in USAriadna), can't easily traverse difficult terrain and can break down. What you want is a horse.

I man come on, just look at the concept art. Sure, fluff-wise the Ariadnans probably wouldn't initially have had horses, but I'll be damned if that will stop me. Plus given all the other 'American' tropes they've tried to fit into I can bet they'd have imported some as soon as they had a chance!

Wide brimmed hat, poncho, holstered pistol. Check, check and check.

Now obviously there aren't many animals sculpted by Corvus Belli and even those that exist are clearly alien in nature. There's also an issue with adapting third party alternatives because Infinity minis are a rather weird scale, being quite tall and slim. So I've been trying a few different things.

My test miniature in these cases is a converted Maverick. She's had her leg sliced up, bent into shape and crudely filled with greenstuff in order to get her into more of a 'riding' pose. This gives her a slightly longer legs than you'd typically expect, but she does the job.

Attempt 1: Historical Miniatures

My first attempt came from a set of three Napoleonic cavalry purchased at the last Salute I attended.

Whilst the rider actually sits quite neatly, it's just too small. The poor thing looks like a pony! This was borderline acceptable, but I wanted something a bit more 'powerful' looking. the casting quality wasn't great either and I had no way of making good use of the reins that looked suspended in mid air.

Unfortunately, historical animals just don't tend to come in the 32mm+ sizes that would be required for Infinity miniatures. I also tried Perry Miniatures horses but had much the same issue although the quality of their plastics is excellent!

Attempt 2: Black Scorpion Miniatures

So, historical minis were out and my next stop was searching specifically for 32mm horses. Step in Black Scorpion Miniatures' Tombstone range.

Unfortunately, they just weren't that much bigger and also lacked saddles. Most noticeably the legs just hung too far down the body and the horse looked quite slim. It was closer but not quite there.

I probably could have sculpted on some saddles and the casting was fairly decent, but it wasn't quite what I was after still.

Attempt 3: Games Workshop

My next step was to turn to Games Workshop. I had a brief attempt with their plastic cavalry horses but found that the miniatures were far too wide to fit an Infinity miniature atop. GW miniatures simply have too different proportions and they don't have a good range of unbarded mounts currently - barring their various sylvan options which have too much of a fantasy vibe.

At this point I was out of ideas for horses, but wanted to try an alternative...

Just let that picture sink in for a moment. Gutier, if you see this then I apologise for the crime against the background of the game, but just look at it!

This bad-boy is from the Space Wolf Thunderwolf Cavalry kit - sufficient to make three rather large wolves. The only downside is that some amount of cybernetic components are mandatory when building the kits so a little bit of greenstuffing is required if you want a more a natural look.

The mounts certainly are big enough but now I had the opposite problem in that they have significant trouble fitting on a 55mm base. Even the ones where all the feet fit neatly have heads and tails which overextend significantly. Ultimately they look cool but are impractical - not to mention that they could fall afoul of proxy/conversion rules at official tournaments.

Still, I might make up one of my riders this way, just for giggles.

Attempt 4: Sculpting

When all else fails, do it yourself (or pay someone else to do it for you...). Step in Philip Hynes. I'd seen Philip's work on the Oldhammer miniature communities on Facebook and liked the look of the creatures he'd been working on so I approached him with the possibility of making up a couple of horses for me in an appropriate scale. He was happy to take on the work and we finalised the details a couple of weeks ago.

The first WIP pictures have now arrived.

Obviously there is a lot of work left to go (such as saddles or a head!) but I have high hopes for this project. The plan is to have two sculpts made and then have additional casts of both with Rob Alderman of Hysterical Games doing the moulding/casting process. Philip has a full set of Mavericks and Desperadoes to compare scale with so hopefully we should get a fairly good fit

In the long run, I'm hoping to take a bike-heavy USAriadna list to tournaments this year, including the Interplanetary hopefully. Try not to overthink the issue with silhouette sizes though.

What do you all think? Do you like the look of these alternative mounts, or is it all just horses for courses?


  1. Looks great mate, I wish I had the skill and patience to sculpt. Keep up the good work! :D

    1. Me too! That's why I had to rope in someone with the talent to do it for me. I can fill gaps and make some simple details - straps, furs etc. - but that's about it. :)

  2. I think it's a great idea! I enjoyed the journey with you. Loved the wolf....