Jan 25, 2013

The shape of shields to come

Who could these shields belong to?
Dorbina Nikititch is on his way to arrive quite soon, here in Nowhere. Meanwhile I thought I could share a little preview of what's coming next, as an interlude. So here we have fourteen freehand painted shields, to be soon glued to the arms of their bearers, knights of renouns and songs.

Indeed this is the start of a new SAGA warband (or should I say Ost in this case), which is intended to be played with the Norman or the Frank Capetian battleboard. I shall try both and see what suits the best.

Yet, despite the almond shape of those shields, this is not going to be a warband of Normans, nor is it going to be a genuine Capetian army, since it is not meant to represent knights from the area of Paris.

Now, my wargamer friend John did reveal a few days ago what is new SAGA warband will consist of, and of course, since it is designed to face my own, it gives some intelligence of who the hell those shields will belong to.

So, there will be a complete presentation of them as soon as I'll be posting pictures of the first point of army. In the meantime, if someone would want to take a guess, here are a few leads. There is noting to win, so there is nothing to loose...

- First: Note that I delibarately avoided to use green color, to leave it to the saracens.

- Second: During the last third of the XIth century, these knights would have been seen fighting on battlefields stretching from Spain to Palestine.

- Third: Medieval accounts often tell they were rather known for their skills at pillaging and looting than for their fighting spirit.

- Fourth: Although assimilited to the Frank dominion, they would speak a different langage at that time.

- Fifth: If you know about nowadays french provincial heraldry, one shield clearly points out their area of origin.

- Sixth: If you are a usual reader of this blog, I am positive I have already give the answer.

Jan 19, 2013

Alyosha Popovich, a very russian hero

Today I'd like to present you Alyosha Popovich, the second horseman in the serie of the Bogatyrs, an other charismatic russian hero, who fought for the Tsar of Kiev. As with Ilya Mouromets, Alyosha is taken from the painting The Bogatyrs by Viktor Vasnetsov. Again the figure is from Plastic Miniatures company, and the design is just top notch, the figure was really clean and needed but very few preparation. The horse has been painted using GW paints for the robe and hairs, since their Bestial Brown remains one of my favorite color, and Army Painter for the saddle and buckles.

There is not so much to say about Alyosha than there was about Ilya. Mainly because, I believe the character of Ilya Mouromets slowly agglomerated the deeds of others around his rather archetypal person,in the oral tradition of tales and bylines. Alyosha Popovich, as his name indicates, was the son of Leonce the Pope. He was so strong when he was young, that when he played with other kids, he would often dismembered them by snatching an arm or a leg. One might think he really had trouble to make friend at school, but the tales indicate that it was only when he would separate a body in two pieces by the middle, that he would got into trouble, because then, his young friend would die...

Fortunately, when he became a grown up, he was presented with some chap almost as strong as him, and they became friend without an injure. Thus accompanied by Marishko Paranovich, he decided to enter the service of Prince Vladimir of Kiev. In fact, as he reach the court, his strong arm proved promptly useful when the dragon Tugarin Zmeyevich came, threaten the city, insulted the Prince and claimed his crown. A dragon as his name Zmey suggests (i.e. russian word for dragon) or simply an infidel prince son of the tribe of the dragon (or the tribe of the snake), as there could have been among the Polovets steps riders during the XIth century.

Wherever he came from, the dragon acted so crudely with the Tsar, that Alyosha took the opportunity to show his bravery and challenged him for a duel. Alyosha compared Tugarin to a cow that his father the Pope Leonce once had. The beast was so greedy that one day, she drunk a whole lake to the bottom, and eventually exploded! Then he prophesied that such outcome would happen to the dragon if he would not stop claiming a realm that wasn't his. Of course Tugarin the dragon took it bad and threw a dagger at Alyosha. And Alyosha to say: "Thank you mighty Tugarin for this dagger you give me! By it, I shall cleave your pale chest and bare your bitting heart!"

I think, he really meant so... Because, the day after, Alyosha eventually killed the so called dragon in the meadow right outside the walls of Kiev. Now, don't think it was that easy. The creature Tugarin was so evil, that Alyosha had to pray for the help of God. Alyosha may have been a really faithful knight, for God did show up this day under the disguise of an heavy rain. Well rain doesn't kill dragon, but since Tugarin's wings were of paper and coton, they became wet, and the monster could not flight and threat Alyosha from the sky anymore. Then, I understand it was as easy for Alyosha to cleave Tugarin's heart out of his chest, than it was to snatch a leg from an infant back in the good old days.

To be honest, I don't really understand what the paper wings symbolise, maybe the weaker faith of a pagan barbarian, but Alyosha surely did a great job by kicking this nasty vilain out of Kiev. For that my friend Alyosha you have indeed deserved your seat next to Ilya and an extra effort to paint your shield. I kind of think it looks a little overdown now, compare to Ilya's, but hell! I like it! Hope you enjoy it two! Next will be the last of the three Bogatyrs: Dobryna Nikititich...

Alyosha has granted me 10 more points in Curt's Analogue Hobbies painting challenge, and I am still the slower painter of this challenge. To give you an idea some of the contestants have already more than 1000 pts. Me, 21 pts!

Jan 8, 2013

Ilya Mouromets, onward to a new year

Happy new year 2013 to anyone who dare reading this entry. I am back from a two weeks vacation to the land of my ancestors. I haven't touch a brush nor a paint pot during the time and I am just starting to pull things back together for a new year of wargaming and painting. Well, I'd better hurry because the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is already in its third week and I have this feeling that it will take me a few days to be back at full painting speed.

Nevertheless, I wanted to begin 2013 voluntarily, reason why I have picked the character of Ilya Mouromets for this first entry of the year. The way he is staring at the horizon tells enough his determination to overcome any hazardous situation. A state of mind I wish to make mine.

Ilya Mouromets is a prominent character of russian folk stories, if not the most characterful hero Mother Russia ever infanted (although some would argue it is Vladimir Puttin... Well, I leave this thought to everyone's self appreciation). One can tell from the rough of his beard and the round of his baly that he someone personifies the very soul of his rather intriguing country of birth.

Now, Ilya took his time to become a legend. Who wouldn't with both legs paralized until the age of thirty. Some tells that the long desired son of two peasants of the area of Mourom, miraculously recovered from his affliction and was suddenly gifted with a prodigious strength. Some other believes, that it is when he reached the aged of eight-teen, that he helped a beggar to quensh his thirst and was then rewarded with unequal strength.

Of course such tremendous strengh would be waisted in the daily work of an humble farm. So the beloved parents treated him with a lance and a mount, and Ilya decided to travel to Kiev and make his most powerful arm an instrument of the faith, in the hand of the Tsar. To be honest, some other tells that the Tsar of Kiev ordered him to come, but who really cares? The important is that on his way to Kiev, Ilya freed with his sole spear the city of Tchernigov from a siege by the unpious tartars of the East. And that he could bring peace back to the whole country by expelling a group of scoundrels that had been plundering the place for too long. Had he reach Kiev, he won the trust of the Tsar by capturing a strange creature named Nightingale, whose whistling was loud enough to kill a man and was thus cursing the depth of the forest.

Yet, some other tells that this was only the first task of a larger quest he had to complete in order to win the heart of a beauty. A beauty of unequalled beauty of course, who was leaving in a far far far away realm, and was harassed every night by a dragon with nothing less than twelve heads. We would probably call it sexual abuse nowadays... What so ever, Ilya went to rescue the beauty. At the crossroads, he choosed the path of death and had to survive the cunning of Baba Yaga the witch and her sister. Only after that, could he chopped the twelve heads of the perverted dragon and put an end to his scandalous behaviour by crushing the last head. As he came back to Kiev, Ilya found the court subdued by a giant who had a head the size of a beer cauldron and answered the name Idol. Idol could devour a bull to the bones, but Ilya kicked him out of the palace by simply raising a single hand.

Ilya Mouromets as Viktor Vasnetsov painted
him in his masterpiece The Bogatyrs.
Well Ilya, with such a pedigree you really deserved a figure that would fit your prowesses. Let's admit that manufacturer Plastic Miniatures did it quite fine. The pause is actually taken from a canvas by Viktor Vasnetsov, so to stick with the legendary atmosphere, I went with an interpretation of the colours seen on the painting. This work has grant me 11 pts for the Painting Challenge and the last seat in the competition, more details can be found on Curt's Analogue Hobbies.