The Normans flanked by Gripping Beast Vikings on the left and Wargames Factory Vikings on the right.
This article should be a short review and comparison of the Conquest Games plastic Normans knights. It's nice to see plastic figures, especially for the darkes ages period. So far we have Vikings from two manufacturers (See my comparison article for those), Saxons from two different manufacturers, and now Norman knights from Conquest Games.
These Norman figures are clearly based on the Normans at Hastings in 1066 when England was conquered. That being said, they could easily play the role of an earlier time, including early Norman, later Franks, and Bretons. This kit will basically allow you to field any dark-age horse unit in western Europe with a litte effort, or not! And even a good number of the horse units from Eastern Europe! If they wore chain mail ans road a horse, this set might fit the bill! It's that good!
The side view of the Normans charging into action!
Sculpting wise, these figures are very similar to your average 3-up sculpting scheme. They are nice with deep details that really remind you of the old GW plastics, add in a lot more variation of course. This is basically because they are actually sculpted, not simply drafted in autoCAD like the Wargames Factory and now Games Workshop stuff. Because of this I think that people in general will find them easier to cope with than the Wargames Factory stuff.
The shields are worth a mention as well. Each figure comes with a choice of shields: either round or kite. The round shields are the only ones that come with shield bosses. While this is fine since bosses one kite shields are only decorative, it's somewhat odd since many manufacturers make kite shields with and without bosses. The really cool thing here though is that you can use circular or round shields, which expands your use of these figures between realms and periods, as the earlier periods would have had the Franks using round shields, and in the East as well.
The other thing I wanted to mention was the mouth piece. Now there's a little square on the chest of these figures with a leather rim. This is typically understood to be the chain mail face covering in an unlaced state; it would be pulled up to cover the face and tied around the back of the head. With these figures the unlaced face covering is present on two bodies, but there aren't two heads without chain covering their face... Kinda funny, but no worse than other plastic figures that have a sword in the scabbard and in the hand... which coincidentally, these figures do as well!
Aside from that though, the figs are great. In all honesty, the period is a pretty easy one to nail down... A little chain, some solid metal helmetsm simple swords and a few shields and blammo! The figs are quite satisfactory.
Finally, the figures come in only two poses: arm up and arm down. There is a figure on the spru with no armour, but it's in the same pose. despite different arms available on the spru, both shield and weapons arms, there's not much you can do with the poses unless you get out a knife. One partcularly odd thing is the lack of a couched-lance pose. I understand that the famous tapestry doesn't really show any, and so now people are starting to believe that lances weren't used that way back then, but I'm still suprised. Aside from the couched lance, there really are only two poses for cavalry soldiers anyway... well, two plus being dead, and a dead figure is on the comman frame in the box!
For the most part, these figs are an excellent scale to fit in with pretty much everything... That is, everything historical. I didn't even bother to try to take scale shots of these with Warhammer and GameZone figures, because those are deliberately made to be giant and unrealisticly large.
Normans from Conquest Games charge a line of Vikings from Gripping Beast and Wargames Factory. As you an see here, the vikings match pretty much perfectly in scale to the Conquest Normans.
Okay, so the plastics scale well with the plastics, that's not big surprise. The Gripping Beast vikings and the Conquest Normans scale better than the metal vikings from Gripping beast do with their saxon counterparts. Although I wouldn't say the same sculpter did them, I would say that the two sculpters came from the same camp. Clearly they had both been sculpting plastics for some time. But how do the plastics compare to the metals?
The plastic Norman knights from Conquest Games square off against the metal Norman knights from Gripping Beast. To my mind, not only are the Conquest Normans to a better scale thanks to plastics allowing for narrower legs, but they are also heads and tails above the old GB horses and riders in skill and overall quality.
I'd say they scale as perfectly as they can. The plastic horses are certainly allowed to have better proportions thanks to their firm plastic lightness. The GB metal horses, as well as most metals, need thick legs to hold up their weight. That's not so true with some of the Perry Miniatures stuff, but it is with a lot of the GB and Foundry horses. Also, just the quality of the Caonquest horses is fantastic, not to mention the riders. I'm all for these Conquest figures, and now I think I should update my Alternative Swan Knights article and promote these figs exclusively! But other than that, they scale very well, and could easily be used together on the battlefield.
Plastic Norman Knights from Conquest Games face off against Roman Cavalry from Wargames Factory in a nice scale shot. This picture is a little decieving since Marc Anthony's pony there has a thicker base, and is therefor taller than it should be.
The plastic cavalry from Wargames Factory scales pretty well with the Conquest figures. The only potential issue is the thickness of the base on the Wargames Factory horse/pony. It's about three times as thick as that of the Conquest Norman horse, so it looks unnaturally tall next to them, as you can sort of see in the above picture. This isn't much of an issue though. Scale-wise, it's a great fit. Style wise, there's a distinct difference, but no more of an issue than the metal cavalry differences discussed above.
Plastic Norman Knights from Conquest Games face off against the cavalry of Rohan and the Rohirrim from Lord of the Rings in a nice scale shot. Man, those Lord of the Rings figures are tiny aren't they? I used to think they were true scale, but now I realize that they are actually on the small side. Not all LotR figs are that small, but this shot shows that despite that, the horses scale well.
Finally, I pulled out the old Games Workshop Lord of the Rings cavalry of Rohan. Back in the day I used to think that those were the best little figures that anyone had going. I still think they're quite nice to be honest, but they are excrutiatingly small. The horses of Rohan are quite small compared to the Conquest miniatures, but not too small, so they would play well together on a table. However the Rohan rider there is tiny, almost 1/72 scale really, and wouldn't really fit on the Conquest horse. Later figures in the Lord of the Rings line are bigger though, so if you want horses to scratch-build your Lord of the Rings cavalry or chariots, Conquest is so far your best bet!
That's it really. These Conquest Normans are some excellent figures, and I'm already committed to buying enough to build a DBA army that I will expand out into a Kings of War Historical Ancient Combat army! This is especially likely since the Conquest Norman spru includes an un-amroured rider body, which will allow me to make light cavalry as well. The only thing I'll be missing are foot... but perhaps the Wargames Factory Saxons can be pressed into service.
Over all, I highly recommend these figures. I wouldn't bother with metals or anything else at this point. I may use them for Medieval Spanish as well, or Italian Lombards, or even Byzantines with a bit of modelling work! I look forward to Conquest's next pack!