Friday, March 30, 2012

On the subject of Knights.

New Perry Bros, Plastic Mounted Men at Arms, coming soon in numerous boxes to my house as quickly as possible.. There isn't a release date yet, but when there is- I am all over it.

On the subject of Knights in Warhammer or just general Fantasy armies. One of my complaints in  my last post was criticism of  the new Demi Gryph knights...outside the rules issues brought up in comments and my major beef that every army now exact has same structure of pre determined roles for all its models.. Lets put all that aside and talk about something much more fundamental; Aesthetics, and how they changed in the Knight department.

 Here we have one of my favorite Empire units, my "Knights of the Blazing Sun"  I modeled and painted these guys up in 2008 and the height of my 7th edition fervor. While this kit in 2012 is tired as all hell, as it was released I *think* in early 6th edition. (maybe earlier??)  They are a prime example of the roots of the 15th Century Swiss and German armies that GW based its Empire IP on. While the iconography is its own, its a good mix of historical reality and fantasy. Just the way I like it.  The Bretonnian kits from the same era a cut from the same cloth. These kits obviously have serious staying power, as they are originally modeled in the very roots of core imagery of the game.

The next evolution of Knights comes with Vampire Counts Bloods and Chaos Knights at the tail end of 7th edition.  I found both kits appealing still because the retained a certain aesthetic , while it was clearly drifting in the over embellishment category (I like the Blood Knights more than the Chaos)  I felt they still paid homage to what the Warhammer world defined as the themes of it core setting.

There reason I keep coming back to the Perrys, Is this is what Fantasy Knights (dead or alive, barbarian or civilized)  should be based on. Fireforges Teutonic Knights (below) from 100 or so years earlier are another current great example. Or any of Musketeer Miniatures great Arab or Anglo Saxon Cavalries of various periods. These guys were the real deal, they rode into battle not against Dragons or Undead but against Men- flesh and steel vs flesh and steel, and for the most part their lives were short. They're the reason all this fantasy stuff even exists, They're part the reason we even play wargames, as for many people out there, its not just a hobby its also how we connect with our past.

 IF there is single figure in human history that is quintessential symbol of the human condition its has to be the Knight ( more directly the Questing Knight or Knight Errant via Arthurian legend) So shall we not pay the man the proper respect?

(These Fire Forge models finally come out this month I believe)

( No respect here, just six new Cadillacs. some epic headgear, and sign that says "Fat Bankroll")

Finally with these GW's new Demi Gryph Knights, we've stepped thru the gateway. We now have not only the continuing escalated over embellishments in the fantastical detail department,  but as dictated by a forced rule structure we're now riding Monsters who are kitted out like a steam tank. Now, I know its a Fantasy game..before anyone comments on the obvious, and Yes. I understand its allowed to evolve.  Lets just not overlook that where you take your intellectual property over time is going to dictate your fan base. and sometimes people just aren't going to like it anymore, especially when the Aesthetics are a founding principle in why your attracted to it. (ummm George Lucas anyone???)

 The best of classic fantasy literature mixes the REAL with the SURREAL, where its still fantastical but "it could be possible". Where pockets of our normal existence or our past exist only to be threatened by the abnormal or Supernatural. Crossing the boundaries to where everything is fantastical and nothing is grounded in reality is another mans game, that is not the imagery I put in my own head that attracted me to WFB in the first place. It calls up a completely different set of rules, that are in opposition to other and really boils it down to a black and white choice. Some people can just take it for what it is and have fun with it, I suppose I am burdened with the need for some sort of intellectual rationalization with my miniatures.  Sounds like total bullshit I know, but its true.

(Mad props to the Perry's, Percival would be proud)

Needless to say, I will be decking out a good dozen or so of  these Perry Men at Arms when they finally see the light of day. "Cheeearggge"!!!

Have good weekend folks.


Chicago Terrain Factory said...

The FireForge Knights are out now - I have a box assembled and waiting in the paint que right now. Also take a look at - they are busy making Medieval Scots... some very nice looking figures.

We'll have to dial in the time machine and see if these forces could meet on the battle field.

Hendrid said...

I generally agree with all your saying that any good fantasy should have strong roots in reality to make it believable.

I too will be picking up a couple of boxes of the Perry knights when their out, which are released this April at Salute so available after them BTW.

I would say that I actually quite like the look of the Demi-Gryff Knights from what I can see in the piccies, guys like these are likely to be over the top and show off their bling, it's what the 16th cent gendarme/man at arms was all about though I do get what your saying, sometime less is more. Though with the current GW design trend where else can they go but more over the top?

Poosh said...

Some great knights all around, Perry's plastics are outstanding.

I like the look of the Demigryph Knights just as models to paint and put away in the cabinet. I am not too sure Monsterous Cavalry make sense for the Empire. The artwork for the Dem Knights do look quite interesting which begs the question ... why are the Dem Knights so SMALL!? They look more like realistic horses than monster cav. I'm not even sure how these creatures would actually fight, or their riders for that matter - to justify their Stat Box. The artwork shows them clearly as MONSTER cav. The models don't match up. Weird.

I do feel that a lot of the GW stuff now, is far too cartoony and it's starting to grate. The really could change the aesthetic tone.

Scottswargaming said...

The problem with GW (one of many) is they need to sell figures... Now whilst they may release an army and it looks 'cool' it will satisfy players at that time collecting that army. But once that 'need is satisfied', they wont sell any more of it unless new players choose to play that army... so how do you get existing players to buy more?... Why, re-release the models of course only this time bigger and spikier and more heroic looking than the last, typically with another price hike... This tactic may work forcing you to buy the latest figures to 'keep up with the Joneses', but it may also piss off the existing players so that they say enough is enough and ditch it... the straw that breaks the donkeys back and all that...

This will constantly happen with WFB and 40K.

At least with LOTR they are tied to an extent to the movie imagery. So they cant keep releasing the figures in a new guise.

Its another reason why I have turned so much to FoW recently... a Sherman tank will always be a Sherman tank and as long as its the right scale, its always going to be fine no matter when you bought it... They same can be said of all historical periods, and one of the reasons why those new Perry Knights will always appeal to fans of that period. It actually makes you happy with your army and branch out into new armies of the same game/period, knowing your original isnt going to go the way of the dodo...

My Germans Wehrmacht forces are expanding nicely and I may go on to collect British 50th Div. knowing that my Germans are always going to be useable...

Eric Hagen said...

John, I totally agree with most of your statements about knights. I'm ok with the game industry changing to makes sales (they have too), but GW has really pissed off countless people year after year with not producing new knights for the Empire. I'm happy I made my own witch hunter knights so many years back as they have stood the test of time and will have to continue.

Like my friend told me the other day- "With the introduction of the demi-gryphs, we will NEVER see new sweet knights for our Empire collection..." I think he is probably right. :(

Karl Paulsen said...

Nice review of the GW knightly evolution. The trend you point out is one that seems to be present across many of GW's lines, both 40k and fantasy.

Long time 40k'ers quip about the proliferation of skulls and purity seals with the same resignation as you bring to your analysis of the greebling and gilding of the new knights.

I do disagree however that the your Knights of the Blazing sun are "Tired as Hell" It's a great kit that -if you're not enamored of grebling and gilding- holds up well today.

John@Plastic.Legions said...

Ahh, yes the proper context of "tired as hell" was in reference to expectation of new GW Knight kit..seeing where they went..I am glad the old kit is still around..


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