Saturday, October 19, 2013


Today we'll speak of something else than a review, we'll discuss about how to represent a specific sub-tribe or sub-people, that are usually over looked by manufacturers and englobed in generic titles such as "Celts", "Germanics" or even more vague ones as "Barbarians". 

When one starts to collect Ancient soldiers (Napoleonic and WW2 is another story), at least in my case, you hardly think about lesser tribes. You want to have romans, greeks, gauls, arabs, mongols, medieval christians, etc. But with the passing of time, and the increase in the collection, you start to find some gaps. "Those peoples were destroyed by those others, and I don't have them in soldiers". Or you start wondering yourself who habited that area in Roman times, or in Medieval times, or whatever.

And maybe what it triggers the "diversification" of soldiers is; this is my 4th set labelled as "Germanics", and some of them don't look like the same between themselves, and I already have too many of them to have a proportioned representation. Heck, the Romans will be outnumbered seven to one if they fight against all Celts/Gauls!!. 

So then, one of the solutions (besides selling off half of each set) is to separate into tribes and to modify some of the figures.

In my case, I started separing the "Medievals" into the different kingdoms, a so generic label as that is of little use besides fighting "Arabs". 

But let's return to the subject. We have thousands of Celts. The Celts were separated in hundreds of tribes, sometimes in war among themselves, others in peace. Actually many Celtic tribes decided to help the Romans and betray their fellow companions. Some acted as mercenaries for the Carthaginians. We need at least 3 different sorts of Gauls/Celts. So, as we're doing it, let's do it well.


What I do to differentiate them, to easily recognize them, is give a basic colour to each tribe. As the can't wear any type of uniform neither shield pattern as some ancient peoples did, I generally try that each soldier has a bit of that main colour, like in some computer games like Rome Total War (not so blatantly obvious, like painting all trousers pink).

So, the first thing you should do is decide how many tribes you want to make. Once we have decided how many factions, we should assign a colour to each faction (in this case, I have assigned black to the Veneti). With some luck there is some historical basis, like some tribes wearing prominently blue tattoos. 

After we have to assign the number of forces. You can give a standard balance among themselves, to give a good level of variety, what you can also do is try to historically represent the amount and quantity of each type for each tribe.

For example, the Veneti were expert seafarers, so I give them less cavalry, just a symbolic quantity, and I give more skirmisher troops like archers. They weren't the richest of the Gaulish tribes, so less armoured men for them. 

One of the good things of merging a lot of sets together, is that you get a very nice "barbaric" feel, without the homogeneity that some sets give us (like the terrible Italeri Gaul Warriors set, with 9 figures with the same pose).

Finally, I choose a colour for the stands, and a different shade of brown or green for each tribe, this will help us to avoid confusion with other tribes when using them side by side in wargaming. 

Here are the pics of the final result;

This is the pic of the different sets used;

I'll explain a bit the choices of soldiers here; 

The first row are the Esci Barbarian Warriors, I've selected those that wear the celtic collar, that indicates that they are clearly not Germanic, and so they really don't fit with the other figures in the set, besides a bizarre Celtic-Germanic alliance or mixed tribes. I've painted tattoos on some of them, and I've modified all the leaders to make them more different and not so standard.

Then there is the Celtic Cavalry from Italeri, the Veneti basically enter in history for their combats in fortresses or at sea, but I considered that they needed a minimal representation.

Then comes the Revell Celts, which is a set that again merges Celts with Germanics, or early Vikings, so all those have been discarded. A small quantity of the Italeri Gaulish Warriors, which in small numbers look interesting.

I've also broken up the set of Carthaginian Allies, they add a nice variety. The Hat Celtic Command is a set that you must break up, as they are leaders and champions so their function is to represent the elite of a faction. 

The Airfix Britons are not the best Celts to use, but after purchasing some second hand lots, I have so many I need to make them fit everywhere I can :) . Note that I have changed the shields so they doesn't look so Briton.

And finally, one lonely HaT Celtic Cavalry to give more "colour" to the cavalry.

 That's all. In the future, I hope to make more proper tutorials, as how to paint big quantities of miniatures fastly, and making small houses and fortifications as scenario for wargaming or dioramas.

Thanks for reading!!!!


  1. Really nice work on these figures! Nice mix to!


  2. For me, an interesting post!!
    I'm always annoyed with the pseudo-historical accuracy (sometime "hysterical-accuracy") !
    you do your own choice of colours: that's good !
    Never can really know how all those tribes were dressed exactly and they probably have some dresses, armour, ornaments, weapons etc... of other tribes ...or ennemies!
    It's exactly the same with the Indian tribes ! even if they have their signs, traditions,etc... they also were influenced by their relationships with the other tribes and later the Pioneers, etc....

    Good painting work ! the idea to give a main colour to each tribe is a good one ! (even the horses have black !)

  3. Thanks for your comments. I remark the mention you make of stolen weapons and armour, as it would have been a very common practice and we nearly never see any manufacturer making any soldier with looted gear, except Zulus and Indians were it was very common and it is very well documented.