Sunday 17 June 2012

A Confederacy of Beards

In a comment a couple of days ago Ross Mac mentioned once having designs on assembling a Minifigs "Barbarian Conspiracy" Army. Here are a few likely candidates for inclusion:

The central figure is the PBs range Pictish chieftain. Sadly my old eyes are too weak these days to pick out the codes on the other two, but the one of the left is likely a Saxon chieftain, while the one on the right could be a Saxon peasant spearman, though his shield looks a little small)

The Barbarian Conspiracy Army features in the first of the WRG Ancient Army Lists booklets, published in April 1977 (In the early years WRG were always quite specific on the month of publication, presumably so that  Ancient competition rule-nutters could say "Yes, but that was what they said then. It's June now and Gepids were officially upgraded to C class on May 20th whereas, of course - snigger, snigger - your Heraclian Byzantine Camp servants were denied access to the range-enhanced staff sling a mere two days ago") and allows for a coalition of Saxons, Picts and Irish, with the Saxons taking overall charge, presumably because they were German and had a stronger economy than the others.

(PBs Saxons. The metal face masks are particularly evil. I seem to recall the Saxons appearing in something similarly scary in the seventies childrens TV series Arthur of the Britons)

Intriguingly the introduction to the first lists gives thanks to "The Deadly Douglases of Humshaugh", a village about four miles from where I live and which was previously famous mainly as the birthplace of the actor Kevin "Lewis" Whately and home of the man who wrote the popular Christmas song, Little Donkey. Nice to think it was also once a hotbed of lads who knew exactly how many Fundibuli could be deployed in a 1,000pt Carolingian force.


  1. Less with the old eyes! You're 10 years younger than me!


  2. Good morning Harry ! I am pretty sure that the two chaps flank gin the Pictish chieftain are from the Minifigs Viking range. I am not sure whether they should class as ‘S-range’ or not, as they seem to be more in the style of the PB ranges, and were certainly still on sale when I bought one of each in the mid-seventies. I regret getting rid of them some time later, they are rather fine figures, with deeply-inscribed ‘planks’ in their shields, and the axeman who appears to be splitting logs rather than heads … probably it was easier to cast him with his axe head swung down to ground level. All the best, Nick.

    1. That would explain why they are taller than the Pict. They must be early versions though as they have not got the later characteristic Minifigs 'sagging dough" face.

  3. My 2 handed swordsmen is also missing his code. It seems someone cut off the front part of the base. Possible as a result of him once being used in a mini-diorama of the execution of a kneeling knight from the Alexander Nevsky range. AV1 would be the code by my catalog.

    Oddly the Pictish chieftain has led my Scots Irish for decades leaving my kneeling archers to lead themselves.

    Has their ever been a Saxon chieftain without a Sutton Hoo helmet? and whatever happened to mine anyway? One of numerous samples and dreams never fulfilled.

  4. The Vikings turn out to have been both advertised and reviewed as new releases in Military Modelling for July 1973, alongside PB range ‘Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome’ figures. I had quite forgot the 'barge pole' spears !

    They do not appear to be based on either Saxtorphe or Funcken, I wonder if there was an Osprey source ? The list was:

    V1 Viking Swordsman
    V2 Viking Spearman
    V3 Viking Axeman
    V4 Viking Light Spearman
    V5 Viking Archer
    V6 Viking Berserk

    Regards, Nick