Monday, 2 May 2022

Numidian Cavalry Reworked


It's always a joy to find untouched, unpainted, pristine Minifigs castings from the early 70's. Sadly, it's a rare pleasure, and most of the time we are dealing with models that have been... as folks say these days... 'pre-loved'. 

I bought a batch of twenty or so Numidian cavalry from e-bay recently and thought I'd have a go at tickling a few of them into life, rather than stripping the models back to bare metal. I have quite a few of these figures in bare metal already. I'm determined to paint more this year than I 'unpaint' as it were, so these presented themselves as likely candidates for some restorative work. 

The rider is PBC 46 and the models came with a mix of the PB series and later 'A' series Numidian ponies. The chap here is riding the later pony. Neigh I say! Every one a whinny! That's enough horse jokes for now - Ed.

Before - Numidians looking a little battle-worn but still up for a fight! 

I've photographed six of the models as they arrived - not exactly the six I completed because I'd already started a couple by the time I got round to putting them under the camera, but typical of the general appearance and condition. And here they are suitably enlivened with a bit of paint, new bases and straightened spears. 

After - Numidians now ready to hunt down a few Romans for tea.

It's always a tussle with 70s paint jobs and a lot depends on how well the figures have been cleaned up to start with  and how generously they've been  favoured with Humbrol enamel and gloss varnish. A layer of matte Humbrol can make a good base to work from if it's not too flaky or grubby. Varnish, though, is a bit of a challenge. Do you preserve a basically alright paint job by over-painting the varnish, or just give up and strip the castings back to bare metal? Over-painting the vanish is always a compromise. What detail there is will start to disappear under the multiple layers of paint, varnish, more paint, and... yes more varnish. In this case the models started off fairly heavily varnished - ho hum. 

After giving everything a good dust with a stiff paint brush, I removed the old bases and the glue with which they'd been stuck on - basic knife and file stuff. I then checked the riders to make sure they were sat on the horses properly. A few were - but all those riding the PB ponies were sat way too far back, and one of the others was positively oozing with whatever had been used to fix the riders to their mounts. It looked like Araldite epoxy or some such stuff. I removed the riders and cleaned up the glue - needle nose pliers useful for this. I then discovered why the original owner had put the riders where they had: the ponies are so barrel-chested the riders simply didn't fit anywhere else. So, all had to be filed to fit. At the same time I filed off a few mould lines from the horses' rumps and cleaned up some typical casting clag from the inside of the legs.

All of which played havoc with the paint of course. I spot primed where necessary and then painted to match the original colour as best I could. Similarly, with the riders, where the legs and tunic had lost paint, all spot primed and painted fairly close to the original colour - it would all get over-painted anyway so no need for an exact match. The spears were all straightened out - flat noses plies are invaluable for this - and then scraped and filed clean and spot primed. The original paint and varnish had already flaked off where the spears had bent over the years. I know from past experience, there's no point in trying to work with it - easier to just remove the paint mechanically and start again. I did the same for one of the shields because it was a different and rather unattractive colour. Otherwise, I left the paint as it was to serve as a base. 

The riders previously removed from their mounts were reunited using superglue or greenstuff epoxy putty. I often use greenstuff where the rider doesn't fit very snuggly because it fills in the gaps a little, and you can adjust the sit of the model more easily than you can with superglue. Where the greenstuff was visible I went in with a bit of black paint to cover it over. 

Ready for paint - and I started off the horses with a bit of highlighting in a suitable colour, a few touches of white, and painting the hooves. The riders got a new skin colour - a mix of flesh and a red-brown over the original very dark skin colour. Numidians were Berbers - the same people as native Libyans and Moors - and I usually paint them a deep flesh colour. Mine arrived with very dark skin, which I used as a base to work over, leaving the original colour as the darkest layer. I then gave it all a coat of flesh wash. The tunics were treated the same way, over-painted in a lighter shade leaving the original colour in the recesses. In the 70s all spears were dark brown - it's a fact - I don't know why. I painted them a lighter colour as I usually do. The shields were highlighted at the edges. I then black-lined the whole thing - dotting in the horses' eyes while I was about it. Black lining is a bit fiddly but it very much defines the old-school 'look' and is well worth the effort. 

New bases - all cut from mounting board - and bases painted green. The green looks a little more garish in photos than in real life - only a bit though! Just as all 70s spears were dark brown all bases were that ghastly dark green colour that just sucks the life out of even the best paint job. And that's it - six figures - a small unit for my Carthaginians. 

No comments:

Post a Comment