Monday, October 22, 2012

Norman Crossbow Conversion - Part 1

Having decided to use plastics for my Anglo-Danish and Norman Saga armies I wanted to find a way of creating crossbowmen from the plastic kits. The kits I have are the Conquest Games (CG) Norman Knights and Norman Infantry boxes. Also, the Wargames Factory (WF) Saxon Thegns and Saxon Fyrd. There are very few missile weapons to be had in the kits, none in the Conquest Games kits. Definitely no crossbows!
Having scoured eBay a few times I came across some metal 28mm scale crossbows. Just what I needed.

Here is the completed conversion......
Plastic Norman Crossbow Warrior Conversion
ready for action - after a coat of paint

To get to this stage I took a mail coated Norman Knight from the CG Norman Infantry box, using snips to remove it from the sprue. It's a bit fiddly as there is not much space between the base of the figure and the sprue. You will need to use a craft knife to level off the base and the neck to remove traces of the join to the sprue.

Conquest Games plastic Norman Infantry in mailed coat
snip snip!
The Warriors head comes from the same CG Norman Infantry sprue. There is only one mailed helm on the sprue. Anyone hoping for mix and match on this manufacturers sprues will be disappointed.

The Base is a 25mm round Renedra one. Each player will have their own method for basing, this is my preferred choice.

The arms come from the WF Saxon Thegns boxed set (they could equally come from the Saxon Fyrd set given what happens next).

There are no suitable arms for a crossbow (or any missile weapon) on the CG sprues that I can see. They are minimalist, allowing for no real choice in arms and shields. I found two suitable arms on the plentiful supply on the Wargames Factory Saxon sprues. Using snips to remove these, I then used a sharp craft knife to remove the upper part of the arm where the mail or cloth starts (see the image below). This is necessary as the CG Infantry bodies come with the top of the chain mail covered arm completed to just above the elbow. If you check the WF Saxons, the arm joins at the shoulder to the torso. This means a bit of surgery is required to cut the long arm down to fit at the elbow.

Wargames Factory arm being cut down to the elbow
cutting the arm

When I get all eight models cut out I will have one of them blowing a horn instead of holding the crossbow. Just to add some extra character. For this piece I used the horn on the CQ Infantry command sprue. The head for the horn blower will be helm-less. Here are the pieces cut out and on display....

mixed parts to make a Norman crossbow warrior or horn blower
all the parts together
Once the parts are cleaned up enough for gluing it is time to put them together. Plastic cement was used to fix the body to the base. After this was dry, the head and arms were also glued in the same way. I left this overnight to dry completely. The Crossbow was then fastened in place with superglue.
Getting the position for the hands relied on a bot of experimenting withe the unglued arms to find the correct place.
Using different arms from the excellent Wargames Factory Saxon sprues it is possible to give the figures different poses despite the bodies being the same.

Here are some close-ups of the arms holding the crossbow each taken in different light....

Norman crossbowman
shoot from the hip...
Cost was not my main concern here. Making use of the plastic kits I already had was. For those that would like to know, the cost of the parts is estimated at some 99 pence for each converted crossbowman (1 CG Norman Infantry model, one metal crossbow, one Renedra 25mm round base). Cheaper than the metal offerings from Gripping Beast at some 12 pounds for 8 (150 pence each) plus postage, but lacking the same character I feel due to the lack of flexibility in Conquest Games Norman Infantry sprue (only one mailed warrior per sprue). Getting hold of the crossbows at a good price would be the biggest problem I can foresee.

Norman crossbowman
not so fast.....
The next stage will be to complete the other seven warriors.....thanks for reading so far....

Links to suppliers:
Wargames Factory Saxon Fyrd
Wargames Factory Saxon Thegns
Conquest Games Norman Knights
Conquest Games Norman Infantry
(note: crossbows were sourced from eBay UK after some searching around - eBay US site seems to have more options!)


About the Author: "ambler" / Mike lives in the North West of the UK. After years of RPG's and GW wargaming he now plays in a long running Amber Diceless RPG and plays Flames of War at the NWGC in Stockport. Saga is a recent addition to the games-under-the-belt collection. Check out his blog: www.not2oldtowargame.wordpress.com

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