Monday, January 6, 2014

Model Review: Gripping Beast Steppe Tribes

Model Review by Mike Wood

Here are a great looking collection of models from Gripping Beast that can be used in their Saga Steppe Tribes army.

Gripping Beast Steppe Tribes (Left to Right) : Warlord, Hearthguard, Warrior
Taking a close look at each pack they are:

The Warlord... (pack SST01b)

SST01b Steppe Tribes Warlord

On opening the pack, the detail on this model is much more apparent than some of the other models. The Warlord is a larger armoured figured with mount. He has a cast shield with details on his left hand and an open right hand for the sword which points forward. The pose is more one of surveying the scene than a charge into battle. The figure has armour, helmet with rivet detail, a quiver with top of bow showing and a long fur cloak. The set of the mouth seen through the gap in the helmet suggest a stern and imposing figure on the battlefield. Mould lines are minimal, with the inside of the riders legs being hidden as he sits atop his mount, a good place to hide this kind of natural casting detail. The hand is open and accepts the sword easily.

The horse is plainly adorned with a pose suggesting movement. The horse has a few of pieces of flash on tail, muzzle and the bottom of one leg which are not problems to remove.Mould lines are less obvious and run along the horses back and belly so are hardly seen under the rider and easy to remove. The pack is completed with a plastic Renedra cavalry base (25x50mm). The rider sits neatly on the horse without problems.

A detailed piece which serves as an excellent leader for your faction.

Gripping Beast Steppe Tribes Warlord (Copyright GB)

The Nobles.... (pack SST02)

SST02 Steppe Tribes Hearthguard

The four hearthguard figures came as four unique riders, four unique mounts, four plastic Renedra cavalry bases (25x50mm) and a selection of weapons (three soft metal spears, one sword and one composite type bow).

The horses come cast as single pieces with variable size bases under the hooves. All stood up well without support. Two of the cast bases under the hooves were a little thicker than the other two, but nothing that makes for a hard time when it comes to basing.

The riders are all single cast pieces. Each figure has a unique pose and look, with different armour and headgear, making for a realistic looking unit.

The first rider comes with a cast shield on the left arm and the right hand upright and open ready to hold a spear or possibly the sword or bow in a static position. He has a quiver on his belt to the right rear side and a sword hilt on his left under the shield. He also has a helmet rather than a hat. This figure needed a slight pinch of the legs to get him to sit tightly atop a horse. The figure appears more heavily armoured than the standard Warrior so does the job of giving gravitas to this collection as being "Nobles".                                  

The second and largest rider has more ornate armour than the others and has arm greaves and sits as a larger figure on his horse. He has a quiver on the back of his belt on his right side similar to the first rider and also has an empty sword hilt on the left under his open left hand. He is bald apart from a top knot and moustache and could easily pass for a warlord IMO. His left hand is held in against the body but with an open hand. He could be fitted with a shield (not provided) or easily hold the bow (as per the third from left model in the sample painted below from GB). His right arm is held high and tilted back with an open hand that looks good with either a spear or sword. This figure is very imposing and would make a great centrepiece to a unit or army.

The third and fourth figures were similar in attire with fur hats, minimal armour (cloth), a sword on the rear left belt and both with open hands holding a spear. The third figure is
designed to be pointing a spear down
from the right to the left side of the horse, the fourth figure the other way round. Both look to be on the attack or maybe about to finish off fleeing opponents. Very dramatic. In both cases, the spears sat neatly in the open hands and should be fixable without the need for drilling and cutting. One figure has the spear thrust out a lot more than the others but for a skirmish scenario should not be too much of a problem (as against a unit in a regiment or line facing up against an enemy in line where a forward thrusting spear could cause problems on the 'field of battle').

Taking a look at all the figures, detail is generally good around the armour, heads, shields and quivers.
The unit has a look of action and urgency about it rather than static. Mould lines are minimal, being mainly noticeable along horses backs and belly's. Nothing a craft knife cannot cure in seconds. Flash on these horse was almost non existent. The riders had minimal flash, just a little on the foot of one figure and the hat of another. Mould lines on the riders were again very minimal and easy to clean up with damage to key detail.

A clear cut and imposing unit.

Gripping Beast Steppe Tribes Hearthguard (Nobles) (Copyright GB)

The Warriors.... (pack SST03)

SST03 Steppe Tribes Warriors

These troops typify the Steppe tradition. They come with eight separate composite bows. The riders all have dynamic poses, either shooting their bows or drawing them. Riders have minimal armour if any and a mix of headgear (bald, fur caps, or hoods). Each rider looks different in some way to its neighbours. The details on each figure give character, such as fur cuffs, top knot, and creasing to clothing caused by exertion. There is a little flash to clear up on most of the riders feet and on one of the quivers, but with no damage to the figure due to thoughtful moulding. Mould lines are minimal and well hidden by body positions, and again should not cause problems for filing or removal with strokes of a craft blade.

The horses come in four types, two of each. The details are similar to those discussed for the Hearthguard, with a little flash on muzzle and tail here and there. The horses are the same dynamic ones as for the hearthguard. The mould lines are again minimal, easily removed with a craft knife and hidden almost completely by the rider anyway. The riders sit well on top of the horses with a little pinching of some of the legs to get a snug fit. Two of the horses have fur covered saddles that match up with two of the warriors with fur clothing, a nice touch that this happens.

A dynamic unit of individuals who typify the tactics of the Steppe.

Gripping Beast Steppe Tribes Warriors (Copyright GB)

In summary, these are a good collection of unique poses that sit well with each other. They look fantastic painted as per the images from Gripping Beast in this article. Plenty of detail for the painter to get to grips with and very different from all the other Saga factions in this reviewers opinion.
All the figures can be found through the links above or from Gripping Beast's home page.

You can find Mike's own blog at www.not2oldtowargame.wordpress.com

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