Friday, 18 April 2014

[15mmFantasySkirmish] Ogres and Orcs

Khurasan Miniatures announced on TMP a planned expansion to their 15mm Fantasy range by showing off greens for an upcoming release of large Orcs. An interesting discussion ensued on the nature of Orcs which proved to me that Jon of Khurasan is a Tolkien buff and really cares about his source material.

Along the way, as you do, the conversation wandered off course and we began discussing 20mm scale, Angus McBride inspired, Orcs, originally released by Dark Hold Miniatures and sculpted by the late James Tharpe. These figures had then been produced by Rebel Minis, before ending up with Splinted Light Miniatures and rebranded as Armoured Ogres.

As it so happened, I had bought a set of these Armoured Ogres from Splintered Light recently, and had just finished painting them up. For some reason, I had originally thought that these figures were Hobgoblins - and it so happens that in this TMP thread from early April, Khurasan Miniatures announced the up-coming Mighty Hobgoblin Army, which I'm rather looking forward to - but once I realized my mistake, the Ogres' vaguely oriental style armour inspired me to paint them up in a vaguely bakemono fashion.

While I painted the chainmail black and silver, I went for a gloss black on the plates for that lacquered samurai look. As red always works with black, straps and clothes were painted various shades of red.

The second ogre from the right had a pre-quartered shield so I ended up painting it contrasting blue and yellow. The left and right ogres had skulls embossed on their shields so their shield designs were pretty straight forward. The second ogre from the left had a plain round shield with a central boss so he got a maltese cross design from a pack of Veni Vidi Vici 15mm shield transfers I bought from Spirit Games.

The second group of ogres - the second ogre from the right is actually holding his sword in an over-hand stabbing style.

These ogres all had plain shields. Greek hoplite shield designs work really well with this style of shield, particularly the hydra pattern on the second from the right ogre (looks a bit like a yellow blob from this angle).

In this group shot we have, from left to right: Splintered Light Orc, Splintered Light Ogre, Splintered Light Adventurer, and Ral Partha Europe Dwarf Veteran.

One question that was debated on the original TMP thread was whether the Ogres would work as large Orcs. This is where we move into the "vision" part of gaming.

Khurasan Jon states that he is developing a Tolkien-inspired line of fantasy figures. To this end, he is carefully following such descriptions as feature in Tolkien's various writings concerning creatures found in Middle Earth. This is why Khurasan's Orcs are crook-legged, stoop-shouldered, and less than man height. Even Saruman's Man-Orcs, as described by Tolkien, are still shorter than men, even if they can pass for men. As Jon pointed out, the James Tharpe Ogre figures are taller than man height, and walk upright.

In my opinion, the Ogre figures, while excellent, are too dissimilar in both equipment and appearance to be larger versions of "standard" orcs in a pure Tolkien-esque setting. And, if anything, these Ogres are too slight of body and lightly armed to be used as Olog-hai - the great Gorgoroth trolls that feature in the Battle of the Morannon. For Olog-hai, I would be inclined to use Khurasan's Trolls as they seem to have the heft and are armed with the massive clubs and hammers described in The Return of the King.

If we switch focus, however, to a slightly more generic Fantasy world, the Tharpe Ogres then become likely candidates for a large Goblinoid race, used by Dark Lords to stiffen Orc assault columns, or operating as apex bosses of goblin raiding bands. While your standard Fantasy Ogre tends to be rather brutish and primitive, this niche can be easily filled by various troll types. The Tharpe Ogres, with their relatively sophisticated helmets and body armour appear too advanced for the traditional ogre stereotype.

In conclusion, the Tharpe Ogres, with their Angus McBride inspired armour, are very nice figures. In a pure Tolkien-esque setting, they probably won't work as they are too tall (20mm scale), and too upright. In a more generic, Dungeons and Dragons inspired fantasy world, they would, in my opinion, make excellent large Goblinoids - either working on their own, or as apex bosses of smaller Orcs and Goblins - as, I think, their armour and equipment is too sophisticated for traditional Ogres.

Of course, this is Fantasy, and Your Mileage May Vary.

Ogres leading a band of Splintered Light Orcs. The Ogres are taller even than the Boss Orc (to right of center with the elaborate hair style).

A core unit of Ogres adds heft to an Orc warband.

A comparison between Splintered Light Ogres and various Splintered Light Orcs and Goblins.

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