FANTASY FACTS: Darker Horizons – From John Carter to Elder Scrolls


28 January 2021
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Looking back at what we were looking forward to

In issue 435 of Miniature Wargames, we took a look at what was around right now, and what we might want to see from it!

BARSOOM BECKONS: John Carter of Mars arrives on Earth

Sometimes, things can take a while to develop in the wargaming world. Many is the game system or figure range that was promised and yet never ever materialises but – I’m glad to say – Modiphius Entertainment do not appear to be the sort of folks to make empty promises. In issue 405 of Miniature Wargames – more than two and a half years ago – I visited Chris Birch at the Modiphius HQ and he gave me a glimpse of the renders of the ‘upcoming’ John Carter range, and now – sitting on my desk – I’m glad to say that I have the first of them.

John Carter of Mars: Adventures on The Dying World of Barsoom is designed as a ‘planetary romance’ tabletop role-playing game. Modiphius created it in under license – and with the full cooperation of the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the original Barsoom novels – and they have made every effort to ensure utmost authenticity. Using a pulp-action inspired, stripped down variant of their own 2d20 system called Momentum, the game rule system – launched along with everything else in the range through a Kickstarter – allows players to take the role of various adventurers and heroes as they explore Barsoom. You can play as John Carter, the princess Dejah Thoris, the huge four armed Thark Tars Tarkas or you can create your own new heroes from a wide variety of options. Those three figures – plus the “ever faithful calot Woola” (the ten legged, frog mouthed comic relief companion in the recent film) – are the models I have in front of me. I haven’t actually seen the rules yet, so I’m going to concentrate on the figures.

The range is called the John Carter: Swords Of Mars, and the release I have to look at is the basic ‘Heroes’ set. They are designed as 32mm scale models (though – obviously – some are rather taller than that) and they are high quality, multi-part, grey resin miniatures which come complete with resin scenic bases. The figures are both slender and dynamic, being very proportional and (in Carter’s case) almost balletic in their pose. John Carter is a four part kit (base, body and two separate arms) and is depicted leaping into the air, taking full advantage of his abilities in the lower Martian gravity. He’s stretched on tippy toes (and standing on a rock) and is swinging a sword as well as carrying a pistol in his left hand. If I measure from his heel to the top of his head he’s about 36mm tall but looks bigger (it’s hard to tell...). There’s also a less dynamic version of Carter available if you so chose (I’ve seen a picture).

The Princess is a two piece model (figure and base) and is a smidge under 35mm. Again she’s pistol and sword armed and she’s not wearing a great deal (though slightly more than as described by Burroughs himself in
his works: “She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her... etc”) so the figure is, ahem... historically pretty accurate in the clothing department. Woola is a three part kit – half of the body with some short stumpy legs and the rest of the body, legs and head on a (separate) base – and is about human height but obviously more massive. The Thark is terribly impressive: a smidge over 70mm tall and with two sword arms and another pair of arms to stick on holding a rifle (plus a separate head, scabbard and base). It makes up into an imposing model, festooned with kit, ammunition bandoliers and so forth.

The role playing game with the attendant figures and bonuses has exceeded expectations massively. Last time I checked, the £20,000 goal had £228,055 pledged so – release wise – the £27.99 cost of the figure set is just a start, I think. On the website to buy right now are lots of rules (both print and PDF); play aids (dice, play sheets and so forth); and there are a heap more figure options (that I haven’t actually seen). These include, for example, a Zondangan Fighting Crew miniatures set (with Sab Than, a Zondangan Officer and four Zondangans for £29.99); and individual figures. As exemplars of these there is a Banth (ten legged Lion at £18.99); a four armed White Ape (£21.99); and an Apt which – whilst I’m sure it is as source-material- accurate as all of the other creatures in the range – looks a lot like the chicken that Peter Griffin fights repetitively on Family Guy...

These figures are splendid and – interestingly enough – almost unchanged from the 3D renders I saw back in 2017. Go to Modiphius and see if they appeal to you: they certainly do to me.

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ROCKY! Caves or maybe volcanic terrain mat

Deep-Cut Studio have a new Cave game mat. It’s a dark, rocky, grey playing surface with odd patches of green mossy bits sprinkled over it but – irrespective of that – the overall look is mostly a mottled, dark grey. Although it is available in the usual three mediums (cloth, PVC and mousemat) and various sizes from 3x3, they sent me that largest size (6x4 feet) in the soft, fabric topped, neoprene rubber. That size retails for €64.90 and comes in a clear transport sleeve.

According to Deep-Cut, the mat’s designed for a cave system and to be stuffed absolutely full of hideous creatures, but what’s the best way to use it? That depends on what games you play: it’s quite flexible. If you use it as a cave system, as intended, there are really two approaches. Firstly there’s the non-destructive version: you use resin wall sections (or similar) or other items – even suitable rocks or pieces of slate – to delineate the cave walls, using the mat as the cave floor. Obviously, that will be infinitely configurable and – if you bought the PVC mat – you could even do the same sort of thing with wipe off dry markers rather than physical walls (although getting them to show on the dark grey surface is going to be a little tough).

The destructive method is to draw out your cave and tunnel system in wipe-off pen, cramming in as many bits as you can and using as much of the mat surface as possible. Then, cut them all out with a
pair of scissors and voila! You then have a pile of rubber cave systems components (tunnels, caverns and so forth) which you can lay down and use as and when you need them. Obviously – if you do that – you can’t really go back to a full sheet but it is a system I've used with other Deep-Cut products (like a Concrete mat I used to make road strips) and it works well.

Finally, if you don’t use the destructive version but keep the mat intact, it makes a perfectly good, dark, stony plain – somewhat volcanic in style. This can then be used for all sorts of games – not just caves – which is why my example has a 1/72nd scale Leopard tank on it. That, and I didn’t have any dungeon walls and I wanted to give readers a scale object! Go to deepcutstudio.com for more info.

YU JING: Game mat for Infinity

Deep-Cut Studio have released another official licensed game mat for the Infinity miniatures game by Corvus Belli. The Yu Jing mat is four feet square, printed on mousepad material, and comes shipped in their excellent clear-pvc, protective storage bag which makes transportation and storage just much easier.

Now I’m a little confused by this mat: it’s very highly detailed, sporting a somewhat Manga feel with a future city-
scape vibe and – as it’s designed for Infinity – I know it’s aimed at 32mm figures. I guess it’s possible that what’s depicted is heavy perspective with roof tops and – way below – street scenes with roads and junctions with oriental symbols and road signs (and driving on the left so – again – it makes me think ‘Japan’). But, here’s the thing: when I place some vehicles from my collection on the roads, it fits perfectly with the 1/100th scale models. So: usable - obviously - with 32mm figures (with my ‘perspective goggles’ on) or 15mm with the mat simply representing a flat city template and – with maybe a few buildings added (which, to avoid confusion in the photographs, I didn’t do) – that’ll really work well. What this means is that – for €54.90 – you can have a mat that will do two jobs which I see as a bargain. Go to the Deep Cut Website for more info.

BRIGADE: 15mm and 6mm SF

Brigade sent some new 1/100th (15mm) figures and 1/300th (6mm) buildings for their SF ranges. Starting with the larger chaps, there are three releases for their Pacific Federation (PacFed) range. They start with some Mortar Teams with four different crew and two small infantry mortars for £3. There’s also some Snipers (four in two poses) for £1.50 and an Armoured Brigadier for 50p. Not surprisingly, Brigade always try to make a command figure – an eponymous Brigadier, of course – for all of their forces and the fully armoured PacFed (enclosed helmets and panelled body suits) have a bare headed chap in charge (with an SF monocle!) to ring the changes. Nice models.

In the smaller scale there is a selection of SF Bunkers: these are scaled down from their 15mm models with solid looking pill boxes (in resin) with a variety of mostly roof-mounted weapons and aerials in metal. They come in square, hexagon and octagonal formats along with a check-point pair of buildings as well (sort of cubicles with a weapon mount). These will be priced at around £1 to £1.50 each.

Oh, and they’ve also made some reduced versions of their Moonbase Buildings – as released in 1/100th just a couple of months ago – in this smaller scale: they are small domes in resin, again with metal doodads, and these are destined to be priced in the £1 to £1.25 but – as they are very new – this isn’t nailed down yet. For a picture of those, look at the Fantasy Facts in issue 432 of Miniature Wargames and just hold the page further away from your eye-line... Or go to brigademodels.co.uk for more info!

IN THE VANGUARD New 6mm SF

A recent release from a quite new manufacturer called Vanguard Miniatures arrived and it’s a very SF looking aircraft though, to be honest, it could easily be a space ship, especially an atmosphere capable one. Designed for a range called the Novan Elites, the Wyvern Light Dropship comes in two variants, either of which can be built from a kit of parts. These are Wyvern A (a dedicated troop carrier) with an extra cargo ‘belly piece’ to stick on; and Wyvern B which replaces that extra passenger pod in favour of an open cargo bay with an attachment claw
to handle various (un-supplied) cargo modules. The kit – all in very fine resin – comes with a selection of turrets and wing-root weapons, a ‘roll bar’ for the top rear and a cracking clear stand.

When assembled, the model is around 50mm long and around the same in width with a canard wing arrangement. This is a very, very detailed model and the fit of the parts is impeccable. The resin is slightly flexible and yet robust. This isn’t the first model in a new range – there’s a larger version called the Eagle – but it shows great promise! The Wyvern is £10. Visit Vanguard Miniature's Website for more information.

BIG FOOT: And the Great Prince of Hell in 28mm

Antediluvian Miniatures sent me a pair of Sasquatches. They are two different, once piece castings with one raising his (its?) hands in a classic, bellowing pose, while the other one’s a little more crouched over and trying to either move – or maybe throw – a rock. Both come with plastic slot bases and the upright fella is 38mm to the top of the head so I guess that makes them ideal for 28mm but they’d probably work with 40mm figures as well (it depends how tall you think that bloke in the gorilla suit was on that famous ‘Patterson video’ from Bluff Creek!). The overwhelming scale related question is “how big is your sasquatch...” and that’s up to the individual. They are well detailed sculpts and are £12 a pair.

And then there’s a sort of Owl bloke: this is the very interesting addition to their Medieval Demons range and is named Stolas: A Great Prince of hell. It’s like a very long-legged, owl-like creature with folded wings and wearing a crown (well, he is a Great Prince...). All of the other figures in this range are based on period medieval illustrations so I’m guessing Stolas is similarly inspired. It’s £6, cast in metal with a plastic base and is around 40mm tall (or 35mm foot to the... er: beak). Go to antediluvianminiatures.wordpress.com for the latest information.

ELDER SCROLLS: Future releases from Modiphius

Earlier I’ve covered a release from Modiphius Entertainment that took two and a half years to materialise. Their next outing looks like it’s going to arrive rather more quickly... I haven’t got my hands on any actual releases yet but I’ve just seen some news. For fans of their translation of the computer game Fallout onto the table top, their next project (based on a version of the Fallout rules) is another computer ‘franchise’. The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms puts the computer world of Tamriel onto the tabletop and will feature their now expected top-end 32mm
resin figures with scenic bases. These will portray the fantasy stalwarts of the computer game including fan favourite heroes like Hadvar, Ralof, Yrsarald and more. The player’s heroes lead groups of followers on adventures inside Dwemer Ruins, Draugr-infested Nord Tombs, and through the frozen wilderness.

Follow the launch of this system at Modiphius


This article originally appeared in issue 435 of Miniature Wargames. You can pick up your issue of the magazine here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

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