For the past few months I got the impression that ever since this box had been announced a huge number of historical wargamers put their Dark Ages/medieval projects on halt until this Box to End all Boxes would be released.
Other than their earlier plastics sets (Saxon Thegns and Viking Hirdmen) this one is generic and not connected to a certain army or tribe but could be found in mostly any European army between the years of 400 to 1000. in the later part of this timespan these models are mostly suited for levy, armed peasants and so on. In terms of Saga, these models are basically meant to cover the levy type units.
Layoutwise, the box keeps in the style of previous releases and comes with pretty clever artwork, showing how these guys can be used for either side in Dark Age conflicts.
I also like the little disclaimer which says "Another quality set from GRIPPING BEAST PLASTICS".
The back of the box gives us an exact description about what you get in the box which is very useful and what you can use the miniatures for.
Now let's take a look at the cold, hard facts. This box contains 40 miniatures which is four less than in their other boxes at the same price of £20.00. At this price it still is a steal, especially given how in the dark ages, armies used to be rather small in numbers so you probably won't need more than a box or so to cover your needs for unarmoured warriors.
So what's in the box then? Eight identical sprues:
On each sprue you will find the parts to build five warriors. Legs, torso and left arm are all cast in one part, the weapon arms and heads are seperate parts.
There are eight heads on each sprue so you get some options or can leave out any heads you dont't like. For the models I built I deliberately tried to avoid too many full beards and opted for moustaches when possible because Saxons used to prefer the mighty moustache over the full pelt approach to facial hair.
As far as weapon options go, you can build your miniatures to hold either spears, javelins or slings. For each box you get 8 swords, 8 axes, 32 slings, 16 javelins and 40 spears. So spears are the only weapon that can be given to every single model. There are also enough shields for every warrior on the sprue. As far as additional bits go, there is nothing apart from a horn-blower arm. It would have been nice to see some additional pouches, knives, scabbards and so on as on the other plastic boxes.
There is no bowmen option on the sprue with on one hand is a shame but on the other it's understandable because hardly any manufacturer so far made a combined plastics box for warriors with hand weapons and bow options work. The stance and arm position is just so different with these two so it's easy to understand why they left this option out for now.
These models are manufactured by Renedra (who do the Perry Plastics, Victrix, Warlord Games and so on) so the casting is excellent, details are crisp and clear. Mould lines are present as usual and should be removed.
Apart from the sprues you will also find one of Renedra's fine "variety of bases" sprue.
In a game like Saga in which usually you base each model on a single base, this may look a bit weird but just cut up the multi-bases a little and you get a bunch of nice bases out of it. Personally though, I prefer using 25mm round bases for my Dark Age miniatures.
Assmbly is as easy as can be and the heads are 100% compatible with the Saxon Thegns or Viking Hirdmen boxes. In the pictures of the finished miniatures you can see that I used some helmeted heads from the Thegns box to add a bit of variety. The parts go together very well, even more so than on the Thegns box for example. I definately would adivse you to use some putty to fill the gaps at the shoulder joints where you glued the weapon arm to the shoulder though, especially if you think of using washes on those models.
So here are the guys assembled, based and painted:
So let's see what I think about this set. One plastic model for 50p a piece. At this price point I'm willing to forgive a LOT. Luckily, there isn't much I can see this kit doing wrong. Good looking models with all weapon options present (with the exception of bows, see above). Some additional heads are there which is very important to me, just for variety's sake, a few hand weapons and a hornblower. As mentioned above, some more additional bits would have been nice but if you have any other of GB's palstics boxes you will have a few of those left if you feel the need to add them. The only thing I really missed from this box is hats. Even the box art shows some of the warriors wearing nice hats but on the sprues there is just one head with a hat and that's a "mongol style" hat by the looks of it and the head underneath is on the smallish side.
A quick size comparison, mainly for the sci-fi/fantasy people amongst you:
From left to right: GW Space Marine, GB Dark Age Warrior, GW Empire soldier, Forgeworld Imperial Guard soldier. If you're on the lookout for norse warriors, I think that those guys would go very well with your Warhammer/Kings of War/etc. collection.
All in all, I think that this set is a must buy for anybody with a Late Antiquity/Dark Ages/Early Medieval army. It's just so useful. The models are not glamorous, nothing "special" even, but they are oh so useful for filling the ranks or even being the rank and file troops for your shield wall. Combine them with heads and shields from other GB boxes or extra bits like the really impressive range by Westwind Productions and others.
I hope that you found this little review interesting and helpful. If you want me to review one of your products or if you are interested in my painting/modelling services, feel free to contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook!