Thursday, 29 April 2021

Sassanid Reinforcements

 A part of my slow-burning 3rd Century project has grown organically from an unplanned purchase. (Yes, some of them are planned!) I spotted that Hinds Figures had multiple lots available of Sassanid Clibanarii. These were older style figures and painted to an okay but not winning any prizes standard. This meant that the price was very reasonable  and with a little negotiation I made a deal for all 4 lots. 

Recently I added a painted unit of Cataphracts to the project. These looked like Newline figures and were very nicely painted. When I won the auction the seller kindly threw in some spare horses that arrived as a surprise with the figures.

These would handily make up the number of figures to 2 Piquet units, so I went in search of suitable riders. I had by chance bought some of the insanely cheap Warrior Miniatures El Cid figures (link) recently which included some knights in full mail armour. The idea had been to find some figures that could be converted to fit in with the smaller/25mm Clibanarii that I already had. The requirements were that the figures had to be small enough to sit comfortably with my existing figures and have generic enough armour and clothing that I could add just a new head and shield to create a reasonable approximation of an armoured Sassanid.

Replacement heads would be either from the Westwind Arthurian range or cast up from my own sculpts. As the Westwind heads are quite chunky 28s the latter was looking like an unfortunate necessity... As it happens the Warrior El Cid range is one of their heftier ranges, more like 1980s 28mm than old school 25s. This works well with the Newline figures so I grabbed a couple of the mailed cavalry and decide to try out some sculpts of Sassanid headgear.

The drawback with creating Sassanid heads is that the actual information on what they looked like is veeeeeery vague. The old wargame standby of a sort of balloon shaped dome on the heads of all the infantry and a good percentage of the cavalry figure, has fallen out of favour. (It did make Sassanids really easy to identify from 10 feet away...) The handful of existing helmets that are confidently identified as Sassanian cover 400 years and many cultural influences. The most consistent style seems to be a tallish segmented helmet with a domed profile from the side and a pointier one from the front.

There are variants of this found that are dated between the 4th and 7th C. AD and rock carvings that might be showing the same sort of thing. The only definitively 3rd C. Sassanian helmet found is the one from Dura Europos lost in the siege tunnel when it was collapsed. This has some shape similarity but is a two piece ridge helmet.  The Late Roman "Intercisa" helmets are also ridge helmets so there is even a chance that this is an early Roman example of the type. (The balance of evidence is that it is Persian however.)


I decided to have a crack at one of each. The low, bowl-shaped helmets of these figures were increased in height and then one had the central ridge added and the other, the strips that signify it is a segmented helmet. The  less well armoured rider also got some of the banded armour on his arms that seems quite common for cataphracts.

I am satisfied with these as a first go at producing my own faux-Sassanids. They did highlight the issue with separate heads if there are coifs/aventails involved... With more practise I think I will be able to produce something to go into a mould so I can do more conversions by head swaps.

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