Sarmatian Cataphracts

Due to a sudden dearth of PVA glue, the final touches to this unit were delayed a day or two. But it’s still weekend, so I haven’t broken my promise of delivering you an update on these guys before the week was out. Before we delve into discussing my paintjob, I’d first like to tell you a little story about purchasing these models.

Although I’ve been in doubt for the longest time about which barbarian army I’d be picking as adversaries for my friend’s Early Imperial Romans, I finally chose to collect a Dacian/Sarmatian force – the new Dacian Wars supplement for Hail Caesar had something to do with it, as well as Trajan being one of my favourite emperors. At the Thunderbolts wargaming convention in Ghent last month, I was unexpectedly greeted by a Warlord Games stand upon entering the premises. Huzzah! After some rummaging about I decided upon a box of these Sarmatians as well as the blister with Decebalus and his advisor (which will be painted sometime soon).

The day after the convention however, when I was inspecting the various purchases I’d made, I discovered that the box of Sarmatians was missing an upper body for one of the cavalrymen. I sent an e-mail to the Warlord Games customer service, which immediately offered to send the missing part by mail. Now think about this: I paid cash at a convention and so have no proof of ever having purchased the box, and still I got my missing part in good faith – and speedily, as it arrived in my mailbox a week after my correspondence with Warlord Games. So Alison, if you’re reading this, a thousand thanks! Now let’s dive into the models themselves, shall we?

Superheavies, ready to trample Romans into the Pannonian dirt.

Superheavies, ready to trample Romans into the Pannonian dirt.

These models were quite a pain to build, although mostly because of the ergonomics (or lack thereof) of my pin vice. The biggest gripe I have with these models is that the ball socket of the upper bodies is too big for the receiving end of the lower body – I was forced to clip off the ball sockets and pin the parts together. Some greenstuff was required to go over the joins on many of the models, and as I haven’t worked with putty for over a year, the results were rather crude. It’s mostly visible on the back of some of the models. As well as these alterations, I chose to use the more dynamic draco from the Gripping Beasts Saxon Thegns set, and gave the leader a sword hand from a metal Gripping Beast viking.

The kontos (long spears) are made of bronze and are quite sharp to the touch.

The kontos (long spears) are made of bronze and are quite sharp to the touch.

With these models I chose to use colours which conveyed a rather eastern look, and so I avoided using many primary colours. This also gave me the opportunity to experiment with some of the more exotic hues in the new GW paint range. So for the different colours of cloth I used incubi darkness highlighted with thunderhawk blue, ratskin flesh washed with druchii violet then highlighted ratskin flesh, screamer pink washed with druchii violet then highlighted with pink horror, blue horror washed with druchii violet and so on. Druchii violet was used on the gold areas as well. I’m quite please with the outcome of this wild riot of colours, as the purple wash ties them together rather well.

Some absolutely terrible sculpting work there. I'll definitely have to improve in that area.

Some absolutely terrible sculpting work there. I’ll definitely have to improve in that area.

I based the models on some multibases I got with my Fireforge cavalry models (I’ll be using GW cavalry bases for those) and finished them in the usual way with painted sand and tufts. Overall I have to say that, while putting the models together was laborious, putting paint to them was almost a reward in itself. I’m not sure whether I’ll be adding a second unit of these to my fledgling force in the future, though. There’s the Sarmatian light cavalry and horse archers to consider, too, and not to mention the hordes of actual Dacians!

That’ll be it for now – Decebalus and his chum might feature in a few weeks, but first some more Vikings. I received my box of the new Gripping Beast unarmoured dark age warriors on Thursday, and I’m already halfway through twelve slingers. Also, I’ll be rebasing some Hirdmen, so next week’s blog updates will be very Nordic. Haakon will be pleased with his reinforcements.



  1. victor

    Hello, friend..
    Nice work, but im a bit newby at this..

    How the hell you attaxh the kontos? I tried heating them up to trasass the hands, but no way..

    • laurensvannijvel

      I pinned both hands with a GW pin vice, the standard drill bit in there is just the right size for the bronze wire kontos. I had to push hard to get them in, though.

      One thing which I’ve been doing with hands that need to be drilled, is to first drill through the hand, then cut into the hand just above the thumb, so that you get a U-shaped cut. You can then pry the fingers open gently so you can get bigger weapons in there, or for instance swords with a pommel.

  2. J RUTH

    I am painting some right now, they won’t come out as well as yours. For the Kontos I used a long drill bit to drill both hands at once; if you drill them separately you risk drilling at two different angles; only a couple hands had to bent into correct location.

    • laurensvannijvel

      I don’t think I had – or have – a drillbit long enough for those circumstances, but I managed with some slight bending. Looking forward to seeing your own cataphracts!

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