by Ash Barker
I got the chance to un-box and assemble a unit of ten 25mm hard-plastic Elves Spearmen from King of War by Mantic Games. A ten figure box is currently available from a variety of online retailers and also directly from Mantic Games themselves for £8. I will take you step-by step through the process as I got my small cohort of Spearmen assembled.
Upon opening the box I discover a standard size frame packed to the gills with a bits and bobs. Each frame contains ten Elf Spearmen equipped with spears and shields. Interestingly, they also have integral bases that are intended to slot into a movement tray with small holes in it. This makes them very user-friendly as they can spin to rank up appropriately and you don’t end up with that ‘one-specific-way-my-unit-ranks-up’ problems that can lead to you numbering your bases.
The plastic itself has a smooth texture and it reminiscent of Games Workshop’s Lord of the Rings plastic kits.
The look of the Elves is highly reminiscent of the art of Brian Froud. If you’re wondering who I’m talking about watch Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson Presents or read one of the great children’s books like Faeries, Elves and Gnomes which he illustrated. His art design in those features and in many books is very unique and recognizable.
The natural curved armour and almost organic looking weapons and gear is a classic design of this famous Fantasy illustrator and is a wonderful homage as it adds a sort of whimsy to the figures that’s often lacking in Wargaming. Elves are often pointy and menacing or Tolkienesque. They still look mean and like they’re ready for war but they have a softer sculpting style that I’m finding kind of refreshing. I don’t know if this style similarity was intentional or accidental but it popped instantly to mind when I first saw them.
The next thing my eye was drawn to on the frames was the extras. The King of War Elf Spearman frame comes with a couple little odds and ends to spruce up bases or to make dioramas with. There’s a shattered shield and even a corpse.
The Rank and File
Seven of the ten models have their shield arm fused to the body. I’m reminded once again of the Lord of the Rings plastic range.
The last three are front rank figures and an optional command model. The command model has the choice of a sword, spear or a type of double-sided glaive. I decided as I was assembling them to keep some parts separate to give myself some options.
So, with the sprue thoroughly perused I decided to start clipping and putting together the elves. Working from the back rank to the front I started with the seven basic Elves with Spears.
They come in three basic pieces: body, spear and shoulder guard. The plastic off the frame is pretty clean with minimal mold lines. The worst of them are on the spears. Getting them taken off also ended up mashing a bit of the detail on the grips. The culprit areas were pretty standard, mostly along the boots and legs. Another small critique is that the spears are really not very straight. There aren’t any real points of contact for them on the frame and during cooling some of them have clearly warped and aren’t particularly straight.
The shoulder pads are a bit strange… there are only six for the ten figures. While all the other parts for the unit are present on the frame there are four mysteriously absent bits of armour. These parts were also fairly clean and flash free.
The Front Rank Elves and Unit Leader
The command parts are pose-able in the sense that you can choose their arms and some basic positioning. You also get enough pieces that you can simply use this ten-man frame to bulk up a unit and make the Champion model another rank and file trooper. As I was going for a fresh unit I decided to cut out the sword and glaive bits in order to make a unit leader for my ten elves.
The unit leader (pictured above) comes with an open hand that gives you a choice of weapons. Pictured above are the Glaive and Sword parts.
The two front-rank spearmen are mid-strike; the shield punched forward and the spears are held back ready to attack. These are the coolest models of the bunch in my opinion and their faces have great expressions.
The Unit Overall
The unit does look nice all ranked up. The back-rank troopers fill in properly and the attacking front rank spearmen are dynamic and nicely posed. My one criticism would be that they will definitely start to repeat in pose the larger the unit gets.
Returning to the frame, I snipped off a few of the extra parts. There’s a shattered shield, dead (or dying) Elf and a very nicely detailed skull.
Now, all-in-all, these models are of very decent quality for their price-point of ten figures for £8. I would put them on the same level as the plastic kits from the Lord of the Rings range of Games Workshop plastic regiments. There are some nice basic troop figures with minimal molding mistakes and a couple of figures that can be posed differently for variation.
A last comment that I must make on these figures is one of scale.
These models are small. They look like they have been sculpted to a 25 millimeter ‘true’ scale. Their weapons are not bigger than their bodies and they are well proportioned. I’ve provided a picture of them next to some fairly standard ‘heroic’ 28-32 millimetre miniatures, a Hordes Warcaster and an Infinity Morat. These guys are fairly ‘slight’ in comparison. They will most likely fit the War of the Ring or Strategy Battle Games battlefield really well, but if lined up next to Warhammer, Warmachine or Confrontation models they are quite small.
There are tons of applications for these figures out in the Fantasy wargaming world. They could be used for pretty much any of the generic 25-28 mm range games like Songs of Blades and Heroes or even as alternate figures for massed battle games in the same scale, like War of the Ring or Warhammer.
- Price: At £8 for a box of ten these guys are definitely on the affordable sides of boxed-sets.
- Quality: The sculpting and detail is really very nice. They have a nice ‘high-fantasy’ feel to them with their peaked-helmets and layered armour. I’ve mentioned earlier that I made a (probably unfounded) connection to Brian Froud when I first saw them, though this may just be me.
- User-friendly: The models are very intuitive to assemble and I had no problem without even the slightest instruction putting them together.
- Scale: The scale of the figures is on the small end, which will make them look somewhat odd if they’re being used as proxies for games with heroic 28-30 mm scale models and are stacked up to fight models from other ranges.
- ‘Fiddliness’: I can’t think of a good enough word for this one so instead I’m making one up. These models are fiddly. Their spears are tiny and bendy and as I’m more than a bit ham-fisted I had a brief moment of worry that I would wreck something as I moved them around.