I bought some Mantic Basileans last year hoping to use them as a cheap proxy for Citadel’s old RR17 Avenging Knights of the Cleansing Flame set.
They come packaged in a neat plastic storage case that resembles an old VHS cassette box. Sadly the contents are all Betamax…
They were awful to assemble – heavy mould lines, poor fit on the joints and weapons that didn’t sit in their hands snugly.
The moulding detail was poor by today’s standards. In fact that’s not entirely accurate, the moulding detail was poor by the standards of 20 years ago.
So soft detail, mould lines and difficulty getting them to rank up nicely on 20mm bases – hardly an auspicious start…
I’d bought an extra sprue of 5 figures off eBay in addition to the box of 20 to use as command figures. I had to base these on standard 20mm MDF squares as they didn’t come with the Mantic bases that you get when you buy a full box. With hindsight I wish I’d based them all on MDF bases, but more of that later.
With the full box, in addition to the 20 figures and bases, you also get a few extra white metal items. These comprise a standard, a drum and 2 arms holding drum beaters. You can use them to convert two troopers into a Standard Bearer and a Musician.
When glued on the weight of these metal items means the miniatures become unstable and tip over at the slightest touch – especially the standard bearer. Not annoying in the slightest I’m sure you’ll agree…
I also bought a standard MDF 20mm 5 x 5 base movement tray to fit all 25 figures in. Imagine my joy at discovering that the Mantic bases are just slightly bigger than standard 20mm GW or Laser cut MDF bases so they wouldn’t fit in the tray.
There was no way I was going to sit and file minute amounts off the base edges so I bought some Renedra trays that would hold 20 Mantic based troopers. I plan to get a separate small MDF tray for the command figures that I’d based on standard 20mm MDF – at least they’ll fit in a normal movement tray.
I undercoated these with Tamiya fine white primer spray and decided to paint them in red with black details. I got the metallics, red and black base paints and washes on but I just wasn’t happy with any of it. Disheartened by the whole experience up to this point I abandoned them on a shelf where they gathered dust and bugged the hell out of my wife for months – especially when she would breathe near them and the standard bearer would fall over…
Enough was enough and I needed to get this lot off the shelf of shame and finished to some sort of acceptable level. I realised I was never going to get the results I’d have liked from them so I decided to bite the bullet and go for ‘wargaming standard’ rather than relinquishing huge amounts of time and effort on them.
Before repainting them I ripped off the unwieldy metal standard and replaced it with a length of florist’s wire for a paper banner.
Thinking back to the Wargames Foundry Men at Arms miniatures I’d previously painted I decided on a blue and yellow colour scheme. Although the jupons and shields on these could easily take more complex colour schemes and heraldry there was no way I was prepared to risk losing the will to live any further by adding complications to the paint job – even the thought of adding a blue line to each of the 24 shields to break up the yellow filled me with a sinking feeling.
So keeping to a simple paint job and girding my loins against their general awfulness I managed to eventually turn these into a serviceable regiment of High Fantasy spearmen.
In Mantic’s defence these are priced relatively inexpensively in comparison to other manufacturer’s ranges of 28mm multi pose plastic figures, hence I was on them like a spinster at the wedding bouquet toss. However the photos on Mantic’s website flatter them greatly, they don’t hold up to close scrutiny.
These would probably be perfect for base coat dipping to getting a playable army on the table quickly rather than lavishing time and effort on these as individual miniatures. They’d best be described as ‘functional wargaming figures’.
As far as my original intention of using them as a proxy for Avenging Knights of the Cleansing Flame I think it’s back to the drawing board. The early 90s GW High Elves with Spears option might be a better idea rather than risk another regiment of these gathering dust for 8 months.