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updated 04/212021

Ancient Miniatures and Historical Gaming

Making of a Mardian

Plastic Persian Progress- Wargames Atlantic 28mm archers as a unit of twelve models

JJonas 04/21/2021

A while ago I promised that I would actually build a unit of Wargames Atlantic Persian archers. I decided to make twelve Mardian archers with Median caps. Plus I decided to make an extra standard bearer since the fox cap head dress is nice. The Mardians (the tribes of Amardi) were part of the Upper Median Satrapy along the southern Caspian Sea. I decided that Median round felt caps are as good as any guess, and I liked the style of these heads provided. I'm going with mixed armor. Currently they are based for painting on 25mm washers. Their leg stance makes them difficult to place on 20mm rounds. I'm expecting to run these as light infantry which can skirmish, or form up, which seems to be their role at the battle of Issus against Alexander's assault force across the river. I also have a intent to compare these to the Victrix ones that recently came out.

Making the  Mardians

Step 1: Sorting and gluing together the assemblies, and priming.
I sorted and cleaned up the bits from the sprues and worked out some poses. The models were sprayed black as their base primer coat. Then some antique white was  dry brushed around to give some tooth for the paint layers.
The goal is to have a dark and light base for tints and contrast paints to work with.


Mardian archers assembled and primed, ready to paint.

Books and References:

The Median hat and outfit:
I chose the round bulbous cap for these Mardians because they were from the Caspian Sea region that was part of the Upper Median satrapy (province). Others like to go with a more Sogdian or Scythian wrapped shirt for these. The color choices are completely my own, based on the above reference works from my youth. The Mardians seem to be specialist archers and are somewhat unique in they were noted in two of Alexander's battles, Issus, and Gaugamela. One can conclude that since they were not destroyed at Issus that they were competent troops, since they were kept under arms or assigned replacements. There is no telling if the quilted armor was used by them or not, so I think it adds nice variety to the mix, and if the player wishes to assign light armor to them, at least there are some equipped that way. The standard was cut out of laminated card stock. The standard bearer's shield is from my large stash of Persian crescent shields- more than I will ever need. I decided I wanted a smaller shield than the elongated on on the sprue. Other than that the archers are equipped as Persians, with the large bow that infantry carried, a gorytos quiver, and a side weapon called the akinakes strapped to the thigh.

Good Achaemenid clothing references here:

The sagaris axe/hammer:
Some were hammers, some small axe points, and some picks. I think some were wood some were covered in bronze, or stained/painted. There is one ceremonial one with a shaft made of bronze.
Re-enactor with iron axe hammer, some are depicted as bronze:

Step 2: is determining the palette. Red, golden-rod, green? I decided to go back in time to my first reference work for Persians, the 1966 book "Le Costume et Les Armes Des Soldats De Tous Les Temps French Edition  by Liliane et Fred Funcken. I bought the French version because it was the gold standard of illustrated uniform reference at the time. Later on all the Funcken books were available in English. Funny how the Funcken's color choices and illustration were passed from book to book back then. Now things are more thoroughly researched! So based on the reference I decided that I would keep these relatively simple for Persians. I chose number of shades of tunics from tan, to golden rod, to green, with a unifying Rose Madder (red) color for the trousers.

Foundry paints have a good Madder Red.

Step 3: Blocking in some colors, testing shades, deciding on colors. I decided the caps (Golden-rod) and the trousers (Rose Madder), will be the unifying color. A brighter yellow contrast (Citadel) look for the standard bearer seems best, but I've already decided that model will get some zig-zags and more attention.


Mardian archers color blocked in first pass.

Comment: "I can hardly believe, the standard bearer's yellow is based on the black and white priming."
Some areas have been given a test shade over the thin base color, it is not entirely "just the primed undercoat" (but the undercoat does help pop colors).  I used Army Painter Quickshades for the base tunic colors on the Green (Military Green) and the Golden rod ((Light Tone) shades. The yellow on the standard bearer was a straight out of the bottle yellow from Ceramcoat, which is a bit translucent. I then applied some Citadel Ivanden Yellow contrast as a test, since I don't often get to use such a bright highlight. Then I did  little bit of hilites with  antique white mixed with yellow. This will certainly prove to be a "go to style" for yellow cloaks and hats, since the Citadel contrast is very nice for this particular color.

This photo shows the colors a bit truer with some hilites and the standard added.

The breaking of the spears: the issue with spears and arrows in plastic:
So far so good on these. I haven't broken any while painting. However the notching arrow arm was so thin I broke two just trying to clean the sprue tab. I decided to scrap those and make another arrow out of the spear shaft. It is a lot less flimsy.  I have zero luck with plastic spears. But they look so nice. !SNAP!

Question: "Do they fit in with Foundry Persians?"
I would say they are close to later Foundry in size. The older Foundry archers are almost true 25's, but the officers and standing figures are closer than you would think. Compare with this picture:

Step 4: Still a long way off, but I am at least making steady progress. Here they are getting details and more hilites and some final facial details. The shield and banner get painted with a design I liked from various transfer sets. Here I have also puttied the bases and painted them and added a first round of grit. They have not been sprayed with matte varnish yet so I have not painted any metallic items yet.

Finally complete and ready to show off!

Plastic figures allow lots of variable poses, each figure is unique.

So much detail on these. One can zoom in and see it all!  I have made bowstrings out of melted sprue, but they never last for gaming figures.
My guess is the arrows will be very fragile in games. One reason why I did 13 is that if I use the standard bearer I can keep the model notching one safe in the glass case.

Hand painted shields, look a bit rough close up, but at tabletop distance they look ok.

Question: "Why use laminated card for the banner." That is a good question.  I do that mainly because coated card stock does not warp and is stronger than paper.
I get a lot of promotional printed cards in the mail, often coated (laminated). I re-purpose some of them as paint palettes and sometimes as small flat items. Plastic sheet card is better but I often run out. The seemingly never ending supply of clear coated card stock takes the paint well and seems to last forever.

These small square banners in Persian units were made out of painted thick felt, so they did not wave in the breeze and this explains why they are depicted as stiff squares that wobble independently. Achaemenid Persian standards were a square about 30 cm across atop a pole 2-2.5m long. Mine may be a bit large. This design is just made up from ideas from Persian designs, but the most common one is the two color (often depicted as black and red). Wargames Atlantic has some that can be printed:


Wargames Atlantic flags by Peter Dennis:

Persian banner:

The grizzled officer is ready to keep everybody in line, or else
Clang Clang! the silver hammer will do the trick!

Wargames Atlantic Persians can be fetched here:

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