Although I’ve resisted getting a 3d printer myself, I’ve been very aware of the explosion in STL files and Patreons, and none more so than the most recent work of Spanish-based Caballero Miniatures. Sculptor and owner Marcos has been hard at work on a project that happens to be a shared passion – the age of El Cid and Medieval Spain.
My friend James at Fenland Miniatures printed off some of the Spanish caballeros (knights) for me. I was expecting to be impressed, but the quality of these blew me away. The phrase ‘extraordinary levels of detail and animation’ feels barely adequate to describe these incredible models.
As an experiment, I thought I’d pick two identical knights and paint them up; one as an 11th century Spaniard, and the other a First Age Noldor Elf from Middle-earth.
The minis arrived printed in grey resin with an intricate network of supports which was removed with warm water and a pair of clippers. As James warned, there is some really fine detail on the models and I accidentally broke off several of the tassels on the Elf’s saddle (which is why he hasn’t got any – not because he wouldn’t like some!) I trimmed a few areas with a scalpel and added Northstar wire spears for lances. It was an extraordinary experience after years of drilling out hands to take spears to find that there was no need – the precision of 3d printing had left a perfect hole to glue the lance into!
Having decided to convert one rider to a Noldor, I removed the original head and swapped it for a plastic one from the Oathmark Elves boxed set from Northstar/ Osprey. A cloak was added from green stuff along with an appropriate shield and some feather plumes, also from the Oathmark kit.
Riders, shields and horses are all separate pieces but were straightforward to put together using superglue. However, none of the minis came with bases (I understand this is usual with 3d prints) so I had to cut my own from plastic card.
I won’t go through the painting process in detail but currently I’m using GW Contrasts over a white undercoat and then highlighting them up with acrylics. I decided to go for different colour schemes to emphasize the different cultures, so it was white for the Elven horse (GW Contrast Apothecary White) and blue/ black / grey for the rider; the Spanish horse went chestnut (GW Contrast Gore-Grunta Fur) with green and black clothing.
Having got our caballero painted, it was time to see how he measured up to his companions in my El Cid army. Being mostly collected 20 years ago, my force is entirely metal. On the left you can see a Perry Miniatures knight (from the First Crusade range) and on the right, a Gripping Beast Spanish knight (from the El Cid range) with original GB horse.
The finished Noldor is due to join a unit with my other converted First Age cavalry, made from Gripping Beast plastic Arab heavy cavalry with Oathmark bodies, arms and heads. I was very pleased with the match between these – they are easily similar enough to mix. I guess the big question is whether I expand the Elven cavalry using more plastics or more 3d prints? A difficult question!