Greek Myth: Amazons and Ethiopians

Amazons from Lucid Eye. The background used throughout this photo shoot is a download from the Jon Hodgson Maps Patreon site which you can access for a mere $2.50 a month, including all the previous mini backdrops. This one’s called ‘Desert Background’. Well worth a look!
Amazon warleader and priestess, both from Lucid Eye

The Greek Myth ‘side project’ has taken on a distinct whiff of Troy recently! While I press on with the excellent Lucid Eye Amazons, I bought a copy of Rosemary Sutcliff’s Black Ships before Troy and very much enjoyed Alan Lee’s superb illustrations as well. Lee’s depiction of Memnon, King of Ethiopia, caught my imagination and I thought I’d have a crack at creating a few African warriors too..

Memnon of Ethiopia and his warriors as depicted by Alan Lee in Black Ships before Troy

[Note to self: this is NOT the start of a full-on Trojan Wars project. Signed me, 26.6.22 🙂 ]

My initial take on Memnon’s Ethiopians

Sutcliff’s book has the Amazons as horse-riding warrior-archers and Alan Lee shows them as a mix of Scythian and Greek. Lucid Eye’s Steve Saleh has chosen a more overall Mycenean look and organisation for his Ziggurat range; his vision has warriors and archers on foot, combined with noble warriors in chariots with some light horse archers alongside. I like both but don’t have any of the horse archers yet, so that’s probably my next purchase.

Penthesilia by Alan Lee from Black Ships before Troy

Anyway, on with the Amazons themselves. I’ve already covered the initial painting and assembly in my previous blog article so I won’t go into too much detail here, but suffice to say my base colours are nearly all GW Contrast paints. Metallics have been added after varnishing to get that shine that I like!

And now, Ethiopians. I’ve got a very large collection of Ethiopians for the late 19th and early 20th century already, but these chaps are something different. As has been pointed out, many Greeks probably had little idea who Ethiopians were apart from their dark skin, so I had pretty much free rein here. I’ve gone for a rather fantastical mash-up of different plastic kit components. The main ingredient is bodies from the Perry Miniatures Ansar boxed set; this has been combined with some of the Beja Perry heads alongside crested helmets which were made from Victrix Iberian warrior heads with crests taken from Victrix Greeks. I fancied using green to tie all the models together and helmet crests were an ideal way to do this.

Some (admittedly North European) Bronze Age elements were added from the Oathmark Revenants and Skeleton sprues using the shields, swords and axes. Additional spear arms came from the Perry Ansar set and also the Wargames Atlantic Irish, which is rather handy for bare muscled arms. The large ‘cut out’ shields were robbed from the Wargames Atlantic Skeletons sprue (only fair, since those skellies have taken a lot of my Greek shields in the past.) It’s been said many times, but the availability of plastic sprues on eBay is a huge boost to this kind of kit bashing project.

With all this done, I green’stuffed a few gaps, gave the Ethiopians a quick coat of Halfords white primer and got to work with the GW Contrast paints. I played around with using different mixes of Cygor Brown, Wyldwood and Black Templar, and eventually settled on a roughly 50/50 mix of Cygor and Wyldwood. When dry, this got a lightly-applied highlight of Foundry Dusky Flesh 6A to pick out faces and raised muscles.

I painted on a few rough geometric patterns to enliven the tunics.

Clothing was Skeleton Horde or thinned-down Wyldwood (both highlighted with Vallejo Off-White acrylic when dry) or Aggaros Dunes (highlighted with Vallejo Dark Sand). The green helmet crests and the green tunic were a mix of Contrast Warp Lightning and Dark Angels Green.

The backs of the shields and the weapon hafts were painted with Wyldwood. The weapon hafts then had a coat of Miniatures Paints Chestnut Brown followed by streaks of Foundry Butter Fudge 55A to create a woodgrain effect.

The cow-hide shields were painted in a similar method to the Amazons with a base coat of black followed by Miniature Paints 84 Umber and 83 Chocolate Brown for the dark areas, Miniature Paints Mid-Grey + highlights of Vallejo Off-White for the light ones.

A very light dry brush of Vallejo Iraqi Sand was applied to bring out the details on some parts of the figures, e.g. over the hair (base coated in black) and the edges of tunics.

As with the Amazons, the bronze areas were base-coated with either black or GW Contrast Wyldwood, then painted and highlighted after varnishing to preserve the high shine that you can see in the photos. Colours used were Vallejo Brass with a wash of Winsor & Newton Nut Brown ink and a highlight of Vallejo Gold.

I’m pretty pleased with the Ethiopians as a fantasy/ Bronze Age mash-up – next step needs to be finding a chariot and miniature for Memnon himself, plus adding a few extra warriors.

5 thoughts on “Greek Myth: Amazons and Ethiopians

  1. Superb! What a fun project! You have really brought these figures to life! Reminds me of reading the Tale of Troy by Roger Lancelyn Green when I was about eleven. I became a bit obsessed with the Illiad this project has stirred up some happy memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, yeah, Roger Lancelyn Green – I read all those as well as a kid. I’m amazed how many gaming projects have their origins in things I encountered before the age of 10.


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