torsdag 28 juni 2012

Have boat, will pillage.

My thanks to Lennart, who tipped me off about this.

What self-respecting Viking sets out on a raid without his trusty long-ship? Or dragon-ship as the characteristic flatbottomed boats also were called, at least according to popular belief. Well, since most of the raiding was far away and the fastest way to go was by boat, the answer is no one! So I just had to get me one of these babies for my Viking Warband for Saga.

It's a plastic model. Scientists think Real Vikings probably used wooden boats instead.

Revell has re-released this quite old kit of a Viking long-ship in 1:50 scale. Since 28mm figures are defined to be somewhere between 1:64 and 1:56 scale it's not too much off size-wise, and since we don't have a real prototype to compare with it doesn't matter anyway.

The first sprue, with the deck and some other details.
In the box there are four sprues which will build a model just shy of 40 cm in length, which corresponds to approximately 20 meters in real life. Not being interested in sailing myself I have no idea if this is small or large, but it sounds like a large ship to me. (Havhingsten fra Glendalough, the largest reconstructed Viking ship is 30 meters long by the way.)

The two halves of the hull.
Incidentally, Viking ships didn't have any decking so this model is historically inaccurate. I don't mind though as I will be converting it into a waterline model and the decking will disguise the fact that the bottom of the boat doesn't reach below water level. It will also make placing models in the boat easier.

Some nice detailed wood texture.
I have to confess that I have no actual use for the ship in a game of Saga. There are no rules for ship actions and as far as I know the Vikings didn't particularly fight at sea. The ship was simply a means of getting to the enemy or target of your raid and back again. So basically this will be a glorified piece of scenery which only usefulness is to mark a point of entry in a shore raid scenario. But who cares? It's pretty...

The final sprue features a lot of oars and a whopping 64 shields!
The real value of this kit is the inclusion of 64 shields with accompanying transfers! The kit is available for around 15-20 pounds and just the shields are worth it. They are very beautiful with engraved wood details on both sides and the decals feature 32 different shield designs! In Saga terms that's four units of warriors each with a different shield! 

I do not know if the viking ships carried extra shields with them or if each shield was one warrior's personal item, but if the latter is true then this ship would be able to carry 64 warriors. That is a whole warband in Saga. Excellent!

The decal sheet, a vacuform sail and a short and a long piece of string are also included in the kit.

What's not to like is the giant Viking head that's supposed to go on the sail. I don't think so... searching on the net reveals pictures of older boxes of this kit with a raven design on the sail instead. That would have been so much nicer. I guess it will be a white sail for me. The strings included for the rigging is a nice touch though, no need to rob the significant other's sewing kit.

The decal sheet with all the shield patterns. I'm not so keen on the sail though...

I already have some shield transfers from LBM studios, which admittedly, are at least as beautiful as these. So I will simply swap out some of the shields from the figure packs for shields from the ship, with transfers and all. I might leave some shields off the ship as well, fitting 50 shields on will leave me with 16 spare to use on figures! And 50 shields is still plenty enough!

So where do you get this ship for your own Viking warband? Well, I bought mine at a hobbyshop in Sweden, but I just noticed that Warlord Games have their own viking bundle including the revell kit. For only 40 pounds you get a limited edition Warlord, a box of Gripping Beast plastic Vikings, and the Revell kit. I wish I hadn't already bought the ship, since the warlord looks absolutely stunning, and I want him. Maybe I need two boats? Otherwise you can find the kit in wellstocked model stores or via numerous internet traders.

I give this kit 4 out of 5 stars. It's not perfect, but it's bloody useful and good value for your money. 

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