Fast moving and heavily armoured, the mounted knight is a weapon of strength and terror, a mailed fist with which to smash your enemies. However, the knights of chaos are bigger, stronger and far more lethal, a fantasy Panzer Attack. Whether on horse or, as knights more commonly fought, on foot, the chaos knight's characteristics are essentially the same: massive, all encompassing suits of plate and chainmail bearing lethal weapons, grim warriors without compassion or mercy.
The details often change - some are covered in spikes and others are hellbound fighters surrounded by clouds of dying magic - but the armour is key. Not simply because of the protection, although the slab like defences of these inhumanely strong knights are hard to break, but because you're never really sure what's beneath it. Are they human? Decaying? Mutating into something horrific? Or is there anything inside at all? For all the varying motivations of a chaos warrior, their obvious brutality and unearthly secrets remain consistent.
The details often change - some are covered in spikes and others are hellbound fighters surrounded by clouds of dying magic - but the armour is key. Not simply because of the protection, although the slab like defences of these inhumanely strong knights are hard to break, but because you're never really sure what's beneath it. Are they human? Decaying? Mutating into something horrific? Or is there anything inside at all? For all the varying motivations of a chaos warrior, their obvious brutality and unearthly secrets remain consistent.This showcase (hopefully) covers every available chaos knight and many suitable alternatives, as well as a few from frothing history. It doesn't cover mutants - keep your eyes on the showcases for those - and the products of a certain large company whose obnoxious policies willingly alienate themselves from the wider industry. In addition, both mounted and standing knights have been included on the basis that, if you're interested in one, you'd like to look at their matching brethren. So, unscrew the door from your oven, strap it across your chest and hide your face behind a colander. It's time to meet the hardest rank and file in fantasy.
Purveyors of the finest French resin, Fenryll have an entire 28mm range devoted to chaos. However, the emphasis is on foot troops - they only make two cavalry! The first is an archetypal chaos knight, a hulking, horned suit of armour astride a large horse, axe and shield in hand. The second is more unusual, as the more refined rider (well, the armour's curvier) is atop a horse-like creature that defies exact classification. Best just look at the picture.
Meanwhile, the Les Guerriers du Chaos pack is a passport to chaos knight heaven. Ten nicely designed warriors wielding a range of halberds, axes, maces and swords, most have shields and all are in understated plate armour; the normal horns and spikes are present, but the proportions remain human. Collectors can bolster these with several other sub-groups. The Warriors of Chaos, Warriors of Chaos II and Anti-Paladins are generally compatible, but the quality ranges from particularly cartoony full-plate, through solid knights to a human in a super-hero mask.
However, the Warriors of the Night I and II (Guerriers de la nuit, 3 in each set) are very different. These tall, beautiful men are closer to Nordic barbarians in finally crafted ceremonial armour than chaos knights; unfortunately for many tastes, the sculptor has tried to re-chaosify them by adding skulls to most joints and shoulder pads. The 3 Ecorcheurs (Flayers) are improved versions, featuring screaming faces in their breastplates - much better! The Flayers use swords and shields, while the Warriors come with spear, bow, two swords, a mace and that most effective of weapons: the crossed pair of arms.
For those fed up with armour, Fenryll make three Champions of Chaos wearing only helmets, leg guards and protection for one arm; the rest is bare flesh. Any, or all, of these can be led by the awesome champion of chaos, a chunky chap with two large axes, personal standard and hands like hammers. There's also an armoured Seigneur du chaos, but he's both sat on a large throne and looks very poor. Of course, if you're bored of big things in big armour, you'd better look at Les Filles du Diables. Yes lads, it's horned devil woman who've never heard of tights. Staying just this side of demonic and wearing breastplates (yes, wearing them), these lasses are definitely chaotic and as close to knights as women normally get in the miniatures world. Even though the sculpting is more simplistic than many would like, the Fenryll chaos range is one of the best on the market and it's strength is the ten-mini boxset. Casting is good and the square bases are wonderfully generic.
Fully utilising the 'no publicity is bad publicity' rule, the lawyer friendly Adiken team have become well known in the fantasy world. Now, while they don't have any purposely designed chaos knights, the Queen Wardens have potential, simply because there are very few female knights (although who knows what's really underneath that chunky plate...). The smooth armour is just about different enough from traditional medieval to look unusual, while the long buttoned skirts and narrow visors lend themselves to bondage and similar themes. A suitable paint job, and maybe a few minor additions, could really transform these.
Adiken also have two similarly designed humans - Sir Galwen and 'Knight with Sword' - featuring smooth, curved plating tied on over tight underclothes (fantasy wetsuits?), but in a crowded market there's no need to crowbar these in: they just don't look like chaos knights. However, a passionate converter could use them as a solid base figures. All four are one piece pewter with small, moulded bases.
Old Glory have been around long enough to justify their name, and if you want good, old-fashioned 25mm knights you can stop here. As the figures have been reclassified in preparation for the mostly new Dwarf Wars range, you can now find a category called 'Knights', split between two factions: The Knights of Kaos and the Knights of the White Tower.The Knights of Kaos live up to their billing: not only are they enveloped in plate and liberally covered in large horns and pointed bits, but they ride some of the most heavily armoured (albeit thinnest) horses in fantasy. They're smaller than some of their bulky cousins, but not everyone likes to see a fridge charging across the battlefield. Old Glory offer eight types in all, sold in four blisters depending on the weapons - two with axes, two with lances, a pair with scythes (yes, that's how evil they are) and a brace with 'claws', metal spikes on gloves.
In theory then, the Knights of the White Tower should be a virtuous opposite to the Knights of Kaos, but they're actually perfect Chaos Knights too. The horses wear less armour, the weapons are (relatively) nicer (2 swords, 2 lancers, 2 aces, 2 maces) and the armour is less spikey, but the helmets are long smooth cones with narrow eyeslits.
While not as obvious - or cliché - as skulls and points, the helms add a subtle, more implicitly threatening edge to the miniature.
At 25mm, these won't compete with massive knights from other companies, but relax in the knowledge that they're over 50% cheaper. All 16 come with shields and moulded onto thin bases that wouldn't be too hard to replace. Opinions on casting quality vary, with a definite lean towards the poor.
Andrea are an often-overlooked Spanish firm producing, amongst other things, a range of 30mm Camelot figures. While most are traditional chivalrous knights and cackling witches, they produce two suitable figures: the 'Warriors' (CA-024). They aren't entirely clad in armour, but one bears a skull shaped helmet with animal skin-topping. The sculpting isn't great and the figures aren't bulky enough for your standard chaos knight, but they will be a little bigger than 28mm troops. In addition, one of Andrea's mounted knights stands out for having rather sharp-edged armour. It's still European, but not noticeably 'good' (as opposed to chaos).
Cell Entertainment's '1999' line of bondage themed sci-fi may (or may not) have gone our of production, but two of their figures are worth your attention. The Demonic Hussar is a block of armour plate with a tiny shield, smaller head and long bayonet, although it's attached to a rifle that you'll have to replace; the horse is also superb, looking either frenzied or terrified.
I've included a second Cell offering - the DeSade Apocalytpic Rider (a boxset) - not because of the rider, who's far from knightly, but because of the excellent horse. Bucking up in a mad state, it's a perfect chaos mount...well, for those sticking with horses anyway! Both figures are 30mm, lead and supplied with round bases.
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