Pirates & Sea Dogs
Alternative Pirate Miniatures
Selected by the White Knight
Ahoi there mateys, grab a mug of grog and sit down to listen to me tales of mayhem, blood, wenches and lots of pieces o' eight...
This showcase is dedicated to exploring the theme of piracy from a miniatures point of view. We all remember those old swashbuckling movies we used to watch as kids, starring bigger than life heros as Errol Flynn (Captain Blood, The Seahawk), Burt Lancaster (The Crimson Pirate) and other roguish men in tights. Never mind that real life pirates were the worst scum of the sea, murderous and thieving lowlifes, dreaming of rape, pillage and plunder. No, in our minds they're a happy, singing bunch who steal from the rich, not to give to the poor, no, not even to better themselves, but to go bury those hard earned treasures on some lost and unknown island in a spot marked with an X, never to return until some lucky fellow happens to find a map indicating it's location. This map would preferrably be tattood on some dying old pirate's back as that proved more durable after early fiasco's with maps drawn on crackers and left with the Captain's trusty parrot Polly for safekeeping.
And to humour the ship's surgeon Doc, I'm not even going to mention rebasing any of them. For more background on pirates and their time and a set of free rules, you can check out these excellent articles on Chronofus' Australian Wargames site. There's even a section on building your own ships. Another interesting site was recommended by Sgt. fatgoblin and compares the sizes of pirate minis from various manufacturers. It has many pictures of pirate miniatures. But now on to the schowcase.
Avast, ye scurvy dogs, or you'll walk the plank...
1. Foundry Miniatures
The Foundry has quite some excellent pirate models in the "Swashbucklers & High Renaissance" range, with many historical figures, such as the infamous Edward Teach (better known as Blackbeard), characters from the classic "Treasure Island" and plenty more of the greatest scum that ever sailed the seven seas. The ranges also include cannons and crews, casualties, black marauders and Chinese pirates.
If you want more of a fantasy feel to your games, you should also look at their War Orcs. Many of those (the ones without armour), actually look a lot like pirates and could be used to crew a ship of sailing greenskin cutthroats.
The Foundry website also has a set of useful articles on pirates and building Flagship Games pirate ships.
"It might be worth a mention that the best (IMO) article on the Foundry site is a .pdf reprint of Gary Chalk's piece from Wargames Illustrated #138 on how to *scratchbuild* brigantines from card and wood, with full-size templates. Just the thing for those who are frugal yet crafty!" - aecurtis.
2. Eureka Miniatures
An excellent range from down under (Australia). Like the Foundry, they have a rather extensive line of pirates. The 'regular' pirates are reminiscent of the Howard Pyle pirates. Aside from some excellent character figures and general combat poses, many of the figures are engaged in some on-ship activity, pulling ropes, carrying barrels or loading cannons.
Since there's no reason the guys should have all the fun, Eureka also has several female pirates. These are of the more sexy type, as opposed to say, Old Glory's. The picture was supplied by Sgt. fatgoblin.
For those with more exotic taste, there are also some excellent multi-purpose Chinese pirates, as well as Turkish pirates (picture taken from Chronofus' site) for more of an Arabian Nights setting (Sinbad, anyone?).
Finally, Eureka also delivers for the more fantastically oriented frother, with some excellent skeletal pirates and a few zombie pirates you can see here in our excellent "All Things Rotten" Zombie Showcase (nr. 27).
Only thing missing is an actual pirate ship. No wait, they've got that too. The Eureka ship is different from other ranges, in that it's more a set of platforms or shipdecks than an actual ship (see picture). However this allows to enlarge your ship by adding mid-sections to it. Furthermore Eureka also produces a variety of deck junk, for use with your pirate ship.
3. Old Glory
Old Glory miniatures have a reputation for being good value for money. Granted, the poses sometimes just look like they've got to hurt, but some of the ranges are quite good and they're a fast way to bulk out an army. Of course, when thinking of pirates, we usually don't regard them in terms of armies, more in terms of crews. But if you need lots of them Old Glory are definitely the way to go and judging from the pictures they look pretty decent with some real gems. The pirate range can be found in the 1600-1700's section of the historical range and is probably the most extensive on the subject.
The range naturally includes a bag of pirate captains as well as lots of rank and file with all sorts of weapons. They have an artillery set with crew, as well as swivel guns with crew. And because it doesn't always have to be about guys, they also make female pirates (damn ugly ones too).
Especially nice is a lovely "pirate buried treasure party", because that's what pirates do with treasures: bury them.
There's a pack of dead pirates, as in 'dead' dead, not 'undead', and plenty of natural foes like European sailors, their artillery and their captains, the angry village mob or the fat governor, his creepy assistants, and his mounted guards. As the deserted islands where treasures are so dutyfully buried aren't always as deserted as one would expect there are a few packs of cannibal warriors, including a chieftain with throne and attendants, a canoe with crew and some captive pirates, one of whom is already being made privy to the pleasures of sitting in the cooking pot... But as not all tribes can be cannibals the Old Glory range kindly provides some friendly voodoo warriors. Finally to top it off there are some seasoned British marines with mitre caps.
Since all work and no play makes our pirates... something... something, there are also the recreational sets portraying those late hours in badly lighted taverns, drinking and gambling ("There’s trouble abrewing here") and the all-important set of looting pirates. In some cases that loot seems to be about women...
They also have pirate ships. A nice feature is the rowboat, complete with crew and treasure chest, but there's more. They produce some full pirate ships: the Man ‘O War with 40 guns (3 Masted, 40 cannon 2 decker, with playable forecastle, quarter deck & bottom deck, 28” long resin ship with cast metal fittings & wooden masts), the Brigantine with 10 guns (2 Masted, 10 cannon Brigantine with playable quarter deck/No forecastle, 17” long resin ship with cast metal fittings & wooden masts)
And just when we thought they couldn't spoil us anymore than they already have, they do it anyway and release a Ghost Pirate ship, complete with undead crew.
Another large manufacturer of historical miniatures. Now, there are good miniatures and there are bad miniatures. With Redoubt it's a matter of taste. Some, like myself don't care for the style of many of their lines, while others swear they're the finest minis available. Who's right, I don't know. I do know they have a line of pirates. Are they any good? Hard to say. The Redoubt catalog still uses drawings to illustrate the minis instead of the actual minis, which makes it hard to judge what they really look like. The pirate range includes pirates (naturally), gun crews, female pirates, civilian captives (men and women) and dead or drunken pirates...
If you're a regular visitor of these showcases, you'll know Reaper, that manufacturer of most excellent fantasy miniatures. Well, they have pirates too, two kinds even. They produced a boxed set with some fine pirate characters (live ones) and they have undead pirates in both the "Dark Heaven" and "Warlord" line .
The boxed set is called "Pirates of the Dragonspine Sea" and holds six of the saltiest dogs that ever sailed said sea. Other human pirates, like Eric Swiftblade (2144), can be found in the Dark Heaven line with some browsing...
Now just take a look at Razig, the undead pirate from the "Warlord line". This guy has a roguish charm even in death. Could be the outfit, could be the hair, could be the sinister parrot, but I can only wish I'd look this good dead (preferrably much, much later. Much.). This figure is not to be confused with Kazig, the undead pirate, an equally useful model from the "Dark Heaven" line.
Last but not least is a recent addition to the "Warlord" range in the lovely skeletal pirate crew (4 figures). A cannon and crew is also available.
6. Crusader Miniatures
The company of the talented Mark Sims, formerly of the Foundry. Crusader miniatures offers a small range of pirates and a most original one at that, as they're pirate orcs. The range is called "The Uncharted Lands", and features some dwarves as well, although those look less piratelike. The orcs are nice though, with 8 variants available, four with muskets and four with swords and pistols.
"Height wise, they are very similar to the foundry ones but the foundry ones are slightly fatter. Still they can be easily mixed." - sgt. fatgoblin
7. Freebooter Miniatures
The German company of that other WK, the famous sculptor Werner Klocke (sometimes referred to as the Werner Klocke). Although mainly a fantasy range, Freebooter has a few interesting twists on the piracy subject, with a limited edition pirate girl (250 copies), an amusing limited edition (again) pirate goblin (only a few left!) and a very nice (and unlimited edition) flying pirate boat. A Blackbeard figure has just been added.
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Don't forget to visit Rob's Fishman Showcase for some deep sea monsters.
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