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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Viking Berserkers, long hafts and all

When I popped these Gripping Beast  Berserkers out of the box, I noticed the axe hafts were very long, with one axe being taller than the figure.  It didn't look right to my eyes so I considered clipping the hafts down.

Fortunately, I didn't do that because the Bayeux tapestry clearly shows axe hafts nearly as long as the axemen.  Plus, there's a theory that a longer haft was reflected social status or ranking.  It will surprise no one that men have been worrying who's longer since at least the Dark Ages!
"A guy on the internet says I can make this longer."
Hurstwic is a wonderful website loaded with background information on all things Viking, including the use of axes in battle.  As it turns out, a long axe was useful for:
  • hooking an opponent's ankle, throwing him off balance.
  • hooking the shoulder or neck to pull an opponent out of position.
  • hooking the edge of a shield, pulling it away from the defender.
The haft can be used to parry and strike, much like a fighting staff. The video HERE shows how an axe-armed Viking might have fought and defeated his sword & shield armed foe.  It's fascinating to watch and once again, shows my imagination is limited by my modern experiences. And here is a YouTube video of a History channel demo of the Danish axe worth a watch as well!

I tried to share my new-found knowledge with my family at the dinner table.  When I asked if anyone knew how to use a two-handed axe, my son replied "With two hands?"   That was pretty much the end of Professor dad's history lecture for the evening.

These Gripping Beasties come with LOADS of character.  I bent the arms on the fellow in the grey wolf cloak so he could wield a 2-handed axe like his mates.  I spent extra time making these shine since they are the killer unit in any Viking warband.  Throwing 4 dice per figure (rather than 2) in melee makes you belle of the ball in a Dark Ages mashup.

I'm loving the Foundry skin triads and mulling over investing in a full set of Foundry paints.  Their system takes the guesswork out of color jumps for 2-tone and triad painting.  I just have to figure out the paint pot versus dropper bottle angle. And the price. It always comes down to money, doesn't it?

Next week, it's back to the Welsh with a post-up of the warriors.  If you look closely,you'll find the Welsh warriors in this picture.  Waaay, way in the back. Farther.  Keep looking...yea, those guys!

39 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Ray, it's a touch easier here in the Dark Ages as I don't have to create flags. ;-)

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  2. Lovely wolf-skins. Always fashionable.
    I've seen one of these long axes in action during the local reenactment show two or three years back. One guy hooked it into the upper half of their opponent's shield: one pull and he's defenseless. The other guy then stabbed him with a sword, good cooperation.

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    1. Thanks Andras! That is so cool that you have Medieval reenactors. Until I saw the Hurstwic video, I'd have assumed that a warrior with sword and shield would beat a warrior armed only with a double handed axe. It looks like an axeman would be good option for breaking a shield wall.

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  3. Those wolf skins are epic. I checked out the video too. Really neat how he used the ax to divest his opponent of his shield. I just knew he'd be exposed though if he used an overhand approach. He overcame that though by using his opponents own sword for the kill.

    It would be fun to do re-enactments like this.

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    1. Anne! Yea, the wolf skins were pretty fun and they make these fellows stand out a bit in a Viking warband. If I ever have to go back in time, I'll need to watch the appropriate Youtube video to learn how to operate! And that includes the Old West...

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  4. Great looking Berserkers. Warriors - one of my favorite movies. Best, Dean

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    1. Thanks Dean! I've been waiting for a chance to sneak that in. Great cult movie!

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  5. You've done fecking nice work there Monty!

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    1. Fran, if I had an Irish teacher who said those very words to me as a young man, I'd have pulled all As in school. I love it...THANKS!

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  6. Thanks for sharing your latest work and for the bit of history lesson on haft envy. I like your treatment on the axes. Must mean I have haft envy too...

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    1. Thanks Jonathan! There is something about those weapons. I could have mixed it up but I think a giant axe suits berserkers.

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  7. Nice Berserkers!

    Have a look here for an insight into fighting with an axe, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paZBkbKM77g

    Steve

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    1. Thanks Steve! And the video below was perfect, you really can move with a Dane Ax.

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  8. Stunning paint job and conversions on the berserkers!!!!

    Nice historical info and thanks for the link to the videoclip.

    Best regards Michael

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    1. Michael! Thanks, this is probably "mothers milk" for Swedes, eh? ;-)

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  9. Fantastic figures, historical background, and pictures...Thanks for sharing Monty!
    Phil.

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    1. Thanks Phil! I have to rush over to your blog and see your new post!

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  10. Hi Monty,

    great work on them especially on the wolfskins! they are "Dream"Warriors! they are "Cult"issime! ;-)
    their haft is far longer than modern baseball bats it has been far more difficult to hide it in their jacket sleeves;-) and unfortunely they haven't sleeves on their wolfskins ;-)
    if the bersekers are united then they'll be never divided ;-)

    Cheers

    thefrenchjester " High sin the New York Anabasis ;-) "

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    1. You sir, are a riot! It's always a privilege to read your posts, and follow your blog!

      Berserkers are my favorite unit in the whole Viking warband. I may lose at Saga but as long as I take out a whole enemy unit with these men, I'm satisfied.

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  11. Sorry, this bit is when he demonstrates the Dane axe....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beSDGVcmmdI

    Steve :)

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    1. Oh, that is brilliant! Thanks for the link Steve, I think I'll move it up to the body of this post. It's too good to not share!

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  12. Replies
    1. A little bit of the old GW dwarf beard painting slips through every time I paint the Vikings. ;-)

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  13. Ohh really nice unit. Loads of charachter as you said.

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    1. Thanks Engele! I have quite a way to catch up with your Viking paiting of 30 posts! When you give Saga a try, let us know what you think.

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  14. What a great looking bunch of berserkers! They do look fearsome.

    Christopher

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  15. Replies
    1. Thanks Tarty! Looking forward to seeing your new Romans in an Impetus battlefield AAR some day soon!

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  16. Looks good...I just ordered these guys a couple of days ago myself! As for Foundry triads...I like them too. However, thinning down your paints is a bite more of a chore as the stuff is super thick right out of the paint pot. You should consider some of the Reaper triads because the paint is less "goopey", less expensive(made in the U.S.A. where you and I are) and it is in dropper bottles. You can order from your favorite online hobby store or from them directly.

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    1. Thanks for the tip! I'll grab a few lines of Reaper Triads and give them a spin. I know Reaper is big in the fantasy line so I've overlooked them for historical painting. I need to correct that.

      You'll enjoy painting these fellows up!

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  17. O.K....weird question. Did you add pants to one of the berserkers? Some of the images I have seen show one of the berserkers nude(which is definitely not something I am going to field with the gaming club that I advise at the high school where I teach). I was assuming that I'd have to make some custom "trousers" for one of these guys.

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    1. Not weird at all. My wife works at a HS so I know first hand what you have to be careful about. I had no nudes in my lot but I THINK 1-2 of the GB scuplts might be. I might be getting them confused with the Crusader line. Like you're thinking, you could greenstuff a loincloth or beltline & cuffs and paint pants.

      BTW, that is so cool that you run a gaming club at HS. Great work!

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  18. Now heres a blog I wish I had found sooner. excellent work Monty

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    1. Thanks Andrew! I'm so glad I found your blog. There is much inspiration over there for painting. Plus, I just grabbed your Saga campaign rules and maps. Great stuff sir!

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  19. I do not see these models on the gripping beast line? Can you send me the link for them? Thank you!

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    1. Eddie! These were part of the 4 point Viking Starter pack. If you look, you can see 3 of the 4 models in their pic. I took the fellow with the sword and shield and bent his arms so he could hold a 2 handed axe. I'll shoot this by email as well.

      Pic here: http://www.grippingbeast.com/photos/vikingstarter.jpg

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    2. Oh I see. Thank you. I do not want to get the entire starter set to get them as I already have their plastic viking box. sigh. I wish they sold them separate.

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