|Beowulf and Grendel face each other off|
It's perhaps the greatest and best known Dark Age fantasy of all. It's been the inspiration behind many modern tales, and numerous films, several of which are well worth watching. Not to mention the recent translation of the original epic poem by Seamus Heaney that won the Whitbread Book of the Year prize in 1999. It's a good story.
Beowulf was composed between the 7th and 10th Centuries. It tells of the adventures of the Scandinavian warlord Beowulf, a Viking hero of the people of Geatland, who fights three monsters – a creature called Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and (in later life) a dragon.
As with many people, my own journey in wargaming began with fantasy games, and as my interest in the Dark Ages continues a desire has grown to field Beowulf and his band against the monster Grendel. Eureka Miniatures have made this possible.
The fantastic Beowulf and his Retinue range from Eureka Miniatures comprises two sets of figures of Beowulf and his companions (one set in action poses, one set standing). I bought the figures in the action poses at Warfare a couple of years ago - yes it has taken me ages to get them painted!
I bought figures for Grendel and Beowulf from Model Bunker Stoke. I prefer this Beowulf figure to the one in the Eureka set.
I also added a bard to complete Beowulf's band of warriors. This is a figure from the Black Tree Design Saxon King set.
Grendel is a demonic fiend from hell, a creature of the night said to be a descendant of Cain. He is fearsomely strong and magically protected - "no blade on earth, no blacksmith’s art, could ever damage their demon opponent” – but despite this, eventually Beowulf rips one of Grendel’s arms off and, mortally wounded, Grendel runs off back to his lair to die.
The figure presents Grendel as an oversized humanoid with claws and attitude. Consistent with the legend and very much along the lines of my concept of Grendel.
|Brave Beowulf, hero of the Geats|
I changed his shield for a more conventional Gripping Beast round one, and decorated his base with skulls from Black Cat miniatures. I'm particularly pleased with the shield design.
|Close-up of Beowulf's shield|
The Shaper: the Bard
|The Shaper, singing Beowulf's praises, no doubt|
According to John Gardner's novel Grendel, the name of the Bard in Hrothgar's Hall is The Shaper. I added him to Beowulf's band as according to the epic poem Beowulf was accompanied to Hrothgar's Hall by thirteen men.
The twelve remaining men accompanying Beowulf are represented by Eureka Figures. They are lovely figures, crisply cast with very little flash, and although slightly on the small side of 28mm they will enhance pretty much any Dark Age warband out there.
And all of them together...
|Beowulf and his men prepare to fight the monster Grendel|