Monday, 25 October 2010

1/3600th Ancient Galleys from Outpost Wargames

So, just when I thought it was safe to relax and look forward to progressing with my regular projects, my butterfly mind once more caught me out and sent me winging my way in the direction of something new.
To a chorus of groans of "He's only gone and done it again....", I'll therefore present yet another review of a new, yes, that's a new project - to whit the small but perfectly formed Ancient Galleys from Outpost Wargame Services!

These Roman and Hellenistic vessels are scaled in at 1/3600th, so I have managed to move into something smaller......perhaps a hint of downsizing for the coming recession? As if....

(Scroll down on their Ranges web page, and look for Naval/Ancient Ships)

I'd been wanting for some time to have a go at some Ancient Naval, but had been thoroughly intimidated by the thought of taking on the larger scale products available in say 1/1200th or by the likes of Xyston, and was very happy to come across these ships that would fit very nicely into my ethos of putting down Mass onto the tabletop, without breaking the bank, nor requiring painting skills above and beyond my capabilities.
The beauty of these vessels is that they are simple enough to paint up quickly, yet are gifted with enough detail to provide interest, and moreover, come in packs of twenty five!
Yes, that's twenty five vessels for UK £3.00 - £4.00, depending on vessel type.

Now before I get too misty eyed about the qualities of the smallest of smaller scales out there, I have to admit that as this was one of my (Ahem), subsidiary projects, I only invested in a limited number of types, and moreover, actually avoided the smallest ones that are available....yes even I baulked at some of the really tiny models that they provide, namely classes of ship such as the Lembi and'll see what I mean if you take a look at the illustrative and useful gallery at their website:


I went only for the MED4 Trireme and above, hoping to balance the playability versus the paintability of such small vessels.
To put things into perspective, these Galleys featuring integral bases range roughly in size from around 7mm up to 20mm in length.

I purchased the MED5, Trireme with sail, the MED6 and 7, Quinquireme both with and without sail, and the MED11, Hexereme with sail.
The castings arrived in a nice and clean state, with only some small slivers of venting flash present on some of the base corners, that easily snipped off.
Outpost were kind enough to inform me that there may be a slight delay in despatch due to unforseen circumstances, but in any event, I received the minis within a week of ordering by e-mail and paying by PayPal.

For their size, the Galleys are very nicely proportioned, with banks of oars visible, as well as distinctive bow and sternpost decorations and sails and masts. One criticism might be that in the Trireme in particular, the sails are heeling forward somewhat due to the sculpting style, but this is only really a small niggle - although I have to warn that the hardness of the pewter material makes it impossible to straighten these into a more vertical position in any way.

I like the fact, without going into the whole 'Galleys in combat shouldn't have masts or sails in place' debate, that you have the option to field either type, although I have to say that for me, I wanted a majority of those with sails - it somehow just looks right, particularly in this scale.

Looking at what I bought individually, then, let's start with the MED5 Trireme w/sail:

The Galley itself measures at 12mm stern to bow, with the integral base being 14mm by 6mm wide - the overall height from base bottom to the top of the mast is 5mm, give or take.
I know that these measurements have led others who know better, particularly Tony Hughes of Gildas and Tiny Tin Troops fame, to state that they are probably closer to 1/3000th in scale; he has a useful photograph at his old website:

The Quniquireme measures out at 17mm by 8mm base wise, and has a more erect sail, with a nicely pronounced Hellenic ram-style bow, perfect for painting eyes on!

The Hexereme, compared to the others, is suitably broad and chunky at 20mm by 12mm based, and comes with some great looking archery or 'siege' towers fore and aft:

It is difficult even with a decent Macro setting to truly capture these diminutive ships, but I think you can get an idea of the level of detail that you have to play with below:

Even I won't be attempting to mount any deck crews of Hoplites or Marines, but I think they should paint up nicely, and give a good sense of the originals in full flow:

Having said that, the mast-less vessels do offer the opportunity to glue in some scratch built catapults......only kidding!

As always on this Blog, the squares on the green cutting mat are sized at 10mm or 1cm each, but for clarity, here's a view of one of them up against a UK Penny:

Then a group beside a more international standard AAA battery:

Overall I'm pretty pleased with what I ordered, and looking forward to putting some paint their way; I'm not sure just yet as to how exactly they are to be used in a game (to base or not to base), but I'll likely be looking at one of the variants of Corvus as a set of easy play rules.
As a subsidiary project, these are going to be more about having a go at something different, rather than being a big commitment to a unified game system or period.

I'm not going to be too stuck on a particular period or group of protagonists, rather use the ability of the smaller minis to stand in as a number of different types in various eras.
Certainly, Ancient Naval Warfare purists might shudder at the broad brush sculpting and characterisation of these miniatures, but I think for a small investment, they should more than do the job, and at the very least would provide a good weekend project for any miniaturist or gamer.

I think that I can say that if you want to have a go at becoming "The Face that launched a thousand ships", then these are definitely the way to go!


  1. Hi SoS,

    These look really good and Dave Manley knocked up a set of Fire and Fury based ancient naval rules called something like Greek Fire and Ancient Fury which are ideal for use with these little guys! They look really good and I hope they decide to tackle the 16th century in due course!

    All the best,


  2. Actium at a 1:1 scale then sir! :)

  3. Really, very cool. Galley warfare is one of those genres I have always wanted to do, but could never decide on a scale, or what engagement sizes I wanted to build up to.

    To get you juices really flowing, go read "Ship of Rome" - Ramming Speed!!!!

  4. Cheers guys, glad you like the review - don't think I can quite stretch to Actium yet, although I have to admit that in typical style, I've rushed into painting these up at the expense of other projects, so look out for some painted pics soon.

  5. Nice project, you always find interesting stuff. They are pretty nice castings for the scale, do the sails not respond to mole grips? A lot of things do!

  6. The only thing that spoils these for me are the thick sails. I would be tempted to go for the sail-less ones and scratch build plasticard ones. Not sure they would hold up to to the handling they would get during the game though.

    Looking forward to the painted ones and thanks for the review

  7. Hi guys, thanks for your comments; painted pics in a day or so!

    @dicehead: Ouch! molegrips..... no, I think these would just end up deforming them - the lower part flows into the hull sculpt so no dice, I think ;-)

    @Andrew, I really was joking about adding scratch-built catapults you know - the sails might be a bit ambitious - having said that, if you bought just the largest vessels, and saw them as generic 'galleys' rather than specific types, then I think you could get away with ignoring the scale and have some nice little ships with larger, more impressive flags.