Viking Forge Elephant: MCC-14

Viking Forge Carthaginian Elephant: MCC-14

I did not paint this Viking Forge Carthaginian elephant, but I did add details to the blanket and apply a dip.  It’s a part of my Later Carthaginian beater army that I bought at Historicon last year.  I’m showing it here as a part of my elephant comparisons.

I have two of these elephants and they have a driver and two crew each.  The spears have broken off, they should be taller.  The crew are separate figures, but I can’t tell how the elephant itself was cast.  The head must be separate, judging by its overhanging ears, but I’m not sure if the body is one or two pieces.

These are by far the largest elephants I have.  They’re taller, fatter, and longer than Essex models, and the ears are impressively large.  The pose is quite static, but it gives the impression that the beast is so large that it can’t make any sudden, drastic motions.

Left: Black Hat CA13; Right: Viking Forge MCC-14

The sculpting of the elephant itself is excellent, but the crew are pudgy and unimpressive, without a lot of detail.  The driver is distinctly KKK-like, and I don’t know what this is intended to represent.

The second picture shows a Black Hat Carthaginian elephant on the left, and Viking Forge on the right.  The Black Hat elephant is shorter, but the crew is much taller and thinner.  The proportions are completely different.

I would not likely buy any more of these Viking Forge elephants, but only because they’re out of scale with everything else I have, and the crew is pretty terrible.

Black Hat Elephant: CA13

Here are two Black Hat Carthaginian elephants, product code CA13: “Carthaginian Elephant.” The elephant comes with one driver and two different crew figures.

These are interesting models.  The sculpting is quite good, and the end result is completely satisfying.  However, I have several complaints about my overall experience when building and painting these.  These concerns are likely my problem more than Black Hat’s.

The most noticeable difference between this elephant and the rest I’ve built is how they are assembled.  The elephant, including its head and the driver, is sculpted in a single piece; the box on the back and crew are separate castings.  Black Hat did a wonderful job maintaining a high level of detail with a single casting.

You’d think that assembly of a two piece model would be easier than elephants with two body halves and a head, with an optional howdah.  Nope!  Unfortunately, the boxes for their backs were filled with flash that is difficult to trim out, and then the box doesn’t fit on the back of the elephant without a lot of trimming.

The shields molded on the side of the elephant are a bit oval, I’m not sure why.

The crew figures are also quite odd, though it doesn’t show at all on the final model.  From the waist down, they look like they’ve been packed in a box on the back of an elephant for a year of campaigning… so I guess that makes them accurate?  The crew are flattened from the waist down.  Detail of cloth and armor is still there, but it’s all squashed.  I’m sure this is to allow the figures to fit in the box, and it’s not visible once they’re in there, but it looks weird before you assemble everything.

Left: Essex Indian elephant; Right: Black Hat African

While I was painting this elephant, it felt miniscule, like a pigmy compared to other elephants I’ve painted.  However, once I actually compared it to other elephants, it doesn’t seem that small.  It’s definitely smaller than an Essex elephant, but it’s not as small as the Museum or Chariot models. It’s tall and skinny, but not as long as the Museum elephant.  The ears are tiny.

I’m not very happy with the proportions of the elephant compared to its crew.  The crew is bulky and the box looks huge on its back.  I think this adds to the feeling that the elephant looks small.

Magister Militum Elephant: SEL009

Here is a 15mm elephant sold by Magister Militum and sculpted by Chariot Miniatures, SEL9 or SEL009: “Elephant: Driver and Pikeman Astride.”  Judging by the pictures on the Magister Militum site, this elephant is available with alternate head sculpts.

The elephant is smaller than Essex elephants, and has a much more dynamic pose. It’s in scale with its crew, which are also smaller and slimmer than Essex 15mm people.  It’s appropriate for use in Alexandrian and early successor armies.

The elephant came with two pikemen, but I only used one.  There’s no reasonable way to put two pikemen on this beast except back to back, and they don’t fit well that way.

I really like the way this elephant assembles.  It doesn’t have any base, which is fine since elephant feet are so large.  The two halves of the body and the head all have pins to hold things together while the epoxy dries.  This works much better than the Essex assembly technique.

The pikes are much longer, thinner, and more flexible than Essex pikes.  I don’t expect it to last very long, and it’ll probably be hard to drill out and replace with wire.

Essex Elephant: MEPA36

I’ve finally finished painting a few more elephants.  This one is a 15mm Essex MEPA36, labelled MPA36 on the package: “General in howdah with umbrella holder mounted on elephant with driver.”  I intended to use this as a general element in an Indian army, but I think the howdah looks more like it should be used in an Alexandrian successor army.

This elephant comes with the same driver and body as the Essex MEPA23 elephant.  As with all Essex elephants I’ve seen, the pose is very static. It’s more like an elephant on the march than one being shot at by arrows.  The howdah is a crenellated box with woodgrain on the lower parts and no texture on the crenellations.  It appears to be held on with leather straps, but the straps aren’t continued onto the body.

This time I took pictures of the unassembled elephant as well.  You can see the three part body and head, three crew, and howdah.  I assemble with epoxy and use greenstuff to fill the gaps.  I painted this one with the howdah and driver on the elephant, and the other crew separate.

Essex Elephant: MEPA23

The next elephants in my series of elephant pictures are these Essex miniatures 15mm elephants, MEPA23: Elephant with driver and pikeman.

As with the other Essex elephants I’ve shown, the castings are 3 parts: two body halves and one head. Thes are unarmored elephants for use by the Alexandrian Imperial army and early Alexandrian successor armies. They have a single phalangite with a pike as well as the driver, carrying what looks a lot like a brain spike (emergency brake).

I installed the driver in the wrong place, as far as I know. I think he should be up further on the elephant’s neck, as on the rest of my elephants.

I decided to face the pikeman rearward, based on an article I read in Slingshot issue 260: Elephants and Things, by David Edwards. His conclusions were based on logic, not on historical evidence. He concluded that the only way a pikeman with a 20′ long pike could protect both sides of the elephant without decapitating the driver or knocking him down is if he were facing rearward. The elephant can take care of its own front just fine, thanks. Later, with large crenellated howdahs, riders could stand and move around more easily, but probably still wouldn’t bother lifting the pike over the elephant instead of swinging it around the rear.

Museum Miniatures Elephant: IE10/IE15

This elephant came as a part of a DBA army pack, and was labelled as a Museum Miniatures 15mm elephant IE15: C In C On Elephant Elephant/Howdah/Crew Umbrella. However, it looks identical to the image on the Museum Miniatures site of IE10: Indian Elephant Howdah Mahout, Archer Javelin.

It did come with the top part of an umbrella, but there was no obvious place to mount it, so I left it off. The crew is the same as on the IE10: a driver; a kneeling archer, identical to a ground archer; and a kneeling, thrusting spearman.

If I remember correctly, the elephant itself is a single part casting. It isn’t as tall as the Essex elephants, but it’s longer front-to-back. The howdah is a separate part, and the crew are also separate. There’s no blanket or any other covering under the howdah.

These are nice looking castings with a good skin texture that is easy to paint. The pose is very animated and a lot less lethargic looking than the Essex selections, but the elephant doesn’t look very warlike.

Here’s an image comparing the Museum elephant, on the left, with an Essex MEPA23 on the right.

Edited to change “IE16” to “IE15” after I looked at the actual bag it came in…

Essex Elephant: MOGE23

The second elephant in my series of elephant miniature pictures is the Essex Miniatures 15mm elephant MOGE23: Armoured elephant, driver & four javelinmen. It’s an Indian elephant with Indian soldiers helping it along.

Again, the elephant does not fit 4 javelinmen comfortably, so I added only 2. The driver is the same as with the MOGE19 elephant, and all 4 javelinmen are identical.

As with all the Essex elephants I’ve assembled so far, this is a three piece casting: two body halves and one head.

When I saw this one unpainted, I thought “what the heck is that armor supposed to be?”

After a bit of Googling, I found pictures of elephant armor that seems to match the Essex miniature. The actual suit of armor is on display at the Royal Armoury Museum in Leeds, UK. I can’t seem to embed remote pictures very well, so I’ll include links, instead.

Flickr user Gidzy posted a good picture of the armor from above the rear quarter. has a composite picture with close-up details of the construction.

The armor has areas of metal scales and decorative plates, connected by mail. It is exceedingly detailed compared to the huge scale of the animal, but most of the detail is lost on the 15mm figure. The circles I painted gold on the miniature seem to correspond to larger metal plates decorated with a raised images of elephants and other animals and decorations. The Essex figure had no obvious tie-downs on the side of the elephant, so I painted the fringe and rear ties red instead.

It’s worth noting that the real elephant also doesn’t seem to have room for 4 seated archers as well as the driver!

Essex Elephant: MOGE19

Essex Miniatures does not publish images of their elephant models in their catalog. This makes purchasing elephants difficult since you can’t see what you’re getting before you have it. I have decided to post pictures and descriptions of all of the elephant models I have, to help others make informed purchasing decisions.

This is the Essex Miniatures 15mm elephant MOGE19: Unarmoured elephant, driver & four archers.

The back of the elephant obviously doesn’t fit 4 archers along with the driver, so I only painted three archers and the driver. When I went to install the archers on the elephant, I couldn’t find a good position for 3 passengers that didn’t look like they were falling off, so I only included two out of the four archers here. All four castings were identical.

The elephant itself comes in 3 pieces: two halves of the body, slightly hollow, and the head. The pieces don’t fit perfectly, and require some sanding and gap filling to get a good fit. I used epoxy to hold the elephant together, and pinned the archers in place (but not the driver).

The elephant skin is nicely textured, and lends itself to dry brushing. However, the large two-layer blanket has no surface detail, and really begs to be painted. I’m not very good at flat work, but did what I could to spice it up a bit.