Goonhammer Historicals: Victrix Norman Cavalry Miniatures Review

This week we take a look at another of Victrix Miniatures’ ever-growing range of “Dark Age” miniatures, the Norman Cavalry set!

There is something extremely cool and evocative about cavalry forces on the tabletop. Maybe it’s all the books we’ve read or movies we’ve seen, but the concept of a thunderous mounted charge speaks to something deep in our collective psyche. As such, it was with great anticipation that I awaited the arrival of a set of Victrix Miniatures’ Norman Cavalry set (stock # VXDA005, if you’re looking for it online).

Disclaimer: Victrix was no way involved with this review, I purchased these miniatures with my own money.

For those who might remember, I did a review of the original Norman Infantry set a while back, in which I gushed about not only how good the sculpts were but how they had a wide appeal for people who wanted “broadly medieval” miniatures for whatever game they are were playing. I am happy to report that the Norman Cavalry continues that trend, so let me gush some more!

The kit comes in the usual no-frills packaging, just a big bag-o’-sprues with a cardboard topper for easy hanging on the rack at your FLGS (provided you are lucky enough to have a FLGS that stocks Victrix – I am doomed to mail-order, which upon further reflection is probably better for my pocketbook). Also per usual, the back side of that topper, of course, has the printed “instructions” for assembly, along with the usual disclaimer that certain arms/heads work better for certain bodies.

Inside the bag are five sprues. Three of these are for the horses, shields, and accessories, while the remaining two are for the mounted warriors themselves. All told, the kit allows you to assemble a full dozen mounted figures.

Victrix Norman Cavalry horse and shield sprue
Each horse sprue has enough parts to make four horses (credit: Ilor)

The casts of the horse sprues are great and there are very few noticeable mold lines. Cleaning and assembling these was a breeze. The two halves of the horse go together very cleanly and without gaps, which was a welcome relief. Additionally, I really liked the poses of the horses – In most cases there are only two hooves in contact with the base, which really conveys a dynamic sense of movement. It actually looks like horses charging (rather than standing in place with one leg raised).

Victrix Norman Cavalry horses assembled and painted.
Victrix Norman Cavalry horses, after assembly and painting. These sculpts are very dynamic and were a joy to put together. (credit: Ilor)

As an aside, if you like how these turned out, check out our How To Paint Everything: Horses article!

Additionally, this sprue has all of the shields, and here was another welcome surprise; there are a bunch of different shield options that allow you to theme your cavalry to a variety of different eras. For the basic Norman theme, you’ll likely want to use the teardrop shaped shields (either flat or curved), but you can go with an earlier era by using the round shields (again with either a flat or curved face). Additionally, there are a few longer “crusader” style heater shields if you’re looking to assemble your tiny Norman riders as such. And finally, there are enough of the heart-shaped Adaga shields that you can assemble your riders as Andalusian or Islamic cavalry, say during the Spanish Reconquista. This sprue also has the optional tassels for those shields, available as separate pieces such that you can glue them individually at whatever angle you like, which gives you more choice in how you orient the shields themselves when you attach them to the riders. This in turn ensures that you can get exactly the level of dynamic tassel-flapping you desire.

Finally, there are a variety of accessories on this sprue, mostly swords, scabbards, and daggers. This includes long, curved daggers appropriate for the Islamic cavalry (or perhaps Crusaders who know a good knife when they see one).

Victrix Norman Cavalry warrior and weapon sprue
The warrior sprue has enough parts to assemble and arm six riders, as well as scads of different weapon and head options. Apologies – I got a little over-excited and clipped several riders out before I remembered to take a picture of the sprue! (credit: Ilor)

The warrior sprues have parts for six riders each, along with a dizzying array of heads and weapons. The casting quality is again very good, although the torsos once again exhibit the problem where the chainmail detail gets a little muddied in the area where the two halves of the mold meet. I don’t think there’s really any good way to set up casting for this level of detail that’s not going to have this problem, and a few moments of work with a sharp-edged file was sufficient to handle the problem. This is really my only quibble with the entire kit, and it’s pretty minor.

I have assembled cavalry figures for a bunch of different games over the years (the first having been 40K Tallarn Rough Riders back in the early 1990s) and I am used to the riders being in two pieces, usually the torso and the U-shaped part for the legs. This kit was a little surprising in that it actually split the individual legs into their own piece. At first I wondered about the reasoning here, but upon closer examination it allows the tooling of the mold to be done in a way that allows for much more detail on the legs themselves. This is cool, because each of the riders’ feet are modeled in well-formed stirrups and actually have spurs! The two leg pieces are indexed to make assembly easy, a fact which I greatly appreciate.

One word of caution – the torso and leg-combos are not fully interchangeable. Some are, but two of the torsos (and corresponding legs) have scale-mail while the remaining four are clad in chain-mail. But the torsos and legs are grouped together within a single “cell” on the sprue, so it’s easy to know which ones go with which.

Victrix Norman Cavalry
A fully assembled and painted Norman cavalryman. This particular warrior is clad in scale-mail, so make sure you pair the right legs and torso together. (credit: Ilor)

In terms of heads, there are as expected loads of options. Most of the heads have a mail cowl and a conical helm with a nase, but there are a couple of fully-enclosed helms as well. There are also a few helms with rounded or peaked tops, as well as a number of helms with turban wrappings suitable for Islamic cavalry or forces from the Crusades.

When it comes to weapons, each rider comes with the option to have either a sword, an alternate hand weapon (either an axe or a mace), and usually two choices of spear (typically either couched as a lance or held ready to be thrown as a javelin). This is one of the areas where the sprue layout needs to be mentioned, as all of the weapon options for a given torso are located together in the same part of the sprue. This is a huge quality-of-life improvement over some of their earlier Dark Ages kits (I remember assembling the Vikings and going, “Yeah, OK, but where the hell is arm A21?” while trying to peer at all the tiny numbers on the sprue). This made clipping and assembly very quick. As always it’s worth noting that the weapons have more realistic proportions, so be aware that the spear shafts or sword blades may require a little extra care when separating from the sprue.

The models themselves have some great details. Whether it’s the luxurious mustachios on a particular face or the delicate filigree along a scabbard, there’s lots to appreciate here from an artistic perspective. These details have enough relief to take paint well.

Victrix Norman Cavalry
Lots of little details abound, from all the straps to the wrappings on the scabbard to the stirrups and spurs. I was really impressed by the amount of cool little elements captured in these sculpts. (credit: Ilor)

Victrix Norman Cavalry
The filigree on this dude’s scabbard blew me away! (credit: Ilor)

While I free-handed a few for specific heraldry, for most of these miniatures I used the shield transfers I picked up for the Norman Infantry set, as the teardrop shields are identical between the two sets. These are from Little Big Men Studios, are very easy to use, and I think they look great. They are available on Victrix’ website, so you can order both minis and transfers at the same time, a real convenience!

Victrix Norman Cavalry
Knights and lay-brethren of the Order of the Copper Hook charge into the fray! If you know, you know. (credit: Ilor)

Victrix Norman Cavalry
Not only are the horses dynamically-posed, so are the riders. These guys look like tough customers about to carve their way through some poor peasant rabble! (credit: Ilor)

Overall, I am really impressed with this kit. Victrix continues to knock it out of the park when it comes to quality and value. This kit gives you 12 figures for $33, not to mention all of the bits you’re going to end up with for use in conversions down the road. While not quite as eye-popping a value as their infantry kits, roughly $2.75 per figure for cavalry is still a crazy-good value. Further, the quality of the sculpts continues to set the standard for historical plastics.

And as with the Norman Infantry kit, this set has broad applicability outside tabletop wargames catering to a specific era of history. Need miniatures for a bunch of mounted armsmen to throw at your players in your next D&D game? Look no further! These miniatures are very evocative and could fit into a wide variety of fantasy games with a broadly medieval theme.

So charge forth and grab yourself a big ol’ bag o’ cavalry, you won’t regret it!

Victrix Norman Cavalry
Norman knights thundering across the battlefield, ready to crush their foes! (credit: Ilor)

Questions, comments, suggestions? Fuming at the Norman Yoke, still, even after a thousand years? or leave a comment below