Sunday, 16 September 2012

Army Showcase: 28mm Prehistoric Megafauna

Introduction

For my non-zoologist, younger readers, who didn't study Latin or Greek at school, "megafauna" means "giant animals".  During the last Ice Age, a number of species of mammals grew to extraordinary size, possibly as a defence against predators.  Many of these were contemporary with early man, though in at least some cases the men were then responsible for hastening the extinction of such large sources of meat.

My interest in these creatures comes from tales such as "The Lost World", where they might be encountered by Edwardian explorers.  Potentially, megafauna provide some of the more dangerous encounters for such groups; they are difficult to kill with hand weapons (short of specialised, heavy rifles) and can be very destructive if aroused.

Northern Hemisphere

First up, here is a small herd of Megaloceros.  I've included a Neanderthal hunter to act as a size reference; megaloceros could easily have an antler spread of 12 feet or more!  The 2 models on the left are from Primaeval Designs; the one on the right is from Steve Barber Models (look for "25/28mm Ranges", then "Prehistoric Animals").

Here's something everyone associates with the Ice Age: wooly mammoths!  This pair are from DeeZee and are still available from NorthStar, I think.

...whereas these two are from Primaeval Designs.  They are somewhat bulkier than the DeeZee ones, but much the same height.  I acquired these at a much later date and so the basing is a bit different.  Also the colour scheme doesn't quite match.  I just regard them as older (or younger) individuals, but still the same species!

Finally, here's a shot of the whole herd.  Note that the long, curving tusks make these a real problem to store; they don't fit neatly into any size or shape of box!

Asia

Our poor Neanderthal has encountered a pair of Elasmotheriums (Elasmotherii?).  These are a variety of giant rhinoceros, though not the possibly more famous Wooly Rhinoceros.  The full-grown adult on the left is from Primaeval Designs, whilst the frisky juvenile on the right is a DeeZee model.

South America

Some of the strangest animals on the planet (at least, to Northern eyes) come from South America.  Here are a couple of examples:

Glyptodon is a giant armadillo; early man probably used their shells to shelter from bad weather.  This example is from Steve Barber Models.

Finally, here are a pair of Megatheriums (Megatherii?).  The smaller version on the right is an early Steve Barber model and isn't much to my taste.  The larger model, on the left, is from Brigade Games (the US company, not the similarly-named but unconnected UK company "Brigade Models").  This is much better, in my view: both the size and the general shape of the animal are closer to the historical data!

Conclusion

All of the above mammals were contemporary or near-contemporary with early man; it's not perhaps too much of a stretch of imagination to have an isolated group encountering Victorian or Edwardian adventurers, or even modern man, in some remote part of the world.  I've even used some in a science fiction game, as the denizens of a primitive world being explored by a Klingon away team!

For gaming purposes, I believe that most megafauna that are not familiar with man should have considerable behavioural differences from their smaller brethren.  These are animals that are pretty much immune to predators, at least when fully grown.  They will therefore tend to react aggressively to any puny human who attempts to molest them.  At least, that's what I've tried to convey in my "Attributes for Animals" house rules for the "Adventures in the Lost Lands" rules.

The most comprehensive list of models of prehistoric animals suitable for wargaming is undoubtedly Steve Pugh's "Very True Things".  I'd like to thank Steve for making this data available; it's a very useful resource!

Finally, for those of you that are impressed by scale: a fully-grown mammoth might be 10 feet tall.  But, sticking with mammals, if your adventurers go back 30 million years or so then they might meet a Baluchitherium instead; this could be 16 feet tall and weigh 18 tons!

I think we're going to need a bigger gun...

13 comments:

  1. Nice post on some fun models.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I'm pleased that you liked it.

      Delete
  2. Amazing! I never had any particular interest in those huge animals, but somehow you made my day with this post! Just amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm delighted to know that you enjoyed this so much!

      Delete
  3. This particular era of animals i.e. those that were around when man was, are to my mind far more beleivable opponents than dinosaurs in a "Lost World" scenario.
    Nice collection and there are probably a lot more animals which are usable for this genre too.

    (If I remember my Latin correct the plural of Bellum (war) was Bella.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, but dinosaurs are so *huge*! At least, some of them are :-) .

      I do have a fair number of smaller prehistoric animals as well; these are just the big guys. Even so, there are indeed many more models that I'd like (probably starting with a pair of brontotheres. If I can find it, then a small sloth with bulging eyes as well. Also a sabre-toothed squirrel [sic] :-) ).

      Delete
  4. They are some really cracking figures, the paintjobs are superb really nice work mate

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you like them. Actually, the paintwork on these is fairly easy; they're mostly just a variant of "dark brown undercoat and dry-brush twice with lighter colours". Plus some simple detailing.

      Delete
  5. Very interesting & informative! And the painting is superb, congratulations on a job extremely well done. I wish I could paint like that :) Is the Neanderthal hunter one of Steve Barbers figs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - these creatures may be large but they're relatively easy to paint nevertheless.

      The Neanderthal is from Acheson Creations "Primaeval Designs" range: http://www.achesoncreations.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&view=category&virtuemart_category_id=54

      Delete
  6. Thanks Colgar6. I might try my hand at a bit of rupestrian painting! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. You may try the new rules out called Paleo Diet, they are very suitable for solo play as well. Published by Ganesha Games, and available on Wargame Vault as a PDF.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - I did buy a copy of Paleo Diet a few weeks ago. All I need now are some models of hunting dogs and some fire markers...

      Delete