I've always had a bit of a distant fascination with Napoleonic wargaming. Though I've yet to delve in wholeheartedly, I can see its potential as a future obsession. So, for me, the combination of fantasy elements with Napoleonics pushes all the right buttons. On top of that, being of primarily Scottish descent, I have an inherent love of all things Caledonian, and in the world of Flintloque, the Scots are represented by the Ratmen of Joccia. It seems the perfect storm of interest crafted specifically to appeal to yours truly, and yet I've kept my distance.
I want to start with a caveat here that my sentiments might run a bit into the overly-negative, something I'm always a bit loathe to do in regards to anything about our hobby, especially when it comes to small independent companies. Primarily because this hobby is, by and large, a labour of love for all involved; modern GW and Oldhammer ebay parasites aside, no one gets into wargaming with money as the primary motivation. Money is generally more or less a necessary evil standing in between hobbyists and what they want to do, and I think in a currency-free world we would see in the hobby an explosion of creativity and artistry. But being what it is, it's impressive for any small miniatures company to last more than a few years, let a lone a few decades.
Additionally, my criticisms are entirely of an aesthetic nature, which is not only subjective*, but comes from an understanding that I am not a sculptor of miniatures, I am certainly not a Golden Dragon-level painter of miniatures, and my opinions are based only on the limited visuals that I have been able to amass from online sources.
The crux of the matter is, I really want to love this game, or more accurately, I really want to love AA's Ratmen figures. Indeed, every few months I'll stop by the site and face an internal debate about ordering several of the troops. So, let's end the preamble and get into what's stopping me...
*although contrary to popular belief there is such a thing as objective artistic quality and criticism, it's simply that the majority of the people in the world did not throw away several years of their life on an economically-dubious art degree that would give them an understanding of the parameters and purpose of this. Regardless, this has no place in the context of this discussion, which is based entirely on my tastes without any claim to objective artistic value.
I'm going to assume that the Ratmen units featured on the Alternative Armies website were all painted by the same fellow (and as the company offers the unique and rather fabulous option of buying one's army's painted, it may possibly be an example of the in-house painter whose work one is likely to receive). As I said, I think this is tabletop quality, and won't denigrate it on those grounds, but I really do wish that AA provided some high quality pictures of the unpainted sculpts (perhaps with an inkwash to bring out details), so I would know how much of my issues with these figures should be directed towards the sculpts as opposed to the painting choices.
My one main critique lobbied entirely at the painter is that he commits the Cardinal Sin in painting Ratmen of any kind: black noses!
I've seen this often enough to know that it's a bit of a thing, even (especially?) among Skaven players, and it drives me absolutely nuts. I can't even guess where this comes from, except possibly Mickey Mouse. But its like some people have never even seen a rat.
This is a rat:
And in the context of Ol' Angus up there, I see that miniature and this is what I picture...
Anyhow, let me stop with my critiques there and get on with showing the rest of this (admittedly comprehensive) range. One has the choice of a few other General/Commander figures:
I've thought about grabbing some, and doing some head swaps with other Ratmen models. With the work on my Skaven armies going on, I doubt I have the time for that level of intensive conversion. I dearly wish there was a company that offered 28mm Napoleonic hats for converting. In the end, I think the Ratmen of Joccia are simply a bit of a heartbreak for me. They are in concept exactly what I want, in execution a purchase I can't justify. More's the pity.
Up Next: Travel with me to the Far East, as I explore the various iterations of the Nezumi, and make you really want to expand that Eshin faction.