The Hoplite Greeks for DBA
The dreaded commission to end all commissions!
By Neldoreth
June 20, 2011
Aitolian Greek Army all mustered up from Xyston Miniatures, Painted by Neldoreth

The army that started it all: II/5g Aitolian Greeks...


This project all started when I decided to sell my Aitolian Greek DBA army. One request along with the sale was that I paint a few extra figs to allow the army to morph into other ancient Greek armies. I readily agreed, not just for the extra cash, but because it wouldn't be too many extra elements... But I should have asked! Turns out that the goal was to morph this into every Greek army in the book (with the exception of the Helenistic lists). So, it went from what I figured would be five or six elements to 19!

I have only ever taken two other commissions: one for some ancient Brits that I just wanted to paint but not keep, and one for some Greek shields. Painting an army that I actually want to paint is the way I do commissions, that way it ensures that I'm not stuck in a work-like painting grind... This one promised to be a challenge for me because it wasn't an army I was all that keen to paint in 15mm. However, when I got into it, blammo, I was hooked! It's turning out to be a lot of fun so far, so I might even get through it all ;)

The Plan

The plan is generally to paint all the figures as nicely as I can and as fast as possible, all the while having fun doing it. I don't need any terrain for this since I had a camp for the first army that will work for all of them. It's just that I have to paint droves and droves of the little Greeks. So, let's get on with the list shall we?

This list consists of all of the elements that I need to do to finish off the army. In fine DBA style, I'll give a little legend here: each item will be in the from of "4 - Hoplite Spearmen", where the number corresponds to the number of figs required on the element, and the description after describes the type of figures...

That looks like a long list to me. Given that there are 42 foot soldiers and 20 mounted soldiers, that should take me about three weeks to do the foot elements and three weeks to do the mounted elements, giving me six weeks in total! That's a long time.... let's see if I can do it in less!

Unpainted Xyston Miniatures

Let the fun begin! - Al of the figures ready to be made read for war!

Taking stock of the figures is always a run time... except those little bits of deadly, lead-filled flash. Thankfully plastics are available in 28mm historicals now, so I don't have to buy too many of these lead filled figs anymore... In any case, after looking through the lot, it turns out that Xyston shorted the box nine cavalry riders! In all honesty, two out of three DBA army boxes I've gotten from Xyston have had too few figures...

Xyston's pack of riderless horses...

Where is the horse and the rider? Well, I found the horses but...

Now it's time to go back to the retailer that sold the box and ask them to replace the riders... Hopefull they won't have to go all the way to Xyston to get them... In the mean time, we'll start on the foot! Now that's it for the planning stage. Let's get on with the action...

Week One, The Hoplites... and one Psiloi, Jun 20 - 27, 2011

And so it begins with droves of unpainted lead... The worst thing and the best thing about Xyston are the separate shields and spears. Their terrible for being time consuming, but they're great for allowing great shield-holding poses and sears that don't turn into spaghetti on the tabletop. First, we build the figs, then we glue them to popsicle sticks, then we paint them black.

Unpainted Xyston Hoplites on sticks

Two figures per popsicle stick... It makes me wonder if the name 'popsicle' would have been good for a weapon, as opposed to forzen junk food? I shall slice you with mine pop-sickle!

After that, it's time for the paint! There are a lot of different colours on these figures, so they are a lot of work to paint... skin, black, red, blue, yellow, ivory, bronze metallics, and steel metallics... To save myself adding another colour, I've assumed that the spears are painted or oiled nice and dark, as well as the backs of the shields and leather straps. That lets me paint all of those things with a black base coat.

Unpainted Xyston Hoplites on sticks

Three elements of Hoplite spearmen, and one psiloi in the back there. Check out close-ups of all of them in the Ancient Greek 15mm Gallery.

In they end, I'm very happy with how they turned out, and I am really enjoying painting these! It looks like I may finish the entire project after all ;)

Week Two - More Hoplites... Jun 27 - July 4, 2011

Well, it's week two and things have slowed down a bit. I have been spending less time on this and more on sewing and making shoes for costumes... I will likely finish these by July 4th, but who knows at this point! First I have to get over my brain-smush from all the shoe glues I've been using!

Xyston unpainted hoplites on popsicle sticks

More hoplites on popsicle sticks... Hoplites and a couple of extra peltasts on top there.

I did indeed finish the next twelve Greek hoplites by July 4th, and so was able to stay on track and keep with the timeline! I'm not sure what happened, but I didn't have a lot of motivation to finish these. They are quite complex figures as well, especially since Greeks have all kinds of colours and two different metallic colours. I did enjoy the shields again though, they're very fun to put together.

Xyston hoplites painted by Neldoreth

The finished hoplites in all their glory! That's six news ones plus four old ones give ten elements! Check out more pictures in the Ancient Greek 15mm Gallery.

As I said, they were fun to paint. Also I got some pre-made spears with these guys, so they were a lot easier than the earlier ones that I had to squish the ends of paper clips to make the spears. Over all, I'm looking forward now to painting up some 28mm hoplites!

Week Three - The Peltasts!... July 4 - July 11, 2011

Given that I had such a good time with the hoplites, the peltasts are an easy transition. They are basically hoplites with shorter spears and smaller shields. I guess they also wear boots too, which I find difficult to reconcile with bare-foot hoplites. You'd think everyone would wear boots or shin pads, especially the spearmen who would be facing long lines of long spears with nothing but their legs to jab at! But I digress.

The dynamic poses and spears-up positions on the peltasts are a welcome change from the very static lines of Xyston Hoplites. It's almost like these guys actually came out to fight! As far as building them goes, they went together about as well as the hoplites. I'm finally getting used to drilling their hands as well.

Xyston unpainted peltasts on popsicle sticks

The Peltasts as an almost-finished work in progress shot. Only the metallics and basing are left!

The peltasts were an interesting study. They are basically hoplites with shorter spears and smaller shields. As such, I wanted to set them apart from the hoplites. Sure, they had fewer crested helmets, but not too many fewer. I figured the best way would be to have different designs on the shields. Instead of having all the snazzy Greek symbols as the hoplites did, I decided to stick almost completely with geometric shield designs.

Xyston painted peltasts by Neldoreth

The finished peltasts ready to throw a wrench in the hoplite lines.

All in all, they turned out very well. The geometric shields and the generally more dynamic poses really do make them look a lot different from the hoplites. Hopefully the fourth element/unit should go together just as easily as these did... Of course, I'll have to be careful not to inadvertenetly duplicate any shields from this group to that one... Anyway, check out the peltasts in detail in the Ancient Greek 15mm Gallery starting here.

Week Four - The Light Horse... July 11-18, 2011

This is where things get a little messy for me. Ideally I could do all of the required peltasts at once, but this time I don't actually have the last four peltast figs... so I'm skipping ahead to the light horse!

Going from peltasts to light horse was pretty easy. There's an extra step in cleaning and gluing the figs to horses, but other than that, they're basically peltasts without shields on horses. Well, I guess for the most part, they even have fewer metallic bits. They should go together pretty quickly I think.

Xyston unpainted Thessalian light horse on popsicle sticks

The light horse get the popsicle treatment. These are apparently specifically Thessalian light horse...

The painting on the light horse came together so fast that it startled me really... Without the shields they are just much faster to paint. Even with a whole extra horse, the mounted figs are faster... So really, that tells me that the shields are a lot more work than a horse! I should be charging more for foot figs then ;) I really like these figs though, lots of flowing cloth and I watched/listened to Roseanne season 5 while painting them... Now forever, every time I see a Greek light cavalry fig I will think of Darlene and David moving in together!

Xyston Thessalian and Greek cavalry ready for battle

I ended up painting six light horse figures and three cavalry figures, but since I only needed four light horse figures, I'll save the two extras for later.

It also turned out that I needed one less light horse element than I thought I would. The Aitolian army that I already handed over had a light horse element... So all I needed was two light horse elements, and one light horse general... That's a bizarre one, but I will likely use an armoured cavalry figure with a sculpted crested helmet for the general on the light horse element... Anyway, check out the light horse elements in the Ancient Greek 15mm Gallery starting here. Next it's on to the rest of the cavalry!

Week Five - More of the Cavalry... September 12-16, 2011

The Greek cavalry are basically just armoured versions of the light horse... Also I guess they wear a few more clothes as well... I'll have to spend some time and find out why the peltasts and cavalry in Greek armies wore big boots when the hoplites didn't... In any case, the cavalry kicked off with a bang! Of course, I didn't get them for a month since I finished the last ones, and then I put them all on sticks but got sidetracked by other extra projects... but now the first two elements are done and there's only two more elements left to do.

Xyston unpainted Thessalian light horse on popsicle sticks

A small group of cavalry figures on their sticks being painted...

The speed of the cavalry painting continued despite the break in the middle of the project. Horses are so easy to paint, especially horses that are 15mm and that have well sculpted musculature. With this batch I finished off two general figures, one for a 3Cv general and one for a 2LH general. Along with those figures, I finished off enough figs to put together the two general elements as well as an extra 3Cv element and the last peltast element!

The last of the Greek Peltasts from Xyston Miniatures

The last of the foot for this project! These are likely the last 15mm Xyston figs on foot that I will ever paint!

All in all, so far, this project hasn't been nearly as daunting as I had assumed it would be. I thought it would be tough because of the Aitolian army I originally painted and sold that started this whole thing off... painting the shields for that one was the hardest because it took so long to wrap my head around good shields and designs. But now, it seems Greek figs are simple! Now, on to the last of the cavalry! In the mean time, check out all of the completed figs in the 15mm Ancient Greek Hoplite Armies gallery.

Week Six - The Last of the Cavalry... September 19-23, 2011

Going into the last few figures for a project is always the easiest part of the project... It's only slightly easier than the beginning of the project simply because there isn't the weight of all those figures that still have to be painted... So, I had already put the figs on sticks along with the previous week's figs, so I was able to dive right into painting them!

Xyston unpainted Thessalian cavalry on popsicle sticks

The last of the Greek figures all almost blocked out and ready for highlighting!

The painting on the final six figures went marvelously fast, which is always a nice surprise. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that the end was very near and I was eager to see it through. Also, the Xyston figures are pretty nice for painting. That being said, the armoured Greek riders had some pretty major flash on them. I think it's time for Xyston to re-master those moulds!

Xyston painted Thessalian cavalry

The last two elements completed.

For the most part, it was more of the same with these figures. I had already painted droves of mounted Greeks already, so the scheme was pretty much down. However, I decided to try my new green paints. For me, it takes some time to get it through my head to use new paints. I had purchaased the green paints - three of progressively lighter shades - about eight months ago but hadn't worked myself up to use them yet. So, I did some horse tacking in green. I hope that one green piece of tacking in the entire Greek army doesn't throw it off for the guy that I painted it for :) In any case, check out more pictures in the 15mm Ancient Greek Gallery.


Well, I won't deny that it was long, and a lot of work. But it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. That being said I have noted that my motivation has been at a pretty major low lately. It's not entirely due to the commission I'm sure, but I've always had a problem painting figures for others... For some reason, I can paint an army for myself and then sell it without too much trouble, but when I sit down and paint an army for someone else, it's tough.

That being said, I'm proud of the accomplishment. It's been a good experience painting more Greeks. After painting the Aitolians some time ago I thought I'd never go back to ancient Greece because of the complexity of the shield designs and whatnot. However, with this project, I've realized that it isn't all that bad and that now that I can wrap my head around all of the designs, it's pretty easy. Thus my dabbling with 28mm ancient Greek figs. In any case, that's it!