I decided that I needed a Christmas project to get me back into painting again and the Victrix war elephant, which came out last month, seemed to be just the thing. I already have a small force of Republican Romans for the period painted and even a unit of Carthaginian infantry. I ordered it on Monday and it arrived today so I spent an hour or so this afternoon starting work on it. Although Victrix products all used to come in (big) boxes, latterly, they have been using bags more and more but this was a sturdy bag made from thick plastic so the components were well protected and it arrived in a strong packing box.
There are four sprues; two each of an elephant and crew sprue. The elephant sprue includes two alternate left hand sides to add variety although, apart from one having its front left leg raised, they are identical, even down to the position of the tail. The crew sprue contains figures for three different nationalities: Carthaginian, Numidian and Roman. A Ptolemaic crew can be built by using the Carthaginian bodies with separate Ptolemaic heads (there are four sets of heads but only three sets of crew bodies). The mahout bodies can be given appropriate heads as there are plenty of heads to chose from. I'll look at these more when I get around to building the figures.
The first thing I did was stick the two halves of the elephants together. These fit really well with good, deep lips to ensure correct placement. A very small amount of sanding and filling was needed and given enough glue and paint you could probably get away without filling the two halves of the body. There are no bases supplied but I trimmed sown some Renedra bases into 5 x 5 cm squares, which is twice the size of the base I use for mounted troops which seems about right. I decided not to glue them to the elephants yet as I will want access to paint their undersides before doing so.
While these were drying I built the howdahs (yes, I know that Carthaginian elephants probably didn't have them but they just look better). This has four pieces (plus spear quivers). Two L-shaped side units go around the wooden plank effect floor piece very snugly and I attached the floor piece to one of these before attaching the other part. There is no need for any filling here, the fit is perfect. There is a separate 'howdah cushion' to go underneath it which has slots to fit the elephant body. I think I am going to take my old model kit approach to this and paint some of the assemblies before sticking them together so the howdah cushion (I am sure there is at technical term for this) will be painted before it is attached. I also bought the Little Big Men howdah and blanket transfers for this (£10 extra - they do these for the other nations' forces too) and think it will be much easier to paint and do the transfers of the elephant and howdah separately, rather than sticking everything together first.
Next it was time to attach the ears and armour-tipped tusks (they look like something you would get in Ann Summers", opined the Old Bat) and the elephants' trunks. There are two alternate trunks. These did have some, tricky to remove, light mould lines and will need a bit of filling where they connect to the head, as will the ears.
This is far as I got before the light went and they really were very easy to put together. Tomorrow I will do the last little bits of filling on the trunk and ears and hopefully undercoat them and the howdah. First painting, I think, will be the howdah cushions and the base coats for the howdahs. Enjoying this so far.
Part 2 here.
Part 2 here.