A long time ago…
Well, 1977 to be exact, George Lucas unleashed the first movie in what was to be one of the longest running and most popular sci-fi franchises of all time.
Being a young lad with an unfortunate haircut and a predilection to wearing dungarees at the time (it was the 70’s, after all), I thrilled to the exploits of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and the rest of the Rebellion’s heroes, as they squared up against the might of the Empire, with their white-clad Stormtroopers and the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader. Any long object, be it a garden cane, cardboard tube or French stick became a lightsabre in my hands, sliding doors were opened by the use of my Force powers, rather than the automatic sensors and it was acceptable to wear a dressing gown in public, as this was the garb of Jedi Knight.
And if you wanted to recreate the daring adventures you’d witnessed on the screen from the original trilogy, you had 3 3/4″ action figures of all your favourite characters, from the lowly Power Droid up to Boba Fett, plus all their vehicles and some pretty inventive playsets.
Now, confession time – I always preferred the Imperials. Not due to their ethos, but due to their uniforms and vehicles. They just looked cooler than the Rebellion’s outfits – probably because they were sufficiently different from what we had seen before. An X-Wing was basically a jet fighter, but TIE fighters were like nothing we’d seen before.
And I loved that the Empire had specialist troops, with a unifying look and colour scheme, so you knew that these were Imperial forces. A New Hope gave us Stormtroopers and TIE Fighter pilots, The Empire Strikes Back gave us AT-AT Drivers and Snowtroopers and The Return of the Jedi gave us Scout Troopers. All slightly different, but similar enough that you knew they were part of the same organisation. The two ‘anthology’ films Rogue One and Solo added to this, by giving us Death Troopers, Shoretroopers, Patrol Troopers, Range Troopers and the rather crappily named Wet-Weather Troopers. All slightly different, but sharing the same aesthetic.
Now, from a wargaming perspective, if you wanted to recreate ground=based battles in the Star Wars Universe, up until 1991, you had to find suitable proxy figures. However, in 1991, West End Games released both the Star Wars Minatures Battles rules and accompanying 25mm metal miniatures. These was succeeded by Wizard of the Coast’s Star Wars Miniatures game in 2004, which upped the scale to (apparently) 34mm, the figures for which are still available from online sellers, but expect to pay a pretty penny for the rarer figures. The WEG metal miniatures are rarer than hen’s teeth, so you’re unlikely to find them for a sensible price anywhere.
Fast forward to today.
If you want to play official tabletop miniatures games set in the Star Wars universe, your only real choice is Fantay Flight Games, who offer Imperial Assault – a “a strategy board game of tactical combat and missions” or Star Wars: Legion – “a miniatures game of thrilling infantry battles.”
Now, both of these games require an initial “buy in” of the core boxed set, then offer you various supplements to expand your universe. Both Imperial Assault and Star Wars: Legion have a recommended retail price of £89.99, but by shopping around you can get them significantly cheaper. However, as both games are scaled larger than 28mm AND Legion’s figures are bigger than IA’s, they are not really compatible with one another or any other figures. Basically, if you want to play a tabletop miniature game with official Star Wars figures, you HAVE to buy they product. Which, whilst the initial buy-in might seem quite reasonable, when you look at the supplements and expansions, can get somewhat pricey. Fine if you have the resources to invest into these games, but for those of us with a limited gaming budget, our initial reaction was to coo over the miniatures, make a list of what we’d like, tot up the overall cost – then go and weep in a corner.
However, just because FFG hold the license for OFFICIAL Star Wars tabletop miniatures, does this mean that you can’t play a Star Wars themed game utilising other available miniatures that are significantly cheaper? Of course not!
But, it will be down to how much of a purist you are. Prior to the release of the Sequel Trilogy, which began with The Force Awakens, there existed something called the “Expanded Universe.” This was made up of various creator’s visions of what occurred prior to or after the original trilogy. All of this work is now considered non-canon and had now been dubbed “Legends” to separate it from the “Official” timeline. So, any characters created for the Expanded Universe won’t be showing up in any of FFG’s games.
But if we take the general premise of the Star Wars universe – a militaristic organisation dominating the galaxy, an alliance of free worlds that are resisting this expansion and a quasi-religious order of psychic warriors who choose either side depending on their moral compass – could we not create our OWN version of the Star Wars universe, using a suitable set of rules and miniatures? Think of it as an Alternate Universe, rather than an Expanded or Canon one.
So, where can you find suitable proxy miniatures to enable you to do this? Read on and I will show you…
Firstly, I shall be concentrating on 28mm miniatures, as this is my preferred scale, so if someone usually games in 15mm and wants to do this, you might have to do your own research.
Our first port of call is North Star Military Figures and their Rogue Stars range. This is heavily influenced by Star Wars and has energy sword-wielding psionics, dodgy smugglers, combat robots and a few interesting looking aliens.
Packs are £6.00 each, in which you get either two normal figures or one big one. However, as some of these were sculpted by the extremely talented Mark Copplestone, if your go to the Copplestone Castings section, you can but some of these figures individually.
Next stop is Hasslefree Miniatures, who have several ‘Mystic Warriors’ (i.e. Jedi), in their Sci-Fi Humans range. Incidentally, the miniatures listed as ‘Kami Riko’ and ‘Larran Jax’ do bear a striking resemblance to Rey and Finn from The Force Awakens…
However, this has to be my favourite Not-Jedi figure they do;
Prices are about £4.50 per figure, so you won’t be building an army from here, but you might want to pick up a few heroes (or villians), so worth a look.
On the topic of Not-Jedi, Ganesha Games (who are distributed by Alternative Armies in the UK) have their Psi-Paladins;
Four variants, £3.00 each. Designed for their expansion to their Post-Apocalyptic rules Mutants and Death Ray Guns, entitled Psi-Paladins and Techno Barbarians. Also worth looking at the rest of the range, for additional characters.
This covers the named characters, but what of the troops? Those faceless minions of the authoritarian government or the hardy partisans resisting them? Well, as you need a fair few of these, you don’t want to be paying TOO much per figure, do you?
So, for our not-Rebels, I would suggest Moonraker Miniatures and either the Troopers from their Future Skirmish range, of which there are 14 variants, including three heavy weapons, at £1.75 each.
Or the Yoyodyne Shigaru from the Spacelords range, three figures for £5.50, with several different variants;
You might also want to look at the Yoyodyne Elite Skychargers, if you wanted a unique Don Quixote-esque Not-Jedi;
Having already got some of Moonraker Miniatures Future Skirmish Troopers, these will be MY Not-Rebels or, in my Alternate Universe, my Union of Free Worlds troopers. Here they are, waiting to be suitably repainted;
For your Not- Imperials, you could use Moonraker’s Future Skirmish Troopers in NBC suits;
Or the same company’s Cybertech Bunkerbreakers;
However, as I’ve seen the Reaper Bones Nova Corp Soldiers;
painted up as proxies for Clone Troopers;
And they’re only £5.99 for three figures (albeit in the same pose), but there are five variants, this should give a good range of different troops.
However, if you want mult-part hard plastic miniatures, which work out at less than £1.00 per figure, go to Scotia Grendel and their Void 1.1 range. You have a choice of Viridain Interdict marines, £5.00 for enough sprues to make 10 figures;
Or Junkers, £8.25 for enough sprues to make 10 figures.
Or buy one of each and mix-and match the parts, which is what I’m going to do. These will be my Dominion troops.
The only thing missing is a Sith Lord, as whilst the Not-Jedi I have found are good for heroic Jedi, those seduced by the Dark Side of the Force tend to be masked. As the Jedi Order is inspired, in part, by Samurai, using a suitable masked Samurai subtly modified and painted appropriately should work.
The Heroclix Death Demon or Samuroid could work;
Alternatively, using either of these Armoured Samurai from Ral Partha Europe (£4.00 for both figures) with the addition of lightsabres would also work, especially the one on the right;
However, it is all down to personal choice – what do YOU think a Dark Jedi would look like? Perhaps one of the Psi-Paladins shown earlier, but with skin colouring similar to a Drow?
However, as I had TWO figures representing the same character, one of which is the classic version of the character and one an ‘updated’ version, which I didn’t like as that character – but WILL make a good Not-Sith, I am using this HeroScape Doctor Doom figure. All he needs is a lightsabre and a repaint;
So, I have scenery, I have my
Rebel Union troopers, I have my Dark Jedi Black Rukh and my Imperial Stormtroopers Dominion Shocktroopers are on their way. I just need to finish my initial draft of the revised Feast of Crows rules and I’ll be able to play my first Star Wars-inspired game.
And for an initial outlay of less than £20.00 on my part.
To paraphrase Watto from The Phantom Menace – “I’m Carrion Crow, your marketing tricks won’t work on me.”
Until next time.