This is a guide for Lord of the Rings wargames enthusiasts who fancy having a go at making some Tolkien inspired armies with 1/72 scale plastic figures. Clearly it's a matter of personal taste as to how these armies should look with the books and the films great sources of inspiration to inter-weave with your own interpretation.
Obviously there are extensive and fantastic Games Workshop Lord of the Rings figure ranges available in 28mm metal and plastic so why bother with 1/72 scale? Well I would offer the following reasons for looking at a 1/72 scale Lord of the Rings project: it's fun searching out sets to make your own forces, 1/72 scale figures are relatively cheap, the smaller scale your figures the easier it is to get a representation of large units on smaller size tables, likewise storage for 1/72 scale figures & scenery takes up less space and there are many excellent sets to choose from these days (that paint up beautifully) in what is truly a Golden Age for 1/72 scale plastics.
Unfortunately 10 is the maximum number of images I can upload onto this eBay guide. However you can see more pics and get more info on the sets I mention in my eBay store Drum & Flag and also on the excellent Plastic Soldier Review website.
I have structured the listing below by Army and then Troop Type. As you will notice I have tried to stick to Zvezda figures where I can as they are among my personal favourites. However I will also suggest some alternatives and you can explore PSR for a wider look at all that is available and may suit your own vision more closely.
Where possible I try and use as many of the poses given in a set. However the extent to how easy this is depends on the relevance of the set contents and your personal preferences. For an extreme example there may just be one pose you want in a set. Or you may like to have varied poses in each unit when representing unruly orc warbands for example and a more regimented uniform look to your Gondor or Elven troops. Any surplus poses do have other possibilities - casualty markers, conversions, keep for potential future projects or sell off on eBay to get some of your outlay back (one person's surplus may be just what someone else is desperate for).
I base my figures on the nice thin but sturdy Victrix 4cm square plastic bases with rounded edges. Usually three infantry or two cavalry to a base, Each unit is of 8 bases with markers for charge breakthrough, disordered and destroyed. I settled on eight bases as four of these units nicely fit my storage boxes and this size offers good size formations to my eye. I use my own adapted set of Fire & Fury rules. The sets suggested below should generally be ok whatever basing and rule system you choose to use or for dioramas if that is more your thing.
First uploaded (05/10). Last updated (12/11).
Men at Arms - Zvezda English Infantry 8060 HYW
Knights - Zvezda 8044 English Knights HYW
Rangers - tba (maybe Robin Hood Airfix 01720)
Army of the Dead - I have not selected the medieval troops to use yet but I fancy using the same paint scheme GW adopt on which ever set or sets selected. Caesar's Undead set are also an option.
Aragorn & Gandalf - There is a good likeness to both in Caesar set 104 Adventurers. Random figures though I think so not in all sets. See the PSR feature on Caesar's fantasy sets for more info. This can be found on the main menu as a special feature not under the main Caear listing if I recall correctly.
With HaT's very expanding EL Cid range another option may be to use the Zvezda Russians I have suggested below for Gondor instead and use the HaT El-Cid Spanish for Rohan.
Men at Arms - Zvezda 8053 French Infantry HYW
Knights - Zvezda 8036 French Knights. Paint horses gray. I like the wings in the Zvezda Polish Winged Hussars set 8071 and these added to Medeival Knights look impressive.
Imrahil - Caesar 104 Adventurers has a knight on foot with winged helm that some may like.
Men-at-Arms - Zvezda 8062 Russian Foot Warriors
Knights - Zvezda 8039 Russian Mounted Knights.
Using these Russian figures was suggested in one of the blogs I read and on looking at the figures is probably the best solution given current availability. Particularly so if converted using the round shields from the Zvezda 8046 Vikings set as also suggested in the blog.
Another solution could be using HaT's range of El-Cid Spanish sets which allows you to use the Russians for Gondor instead if more to your taste.
Figures to represent all of the units above can be found in the Caesar 102 Elves set. The armoured standard bearer will be used with a converted standard in my units. Generally I much prefer the more "real" fantasy look of the LOTR films than the more cartoony appearance sometimes portrayed in other realisations. Hence much chopping off of large pointy ears will be going before some of the figures in set 102 will make it on to my table top battlefield!
There are also female figures in this set and in the Caeasr 104 Adventurers set. In set 104 there is also a good figure for Legolas although this is randomly allocated and not in all sets.
Crossbow Unit - Caesar 101 Dwarves
Axe Units - Caesar 101 Dwarves
This set is really pretty good with many usable poses. I cut the rectangular shields off the cartoony Mohican pose for use with some of the others. This pose can also be made more usable by cutting off the Mohican hair style if you prefer. Likewise some of the double axe heads can be made single if you like that look better or just want more variety. I really like the gunner pose but can't reconcile such weapons with my view of LOTR although Saruman of course did develop his black powder. The standard bearer is pretty much usable as is.
Beornings - There is a great bearded axeman pose in the Lucky Toy 7211 Vlad set. Italeri 6062 Gladiators contains a bear if my memory is correct.
Men of Dale - tba
Halflings - tba
Woses - tba
Uruk-Hai - HaT Sea 8078 Peoples. The poses with horned helmets (with centre discs removed) make the best figures I have found to date.
Orcs - Caesar 50 Sherden. Look like similar but smaller more detailed verions of the HaT Sea People.
Dunlendings - Have not settled on a set yet - may be Zvezda 8059 Medieval Peasant Army. There are many potential Ancient and Dark Ages sets that could fity the bill nicely.
Warg Riders. Nothing suitable yet found. May opt for cavalry type unit instead modelled perhaps on the Vendel mounted warriors depicted in the 13th Warrior film / Eaters of the Dead book.
Saruman - There is a good wizard pose in some of the Caesar 104 Adventurer sets (random pose so not in all sets). More Gandalf than Saruman but can be painted up differently.
Uruk-Hai - As for Isengard. Paint up differently with different banners.
Orcs - As for Isengard and again paint up differently with different banners.
Goblins - Some may like Caesar 105 Goblins (maybe with ears removed / reduced!). HaT Sumerians are also a good set especially as they have many spearmen in the same pose to quickly build up rank upon rank of Goblins.
Balchoth / Wain Riders - More from earlier periods of Middle Earth but I like the idea of fielding a barbarian horde with chariots. Airfix 01734 Ancient Britons look suitable and Hat also offer chariot and other figures.
Warg Riders - See Isengard.
Nazgul - Some of the mounted poses found in Italeri 6019 Teutonic Knights look pretty good when painted up black.
Uruks, Orcs and Goblins are obviously at the heart of depicting a wide ranging LOTR dark force army in any scale. Unfortunately the options still are not that great even though things have improved over time. If you like their style Caesar 105 Goblins and 106 Orcs offer ready made solutions as do the Orc figures from Dark Alliance.
Another solution could be to paint up Celtic Warriors or Vikings or similar to depict orcs. Italeri 6022 Gaul Warriors, Emhar 7205 Vikings , Revell 02551 Anglo-Saxons are worth a look. Again view PSR to see the very wide range of possibilities if you go down this route. Unfortunately the Esci / Italeri Barbarian set is currently out of production and this had several useful poses.
Converting figures, making your own shields and adding spears may make for more convincing Orcs/Goblins/Uruks.
Cavalry - Zvezda 8054 Turkish Cavalry
Archers - Zvezda 8050 Jannissaries
Infantry - Zvezda 8050 Jannissaries
The 2010 Lucky Toy releases Vlad 7211 and Turks 7212 also offer several excellent poses I will be using in my Easterling army.
Cavalry - I am awaiting the future (at time of writing in May 2010) Golden Horde release from Zvezda before making a final decision. The existing Italeri and Zvezda sets may suffice although I may be tempted to use the wonderful Zvezda Cavalry (8025), Infantry (8017) and Command (8029) Samurai figures instead or as well. Lucky Toy 7201 Attila is also worth a look.
Infantry - As for Cavalry by and large. Although the spear throwing pose in Italeri Saracens (6010) is lined up for one unit at least for me.
Mumak - Zvezda 8011 War Elephants. A glorious set. Hat (8023 / 8141 / 8142 ) and Lucky Toy (7208 King Porus Army) also offer Elephant sets. Depending on how large you want your Mumak and how much converting you fancy Hat also do or did produce a 1/32 scale piece (9023) and there are various toy shop zoo animal models available not to mention old Britains animals you can find on eBay etc....
Infantry - HaT's range of El-Cid figures are ideal and increasingly comprehensive. There is also Italeri 6010 Saracens. The Nubian archers in Zvezda 8051 Ancient Egyptians look great and Caesar (8041) offer a whole set of these.
Cavalry - As for Infantry regarding the Italeri and HaT sets. I may also use Zvezda 8031 Numidian Cavalry for one unit.
Camels - Hat have a couple of sets coming up for the Sudan theatre that have potential. I like the camels but not the riders so much in Italeri 6010.
There is tremedous scope to use a wide variety of historical medieval, ancient and Victorian era sets to represent the vast realms of Near and Far Harad such as Sudanese and Zulu Warriors etc...
CORSAIRS OF UMBAR
Infantry - Maybe some of the foot poses from the Zvezda 8064 Zaporozhian Cossacks. Also contains some useful cavalry plus a cart and a great huge drum.
Trolls- GW. Caesar 104 Adveturers contains a troll - one for the "ear scissors" again though in my book!
Shelob - GW or toyshop rubber spiders
Balrog - GW
Fell Beasts - GW
Dragons - GW
Wargs - GW
Giants - 1/32 scale Viking figures for example.
Ents - GW
Eagles - GW or Britains Animals.
SCENERY, TERRAIN & ACCESSORIES
Siege Machines - Zvezda sets 8014 and 8015. Fantastic sets particularly the catapults.
Castles - Zvezda/Italeri plastic forts
Houses - Pegasus Thatched Russian cottages.
Supply/Baggage Wagons - Airfix Waterloo Farm Accessory set
* There are several blog posting hobbyists around the world who have already completed or are in the midst of building 1/72 scale LOTR armies. Type in keyword phrases such as Lord of the Rings 1/72 Scale into Google and see what comes up.
* Plastic Soldier Review. Superb site for all things 1/72 scale. Shows you sprue pictures of sets and comments on them too. Web address is plasticsoldierreview DOT com.
* Games Workshop. Many of their rules sets, scenarios booklets, painting guides. Loads of useful material even if not using their figures or rules.
* Tolkien - Needless to say the books and films.
Be good to hear other suggestions and ideas from you. I can be contacted via eBay messages and my user id is flagbearer101.
My toy soldier gallery & hobby site can be found at facebookDOTcom/drumandflag