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"Do you like figures that are holding severed heads?" Topic

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759 hits since 11 Mar 2022
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Comments or corrections?

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 7:14 a.m. PST

I don't.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 7:47 a.m. PST

Not especially. I've got one or two in a fantasy army where they seemed appropriate. I also try to avoid the bandaged head figure so beloved of the "every casting different" school.

Of course, if I were doing Yugoslav Civil Wars, I'd have severed heads attached to Montenegrin tanks as a national distinctive. (Does anyone know how they were attached, by the way?)

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 7:57 a.m. PST

I do not like to be that realistic in my dioramas and see no need for them in even skirmish level games I play.

Tacitus11 Mar 2022 8:24 a.m. PST


Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 8:32 a.m. PST

Not at all. That's just gratuitous gore.

Hlaven Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 8:38 a.m. PST


Stryderg11 Mar 2022 8:55 a.m. PST

I'm not a big fan.
And I think they are attached with green stuff.

johannes5511 Mar 2022 9:06 a.m. PST


Mister Tibbles11 Mar 2022 9:41 a.m. PST


GurKhan11 Mar 2022 9:51 a.m. PST

No ancient Gallic army is complete without a few severed heads:

"… before the consuls could reach Etruria, the Senonian Gauls were come with a great multitude to Clusium, to besiege the Roman legion in camp there …. and that the consuls, who were not far from Clusium, got no report of the disaster till some Gallic horsemen came in sight, with heads hanging at their horses' breasts or fixed on their lances, and singing their customary song of triumph." (Livy X.26)

FilsduPoitou11 Mar 2022 10:45 a.m. PST

As mentioned by GurKhan, head taking was a major part of Gallic warfare. I read the same in Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars.

That said, even though I'd love the create an army of my ancestors, I could do without decapitation.

3rd5ODeuce Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 11:05 a.m. PST

No. If I can modify a figure holding a severed head to not I do.

Dagwood11 Mar 2022 11:12 a.m. PST

I have one at the moment !! An Airfix US paratrooper converted into a Gaul. But I intend to add some heads to my next lot of Gallic cavalry !!

Raynman Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 11:57 a.m. PST


Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 12:20 p.m. PST

If I gamed in an appropriate setting, a very, very, feeble "maybe."
But in most cases, "no."

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 12:38 p.m. PST

Not at all, too Hollywood for me!

Tgerritsen Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 1:52 p.m. PST

No. Even GW miniatures with that turn me off, and that's pure fantasy.

Maybe a giant with a head hung on their belt I will tolerate, or if it is a specific scene in context, but otherwise…no.

Col Durnford11 Mar 2022 2:02 p.m. PST

I believe I have one or two orcs holding/carrying severed heads. In most cases I remove them before painting.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 3:15 p.m. PST

I like well represented, evocative figures. There are a number of contexts where this is appropriate. And lot of figures with gratuitous that or anything else.

nudspinespittle Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 3:46 p.m. PST

I have no problem with it. In some cases, I think it is fitting for the model and the "world" the model is used in.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 4:28 p.m. PST

No, serious, Stryderg. The Montenegrins were the last Europeans to take the heads of dead enemies as a matter of national tradition, and they did so at least as late as the end of the 18th Century. A diplomat from Revolutionary France chewed them out for it, and the local bishop pointed out the glass house the inventors of the guillotine were throwing rocks from.

In the Yugoslav Civil Wars, I saw reports of Montenegrin tanks with the heads of enemies, so evidently they'd resumed traditional folkways. But I never saw a photo or read a description of how it was done, and T-55's and M-36's didn't leave the factory with spikes to hang trophies from.

This was 30 years ago. No one else remembers? Moral outrage has a very short half-life.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 6:35 p.m. PST

For certain fantasy races, yes. I don't like the extra painting details required, however. For Gnolls (7'-tall hyena-men), I like them in limited numbers. Cheers!

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2022 8:51 p.m. PST

Never seen a purpose for them. What, someone is going into melee holding a head in one hand? A tad bit hard to fight that way.

Augustus11 Mar 2022 9:18 p.m. PST

I always liked the classic GW Rogue Trader beakie carrying severed heads on powered armor. Seemed apropos to have that level of brutality. Silver Skulls especially.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Mar 2022 7:08 a.m. PST

This was 30 years ago. No one else remembers? Moral outrage has a very short half-life.

The Montenegrins were not the only ones doing this 30 years ago. I remember. I was there.

I don't know specifically about the adornment of tanks, but you should be able to relatively easily find news articles about war crimes and trials from the various wars in the Balkans that mention (mass or other) decapitations and the removal of heads as trophies. This would include some war crime indictments that are still ongoing.

On a related note, a few years ago, I was displeased to find out various groups were rebuilding minefields to the region.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Mar 2022 7:20 a.m. PST

What, someone is going into melee holding a head in one hand?

Like the tanks robert piepenbrink mentions, there are a number of figures with severed heads attached to horses as intimidation. It is a fair point that carrying one around is not a great idea, and the biggest use after decorating mounts and vehicles is chucking loads of your countrymen's (often civilian women and children) heads at your force right before a battle, such as the Ottomans did to the Wallachians.

That said, I don't think this is a fair criticism of a figure. The figure is static and is meant to be evocative rather than specifically representative of every moment in time. You could criticize every figure of not being representative on this basis.

What, someone is going into melee holding a sword behind their head in a pre-strike pose all the time?

What, someone is fight a battle at port arms the whole time?

What, someone is going to charge an enemy line with their weapon in a firing pose?

A figure is much like a snapshot. Holding a severed head is a single view of one action that is representative of the continuum of the represented entity's existence.

Given advances in nano-mechanics and additive manufacturing, I look forward to a time when I could have figures that could change amoung port arms, at the ready, fire, and load. Or other poses.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2022 11:08 a.m. PST

By and large, no – for a few command figures in, say, an army of Celts or Gauls, OK – but not otherwise

T Corret Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2022 5:34 p.m. PST

Two heads to paint? No.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2022 9:44 a.m. PST

Not particularly. I do have 2 figures with severed heads but that's all.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2022 11:50 a.m. PST

No. Most of my stuff is for high-tech science fiction settings, and carrying severed heads into battle doesn't make sense.

The Last Conformist13 Mar 2022 11:54 p.m. PST

I have nothing in particular against them, but offhand I can't recall owning any, except a few fantasy figures carrying bleached skulls as oversized bling.

(Or not so oversized – a human skull isn't that big as a decoration on a 12' troll.)

I don't think I have any bandaged heads either. Seems to be a 28mm thing, and the overwhelming majority of my figures are 15mm.

Dagwood14 Mar 2022 5:03 a.m. PST

@The Last Conformist

One of my very few bandaged headed models is a 15mm British infantryman of the Zulu Wars period …

Regicide164914 Mar 2022 1:58 p.m. PST

No, definitely not. I wargame for the 'game' not the 'war'. I have no problem with bandaged heads, btw, so the line is pretty thin I happily admit. There was a fashion way back to paint blood on bayonets/swords/lances which I never succumbed to, thankfully (though it looked cool on fantasy miniatures of an evil disposition, I have to admit, just not on 7YW hussars). One of the reasons I love big-base systems is that casualties are assumed not personalised; my hands as c-in-c are therefore distanced from the spilling of blood. Did Napoleon feel any different?

GurKhan17 Mar 2022 11:17 a.m. PST

"What, someone is going into melee holding a head in one hand? A tad bit hard to fight that way."

Indeed. When the Romans after Cannae enlisted slaves on the promise of freedom if they performed well,

"Whoever brought back the head of an enemy would be at once by his orders declared to be a free man; whoever quitted his place in the ranks he would punish with a slave's death. Every man's fortune was in his own hands. … The battle was a severe and protracted one; for four hours neither side gained any advantage. Nothing hampered the Romans more than the setting a price upon the heads of their foes, the price of liberty, for no sooner had any one made a furious attack upon an enemy and killed him than he lost time in cutting off his head – a difficult matter in the tumult and turmoil of the battle – and then, as their right hands were occupied in holding the heads all the best soldiers were no longer able to fight, and the battle was left to the slow and the timid. … Gracchus made them at once give the order to throw down the heads and attack the enemy, and to tell them that their courage was sufficiently clear and conspicuous, and that there would be no question about liberty for brave men. On this the fighting was renewed…"

CeruLucifus19 Mar 2022 5:08 p.m. PST

Like is perhaps too strong a sentiment, but where thematically appropriate I don't remove them.

I paint fantasy miniatures for D&D and fantasy battle (Warhammer miniatures mostly but not playing that game system presently). Orcs especially and similar monstrous fantasy villainous figures, e.g. Ogres, frequently have heads as decoration, sometimes shrunken. I paint these as I find them.

I don't recall assembling any modular figures, plastic or otherwise, where the heads were an optional attachment, but in that case I would probably leave them off.

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