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By Vince Salvato


One of the most frequent questions I am asked is "How do you assemble & paint your chariots?"

On the battlefield, the centerpeice of your Ancients army will be a nicely painted unit of chariots. These will surely instill envy in your friends. However, there's a price to pay : this is paid with time.

Assembling and painting chariots is one of the more time consuming projects you'll ever undertake.

With experience in building over 20 chariots for Ancient Indians and Hittites, I wrote this page to share some of my experience with chariot building. Included are Don Effinger's (DE), who has also put together a bunch of NKE chariots, views on chariot building. Our techniques differ slightly.

Step 1 Cleaning and undercoating

Clean and undercoat all the parts to the chariot(s). Use whatever technique you are currently using for you normal figures.

(DE) First thing I do is dry fit everything for the chariot. I try to figure out which crew fit with which chariots best. I might bend a leg knowing this guy won't stand correctly once finished.

I suggest that you start with 3 chariots at a time. Remember making one (2 horse - 2 crew) chariot is like painting 5 figures, there are 2 horses, 2 crew and a chariot to paint. So don't try to doing ten at a time or you'll suffer "Chariot burnout". Three is a good number to start with and that's still a lot painting (equivalent to painting 15 figures!)

Maryannu chariot parts (Foundry crew & shield, the rest is OG)

BEFORE painting anything I STRONGLY advise you to "pre-fit" the charioteers in the chariot. This will save a lot of headaches down the road.

If you are making Old Glory (OG) chariots you may want to cut the yoke back a bit. Out of the bag it is much too long for the chariots.

Step 2 Painting

At this stage think about a theme for the chariot, horses and crew, maybe a little design or a common color.

You may want to glue the charioteers and horses to a temporary base before painting them (see below).

(Foundry crew partially painted)

(DE) Assemble the chariots first then paint them. I paint the horses without gluing them down first. Next, I put together the entire chariot and then paint it. After this is done I give all these elements a spray with Crystal Clear protective coat. This helps in the next stage.

I clean each chariot component, under-coat them white, then paint the parts individually. Then I put the chariot together. I do not apply (spray) a protective coating at this stage.

Step 3 Assembling the chariot

(DE) At this stage I have already glued the chariot together. Glue the horses to the base (piece of plasticard); make sure the yoke will fit on their backs before the glue sets. Make sure the gap between the two horses is the right width. (I use Zap-A-Gap).

Now paint and flock SOME of the base near and between the horses. I'll generally leave the area near where the chariot is supposed to go alone. Just the front part is flocked and painted.

Glue the completed chariot in place. Once that sets I paint & flock the rest of the base.

Take the charioteers and try to fit them into the chariot body. One note here: OG charioteers don't fit VERY WELL. That's a given and Foundry generally do fit 'okay'. Having said that you may need to snip, file, scrap & bend the figs around for a nice fit. Since I've sprayed them I don't worry too much but I do have to do a touch up here or there. The OG figs usually need to get glued all over so they will stay put. I find a dot of glue here and there helps. I've glued the guys to the chariot body and to each other. This helps to keep the mess in place. Once done, paint the touch-ups and then spray again.

(Chariot base top and side view with horse base holes outlined for cutting. BTW, that's a piece of blue tack in the side view)

I use plasticard with thin balsa wood glued on top (see above). I cut a hole in the balsa so the horse's base fits flush with the surface. This adds a bit of time to the construction period but I feel it is worth, especially with the OG horses (thick bases). Of course it is a matter of individual taste and you could always file the horse bases down.

(chariot body with brass rod)

I make my chariot base differently, I don't glue the chariot wheels to the base and I don't glue the yoke to the horses. Instead, I attach a brass rod (see above) thru the chariot body and glue that to the base. This takes extra time to do, but the payoff is that it makes my chariots real sturdy (I travel with them a lot). FYI, Don's chariots are just as sturdy using his technique, however, I don't think he has travel with his chariots as much as I have.

(Another chariot ready to receive a crew)

I just file the bottom of the charioteer's feet before gluing them in the completed chariots. Try to leave a bare spot where you glue the figure to the chariot body. Metal on metal is the best bond.

Spray a protective coating. You're done!

Other comments

Old Glory chariots
Worst OG chariots to build: Ancient Indian 6 crew 4-horse chariot(I will make a page about these puppies), then the Hittite 3-man chariot.

(comparison of crews - from left to right Old Glory then Foundry, etc...)

If you can, try and get Foundry charioteers to replace one OG crewmember (or more) in each chariot. They are smaller and it really helps considering the premium on space within the chariot cab. I don't know if this is possible anymore since Foundry is now packing the Hittite range in blister packs.

Crew falling out
(DE) Since all my guys are glued to anything within reach it hasn't been too much trouble keeping them all in the chariot. With this technique I haven't had any problems with guys ungluing.

(DE) You could go nuts and pin and glue everything and then you'd have NO problems for the rest of your life but... I can't be bothered and since my technique has worked so far I'll stick to the easier approach for now.

Good luck with your chariots!