domenica 18 febbraio 2018

'Sangarunya - Black Numenorean' - Mithril MS611 (2014)

Sangarunya, Black Númenorean officer of the Black Dragon Army. One of the greatest villains of southern Middle-earth, the greatest servant of the Shadow in the South. Nobody except the Ringwraiths themselves is more powerful among the minions of the Dark Lord. 
He’s young, ambitious, wicked, skilled and very, very cool. It’s one of the best evil characters created by ICE in its time. Here’s what the description has to say:
Sangarunya was born of Númenórean stock in Umbar, but his family did not reside long there. During the persecution of the priests of the Dark Worship, Ranculir, the High Priest and Sangarunya's father, was slain. Sazariel, his mother, fled the Haven of the Corsairs with her small son for Ny Chennacatt. She raised him to be loyal to her dead husband's Lord and Master, Sauron of Mordor. 

Within the Storm King's court, as a young man of good lineage and maturing prowess at arms, Sangarunya readily attracted the Ulair's attention. The Nazgûl developed plans for his subject, involving the military objectives of the southwest. Almost before he was truly at home within the ranks of the army as a mere captain, Sangarunya was appointed to post of Warlord. His subsequent victories fully justified the unprecedented promotion. Traveling lightly, Sangarunya wears the magic mail and the dragon-emblazoned, red surcoat characteristic of the mighty of Akhôrahil's forces. 

His red, leather faced shield bears the same symbol, he wields a Haradrian scimitar as weapon and his silver-gold helmet is of the karma design. He is an implacable foe and a brilliant strategist. 
When I ordered this miniature, the hype was very high. I loved Sangarunya since I purchased my first ICE product, Warlords of the Desert, with its masterful cover by Angus McBride depicting him alone, lost in a desert storm, confronting a sand drake.

Sangarunya also appeared on the cover of Far Harad - the Scorched Land, attacking a hero from horseback.

And then, when I finally got the M661, came the disappointment. Truth is, I hate this figure: this is the biggest let down I had from Mithril - a sculpt that promised to be great, and revealed itself to be just lousy. I didn’t enjoy painting it, and I’m glad it’s done. Why, you ask? Well, it’s just full of terrible details.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: the helm, the Númenorean karma, is asymmetrical: the left side has details and cheek protection, the left side is plain. How can a mistake like this go unnoticed in a company like Mithril is beyond me. Seriously, it’s cringy. But it’s not just this.

Look at the overall equipment: Sangarunya is supposed to be a general of an army used to fight in hot, generally desertic weather. Under the helm, he wears a scarf covering his face, probably for the sand. His body and arms are covered in plate armour, with chainmail underneath: that’s fine, he’s going to war. Then, why the hell he has zero protection on the legs and hands? There are basically two ways to wear plate: either as a breastplate and helm, covering the vital parts and leaving the limbs free, or as full plate, covering the whole body. A plate armour covering head, body, groin and arms and no legs or hands is more cumbersome than the first option and offers less protection than the second one. Why then? I have no idea.

But we’re not finished: the shield’s a beauty too. What’s wrong with it? To start, it’s two dimensional: one side is sculpted, the other is a flat surface. Was it too hard to sculpt a wood effect? A handle? Oh, the handle. See, when you grab a shield, usually there are two handles, one for the forearm and one for the hand, so that the shield can be properly held up against an enemy, perpendicular to the forearm. Sangarunya holds his shield parallel to the forearm, and apparently attached to his armour, like some sort of buckler. It’s just silly.

One of the reasons I like Mithril (I still do) is that the general quality of figures is very high. they are beautiful, they are realistic and they are respectful of logic and literary sources. This, alas, is not. And it’s such a pity because Sangarunya is such an interesting character. Better luck next time.

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