By Rob Morgan
Mick Yarrow’s “fantasy” range has some great potential, as it’s a lot more than the Orcs, Goblins and “Undead” you find in so many lists. His group of Cyclops mythological figures is a typical example. By the way, these are described as 15mm scale, but don’t bother to take much notice of that. Each stands about 34mm high and a couple are taller than that, so will fit into 10mm, 20mm and even 28mm ranges. There’s a naval potential too – more of that later. Of course, many of the models in this fantasy range are ideal for board games, or role-play as well.
There are four packs – Fantasy Tribes 15, 16, 17 and 18 – but unless you are actually using these powerful characters (Homer described them as having a “foul disposition”) in 15mm, then Pack 18 is of little use, as the Cyclops in it come holding a 15mm captive. (Pack 15 has one of these too, by the way). So, if you’re crossing scales, then Pack 16 – two rock-throwing Cyclops – and Pack 17 – a Cyclops with a club – and another hurling a thunderbolt are for you. Thunderbolt? Yes, that a bit of a tradition among the one-eyed race.
The original Cyclops, which seems to have been close to the Hollywood depictions, were descended from the Storm Gods, very well suited to rough weather. In fact, they could very well bring it with them. They were giants, smiths who fashioned thunderbolts for Zeus, and were stubborn and strong, possessing great brute strength and power. They occasionally lived in volcanoes, such as Mount Etna in Sicily. Homer, who obviously didn’t like them too much, said they were cannibals. So, there’s a lot more to these creatures than meets the eye.
Along with Zeus’s thunderbolts, the Cyclops also created Poseidon’s trident, the great bow of Artemis, Apollo’s war-bow and the fabulous “helmet of darkness” that Perseus wore to go to kill Medusa. The beasts were also closely linked to big fortifications, and loved rocks. They were said to have built the vast walls of Mycenae and often lived in and around rocky places. A few sources say there were only three Cyclops and give them the names Argos, Steropes and Brontes. Two of these three were killed by Greek heroes. Then of course there was the mighty Cyclops Polyphemus, who was the son of Poseidon and was done for by Odysseus after Troy fell.
So, to the Mick Yarrow Cyclops figures. Well, one wields a thunderbolt, possibly a Zeus reject or one delayed in delivery. You’d need a special rule for that, of course, and there might be just one of them, or two. Maybe an endless supply? The club supplied is pretty hefty and would suit a second Cyclops, but don’t forget that having fashioned a trident for the Sea Gd, why not a trident-armed Cyclops? Mick Yarrow makes a suitable trident for his Gladiators, and can supply them. A bow-armed Cyclops (they manufactured at least two for heroes) would be very interesting, but I’m not at all sure if having a single eye would affect the aim of an archer. The rock-hurling Cyclops is self-explanatory, and, as these lads are immensely powerful, they could thow big rocks a fair range. Not sure of the range of a thunderbolt though!
Unarmoured, but tough and capable of taking a lot of punishment, the single eye’s the vulnerable part of course. But if they could make one “helmet of darkness,” then they could probably make others. Numbers? Well, not too many. Two or three might be right and though described as generally unpleasant, they would be more inclined to be defensive, protecting a strong place, a rocky island say, than going marauding. Though if you take Homer at his word and make these chaps cannibals, well, in that case they might go on the rampage, get off their rock, swim away from their island, and go for a take-away meal.
In my case, a love of naval warfare creeps in. The Xyston range of 1/600th ancient ships provides a merchant vessel and a pentekonter of Homeric times, and there’s a tendency for these warships to scrap and squabble around the rocky island home of the Cyclops tribe, and one day, they might well decide they don’t like the intrusion at all. So, the Cyclops could decide to utilize their descent from the Storm Gods to rough up the weather and thus drive a few pentekonters ashore, thus avoiding the need to travel to get their dinner. Any attempt to land on the island (“So, where exactly are we, Odysseus?”) would result in an attack and the odd rock shower, which could make sea travel less than appealing, more so if there’s an enemy fleet in the offing. The Mick Yarrow models fit with the Xyston 1/600th, but are too large for anything else in a smaller ship scale, I feel.
The Cyclops, being, as previously stated, of “foul disposition” would hardly be likely to take sides in a conflict, unless, of course, Poseidon or Apollo had shown a fleet some favor, but even then the Cyclops’ aid would be grudging, I think.
As far as the 34mm high Mick Yarrow Cyclops figures are concerned (and the rock thrower’s nearer 40mm high, incidentally), there are plenty of options beyond the weapon choices. Can they swim? Why not? They might be too slow to catch a well-rowed galley, but an inshore sailing ship may well fall prey, and if the cannibal mode is in fashion, then as soon as the required amount of food – human or livestock – was acquired, the Cyclops would probably withdraw. If one of their number was killed, however, or badly hurt like Polyphemus, then the rest might be seriously aggrieved, put down their rocks and pick up the thunderbolts. Cyclops are not know to have any natural enemies, but unless you’d specifically ordered a trident, bow or helmet, you’d tend to keep away from them.
For any defender against Cyclops attack, a good bolt thrower with a well-trained crew would be useful, or a group of good archers, slingers or javelin men. Even wounded or blinded, the strong stubborn streak would still be apparent, and perhaps cause a rampage of immense destruction. Fire might deal with them very effectively, though Cyclops wouldn’t fear fire. When a couple of Mick’s Cyclops waded after my Xyston pentekonters, I rammed one, but though the beast was mortally wounded, the ship went to the bottom in its embrace.
Other scenarios might include a raid, as in Odysseus’ experience, to release prisoners doomed to become dinner. Or the capture of one of Zeus’s thunderbolts, maybe? If pushed in combat,Cyclops could run for the nearest volcano for safety. This is a good value, one-off table top force for any of several scales on land and at sea.
The Cyclops figures can be found at Mick Yarrow’s home page:
The current price is 2£ for each pack of figures.