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Helmet Discussion

Discussion of topics concerning life in the middle ages around the world, including architecture, history, and warfare.

Postby Damien » Mon Sep 05, 2005 2:11 am

Try picturing the KK2 line in solid dark grey. It seems a lot less ridiculous that way. I have almost all of my KK2 helms and body armour painted in a Citadel Mithril Silver/Chainmail/Boltgun Metal. It looks really good. In retrospect, it's probably far too metallic to look really good on LEGOs. I'm going to try to paint with flat greys from now on.

In any event, the baby blue helms are particularly cool looking in a more reasonable colour, and are not unlike many late 16th century jousting helms.
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Postby AoErat » Mon Sep 05, 2005 3:33 am

I personally feel the KK2 knight's helms are as far removed from true helmets of the period as are space helmets (well, ok, not quite, but close). I've yet to see any period examples that come anywhere close. The first LEGO helmets, IMO, were far more accurate and one can draw some approximate conclusions as to the type of helmet they represent.

And yes, I understand this issue is pretty much meaningless but nevertheless it is fun to consider if one is bored. ;)
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Postby Damien » Mon Sep 05, 2005 5:21 am

I wouldn't say KK2 helms are any more removed from history as any other helm. Some may be slightly more obvious (due to simpler designs), but that's a non-issue. In the end, you have to allow for the fact that the more intricate the design, the less like the original it's going to look.

With that in mind, both the purple and red visors resemble styles of face-plate found on Gothic period helms. The light blue and black visors both resemble late 15th century jousting helms.

The green helm is the oddest of the bunch, but strangely familiar. Eventually I'll motivate myself to pour over a many-hundred-book library to find where I've seen a similar design before.


For some really good pictures of period pieces (in a modern style) I suggest the Osprey Military books. They're fairly cheap and the colour plates are wonderful for enthusiasts to see what the entire get-up would have looked like. I've actually copied and printed some colour plates from Osprey books to put on my wall I was so fond of them.

In any event, looking through some Osprey books you may occasionally find yourself saying 'that looks kind of familiar.'

Even about the KK2 helms.
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Postby TwoTonic Knight » Mon Sep 05, 2005 6:24 am

Damien wrote:Resemblance to what? I've been studying Medieval and Ancient arms and armour for over a decade now -- and I'm telling you from experience that any resemblance LEGO helms have to real world helms is minimal. They're LEGO pieces, after all.

What you're saying is equivalent to saying that the original LEGO sword is an Oakeshott Type XVI, or some other silly presumption.


LEGO helmets, if one wishes to ignore some of the odd additions and proportions forced on them by being a toy, are almost always recognizable as based on real world counterparts. The Hordesman is correct in all his historical-to-LEGO parallels .

But I think making the claim that a given helm is meant to represent a Norman cap with a mail aventail is reading way too far into it


Why? Okay, maybe it is a viking hemet with a mail aventail (any given source may identify it as one or another depending on the subject matter) . And it was probably based on 1950's (and earlier) medieval movies (watch enough of them and compare them to LEGO and you'll see the parallel), but the resemblance to the original source the movies used remains.

Most archers didn't even own helmets. Such equipment was expensive, and your average yoeman archer did not expect to get into melee combat anyway, so he didn't -need- a helmet.

Soooo...

If you want to go with a more historical archer:

Use hair, hood, and hat pieces -not helmets.
And use Forestmen, Jedi, or other peasant-appropriate torsos. Very few archers wore any kind of body armour.


If your archers are wearing scale armour and have swords, spears, and shields tossed around nearby.. you've already deviated away from history to the point where his helmet having a nasal or not is irrelevant.


This entirely depends on the country and era. 1100 and earlier England, it would be rare (but not unknown) for an archer to have any metal armor or helmet. The deeper into the 100 Years War you go, the more likely it was that archers would wear helmets and some form of metal armor (perhaps not scale, since that was never prevalent in western europe, but metallic torso armor in general).

The green helm is the oddest of the bunch, but strangely familiar. Eventually I'll motivate myself to pour over a many-hundred-book library to find where I've seen a similar design before.


It's kinda like a Maximillian helmet, but the corrugations run vertical rather the usual horizontal. Odd-but-strangely-familiar is a pretty good estimation.
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Postby Damien » Mon Sep 05, 2005 7:11 am

Why? Okay, maybe it is a viking hemet with a mail aventail (any given source may identify it as one or another depending on the subject matter) . And it was probably based on 1950's (and earlier) medieval movies (watch enough of them and compare them to LEGO and you'll see the parallel), but the resemblance to the original source the movies used remains.


Or it could be an entirely different helmet. Or it could be mostly fantasy. None of us can claim any certainty about what the original sculptor was thinking of when he/she made it. One guess is as good as another, but I'd still be wary about saying "it -was- based on this" rather than "it could be considered this."


This entirely depends on the country and era. 1100 and earlier England, it would be rare (but not unknown) for an archer to have any metal armor or helmet. The deeper into the 100 Years War you go, the more likely it was that archers would wear helmets and some form of metal armor (perhaps not scale, since that was never prevalent in western europe, but metallic torso armor in general).


Quite true. But throughout most of Western Europe the fully armed and armoured bowman would have been a rarity. Even during the Hundred Years' War and the War of the Roses -- you wouldn't see the entire rank of archers shining with metal defenses.

Of course, the crossbowman is a different story. It appears that crossbowmen were often far better-armoured for some reason. But then it was already mentioned that the crossbowmen would be wearing armour and wouldn't worry overmuch about the nasal imparing his vision, as it doesn't effect his aim like it does the guy with the traditional bow.


It's kinda like a Maximillian helmet, but the corrugations run vertical rather the usual horizontal. Odd-but-strangely-familiar is a pretty good estimation.



That's it exactly! Funny that you'd mention it. Shortly after my last post I was looking over some things at Valentine Armouries and noticed their Maximillian helm, and said to myself "that's where I've seen the green visor design!"

But yeah, it still feels very 'off' due to the variance in the lines (as you said, vertical rather than horizontal).


LEGO helmets, if one wishes to ignore some of the odd additions and proportions forced on them by being a toy, are almost always recognizable as based on real world counterparts. The Hordesman is correct in all his historical-to-LEGO parallels .


Recognizable? Yes, certainly. But they could just as easily be fantasy. We may see 'Norman helm with camail" but that does not mean that's what the sculptor saw. Maybe the sculptor just say "nose thingie, cap, slopey thing for back of head."

That's my point, we don't really know. So it's iffy to claim that the helmets were -based on- real world examples.


Further, even if we presume they were based on real world examples.. we could still go back and forth on possiblilities.

I could contest that the nasal-less helm could not be a bascinet since most conventional bascinets included a hinged visor of some kind.

I could also contest that it's not a bascinet with a camail - by saying that it's not a camail but a colletin.

The nasal helm with the sloped helm could be any number of historical helms with similar shape.

The grille-helm is most certainly not a 'close-face helm,' (keeping in mind that a bascinet is considered an open-face helm) but a bascinet which does have a direct historical counterpart. Although the bars should be horizontal (at least, in the examples I've seen) rather than vertical.

The Dragon Masters helmet could be, also, any number of historical helmets. Dragoon. Roman. Greek. Byzantine. Etc.

The list goes on. This isn't meant to claim the other poster's opinions are impossible or dumb, or anything like that. But just to demonstrate that there are so many possibilities that it's just plain silly to claim any kind of certainty (not that anyone was).

They're toys. It's possible that they were based on real world items. But it's just as possible that the designers just made whatever they thought would look cool -- and that it's just coincidence or fortune that we can identify them with real historical pieces.





(Oh, and I don't think it was Hordesman that made the claim, it was AoErat. But don't quote me on that.)
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Postby Nick » Mon Sep 05, 2005 4:37 pm

Now I come to entirely agree with Damien, as his points are more historically justified and logical than mine or anyone else's. I think you ought to become a professional historian; you certainly have enough knowledge to.
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Postby TwoTonic Knight » Mon Sep 05, 2005 4:38 pm

Damien wrote:Or it could be an entirely different helmet. Or it could be mostly fantasy. None of us can claim any certainty about what the original sculptor was thinking of when he/she made it. One guess is as good as another, but I'd still be wary about saying "it -was- based on this" rather than "it could be considered this."


I think you are splitting hairs here - I'm refering to what is there and what existed in reality, not to what the designer may or may not have intended. What the designer intended means nothing - it's what the designer executed that counts for the purposes of comparison. If I refer to something as a Norman helmet, it's just a case of I'm not going to tediously state "most similiar to a Norman helmet" all the time.

Quite true. But throughout most of Western Europe the fully armed and armoured bowman would have been a rarity. Even during the Hundred Years' War and the War of the Roses -- you wouldn't see the entire rank of archers shining with metal defenses.


I said torso armor and helmet (which is what you were saying was incorrect), not cap-a-pie. And yes, you would see entire ranks of archers armed as such (though perhaps the armor might be covered by a tabard depending on the period and individual lord's tastes and pocketbook).

Of course, the crossbowman is a different story. It appears that crossbowmen were often far better-armoured for some reason. But then it was already mentioned that the crossbowmen would be wearing armour and wouldn't worry overmuch about the nasal imparing his vision, as it doesn't effect his aim like it does the guy with the traditional bow.


The crossbowmen were often mercenaries, and as professionals, they came prepared. But part of the answer was the slower the weapon was to reload, the more likely the wielder was to be wearing heavier and more complete armor (handgunners for instance). This was to help protect them from incoming missles while they reloaded. On the other side, English longbowmen would often come to blows, and need protection during seigework and raiding.


Further, even if we presume they were based on real world examples.. we could still go back and forth on possiblilities.

I could contest that the nasal-less helm could not be a bascinet since most conventional bascinets included a hinged visor of some kind.


You would be incorrect in such a claim, since it was extremely common for bascinets not to have visors. I wouldn't consider it to be a bascinet because bascinets did not use quartered spangenhelm constrution, which is what is indicated on the piece. It is not entirely evident, on the other hand, that the lower portion is intended to be mail, though certainly the texture would seem to indicate such. This would be further argument against it being a bascinet.


I could also contest that it's not a bascinet with a camail - by saying that it's not a camail but a colletin.


A gorget (to use a more familiar term than colletin) would be smooth, not textured, so you can claim such, but I don't think that what is there supports such a claim. Nor really is a gorget something that would be indicated by the helmet rather than the torso print.

The nasal helm with the sloped helm could be any number of historical helms with similar shape.


And most of them don't have specific names - it is far easier to call it a Norman helmet rather than the spangen-construction-style-helmet-with-nasal.

The grille-helm is most certainly not a 'close-face helm,' (keeping in mind that a bascinet is considered an open-face helm) but a bascinet which does have a direct historical counterpart. Although the bars should be horizontal (at least, in the examples I've seen) rather than vertical.


The grilled helm in history was a tournament helm, so whether one wants to call that a close faced, semi-closed face, or open faced depends on what definition you are choosing to use as "closed". The grilled helmet is more of a burgonet in any case.

The Dragon Masters helmet could be, also, any number of historical helmets. Dragoon. Roman. Greek. Byzantine. Etc.


One could press it into service as such, but the tail is inconsistent with all those, but not a sallet. It's a shame that is ruined by that awful crest.

The list goes on. This isn't meant to claim the other poster's opinions are impossible or dumb, or anything like that. But just to demonstrate that there are so many possibilities that it's just plain silly to claim any kind of certainty (not that anyone was).


Then I'm not quite sure what your point is - you are arguing against a point of view that you say no one is making.
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Postby Formendacil » Mon Sep 05, 2005 6:31 pm

Damien wrote:Or it could be an entirely different helmet. Or it could be mostly fantasy. None of us can claim any certainty about what the original sculptor was thinking of when he/she made it. One guess is as good as another, but I'd still be wary about saying "it -was- based on this" rather than "it could be considered this."


Isn't fantasy, of a necessity, largely based on history, or on misconceptions of history? There is a finite number of ways a "medieval" culture could form a helmet that would protect the body, and most fantasy illustrators tend to draw off of an actual helm design, I should think, though they may distort it beyond the point of actually providing the protection that the original may have provided...
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Postby Damien » Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:52 am

I think you ought to become a professional historian; you certainly have enough knowledge to.


Haha. Thanks. It's not a difficult subject if you buy the right books, sit in on the right lectures, things like that. But even then - the field is impossible to really nail down, since distinguished historians often write contradicting theories and accounts.

Take the slight disagreement with TwoTonic -- a man who also clearly knows his stuff. It could be as simple as he and I having read one or two different books.


If I refer to something as a Norman helmet, it's just a case of I'm not going to tediously state "most similiar to a Norman helmet" all the time.


I completely agree. If I thought the term was well-understood enough, I'd refer to the nasal helm as a 'Norman' helm. But I don't think the term is quite pop-culture enough.

Flared helm seems to work. Like bullet-helm and grill-face helm, etc. They're not historical terms, but they get the point across.

I'm not saying anyone should shy away from assigning certain counterparts to their LEGO pieces. I just said anyone should be careful about presuming some kind of factual basis for the claim. That's all.


I said torso armor and helmet (which is what you were saying was incorrect), not cap-a-pie. And yes, you would see entire ranks of archers armed as such (though perhaps the armor might be covered by a tabard depending on the period and individual lord's tastes and pocketbook).


We simply disagree. Most of the books I can remember made claims that archers in Western Europe, during whatever period, would rarely have the opportunity, reason, or funds to deck themselves in any kind of meaningful armour. As I said to Nick above -- different sources, that's all.


The crossbowmen were often mercenaries


I was referring to levy crossbowmen, of course. There's no question as to why a mercenary would be heavily equipped. That would be a silly thing to wonder about.


You would be incorrect in such a claim, since it was extremely common for bascinets not to have visors.


According to my study -- it would be extremely common for bascinets to be -worn- without their visors, but that visors were available on-hand.

Which would mean that the old pig-face helmet, with its removable visor, represents a good bascinet. Although I have trouble seeing the standard LEGO helmet as a piece of Medieval equipment without an appropriate visor.


A gorget (to use a more familiar term than colletin) would be smooth, not textured, so you can claim such, but I don't think that what is there supports such a claim.


I recall, quite vividly, a description of a helm with -attached- colletin. I remember because I found it odd, since gorgets, properly, are rarely considered an attached piece to a helmet, but rather an undersupport for a cuirass.

I'd be hard-pressed to say which source the material can be found in, however. It's been a long while. I could very well be mistaken.


The grilled helm in history was a tournament helm, so whether one wants to call that a close faced, semi-closed face, or open faced depends on what definition you are choosing to use as "closed". The grilled helmet is more of a burgonet in any case.


I was only giving an opinion to demonstrate how the various "this is this" can change from person to person, which was my entire point all along.

I wouldn't claim certainty about terminology like closed or open-faced. These things are iffy and different historians and archaeologists use the same terms for different items.

If I recall, Stephen Bull refers to the burgonet as a type of barbut, which is a variant type of bascinet, not a sallet.. .etc etc. There's most definitely no certainty in historical terminology.

I'm sure you've seen the arming sword, broadsword, longsword, short sword, debates... whoof.


One could press it into service as such, but the tail is inconsistent with all those, but not a sallet. It's a shame that is ruined by that awful crest.


Quite so. Part fantasy, as I said.

And yeah.. I'm not a big fan of the crest. I can see some situations where it might 'work' -- but meh. I recall cutting it off when I was younger and it first came out. But I haven't tried it again recently. Mostly due to the fact that, since 'The Incident,' I only have one such helmet anyway.

Have you tried cutting and filing the crest off?


Then I'm not quite sure what your point is - you are arguing against a point of view that you say no one is making.


Not quite. I was advising against claiming any certainty of an item's origins. That was all. I really didn't mean to spark up some debate about historical accuracy, or what each helmet can or cannot represent.

They can represent anything you want. I was just saying, just for the sake of it being said, that no one can claim any certainty about where the design actually originated, or what it 'definitely' represents, except to oneself.

That's all.


There is a finite number of ways a "medieval" culture could form a helmet that would protect the body, and most fantasy illustrators tend to draw off of an actual helm design, I should think, though they may distort it beyond the point of actually providing the protection that the original may have provided...


Indeed!

But it can come to a point where the design becomes so distorted that it's impossible to see where the original inspiration came from. Take a Todd Lockwood helmet (a rather prominent fantasy artist for those that are unaware) and you could probably dredge up 10-50 different helmets that his designs 'could' be based on. Or maybe he just thought it up from something he thought he once might have seen in a movie. Who knows.

(Actually with most fantasy armour in D&D, it typically looks more like stuff the artists saw in Road Warrior....)
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Postby TwoTonic Knight » Tue Sep 06, 2005 5:59 pm

Damien wrote:Take the slight disagreement with TwoTonic -- a man who also clearly knows his stuff. It could be as simple as he and I having read one or two different books.


Or worse, we read the same books, but 10 or 20 of them (not one of 'em agreeing on the facts, the interpretations of the facts, the speculations, or terminology). :D

I completely agree. If I thought the term was well-understood enough, I'd refer to the nasal helm as a 'Norman' helm. But I don't think the term is quite pop-culture enough.

Flared helm seems to work. Like bullet-helm and grill-face helm, etc. They're not historical terms, but they get the point across.


But wait, there's more: Bricklink terminology! The bullet helm is the Helmet Castle With Chin Guard. The Flared Helmet becomes the The Helmet Castle With Neck Protector. :roll:

I usually use the common-usage terms for the LEGO pieces just so it is clear as to what I'm talking about unless I'm specifically speaking about historical parallels (and people do ask about which helmet is appropriate for which time frame).

We simply disagree. Most of the books I can remember made claims that archers in Western Europe, during whatever period, would rarely have the opportunity, reason, or funds to deck themselves in any kind of meaningful armour. As I said to Nick above -- different sources, that's all.


I'll stand by my claims, but any lengthy defense leaves the realm of LEGO and should be discussed under Real Castle, so I'll leave that battle to a field more appropriate and another day.

From the LEGO aspect, I'm usually content to let my longbowmen run around in Robin Hood hats or hoods and Lincoln Green tights. But my crossbowmen usually have bullet helms. They may or may not have armor prints. The scale armor print remains the singular most useful broad application torso print (for a reasonable price, that is), and I find myself raiding my poor crossbowmen increasingly for it as I create more tolkienish troopers.

The crossbowmen were often mercenaries


I was referring to levy crossbowmen, of course. There's no question as to why a mercenary would be heavily equipped. That would be a silly thing to wonder about.


Yes, there is that difference, but it was quite common for crossbowmen on the Crusades to have helmet and aketon/gambeson and even chain haurberk or byrnie. But perhaps this is still the difference between someone who is essentially a professional rather than a battle-day draftee, even if the Crusader crossbowman wasn't strictly a mercenary.

You would be incorrect in such a claim, since it was extremely common for bascinets not to have visors.


According to my study -- it would be extremely common for bascinets to be -worn- without their visors, but that visors were available on-hand.

Which would mean that the old pig-face helmet, with its removable visor, represents a good bascinet. Although I have trouble seeing the standard LEGO helmet as a piece of Medieval equipment without an appropriate visor.


You are correct that it was common for knights to have a visor on hand even if they didn't wear them, but bascinets were an extremely common helmet worn by many soldiers who were not knights (including crossbowmen) and did not have a bascinet fitted for a visor. Jeff's Little Armory bascinet works extremely well without the visor (which is just as well as it is none too secure), though, alas, it is not available separately from the armor.

I recall, quite vividly, a description of a helm with -attached- colletin. I remember because I found it odd, since gorgets, properly, are rarely considered an attached piece to a helmet, but rather an undersupport for a cuirass.


Then perhaps there is a greater distinction between the two than I thought, because you describe the gorget as I understand it.

Have you tried cutting {Dragon Master helmet} and filing the crest off?


Yes, but abondoned it as too much work for too little return, since you were still stuck with the molded and fixed visor.

Anyway, I'm sure the admins will soon be screaming that this has left LEGO for Real Castles, so let me just sum up and say that depending on country and era, I do not think that putting helmets and armor prints on your archers and crossbowmen are not as horribly inappropriate to historical accuracy as you feel.
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Postby Blueandwhite » Tue Sep 06, 2005 7:28 pm

Damien wrote:I wouldn't say KK2 helms are any more removed from history as any other helm. Some may be slightly more obvious (due to simpler designs), but that's a non-issue. In the end, you have to allow for the fact that the more intricate the design, the less like the original it's going to look.


I don't think I need to be an expert on medieval warfare to say that this is a stretch. Of course over-simplification is an issue! It is quite apparent that KKII draws its inspiration from a different source than any of the previous Castle lines. Sharp angles, and a strong emphasis on geometric shapes mark a departure from earlier lines in favour of something modern. These KKII Knights seem out-of-this world.

Previous lines were clearly inspired by a pop culture view of the middle ages. Those sets don't suffer from the same over-simplification and modernization found in the KKII line. Heck, the KKII figures could easily be incorporated into a space theme without having to stretch one's imagination. If LEGO didn't take the time to identify these strange fellows as Knights, they could have easily passed them off as a new space line for starving space fans.

Ironically, the helmet designs in KKII seem incredibly close to a little-known cartoon of the 1980s called Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light. Like KKII, Visionaries focused on several Knights wearing oddly shaped helmets in a wide assortment of colours.
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Postby BuilderQ » Wed Sep 07, 2005 6:50 pm

For great helms, the LEGOLAND helmets (this type) might do, or perhaps even the Stingrays' (this).
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Postby Maedhros » Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:00 pm

BuilderQ wrote:For great helms, the LEGOLAND helmets (this type) might do, or perhaps even the Stingrays' (this).


Wow! That stingray looks very cool. I haven´t seen it before.

Sorry for being off topic but I couldn´t restrain myself at the sight of that one.
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Postby Recluce » Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:23 pm

Yup, I've used the stingray helmet before.... and it would appear that I do not have any pics of it! Well if you cut away the protion around the mouth, leaving a nasal and the cheeks, it is a nice looking "scarry" helm. Goot for Orcs, Goblins, etc, but not really close to anything historically accurate.
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Postby The Hordesman » Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:32 pm

Recluce wrote:but not really close to anything historically accurate.


Well, you can call it a hybrid between a pig-snout and a sugarloaf. :wink:
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