My ancients collection started with a frined dumping a pile of Romans on me thus, it was not a specifically planned endeavor. They were all packs from The Foundry, and so I turned to their site to take a look at what I could get that would round out what he gave me. Of the natural enemies for the Romans, the northern barbarians seemed the most appealing to me, both Gauls and Celts. The best set turned out to be Enter the Gallic Horse which would round out my nascent infantry units, as well as give me a bunch of cool Celtic horsemen. Thus my Celtic tribes were born.
Since I started with Foundry horsemen, I turned to the Foundry to look for infantry. I've collected a fair amount of what they have to offer for Celts, Picts, and Gauls.
In general I have very little bad to say about the Foundry. Their detail is very good, the pose varieties contain a more dynamic and convincing variety than many manufactureres I've seen, and the range has the basic types you need for a warband.
The Celts range is a bit dated, and unfortunately their horses are much smaller than those of later ranges. The Gallic horse work quite well, but they dwarf the horses in the Celtic horse packs, which is a bit annoying.
Also, the celtic chariots are tiny. This may be an attempt to be historically accurate with light fighting platforms, but honestly they look a little out of place in my opinon. I've equipped my celts with chariots from BTD as a result.
The two biggest problems with Foundry in general, are price and availability. For a US Customer, you're going to need to order from the UK unless you have a local store that carries their full range. I've seen very few of those stateside in my day, but they do exist. If you order enough packs, or one of their large collections, they do give you free shipping which helps, but that brings up the second point: price. Foundry are just about the most expensive for 28mm out there. And their prices are going to rise in April 2007.
Black Tree Design:
Formerly Harlequin miniatures, BTD has been expanding their historical ranges over the years, and has both Picts and Celts available.
Their pack count is half of Foundry, with 4 foot in most packs, but the price is also less than half: 4/$7.00 vs 8/$18.00, plus Black Tree frequently has sales. At current writing their winter sale puts all the Celts at $4.00USD per 4 figs, and $7.00USD per 3 horse. Pretty good deal.
For me, the problem with BTD is aesthetics. Their design is a little lumpy, the faces less crisp, and the limbs more bendy-playdough looking than Foundry. Mind you they are not terrible in their own right, but next to Foundry, they look a bit chunky. I've also had a fair number of figures from BTD with slightly miscast features which is annoying. They are a tad larger than the Foundry figs, and their shileds are a bit bulky as well. I have some, and I continue to use them, but I do so sparingly.
If figure quality isn'y your first priority, I would say these are a good range for building out a large playable warband at a good price. They kick the pants off of Old Glory for quality, and they have most of the general types of figures you'd want including civilians and casualties which is nice. I do find they tend to use a lot of the same head on figures though, which leaves them feeling a little generic if you look closely at that
In their favor, they have a broader Pict range, and about the same available for Celts.
I have picked up a few packs of Crusaders DA Irish and I like what I see so far. With them now being distributed through Old GLory, they can be had for a better price and quicker delivery than previously if you are in the US.
So far I have only briefly looked over these figures, so I will with hold further comment until I've cleaned some up and painted them.
I put Gripping Beast on a close par to Foundry for quality. They require a bit more cleaning, and I find some of their ranges to be a little boring in the design department, but the ranges I like, I like a lot.
Their Celts are nice and charachterful and are complemented well by Foundry figures if you want to mix. Their price is cheaper than Foundry too! I also appreciate their dedication to releasing a pretty complete selction of packs within a range. Gamers appreciate that.
My only real beef with them is their tendancy to use cast on shields.
They have recently released a lot of Picts on which I cannot comment, but based on their Celts and Irish they score:
Westwind has recently jumped on the Age of Arthur train and released Britons, Irish, and Picts . .. none of which have I had a chance to see up close yet. Right now the Picts seems slightly slim, and the Irish only have one pack so it is hard to say how complete of a range we'll get from these folks. I'll keep my eye on them.