RULE #1: When starting a new project, especially a new period or scale, always get two opposed sides. This insures that you aren't depending on others fleeting hobby interests, limited time, energy or money. You can also demo the scale / period with a set of rules you like and bring others into it on the terms you're following rather than scattering energy and resources.
With this in mind, I started a new scale by going with what was available, inexpensive and local. I went with the Sash and Saber Dark Ages line which is Viking and Saxons [Anglo-Dane, really] with some Normans. So Stamford Bridge and Hastings is the time frame that sculptor and owner Chris Hughes has in mind. http://www.sashandsaber.com/catalog40DAR.php4
Note that many of the bags are suitable for Vikings, Saxons, or Normans, really.
RULE #2: Buy a small, historical force for both sides, based upon a famous event people know. This means that it will be easy to bring others in, showing them something that they're familiar with already but may not know a lot about - most gamers are avid historians.
I picked the Battle of Maldon. As one of the few surviving Anglo-Saxon poetry works, it has a lot of support on the net and numerous books, including one from Tolkein! Does anyone NOT know who he is thanks to Peter Jackson? This is an excellent site: http://www.battleofmaldon.org.uk/
It includes a free translation, a map and lots of useful information.
For the forces, I didn't know what rules I'd be using, but I did know that it'd be a skirmish level battle between raiders and local Anglo-Dane defenders. With that in mind, I picked the following forces that I felt were likely opponents at Maldon:
VIKINGS [the "sea raiders" of the poem]:
- 40DAR4 Vikings with sword-spear -- no armor . These represent the common rowers who are out to get wealth and loot, perhaps they are still young or just can't seem to get ahead of their dice! They aren't as wealthy but have all the essentials, including spears, shields, and axe/sword/knife, usually a helmet. Note that this basic panoply would protect a warrior from the front and enable him to participate in the shieldwall, while still letting him move fast if needed - essential for raiders.
- 40DAR102 Vikings bowmen  x2 for ten altogether. Same as above, but they've brought bows along. Essential for raiders to have some sort of ranged weapon in a force and many laws required a bow to be available for each rowing bench. Vikings also took pride in their accuracy with a bow or thrown spear. These fellows can also provide a few archers for the defending Saxons if needed.
- 40DAR4 Vikings with sword-spear -- mail . These are the seasoned warriors who've managed to loot or purchase a coat of mail over the years. Many would be full-time soldiers of a famous lord or landholder, providing policing and protection when not raiding themselves. The mailed men with axes will be provided out of a Saxon bag.
- 40DAR101 Viking Berserkers . Three are actually wolf-pelt wearing ulfhednar [one gnawing on his shield], and two are big violent animated guys. None have armor and all could also just be battle-enraged fellows of any kind. Their adornment and tattoos will make them more berserker-like, but the shield-gnawing guy definitely ain't normal!
- 40DAR202 Viking Command . This provides two standards [one with a horn], a horn blower, and a couple of mail-wearing fellows urging the men to follow them.
- 40DAR403 Harald Sigurdson [Hardrada] . Same, but a more dynamic and very nicely armed leader figures. Could be the famous Hardrada, or just another professional warlord.
SAXONS [the local defenders of the poem]:
- 40DAR11 Anglo-Saxon Peasants [assorted weapons] . My thinking is that the defenders are always going to be any men around who're ready to defend their homes and families, plus the nearest local lord's hearth soldiers, and of course the better-armed levy, known as the "select fyrd" since they've been selected from the available pool of those who owe military service. Also, with the wide variety of heads and extra weapons in all of these bags, I figure these figs will add useful variety for any figures without mail. Stick a "Viking" head and give the guy a sword and shield, hey, he's a viking!
- 40DAR7 Saxon Fyrdmen [unarmored] with spear . Speaking of the Fyrd, here they are. Again, these figures bodies can be mixed with the Viking ones to bring plenty of variety.
- 40DAR7 Saxon House-Carles with 2-handed ax . They are of course wearing mail armor also, and will provide axe-bodies for both sides. One will be the local warlord in this case the hero of Maldon, the earl Brithnoth. And some of the Vikings with mail and sword, spear, will be huscarls, too.
The total is about 60 Vikings and 60 Saxons. With the similarity in gear and dress, I can easily swing a 2-1 encounter with the defenders behind barricades and such., or even outnumbering the raiders who're trying to make a quick in-and-out raid with their booty before the defenders get organized. I think that the force with 40 mail armored and 80 unarmored is about right for this sort of small battle of selected raiders and defenders. In a big battle, the % of armored men would drastically decline. But my thinking is that anyone who DOES have armor is someone who's ready and expected to fight on one side or the other.