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RedBox

Set 72001

Picts

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2006
Contents 48 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Dark Brown
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

Although their origins are unclear the Picts are first found in Orkney, a group of islands north-east of what is now Scotland. In the early third century CE the Romans carried out a destructive campaign north of the Antonine Wall to quell the various tribes there, then retreated behind Hadrians Wall, which seems to have opened the way for Pictish expansion into the area. Once the Picts overcame the native Caledonii tribe they dominated much of northern Britain for the next 600 years, raiding the Roman, post-Roman and Saxon lands to the south.

The box makes no mention of the era for which these figures are intended, but it would seem that it is meant to cover all of their later history, from their first appearance on the Imperial border in the mid third century CE to their final absorption in the mid ninth century. Certainly the box art suggests a late Roman time frame. The usual garb of a Pict was a mid-length tunic, and perhaps a cloak and/or a cowl in bad weather, although surprisingly shoes were not commonly worn. The figures in this set are a really mixed bag, with many wearing the tunic and some also a cowl (although we would have thought that a hood was not a good idea while in battle). None are wearing a cloak, which again is understandable if you want to be as mobile and agile as possible in a fight. Three of the poses are wearing trews (perhaps a later garment) and nothing more, while two are wearing nothing at all. There is certainly evidence to suggest some did fight naked, perhaps in part so as not to cover the tattoos that were often remarked upon by writers. Two of the figures wear helmets, which would have been more likely for the later period, but even then probably quite rare. Given the long time frame we have no complaints about the accuracy of the costume.

Like other Celts the main battle weapons were the sword and spear or javelin. The axe is likely to have been used only well after the Roman period, limiting the use of those poses that have one here. The Picts also made use of archery, so it would have been nice to see an archer here, but there is none. Crossbows may have been used but were probably very rare, so having none in this set is fine. Where shields were carried they were of the small buckler type and either circular or square, as depicted here (although they do seem somewhat too small on these figures). Both the naked warriors are holding their shields over their most susceptible areas, probably to make the figures more acceptable to modern sensitivities (and avoid some tricky detailing for the sculptor) rather than a reflection of any modesty on the part of the Picts themselves.

The poses are a fair bunch but some have not been well realised. In particular two of the figures are holding their axes very close to the blade, thus losing all ability to swing the weapon, which is its main purpose. We also find some figures not looking at what they are doing, like the javelin man (row 3, figure 2) about to throw blindly to his left. All weapons and shields come as part of the figures, which has meant some fairly poor compromises leading to quite flat poses. However this could as easily be said of many other figure sets also.

Ukrainian manufacturers do not enjoy the highest reputation for sculpting but these are just about passable. The bare flesh is quite nicely done and clothing too is OK. Any flash takes the form of a slightly rough seam round the figure rather than a distinct flap so does not particularly mar it. The long hair and beards of the Picts was always going to be a challenge to sculpt, and this has not been perfectly done but again a pretty good result has been achieved. However it is the posture and general anatomy that is the main problem here, making these quite ugly figures to behold.

Overall this is a fair but not attractive set, especially when it is considered that this is the first product from a new company. Perhaps its greatest weakness is it tries to cover too broad a time frame, leaving some troops that the purist might discard for their purposes. However by swapping spears for axes and bare heads for helmets the converter can do much to remedy this. Equally the figures have uses as Scots, Irish and others from the period, so overall this is a pretty useful set and a reasonable start for RedBox.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 5
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 4
Mould 8

See Also
HaT Picts
Further Reading
Books
"Ancient Celts" - Concord - Tim Newark & Angus McBride - 9789623616232
"Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath - 9780904417159
"Arthur and the Anglo-Saxon Wars" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.154) - David Nicolle - 9780850455489
"Celtic Warriors" - Blandford - Tim Newark - 9780713716900
"Pictish Warrior AD 297-841" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.50) - Paul Wagner - 9781841763460
"The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" - Wargames Research Group - Phil Barker - 9780904417173
Magazines
"Military Illustrated" - No.71

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