Rome had used auxiliary troops ever since it began conquering neighbouring territories, but these were often clothed and equipped in their own native style and fought in their familiar way. From around the reign of Augustus the auxilia seem to have been placed on a more regular footing and became a professional force that much more closely resembled the legions they supported. However there continued to be important distinctions so as almost all Roman armies included them this set is an important part of the Strelets Roman range.
The poses in this set are split between swordsmen and spearmen, but costume is much the same for all of them. They wear mail with a serrated lower edge over a tunic and short breeches. On their head they have a typical helmet with includes cross-braces over the skull to strengthen it. They all carry swords and some also have spears, while all have the flat oval shield that is so often associated with such men. While such things are impossible to precisely date, these figures are well suited to the century or more after the mid first century CE. While this was not necessarily the ‘uniform’ of all auxiliaries, these figures are quite typical and have no accuracy problems.
All are in fighting poses, and all are protecting themselves with their shield – a simple yet obvious observation that is frequently overlooked in some ancient sets. The poses work quite well in forming a typical Roman formation where the men advance with shields to the fore and swords sticking out between them, while the spearmen form up behind the first rank.
While the figures are a little chunky the detail is quite good, although some items such as scabbards are rather wide and short even when they do not have to be. Four of the figures have ring hands for separate weapons, and these fit OK. Several of the shields are also separate, and fit securely onto pegs on the hands, but we found some of these rather more difficult to assemble without trimming first. Just one figure is facing the mould and has his shield moulded on, and this means the shield is rather too tight to the body, presumably to avoid the inevitable excess plastic. Still there is almost no flash so these figures look pretty reasonable.
The only previous set of auxiliaries came from HäT, and since their Romans were amongst their best work that is a tough act to follow. The Strelets figures are much less elegant, and slightly bigger, so they do not match well with their predecessors, yet they are pleasing enough in their own right and will doubtless do sterling work in support of their legionary colleagues.