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Strelets

Set 097

Batavian Cavalry in Roman Service

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2007
Contents 12 figures and 12 horses
Poses 12 poses, 6 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

The Batavi were a Germanic tribe which during the Roman period were located round the Rhine delta in what today is the southern part of the Netherlands. Unlike most Germanic tribes the Batavi were known for their equestrian skills and were well respected as being effective warriors. They were exempt from taxes and duties to Rome, but instead provided many warriors for Rome’s armies, including mounted troops. Apart from an initially very successful rebellion in 69-70 CE the Batavi were loyal friends of Rome and their cavalry saw action in many parts of the Empire.

Many of these figures are bare-chested and wear trousers which have been fairly crudely engraved to suggest a check pattern (which we would much sooner have done without). Usually such men would have worn a tunic as well, so presumably these are fighting in hot weather. Hair is generally long and moustaches and beards are much in evidence although not universal, which is fine. However no less than four of the poses wear a helmet, which was an expensive item usually thought to be available only to the chieftain or aristocracy. We are always very uneasy when we see helmets with horns or other extravagant decoration, and do not know whether the one in this set is based on any actual evidence, but at least this can all be trimmed off, and almost certainly should be. Several of the figures also seem to have mail armour. Clearly serving in the Roman army would have made these people aware of such armour, but again this would probably have been very expensive and relatively rare. Of course as in most societies those with horses were the most wealthy so this may go some way to justifying the amount of high status items. This applies also to swords, of which there are several here. Other weapons are spears and axes, which would have been more common.

The horses also caused us some unease as most have an animal skin cover. While this is not necessarily impossible it seems that a simple blanket was the norm, and the skins do give a rather primitive ‘caveman’ appearance which we found inappropriate. One horse has a Roman saddle and highly decorated harness, which is rather going too far in the opposite direction and would at best be used by the highest elite, although it has been suggested that Germanic tribes thought a saddle effeminate and consequently scorned them entirely.

Such figures have little need for detail but areas such as hair have been quite nicely done, although the overall impression is quite unrefined. Smaller items such as nipples tend to be exaggerated, while long thin items such as scabbards are rather thick and a bit short. This figures with ring hands take the separate weapons pretty well, and there is little flash and only a modest ridge where the mould joins.

The poses are fairly flat but quite serviceable, and the figures mostly fit their mounts pretty well. In truth though there is nothing about this set that marks it out as specifically Batavian, which is probably a fair reflection of the subjects themselves. From the text on the box we are assuming these figures date to the first couple of centuries of the Roman Empire, which would allow their deployment in several of Rome's campaigns of the tme.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 7
Pose Quality 8
Pose Number 10
Sculpting 7
Mould 9

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