In the early years of the Roman Empire there had been a desire to extend it into the lands of the Germanic tribes, lands that today include Germany and Poland. Events such as the disaster of the Teutoburg Forest brought such plans to an end, but over population and pressures from the east meant the Germanic tribes pressed the northern frontier of the Empire and during the 4th and 5th centuries, the period covered by this set, they broke through those borders and effectively destroyed the empire in the West. Battles such as Adrianople in 378, when the Romans were crushed by the Goths, illustrated how some German tribes had learnt the lessons of their previous encounters and were a military force to match any in Europe.
By the 4th century the relatively unsophisticated ‘barbarians’ of earlier times had evolved into warriors as effective as the Romans themselves. Indeed many served in Roman armies, and to some extent adopted both their equipment and tactics. Thus the figures in this set correctly show many warriors with mail armour and helmets, while other aspects of their clothing are also quite reasonable. The term ‘Germanic Warriors’ covers a large number of groups, many of whom had their own characteristics, so this set can be no more than a representative sample of all these tribes. However they do look the part, with all having beards and long hair, and their weapons – chiefly spears, swords, axes and javelins – are also correct. The shields are mostly round with a central dome-like boss, although the oval shield carried by one man is also quite accurate.
For many Germanic tribes warriors could fight just as easily mounted or on foot, or switch effortlessly between the two, so the concept of a dedicated cavalry was not recognised. This set includes both mounted and dismounted men, which is fine, although nine poses for them all is far from generous. However such poses are there are give a very good impression and are nicely realised. Some tribes used archers, but they were not common enough to warrant a representative in this set, which does however manage to show all the other major weapon types. More would have been nice (as is always the case), but these poses are very acceptable.
In previous products MiniArt have had big problems with flash, and while that remains the case here it is less serious than in the past. Some trimming is still required, but for the most part this is not a major task. The detail on these figures is pretty much all you could ask for given their fairly simple costumes, with realistic folds in cloth and good texture on the armour, but again it is not as sharp or crisp as some other manufacturers manage. However this should not put you off, as they are plenty good enough for all but the most demanding purchaser. The last mounted man pictured above has a separate spear/javelin which he has tucked under his arm. This is a separate piece and remarkably slender, yet fits perfectly into the hole in the man. However the same cannot be said of the one separate shield, which is held by the second man in the top row. He has a large peg whereas the shield has a tiny hole – the two would never match as they stand. We found the best course of action was to cut the peg off and glue the shield directly onto the hand, which looks fine. One more serious problem is that the riders' legs are too close together to fit on the horses, requiring some filing to remedy this. Taking the figures as a whole we thought they had plenty of life and were a pretty fair example of the sculptor’s craft.
While the manufacturer is clearly thinking that these warriors will be pitted against their recent Roman Infantry, those with a knowledge of the period will know that these figures could also form part of a Roman army or provide possible conversions for other troops of the period, including some for the following centuries. As such these are certainly welcome and useful, and if not an outstanding set then it is certainly reasonable and well worth considering.