When Caesar produced their first set of Roman Legionaries they delivered a very worthy set of soldiers in the classic Roman armour with some excellent poses. So when we saw that they intended to bring out a second set, we anticipated much the same but with some new poses. But that isn’t how it turned out. Instead, Caesar have explored the appearance of the Roman soldier in a bit more detail, and come up with something a little different from the norm.
The most obvious difference between these troops and those in the first set is their body armour. The first set showcased just the Lorica Segmentata, but there are three different types of armour in this second product. The four legionaires on our top row all appear to be wearing mail armour, which never seems to have disappeared even when the ‘segmented’ armour was at the height of its popularity. At least we assume it is mail, as the texture is not particularly specific. However all the suits have strange horizontal banding on them, which would not be appropriate for mail and may instead be some form of small scale armour. The basic design of the armour, and all other elements of the costume, are correctly done.
The second row contains three men all wearing scale armour. As with mail this never completely disappeared, although it was much less common during the first and second centuries where this set is clearly aimed. It is unusual to see scale armour depicted on such figures, but while the scales themselves are rather large these are otherwise accurate models. The centurion on the end is dressed in typical fashion, including helmet with transverse crest and a harness on his chest bearing his phalerae, as well as the staff that he is holding.
The final row finds all the men wearing the very familiar segmentata armour, but rather than repeat what they produced in their first set Caesar have made these men rather different. All these four figures have plate armour on their right arm, rather like a gladiators, and most have greaves on their lower legs too. In addition all have the reinforcing bars across the helmet crown (as do all the legionaires in this set), so these are clearly extra heavy infantry. However some sources suggest that such men were given mail rather than segmented armour, although there is far too little evidence to be sure of this. What we can say is that Roman greaves were tied to the leg (not sprung to grip like the Greek), so it is a pity that while all these men have theirs tied at the bottom none are tied at the top, which would not have worked in practice.
Apart from the observations already made these figures all look accurate, although the bands on the lorica segmentata are too wide, and therefore too few, on the four poses that wear it. They have their sword suspended from a baldric on the right hip and their dagger on the left, and in many cases the weapon they are carrying is variable as they have ring hands into which the separate weapons can be inserted. These weapons, which are swords and pila spears, come on a separate sprue, of which there are six per box. They are well done (including a better length for the pila) and fit the hands well. Some of the figures are better with a pilum, yet we have given our examples a sword simply to make photography easier.
The poses are similar to those in the first set, which means they are equally well done and suitable, if not generally for the formation advance, then certainly for the hand-to-hand combat that followed. The sophisticated mould makes figures that are anything but flat, and the separate weapons help to produce some very lively and natural models. Even the stationary centurion looks good, so the weakest figures are those not using their shields as shields, which is just two in the bottom row.
As always the pictures speak for themselves with regards to quality of sculpting, with all the right detail beautifully done, crisp and clear. The separate weapons and shields fit very well, and there is no flash or unsightly extra plastic to spoil things.
Although extra heavy features such as the reinforced helmets have sometimes been attributed to the Dacian Wars in the late first and early second centuries, it seems clear that they did exist earlier, but we would think these figures are best for the hundred years following the mid first century. None but the centurion have crests on their helmets, which is fine for battle, so basically all the concerns about historical accuracy are small details which can often be resolved with paint. Some cracking poses and the usual great sculpting make this another Caesar set worthy of consideration by any fan of Rome’s golden age.