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Strelets

Set M020

Roman Legion in Advance

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2008
Contents 48 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey
Average Height 22.5 mm (= 1.62 m)

Review

Romans have long been a popular subject for model figures, and Strelets are clearly making the most of that as this is their fourth set of Roman legionaries. As before these are in the most easily recognisable uniform, the segmented cuirass worn around the first century. All the poses come with their shield as part of the figure, and since in most cases the shield is, quite naturally, covering their front there is little of this visible. From what can be seen, including the back, the representation is quite accurate, as it is with the helmet and short boots. However the shields are all completely flat, which is incorrect as the shield was noticeably cylindrical.

Like any army the Romans adapted their tactics according to the terrain, enemy and any other factors, but the ideal when advancing was to shower the enemy with missiles (particularly the pilum spear at close range), and then draw sword for the hand-to-hand fighting and mopping up the hopefully routed opponent. Most of these poses have sword drawn, so would appear to be in the final throws of the advance and about to make contact. One man carrys his spear forward, and there are three poses with ring hands (the last three in the bottom row). The second of these is obviously holding a spear, but the other two could be holding either spear or sword. These two are almost identical and are great for the classic advancing pose with sword in hand, so it is disappointing that Strelets have only included one separate sword on each sprue, forcing one of these poses to hold a spear. Providing sufficient extra weapons to allow the customer some choice would have been a useful feature that could have been easily achieved.

Many of the poses (such as the three ring-hand poses) are fine, but there are some strange ones too. On the top row we find a man holding his not very light shield in the air while thrusting forward. It is clear that the man cannot see what is in front of him, so his thrust must be purely hoping for the best. Not an impossible pose but not a great choice in our view. On the second row the first two poses are really good, with the second man presumably having just thrown his spear, but the third is a little odd (why would you hold you sword out like that?). The first figure on the bottom row has his sword arm across his chest and fully back, ready to deliver a slash. Unfortunately he has forgotten that he is holding a shield, which he has moved up so as to cover his sword arm, so he is unable to deliver his blow without moving his shield out of the way entirely. Again not impossible but very unlikely in our view.

The sculpting is fairly chunky as is usual from Strelets, with basic detail. All the ring hands have to be enlarged either by filing or opening before the supplied separate weapons will fit, but this is not a particularly onerous task. Having all shields joined means there is no other assembly, but at the cost of some shields being rather unnaturally held pressed hard against the body, where there would be no room for the arm and the protection they provide would be lessened. This also eliminates the offensive possibilities of the shield. The flatness of the shields is also a consequence of this, so again we would observe that for many poses with shields the only way to do them properly is to have the shield separate. However having shields unnaturally pressed into the body means there is no ugly excess plastic, and flash too is minimal.

For those looking to build up a diverse collection of Roman legionaries this set is welcome news. As so often the two most dramatic poses are also the least useful, although both would be fine if they had no shield or were holding it to the side. However many of the rest will go together easily to form a realistic body of infantry as it goes into battle. The flat shields are a real shame, however, and very difficult to correct, so this set leaves something to be desired.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 8
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 6
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Fighting Techniques of the Ancient World" - Greenhill - Simon Anglim - 9781853675225
"Greece and Rome at War" - Greenhill - Peter Connolly - 9781853673030
"Roman Legionary 58BC - AD69" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.71) - Ross Cowan - 9781841766003
"The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" - Wargames Research Group - Phil Barker - 9780904417173
"The Complete Roman Army" - Thames & Hudson - Adrian Goldsworthy - 9780500051245

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