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Strelets

Set M035

Ancient Germans

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2009
Contents 48 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey
Average Height 23.5 mm (= 1.7 m)

Review

Ancient Germans have been the subject of quite a few sets of figures over the years. For no apparent reason these sets have tended to concentrate on warriors being very lightly clothed, or even not clothed at all, which is not wrong, but the climate of northern Europe was no more tropical in ancient times than it is now, so there was an obvious need for some Germans in more likely cold-weather clothing, and this set from Strelets seems to answer that need.

As with most tribal societies Germans were probably mostly occupied in fighting other Germans, raiding neighbouring tribes and settling old scores. They would also have sometimes fought their Celt neighbours and, as they came into contact with the Roman Empire, they fought Romans too (as well as fighting as Roman allies or auxiliaries on occasion). For much of this time the warriors must have looked something like these figures, which are well clothed in long tunics and trousers, and many have cloaks and/or furs for added warmth. Some seem to have thongs around the lower leg to keep the trouser legs tight, which was common practice, and possibly one or two may have some form of mail armour, although this would be quite unlikely and is hard to make out here. Armour only started to become more common after long exposure to the Empire, so these Germans appear to be for the first century or two of the Empire. Only two of the poses have helmets, while the rest reflect by far the normal appearance by being bareheaded and having their hair long and tied in knots of various kinds (although caps would sometimes have been worn but are absent here). All the men seem to be fully bearded, which again was the norm.

For weapons most Germanic warriors carried javelins and perhaps a spear, axe or club, and much more rarely a bow or sword. Although a surprisingly large number of these poses carry a sword the rest seem to have spears or javelins, while one has a club and two carry a francisca, which was a kind of axe that could be thrown or used in close combat. Shields tended to be quite plain and often plain boards, and could have been of many different shapes, so the wide array of examples in this set all seem authentic, although there are none of the wicker examples sometimes mentioned. In essence then there are no accuracy problems with these figures, and indeed they are more obviously typically dressed than most of the proceeding figures of ancient Germans.

As with many Strelets sets all the shields are moulded with the man, so all are either side on or facing the mould. This means all the men are either fairly flat (if moulded side-on) or somewhat compressed (if moulded facing the mould). There is nothing in-between here, so the poses leave something to be desired. Simply trying to recreate the second pose in the second row will show how unlikely a stance it is. The poses facing the mould are better, but in fairness all will probably be acceptable to many customers, who are very familiar with the Strelets style by now.

Apart from occasional lapses Strelets are remarkably consistent in style, and this set too holds no surprises. While not a good illustration of the finer details of anatomy these are quite nicely done and the detail, which is ample, is nice and clear for the most part. Textures such as on the furs tend to be exaggerated but this is a common complaint of many sets and again should not really put many people off. The last three figures in our pictures have ring hands to take the illustrated separate weapons, and while we had to slightly enlarge these holes so they would take the weapon the result was a good firm fit. Strelets figures are not the most attractive on the market but nor are they bad, and there is no flash or extra plastic to remove.

As we have said, these cold-weather Germans are probably the most typical ancient Germans yet made, and while the style does not mix easily with other manufacturers and there is too great an emphasis on swords, this is still a worthwhile set.



Ratings

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

Further Reading
Books
"Barbarians" - Concord - Tim Newark - 9789623616348
"Germanic Warrior AD 236 - 568" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.17) - Simon MacDowall - 9781855325869
"Rome's Enemies: Germanics and Dacians" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.129) - Peter Wilcox - 9780850454734
"The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" - Wargames Research Group - Phil Barker - 9780904417173

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