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HaT

Set 8074

Imperial Roman Auxiliaries

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2003
Contents 48 figures
Poses 8 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

Throughout the ages all empire builders have appreciated the value of auxiliaries. The most obvious advantage is that by getting subject people to conduct security and wars on behalf of the occupying power, that power avoids casualties. Rome clearly saw auxiliaries as far less important than its own citizens, and reserved the legions for major campaigns and emergencies, leaving foreign troops to guard frontiers and suppress revolts. However, auxiliaries also brought with them different skills, skills that the Romans either failed to master or for which they cared little.

Archery was a skill rarely found in Rome's own troops, so many auxiliaries were bowmen. Those in this set are clearly of eastern origin with their conical helmets and very long tunic. They wear mail armour, and use one of a wide variety of bows that saw service during the early Imperial period. The poses speak for themselves, and are a good selection which have been well sculpted and nicely detailed.

The next three poses are native warriors of perhaps German origin. These provided large numbers of fighters for the Romans, but they fought in their own way under their own chiefs. As can be seen, they have no Roman equipment or clothing, and were certainly seen as very expendable by the Romans themselves. All carry an oval shield (which has been moulded with the figure), and two carry a club while the third carries a spear. Costume is of course very simple, but these are realistically done. The two clubmen are fine, but the spearman is a real mess as his shield passes through his back and emerges through his left shoulder. Half the man's left arm is missing, as is much of his upper torso. For the shield to be where it is it must either be held by a strap round the neck or the man has an arm threaded through a strap on the shield itself. Both are incorrect, so the desired pose is not very good even if it had been successfully achieved by the sculptor.

Finally we come to the slingers. These would probably have come from the Iberian Peninsula or the Balearic islands, the latter being famous for their slingers for many years. Slingshot could deliver a more lethal blow than an arrow, and ammunition could be picked off the ground, though cast lead shot was better. However it took great skill to master this form of warfare, and the Romans appreciated its effectiveness. Both these men have been modelled in nice active poses, clearly in the act of slinging their shot. It was a bold move to do this rather than the much more sedate 'preparing' pose, but it works well. The men are correctly clothed, and both are holding shields, which are a part of the piece and not separate. Slingers did sometimes carry shields, which does not seem to have significantly inhibited their action, but the shield on the stooping man causes a lot of extra plastic.

The archers were our favourites, but the 'barbarians' are fine except for the spearman, who looks ridiculous. The slingers are great, but we would have preferred to see the shields as separate items to avoid all the extra plastic, and to give the customer some choice. Flash is minimal, and the general standard of sculpting is fair. In our view this is a set with some excellent poses and one useless one.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 4
Sculpting 6
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Greece and Rome at War" - Greenhill - Peter Connolly - 9781853673030
"Roman Army: Wars of the Empire" - Brassey (History of Uniforms Series) - Graham Sumner - 9781857532128
"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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