In the ancient world transporting people and goods was always done by water where possible as this was a lot cheaper, usually quicker and relatively safer than using the roads or tracks. So long as a town was on a navigable river it probably had a port, and that would have been one of the centres of the community. It was an incredibly busy, noisy and smelly place, and by modern standards looked very chaotic as goods of all kinds were moved on and off ship in all manner of containers. There was a market too, where items - especially fresh fish and imported foodstuffs - could be purchased, so as well as workers there were dealers, customers, sailors and those looking to make money from the resulting crowds. A port must have been a very vibrant place, and with this set of figures there is now the chance to reproduce such a scene in miniature.
When we reviewed the first Roman Port set from Linear-B we bemoaned the lack of any figures that really made it feel like it was depicting a harbour, but this second offering looks to be much more like it. Our top row shows what you might imagine are the dock workers, carrying various loads about or, in one case, rolling a barrel instead. The fourth man very much maintains the nautical feel as he carries a boat hook and rope. All the figures are really nicely done. Although the man with the barrel has no base, and so does not stand by himself, when leaned against the barrel in the natural way he stands perfectly well. These men wear either a simple tunic or else just a loincloth, which is as it should be. These are absolutely what you might expect in a set about a port.
The second and third rows seem to us to drift a little from the theme, although not too far. Essentially the second row contains a number of random civilians, starting with a well wrapped up woman and a man with a child sitting on his shoulder. Next we have a woman embracing a soldier and finally a man with a sun hat taking his ease on a chest. All of them could be used in any Roman civilian scene, but perhaps we are being invited to imagine the child watching and waiting on the quayside for a ship to appear, or just enjoying all the hustle and bustle much like a modern child might enjoy watching an airport. The very nice pair could perhaps be a Roman soldier newly disembarked after some foreign service and being greeted by his partner after months of separation, while the relaxed man could be waiting for a ship to take him and his luggage to some new land. They all work with those sorts of back stories, and with many others besides, but again, some nice figures.
Row three is definitely party time. As we discussed in our first review, ports were places where sailors, perhaps newly paid, could sample the delights on offer in an urban environment, or simply celebrate surviving what was certainly a perilous and gruelling activity. The first figure in this row is not a sailor however, but a naked young lady apparently holding a tambourine, while another equally unclothed young lady is being hoisted high by a man at the other end of the row. In the middle we find two soldiers, perhaps celebrating their discharge, or at least the end of a voyage home from some campaign, celebrating with drink and a dance. Hilariously, however, one still wears a sword which is rather getting in the way of the embrace!
All the clothing is simple and properly done, and the poses are quite natural. The sculpting is the usual standard for this company, although this is a good subject when fine detail is not possible, as these uncomplicated figures have no need for it. The proportions are pretty good, and even the faces are quite well done, while we found almost no flash anywhere.
In short, we thought this was a really fun set that actually did very well at depicting the subject while still making what could have been a fairly dull collection of figures lively and entertaining. With decent sculpting and no accuracy issues, this is another in the increasing range of Roman civilian sets that offer the modern model maker the chance to construct some interesting and energetic non-military dioramas - no longer just the preserve of museums with the means to make their own figures. This product was a very pleasant surprise, and if you own a Roman ship then this would be a perfect companion.