Labelled as Late Heavy Infantry, these fourth century soldiers are the legionaries who still protected the frequently discordant empire from both external pressures and internal strife. The army looked very different from the military machine of two centuries earlier, but until recently this interesting period had received virtually no coverage from figure manufacturers. Happily that is now changing, and this set represents the first of several sets of late Roman infantry from HaT.
By the fourth century virtually all the most recognisable symbols of the Roman army had changed. The men, or at least the armoured heavy infantry, wore mail over a tunic with trousers and closed boots. Their helmet was the two-piece Romano-Sassanian or intercisa type and their shield was a large circular or oval shape and slightly concave. They carried spears, javelins and a longer sword called a spatha, and in some cases a number of weighted darts called plumbatae or mattiobarbuli stowed inside their shield. The figures in this set are an accurate reflection of those men, even down to the darts inside the shield. Most soldiers would not have had a crest on their helmet, but HaT have deliberately added one to every figure here so the customer may choose to retain or trim this off as desired (officers and elites are more likely to have such decoration). The standard is the draco, a metal dragon's head on the end of a pole with a windsock trailing behind, the normal device at this time.
In looking at the poses we were struck by the number of figures with legs far apart. While this would be reasonable if the man was expecting an impact, we felt this was exaggerated in some cases such as the third man on the bottom row. Other than that the poses are all fine, and the man with the draco can have this trimmed off to leave an ordinary infantryman with his spear, which is useful.
Hat can be very variable with their sculpting quality, but many of their Romans are amongst the best figures they have ever produced and this set continues that tradition. Detail everywhere is really good and sharp, and while there is some flash it is quite low level. Two of the poses have ring hands to allow for the separate spears, and as usual these fit well and easily. The man holding the dart would have been better if he had been sculpted about to throw it, and the swordsman with the very wide gait has managed to bend his sword, but these are minor niggles in an otherwise very nice set.