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Odemars

Set PF08

Carpentum

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2005
Contents 1 figure and 1 wagon
Poses 1 pose
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown, Pink
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

The first question many will ask is what is a carpentum? Unfortunately the answer depends on who or where you ask. Some sources say it was two-wheeled while others say four, and other features also seem to vary. The problem is that although the Romans have left us many images of their wagons and plenty of references to their names and types, no one is sure which name matches which design. As a result therefore we will consider this model simply as a heavy wagon of the Roman period and not concern ourselves with labels.

The Romans were not particularly partial to travelling, despite the excellence of their major roads (which were primarily built to facilitate movement of bodies of troops). Indeed many towns banned most wagons during the day to avoid congestion. However wagons were of course essential on occasion and the model we have here is of a heavy four-wheeled variety. It is clearly something of a luxury item and meant for passengers rather than goods as it has a seat and curtains, and would normally be the private procession of a very wealthy family, although it could also be used for processions. From coins and other evidence it is clear there was no standard design for Roman wagons, which may seem obvious but does allow a model maker much latitude in what they produce. In this case the model seems entirely reasonable historically.

While the overall design is fine the model is very much simplified. It is basically four walls, a roof and floor, the one-piece running gear, wheels and the two mules as can be seen by looking at the complete sprue. The parts fit together tolerably well but some trimming is required to remove gaps and burrs. Some of the parts have pegs and holes but these are purely to guide positioning - in no sense is this a 'snap-together' kit (the complete absence of instructions or a guiding picture does not help either). Much of the running gear in particular is missing - for example there are no springs - and there is no harness. The two mules are a good choice for pulling this wagon and they are joined to each other by the yoke. Sadly the animals are significantly different heights at the shoulder which makes attaching the yoke difficult, which merely rests on the mules and needs gluing. Once the mules are attached there is no way of connecting them with the wagon itself as the shaft is low down near the ground, so in our picture the animals are free-standing. The figure sits on one of the mules and is simply but properly dressed, but his legs are a little too close together to sit properly so some trimming is again required.

Overall the model is not refined or particularly well engineered, but it is better than some. The traditional fairly soft plastic will resist many glues, which does not help, so expect to take some time putting it all together, depending on how much customisation is required (such as properly attaching the team to the vehicle). However the parts are quite square and relatively low on flash. The walls are not detailed inside, but there is a very basic seat so if desired a seated occupant could be added. We find it frustrating when a vehicle is produced with absolutely no crew or attendants, so the inclusion of the outrider is a plus and there are at least seated Romans available from other companies.

Whether you choose to call this a carpentum, pilentum or whatever, this is a high-status Roman wagon meant for long-distance luxury travel. While this model is not anything like the standard of the large kit manufacturers it is the only one that we know of concerning Roman wagons and should prove quite serviceable.

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