With many cities having very strong walls, sieges were a necessary part of Roman warfare. The Roman methods of besieging were not always as sophisticated as those of the Greeks in previous centuries, and in general their tactics were to try a quick assault, and if that failed then they surrounded the city and simply waited. Clearly this was not always practical, but whatever their method, they had a reputation of never giving up, which resulted in some rapid surrenders from towns with no hope of relief. Several sets already exist of various siege machines that might be used in such situations, but until the appearance of this set there were almost no troops suitable to handle them.
Many of the poses are of men apparently lifting, pushing or pulling something, which is exactly what is required if you want men to be handling rams, ladders and so forth. Three figures on the second row would seem to be troops climbing on ladders, while two on the third row are engaged in building the fortifications, mining the walls or any number of other activities. The archers and slinger on the fourth row would be a vital part of any operation to get troops to the walls as they could keep the heads of the defenders down. Finally we have some men handling ammunition for a stone-thrower. All these poses are pretty good and should prove very useful. The final figure on the bottom row is a joker, and only appears in a limited number of the set. He is using a pneumatic drill and has a miner's lamp on his helmet. A nice touch of humour, but the pose has no obvious conversion possibilities to something more usable.
Almost all the men wear the segmented cuirass that saw service from around 25 CE to roughly the end of the second century. This is much simplified and is missing virtually all fastenings, but in general the look is reasonably good. Most of the men also wear a form of helmet something like the Greco attic style, as seen on some senior officers and some cavalry (and the Timpo Romans) but not on the ordinary infantry. Very few have the Imperial-Gallic or Imperial-Italic style which should in fact be the norm here. Some wear pteruges over the loins or all round the skirt, but a few have chosen to wear the metal coverings at the front and the rear. One shudders at why any legionary would consider it worth while having armour covering his backside, quite apart from the discomfort that would cause when he sat down. All the men also wear greaves, an item which again was limited to officers (and on rare occasions other ranks such as during the Dacian Wars). Some of the men have chosen to strip to the waist, but the sculptor has given these men kilts, an item never found in the Roman army's wardrobe.
The archers have been given legionary clothing and armour, which reflects the fact that on occasions the Romans used legionnaires as missile troops when these were required in particularly large numbers, i.e. at a siege. The slinger wears clothing for which we could find no evidence at all. Many of the men are unarmed, which seems possible under the circumstances if a little unlikely, but where a sword is worn it is on the right hip, which agrees with the first to mid-second century dating. None have a dagger however.
Worst of the lot is the joker figure. He wears no goggles, face mask, ear-defenders or gloves, and indeed his entire costume is ill-suited to his task. Health and Safety would be down on him like a tonne of bricks and his boss would be in court in no time. Needless to say a dim view would be taken of the fact that his power cable has broken too!
The sculpting is quite good with only a small amount of flash in some places. If the kneeling archer were to stand up then he would be a giant, but otherwise the proportions are reasonable. As we have said detail is not great, but we have seen worse.
This was a great idea. With companies making siege engines there is an obvious need for figures to use them, just as it is pointless making artillery without crews to man them or wagons with no one to drive them. The poses are well chosen and the sculpting is of a reasonable standard. However the sculptor seems to have got his historical information from watching Ben-Hur, and has ruined what would have been an extremely valuable set. Orion really must try much harder.