The Punic Wars had catapulted Rome into an expansionist militaristic state, and when the republic was replaced by the first of the emperors that expansion continued, with the Empire reaching its greatest extent in the early second century. Building and preserving such a vast empire required the highly organised and well-trained Roman legionnaire, and it was during this first century of imperial rule that he took on the 'classic' appearance with which he is most widely recognised today.
As with their republican sets, we are not sure what exactly is the point of this set, at least judging by the somewhat vague title. What we have is eight poses, which boil down to four variations of two poses, being either standing holding spear and shield, or else with both resting on the ground in a more relaxed posture. Nothing seems to be going on, so these men are presumably awaiting orders, which might be to march off (though they have no baggage) or perhaps to advance on the enemy. As such all the poses are perfectly fine, and any soldier will tell you there is a lot of standing around while not much seems to be happening, so the supposed ambition of this set is easily achieved. The variations of each pose are enough to give a feeling of the natural differences you would find in any formed body of men, while all are still doing basically the same thing.
All the men wear the same uniform, which is the usual tunic with segmented armour and classic helmet of the first century CE. The helmets have none of the reinforcing braces seen around the time of the first Dacian Wars, and the sword and dagger are on the right and left hips respectively. With no other special armour such as greaves, the look is of the first century and properly done it is too. The rectangular shield is curved and a good size, and the pilum spear is also a decent model, so no problems with accuracy.
Compared to some, these men are fairly complicated in terms of detail, and this is where the Strelets style can struggle. Although a good job has been made of the armour, some of the proportions are not quite right, and some small items are larger than they really should be. At the back of the shoulders all the men have their shoulder protection meeting, which would not have happened, so there are some compromises, but the sculpting is still quite fair. The raised decoration on the shields is nicely done, so by Strelets standards these are quite reasonable. The separate shields for the four men in the top row fit well enough, but there is certainly a somewhat rough finish to the figures which regular customers will already be familiar with, and there is a little bit of a ridge round the meeting point of the moulds. Unusually, on our examples we found some slight sink holes round the back of the tunic skirt, though these would not be difficult to remedy.
If you are looking for a set of first century Roman heavy infantry standing around this one pretty much provides what you need. If not a very exciting couple of poses, they are still very useful and should find favour with Roman fans of all types. The quality is what we have come to expect from Strelets, and the poses are nice and realistic, so this is a quick way to produce a good sized body of troops waiting for orders.