When any empire is established, the occupying rulers always try to get the new subject peoples to provide at least some of the armed force necessary to maintain or expand that empire. Such troops tend to be a lot cheaper and, let’s be honest, are seen as more expendable than the high quality forces of the occupiers. The Roman Empire was no different, and sustained itself not merely with the small number of legions available, but with large numbers of auxiliaries, some with native costume and weaponry, and some kitted in a manner more like the legions themselves. Exactly how such troops looked remains debatable to this day, but a ‘classic’ look has long been accepted as fairly typical if not universal, and this set from Strelets follows that style with a collection of standing figures.
This set was released at the same time as their set of Auxiliaries on the March, and in truth our review of that set could virtually be reproduced for this one as the figures are identical in every respect apart from the pose. Instead of eight marching poses this set has eight standing ones, apparently men lined up in ranks but fairly relaxed and not in action. Once again the single pose has some small variety here to produce a natural collection of figures, with men looking to left or right, holding their spear in various ways and having their shield either in hand or resting on the ground. We would have to say all these poses are excellent and perfectly suited to the task, making a fine-looking body of men.
In depicting the 'standard' type of auxiliary clothing, armour and weaponry this set presents us with no problems either. Again exactly the same as the marching set, the men wear mail of varying length and in different styles, though none have shoulder reinforcement, and all have a belt with the 'apron' over the groin. Our reservations over the value of this apron, given the mail covers the hips already, remain, but we can’t say that this is actually wrong. Under the mail is the tunic of course, and all wear breeches too, while the helmet is typical of the first century CE. By no means all auxilia would have looked like this, but this look is perfectly fine and well done here.
Auxiliary weaponry was simpler than that of the legions, and both sword and spear have been well reproduced on these figures. The simpler, flat oval shield has also been correctly used, with the central boss covering the single handgrip.
The sculpting of these figures is very good indeed, with lovely natural proportions and all the detail you could wish for. Texture on the mail is first class (happily no attempt to reproduce individual rings – a nonsense at this scale), and weapons and straps are exactly as thin as they should be. Faces and all the fleshy areas are beautifully done, and no flash, so a world away from the earlier Strelets style and great to see.
With so many sets aimed at the general market, and so offering poses covering all aspects of a soldier’s existence, the recent trend toward more focused subjects such as this has been widely welcomed, and allows for much better coverage of one particular activity. If you are a wargamer or modeller that needs lines of troops standing ready for battle or otherwise waiting around, then such a set is perfect for your needs with no wastage, and the quality of these figures in all departments means they are both very useful and a delight.