While set piece battles in a field will always attract much of the attention of military history enthusiasts, sieges were also a vital part of warfare, and often became the most important element, particularly when the enemy chose to stay within their high-walled cities, as often happened in the ancient world. The box art for this set makes clear it was produced with the Romans in mind, but many peoples had refined the art of siegecraft before the Romans came to prominence.
A vinea was essentially a penthouse or shed on wheels which was used to protect men as they approached some wall, usually of a fort or city. Under such protection they could attempt to damage the wall, attack a gate or prepare for a siege engine to be brought up. While this was going on the besieged would of course be trying to stop them, with a common tactic being to try and burn the engine and vinea.
The vinea in this set is 60 mm (4.3 metres) from back to pointed front, 33 mm (2.4 metres) in width and 46 mm (3.3 metres) to the top of the roof. This is quite large enough for several men to huddle inside as they approach the wall. The kit consists of two one-piece sides plus the roof, upper struts, axles and wheels. The upper struts have eyes through which cotton (not supplied) can be threaded to support the battering ram also found in this set. The ram is 73 mm (5.25 metres) in length, and has a head in the shape of a real ram, although on our sample it was a little bent. However you will notice that the only apertures are two narrow slits at the front, so if a ram is to be slung then a hole must be cut to allow it to appear. How neat such a hole might be will depend on the skill of the modeller, but some may find this requirement annoying.
The vinea has been sculpted as having animal skins on both the roof and the sides, which was done to aid protection and as some defence from fire. The pointed fronts of each half do not meet particularly neatly, and this may be to indicate that they are doors. However there were no rules or specifications regarding such machines, so this design seems reasonable to us.
Our initial thoughts on the engineering of this kit were that it was very poor. However once we realised the recesses at the top of the sides were meant to be drilled through we found most of the parts fitted reasonably well. The wheels did require some drilling and trimming to slip onto their axles, but the fit was generally OK except for the roof, which largely rests in place rather than attaches well. Still gluing will make for a more sturdy model, and once assembled everything is at least reasonably square. There is little flash, although the pieces are attached to the sprue in many places so a good deal of trimming will still be required.
Not a bad little model. Not up to the high standards of the rather over-sophisticated model from Zvezda, but a great deal better than that from LW, and in any case it is a different design so it is quite a respectable first kit from this new manufacturer.