Ancient Dacia occupied the area roughly equivalent to modern Romania and Moldova, and contained a people of Thracian origin who were well known for being warlike. Once the expending Roman Empire became a neighbour the Dacians frequently raided across the frozen Danube, causing considerable problems for the Romans. Three expeditions into Dacia in the first century failed to subdue them, but two campaigns in the early second century, famously depicted on Trajan’s Column, finally brought much of Dacia into the Empire, where it remained for over a century and a half.
The dates for this set, 85 to 106 CE, cover the five major Roman expeditions we mention, so this set depicts the Dacians when they were perhaps at their most historically visible. Although the Dacian civilisation was quite advanced most of the warriors were unarmoured and wore merely tunic and trousers, while armed with sword, javelin and axe. However many of the figures in this set wear armour and a helmet - something generally thought to be reserved for the most senior commanders. The style of armour and helmets matches well with the available evidence, of which Trajan’s column is the most important, but the column implies most were unarmoured and bare-headed, so this set seems to contain far too high a proportion of high status warriors. Most of the oval shields carried here are authentic, including the engraved decoration they bear, although the small number of round shields are perhaps less certain. The weapons - sword, javelin, axe, falx and bow - are all appropriate, although we were surprised that only one man has a javelin, which seems to have been more common then implied by this set. Of course Trajan’s column is in large measure propaganda, and it is hard to be certain about the exact appearance of a Dacian army, but these figures seem accurate as individuals even if they are not representative as a whole.
The set contains a quite generous selection of 14 poses, and on the whole these are quite reasonable. However as is so often the case the poses are very flat, which makes some of them seem quite ridiculous. For example, the third man in the top row is presumably meant to be bringing his weapon down on the head of an opponent, but because he is quite flat he is simply holding his weapon directly above his left ear, which looks absurd. On the drawing board these poses might have seemed good but they have not been well done in three dimensions.
The sculpting is not too bad for LW, with relatively clear detail where it is required and remarkably little flash in most places. However in a few places someone has clearly saved themselves a lot of time by hardly bothering to shape the two halves of the mould, meaning that certain figures have ridges of plastic around the seam that are so thick and crude that they set new standards in the hobby. While our photographed figures have been trimmed to some extent, the second figure in the top row and the third in the second row are the most obvious demonstrations of this.
LW have also cut corners with the basic sculpting, as some of the figures have been seen before. The last figure in the second row is basically a HaT figure copied from their Imperial Roman Auxiliaries but with a different shield, while the fourth figure in the top row was once in the Odemars Roman Republic Infantry, although this has received considerable modification. Such plagiarism is something we do not approve of, yet has been a problem in the hobby for decades and shows no sign of disappearing.
It is often tempting to depict the best and elite warriors in a set of ancient figures, ignoring the fact that most such cultures were unable to support large numbers of well-armed and armoured warriors, filling the ranks with men who’s only warlike features were the weapon and shield they carried. Such an imbalance seems to be the case here, although individually we have no problem with any figure. The man apparently about to slash with his falx (second figure in second row) is odd as it was the inner blade of the falx that was sharpened, but the main problem is the very flat nature of most of the poses, and the occasional generous amounts of excess plastic in awkward places. Certainly not a triumph then, but this set has some interesting figures which do at least expand on the available Dacians.