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Strelets

Set M079

Roman Republican Legion in Battle

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2012
Contents 48 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

The republican period in the history of ancient Rome is not so well known today as the imperial era, yet it was a time of foreign conquest and dire military crisis, of prosperity and hardship, of good government and civil wars, and was at least as colourful as anything the succeeding emperors saw. This set from Strelets is one of three produced at the same time, all portraying Republican Roman troops either on the march, preparing for battle or in battle. Since the costume and equipment is identical and only the activity is different, we reviewed all three together, so most of the comments on historical accuracy are the same for each. In this review we will consider their set of troops in battle.

Rome was a republic from roughly the end of the 6th century BCE to the end of the first century BCE, but these figures are not suitable for anything like the whole of that period. Every figure here wears mail with reinforcement on the shoulders, which was originally limited to those who could afford it, but became standard after the reforms attributed to Marius in 107 BCE. The men wear a variety of helmets in Montefortino and Coolus styles, which would also suggest the last century BCE. Some of these have plumes that may be horsehair or feathers – it’s hard to tell, but both are appropriate. The shields are more or less oval with the top and bottom cut off, and largely flat, which also points to the last century of the republic, so we can be confident that this is the intended time period for these figures. However one further element spoils this comfortable dating – every man has a military belt with decorative plates (which is fine) but they also have the apron-like line of strips with studs to offer some protection to the groin. Unfortunately this did not appear until after the start of the imperial period, so is incorrect here.

Here we find the soldiers doing what they were paid for, although the pay was far less appealing then the prospect of loot after a victory, so most welcomed the chance to fight. Our first impression of these figures was again that they were very flat. When in battle the human form becomes especially deep as arms in particular fly all over the place along with their weapon. Here everyone carrying a sword does so in exact alignment with the centre of their body, as do those with the pilum spear, so this is being held directly over the centre of the head by an arm that is bending shoulders, elbows and wrists at quite impossible angles. All the spearmen are poor, but the second in the top row is quite horrible as his stubby little arm barely reaches above his head and his spear is completely intertwined with his helmet crest. You only need to try and imitate many of these poses with your own body to see where the faults lie.

The usual Strelets sculpting style of thick details is not pleasing to the eye, and in places the detail can be quite vague. Several shields and weapons are separate, but these fit quite well on the provided pegs and do improve some of the poses. However others are poorly done with regard to the shield, which had to be held from above by the horizontal handle. Here some shields have vertical or even diagonal handles – whatever suited the sculptor. There is no flash to speak of, so these are quite well engineered at least.

Some really poor poses and a lack of attention to the way equipment was actually held and used does much to harm this set, so along with the less than delicate sculpting there is not much that is positive to take from it. Men with edged weapons and shields are always difficult to sculpt, especially in one piece, but those in this set could have been much better done and others have already done so.

Note The final figure is of a soldier from the Streltsi of 17th century Russia. Though he is unrelated to the subject of this set, he is one of a series of 'bonus' figures which when combined will create a set of this unit for the Great Northern War. See Streltsi Bonus Figures feature for details.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 5
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 5
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"Greece and Rome at War" - Greenhill - Peter Connolly - 9781853673030
"Pharsalus 48 BC" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.174) - Si Sheppard - 9781846030024
"Roman Legionary 58BC - AD69" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.71) - Ross Cowan - 9781841766003
"Roman Military Equipment" - Oxbow - M C Bishop & J C Coulston - 9781842171592
"The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" - Wargames Research Group - Phil Barker - 9780904417173
"The Complete Roman Army" - Thames & Hudson - Adrian Goldsworthy - 9780500051245
"The Roman Legions Recreated in Colour Photographs" - Crowood Press (Europa Militaria Special Series No.2) - Daniel Peterson - 9781861262646

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