As those who follow the blog know that this month I began the dream of building a Roman army, more specifically a Republican Roman army. 6 months earlier I purchased a bulk lot of Victrix Republican Romans from war and peace games in Sydney as well as a few Aventine Miniatures to complement them. I place these at the bottom of my workstation and there they sat while I busied myself with getting the Ancient greeks ready for Cancon.
Cancon has come and past and with my plan this year to alternate between Ancient Greeks and Romans (of different periods) I was able to this month begin the Republican Roman project. Victrix have had their box sets for Romans out for month’s even years before I came round to them and completing my first product review on an already established product might seem odd, I think it’s a safe place to begin. My plan is with any product review that I complete in the future will be to paint the product first and then write the review. I personally don’t feel its enough to just look at the sprue’s and pass judgement, I think as an amateur painter I should also see how the models perform under the brush.
Victrix I feel has come a long way since the early days with their Napoleonic box sets of British. I grabbed a few boxes of those in the early onset and found the sets frustrating to piece together and also difficult to resolve figure positions within units. The pictures on the front looked great but the parts and bits all made it annoying. I’m not the greatest model builder yet my experience with GW kits I think had given me some grounding in how to go about building model soldiers, however these kits presented far too many moving parts in my opinion.
That being said I think Victrix have come leaps and bounds, as you can see in the blog, on facebook as well on the Lead Adventure Thread I keep that I have really enjoyed messing around with the Ancient Greek Plastic Kits. Either using them on their own or as I have started to do in general combine them with relevant metal ranges that compliment them and also expand variation.
When I opened up the first Box of Romans I picked the Chainmail Set. Building two units of Grizzeled Veterans of Triarii to form the backbone of my first legion. The set much like all the box sets is comprised of multiples of 2 spures. One is the command and velites spure, which has a range of extra legs for officers and musicians as well two different officer heads with different heads, one a plume and the other an array of feathers.
The Other is the main sprue for the troops, options for creating triarii with long spear as well as Pilum and also javelins along with the Scutum and the soldiers as well.
The poeses are all very static and compared with the later Iberian infantry and even the Carthangian infantry that is slightly frustrating from a modeling point of view, yet there is a wealth of subtle variation in each model. Differences exist in the mail shirt, belts around the waist as well as the scabbards of the gladius. When you combine that with the variation in heads as well as in the arm positions, even with the relative static poses of the models there is a wealth of difference in the models.
When you sit down to put the models together then you have a range of options and then if you also purchase one of each of the other box sets eg Italian Allies and the Romans in bronze pectoral armour you again expand the range of options available to you. The models are really easy in my opinion to put together and even when you have to cut and replace legs and arms to form an officer and musician, given the soft plastic this is easy to do.
What I like most about these models vs the Greek Hoplite sets is addition of a small ring on the back of the scutum to allow a better contact between the hand and the shield which I think is a very smart technical addition that solves an irritation I have with the Hoplite kits.
When it came to the painting part, I really think this is where Victrix Shines and is also one of the leaders in the plastic models game for the historical market. The sculpting and detail on the faces, the definition of elements such as arms, legs, knees and feet as well as equipment makes painting great and allows for some very detailed brush work. I think personally this makes the process of putting together the army fun.
I have a few gripes however and the first is already mentioned that of the posing of the models. I would really like a little more movement in the models. Additionally, I would like some detail on the back of the shields, either a faint wood grain, as is it’s just a plain surface and I think that detracts a little from the brilliant detail already in play in other area’s of the model. Further, aside from the the lack of detail on the shields, is the niggle about the moulded sword. When putting together my second unit I found that as I wanted them all with their swords unsheathed, I had to cut away the pommel and handle. Unlike the Greek kit where the swords where seperate and could be glued on and modified.
The range also as per my previous experiments the capcity to be blended with other metal ranges to overcome some of my gripes and in this case I used two Aventine Minitatures as the officers and I personally think it worked brilliantly. I have also ordered some more Aventine as well as Foundry to work into the collection overtime.
So in the final analysis I think the product (all 3 Kit variations) is an 8/10, great detail, simple and easy to put together and while there are a few niggles from my perspective I really like what the range brings to building large armies economically compared to all metal ranges.