You can find a review of the next figure in this line, the Centurion, HERE.
Update: For additional (comparison) photos, please see Post 5 below.
Among historical sixth-scale figures, Roman soldiers and gladiators form a sizable subgroup. The high end treatment began with Ignite many years ago, and has continued with ACI and Kaustic Plastik. This year we are going to see three Roman releases from HH Model and HaoYu Toys. The first to be released, some months back, is the Roman infantryman or legionary. A centurion has just been released on the market, while a standard bearer (aquilifer) is to appear before the end of the year. This review is on the infantryman (legionary). I took the photos some time ago, but only now had the chance to put together the review. The Imperial Army Reloaded Infantry figure represents generically and somewhat fancifully what is now the most iconic appearance of the Roman legionary, clad in the lorica segmentata composed of overlapping plate segments covering the torso and shoulders. This look was common from the second half of the first into the third century (AD).
Packaging - 4/4 stars
The Roman infantryman comes in a solid cardboard shoebox-type container. The face and side panels are decorated with images of the product and bear the HH Model and HaoYu Toys logos, while the back side has the requisite cautionary warning about small parts and choking hazard. When you pull off the top cover and remove a relatively thin sheet of black foam, you get to the first of two black foam treys, containing the figure, helmet, hands, and some of the accessories. Below this lies the second black foam trey, containing the javelin (pilum), shield, and other accessories. Everything is collector-friendly and safe, and I appreciate the use of foam rather than plastic treys.
Sculpting - 3.5/4 stars
This category includes both the head sculpt and the various sculpted or molded parts of the set. The face bears some resemblance to actor Kevin McKidd, who portrayed the Roman centurion Lucius Vorenus in the HBO series Rome. The TV character was tacitly recreated by ACI (as Roman Republic Legio XIII Gemina), but the equipment that comes with the present product is much more closely comparable to ACI's legionary (Total Rome Roman Legionary/Optio/Elite Optio) or to one of Kaustic Plastik's legionaries (Legio XIV Gemina Invasion of Britain circa 49 AD Ancient Rome The Roman Army Valerius). At any rate, the product does not claim to represent Kevin McKidd and may therefore be forgiven for any departure from a perfect likeness. However, there is still something a little less than realistic about the sculpt, including the not overly fine stranding of the hair. The figure stands about 11.75 in (30 cm) tall.
The other sculpted or molded items tend to be very well done. Plenty of fine detail can be found on the decorations of the armor, weaponry, and military belt. The shield is sculpted in such a way as to convey the natural surface of wood, though perhaps that was overly-ambitious and the effect appears slightly exaggerated. The helmet is missing the loop handle at the back of the neck guard, although it was designed to be there (this appears to be the case with all sets, not just mine).
The sculpted or molded parts of the set, apart from weapons and accessories, include the helmet and armor. These are both actually composite pieces including both metal and plastic parts (the top and neck guard of the helmet are metal, the cheek-pieces are plastic; the cuirass and plate arm guard are metal, the shoulder guards are plastic). The plates of the plastic shoulder guards are actually individual pieces attached by stitches; they are therefore both somewhat articulated and fairly accurate (functionally) to the way this type of armor works. The plates of the metal cuirass, however, are simply sculpted or molded as two continuous halves (left and right) of the armor; this is inaccurate and helps limit articulation -- what is even more disappointing than the absence of individual plate segments is that these are sculpted/molded together with the two pieces covering the shoulders and upper chest, from which they are supposed to hang.
In addition to the standard legionary armor, the infantryman in this set has been outfitted with a relatively rare contraption called a manica. This is essentially an armored sleeve, here recreated as partly overlapping plates mounted on "chain" mail (represented by sheer fabric) over the right arm. This type of thing is more familiar as part of gladiatorial equipment, but it does appear to have been issued to Roman legionaries. The most famous instance is from the emperor Trajan's monument celebrating his conquest of Dacia in what is now Romania. It was accordingly hypothesized that the manica was introduced into the legions on this campaign specifically for defense against the falx (scythe-like weapons) of the Dacians. However, since then additional evidence for legionary use of the manica has come to light including actual archaeological remains from Dacia, Britain, and Judaea (there, at least, from a time earlier than Trajan's conquest of Dacia), not to mention artistic depiction on a monument from Libya. Giving the Roman legionary a manica remains an unusual but not impossible choice. Part of the problem is that the soldiers depicted equipped with it on Trajan's monument wear "chain" mail armor and greaves (shin guards) -- neither of which is featured here. For what it is worth, a recent publication on the equipment of the Roman army throughout the provinces features a lorica segmentata-clad Roman legionary in Judaea depicted alongide (though not actually wearing) a manica: R. D'Amato, Roman Army Units in the Eastern Provinces (1), 31 BC-AD 195, Osprey: p. 31/Plate G. Is that where HH Models/HaoYu Toys got the idea?
Paint - 3.5/4 stars
It is notoriously difficult to paint blond hair, and they could have spared themselves this problem if they had not tried to convey the look of Kevin McKidd. Other than that, the paint application is generally very good with almost no imperfections, except of course by design -- for example, allowing the painted plastic armor to look metallic and worn and blend very seamlessly with the metal pieces. The wooden and metallic elements on the shield, too, are very realistically painted. Perhaps the easiest place to spot some minor imperfection are the boots (caligae), a common problem with strapped footwear that is sculpted with the foot.
Articulation - 4/4 stars
The product utilizes the CooModel body (or something based on it), which allows for very good articulation and reasonable sturdiness. Of course cast metal and plastic elements can be heavy, although overall the articulation is not overly hampered by the outfit, armor, and accessories that come as part of the set. The legionary can take wide stances, sit, kneel, raise his arms fairly far, etc. The shoulder, hip, elbow, knee, wrist, ankle, and top of the neck articulation is very good, but the armor naturally restrains any ab crunch.
Accessories - 4/4 stars
While it would have been possible to provide even more accessories, the set comes amply supplied with them. There is of course the action figure stand which features a Roman eagle above the acronym SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus -- "the Senate and People of Rome"). There are two sets of spare hands, making three sets altogether: relaxed hands, fists, and grip hands. There are several weapons, including a dagger (pugio) with its scabbard, a sword (gladius) with its scabbard, and a javelin (pilum). The axe (actually mattock) is intended more as a tool for entrenching or construction. All these feature metal blades. Then there is additional equipment, including the legionary shield made of plastic, a "kettle" (canteen) made of metal (with some fine detail) and suspended from a leather baldric, a "ladle" (patera?) and a cooking pot made of cast metal, a rectangular leather satchel (loculus), a rolled-up blanket secured to a carrying pole (furca), and a smaller "all purpose" bag or pouch (which is provided in a pale, whitish color, much lighter than what was advertised in the promotional images). The dagger and the smaller bag are intended to be worn on the belt. I have already made mention of the helmet and armor, and I will reserve some other elements (belt, vambrace) for the discussion of the outfit. All in all, the accessories are a fairly extensive selection, and the only thing that really sticks out in my mind as a specific desirable addition would be a shield cover (something that Kaustic Plastik has provided on occasion).
Outfit 3.5/4 stars
The items I class under "outfit" are all very well made. These include the tunic, the military scarf (focale, to prevent chafing), and the cloak; all are given in stereotypical (but not historically universal and invariable) red. There are fairly long pants (braccae? -- although those should probably be even longer), which were eventually introduced into the Roman military, but fairly late; earlier legionaries (who would more likely have worn the lorica segmentata and other equipment in this set) originally wore no pants under their tunics, then adopted shorter pants reaching down just below the knee (femoralia/feminalia) from the auxiliaries. It may be that the pants provided are intended to be bunched up at the knees, giving them a shorter appearance after all. Then there is the far more questionable leather vambrace on the left forearm. This type of equipment is a favorite in fiction and in film portrayals that do not bother to take the facts into account; it is historically attested in the Roman army only with archers (protecting the arm holding the bow from the arrow). I realize that many do not particularly care about veracity of detail (and ACI already put vambraces on its legionaries), but there is something inherently perverse in an argument that a history-based figure need not be as historically accurate as possible. At any rate, one is free to keep or remove the vambrace (and for that matter the long pants) as one sees fit. There is also the removable military belt (cingulum), with elaborately decorated plaques (an improvement on what we have been getting from Kaustic Plastik), which purposefully skip a turn or two where the dagger and smaller bag are supposed to be hung. The belt features four "dangly" strips (baltea) with round metallic studs and attachable decorative end-pieces (pensila). Finally, there are the Roman military boots (caligae). These appear to have been sculpted with the feet, but their strapped framework continues a little farther up the lower leg. The effect is very neat, but as noted above, the paint quality is predictably slightly less than perfect on the straps. The hobnails on the soles are arranged in a more complex and creative pattern here than what we usually see in other sets.
Fun Factor - 4/4 stars
This product is generally well executed, well articulated, and fairly sturdy, which makes it a good piece to pose and display. Add to this the expansive choice of accessories and the removable items (including some that might be historically inaccurate), and the fact that at least two more figures from this line are following it. In addition to being displayed with them, the product can be integrated (with or without modification) with earlier Roman figures produced by other companies.
Value - 3/4 stars
Retailing at $200 and not being a super-popular licensed character from the leading blockbuster of the year, this is not a low-cost product. On the other hand, it is a very good one, and comes with a pretty extensive range of accessories. In and of itself, this makes the set's price more tolerable, if not quite welcome. And yet, this is a soldier and soldiers are meant for army-building, which makes the price a lot tougher to deal with. Even if one does not get multiples of this set, one might want to get the other two figures in the line. Assuming that the price remains the same across all three, you would be out some $600 or more. Even if they were made in the past, when prices were lower, three Roman Ignite or Kaustic Plastik or ACI figures would not have costed nearly as much (in fact, some of them still do not), although they generally come with less in the way of accessories.
Things to watch out for
The figure and its accessories are fairly sturdy, certainly more so than what we have been getting from Kaustic Plastik which requires constant and repeated recourse to Gorilla superglue (which they in fact suggest in their instructions). Still, I would not give it to a small child to handle without close supervision. The little decorative ends for the "dangly" strips hanging from the belt are easy to attach, but also fall very easily; since they are fairly small, they might get lost. The metallic studs on the same "dangly" strips could become detached and, being so tiny, could also go missing. It is in such instances that Hot Toys provides extra pieces, just in case.
Overall - 3.7 stars
While I do not find this figure tremendously exciting -- probably because good renditions of this type of Roman soldier already exist in my collection -- I appreciate its quality of execution, its relative sturdiness, and the range of accessories we get with it. And it might get more exciting yet: in fact, his commanding officer, the centurion, has just arrived... and will be the subject of a separate review.
Where to buy
It seems like a couple of months ago these were everywhere. Now they seem to be largely sold out in most of the venues where I look, but you can find it below or look for it on eBay. (As for the centurion, you can find him for pre-order at most places.)
One Sixth Outfitters for $195
Ekia Hobbies for $199
Fairway Hobbies for $200
Toy Origin for $200
I hope this was useful and informative. What do you think?
Update: For additional (comparison) photos, please see Post 5 below.
You can find a review of the Centurion figure HERE.
#rome #roman #legions #infantry #military #ancient #historical #male #hhmodel #haoyutoys