Thursday, December 13, 2012

Friends, Romans, Countrymen!

I began work on the opponents for my Gallic Celts, Roman legionaries.  Let me be upfront and state that these figs, like the Gauls and pretty much anything I make, are more inspired by history than historically accurate.  Why? Well, because, frankly my assembly and brush skills are not up to the task of making very accurate representations of the troops that I’m basing the figs upon.  This might have given me pause, except for the fact that I’m doing this for my own enjoyment and my daughter recognized the Roman right off the bat.

With those caveats in mind, let’s get on with the build.  As with the Gauls, I started with a trimmed down doll clothespin. 
  Originally, I was going to make the Romans less stylized and more like the troops Caesar led into Gaul.  When I did some research however, it seemed to me that visually, the legionaries of this period looked less quintessentially Roman than the later Imperial troops.  Really, they looked pretty dang Celtic!  Which makes sense, given that the Romans shamelessly borrowed equipment ideas from their opponents. 

So I went with a more Imperial style of trooper.  To me the visually iconic things about the Imperial legions are the rectangular scutum shield, brimmed helmet and segmented armor.  The scutum was pretty straightforward, a simple card rectangle.  The armor would be a painted detail and hopefully simple again.  The helmet gave me a little pause, until I came across a post on Dale’s Wooden Warriors blog, where he shows how he made a brimmed German pickelhaube helmet and another where he talks about using craft foam for brims and other details. The foam is cut so that it matches the curve of the head and glued on. After the glue dries, the foam is cut down to the size and shape you want. That’s how I ended up with this:

Which trimmed down to this:

I added the arms, sword, shield and base.  When I showed it to my 9 year old and asked her what she though it was, she said “A Roman soldier.” Success!

There is another iconic helm style that can be seen in Classical Roman art, what’s called the Attic helmet.  As in Attica Greece, not the place in your house where all the decorations go to be forgotten about.  I gave that helmet a try here, I’m still on the fence about it.  Of course, I did find out after I put two figs together that the Attic helmet is a high ranking officer’s helmet, not something a grunt hurling a pila would wear! Hence the inspired by history disclaimer.

I also gave one of my legionaries a round shield, thinking I would make him a signifer, the man who carried the legion’s standard.  He also wore a lion pelt over his helmet and shoulders. I have no idea how I’m going to make that!  

Painting is coming up soon.  My mother-in-law told me today that Joann's is having a sale on acrylic paints, so I'm of to replenish the supply I had leave behind in Germany.


  1. That looks great! As you say, very iconic. Here are some of my Romans: and . In hindsight, they might be a little too fiddle to build more than just a handful of figures. I like your method.

    Dale @ Wooden Warriors

  2. Thanks! I'm trying to find the fine line between having too many fiddly bits and being easily recognizable on the table as whatever they are intended to be.