The large polyethylene 'dressing-up' kits didn't help that nascent obsession; crested helmets, wide, short swords, big, square shields...
Being Totally unaware of the anachronistic hot-pants, I thought these figures were the bee's knees, although I was always annoyed by the fact that the poses were all so varied you couldn't line them up or 'block' them like they manoeuvred in the films and comics! Consequently, Terry's book (An Introduction to Battlegaming) induced much jealousy; that there were people who could afford so many boxes they had long lines of the same pose...or a whole squadron of War Elephants!
Recognize the leather 'Hot-Pants'? This is the back cover of the Blandford Colour Series title; Warriors and Weapons 3000 B.C. to A.D. 1700 by Niels M. Saxtorph illustrated by Stig Bramsen and first published by Politikens Forlag. There is one further illustration of these leather segmented shorts - plate 126, for which the description is thus; "...the most common form of protection was a leather jerkin over a short coat of mail, metal re-inforced leather in front of the groin and short leather trousers...", he is describing the uniform changes in 100 BC.
Peter Evans of Plastic Warrior Magazine's editorial team, also realized a few years ago that the leather hot-pant/kilts worn by this set were featured on the back-cover of the Blandford guide and did a bit of digging. It would seem Stig based the figure (in plate 126) on some historical image (a grave relief?) and the publishers then asked for some fillers for the back cover and he sent in the studies - for that other drawing - which they used as a collage/montage on the back of the book.
The Airfix sculptor/artist then used the whole lot as the basis for his set presumably because he was too lazy to wedge the book open and use the more accurate pictures inside! Note also the similarity between the artwork and the Airfix figures' pilums?
Wikipedia), with its weighted hand-grip was very well reproduced for the age in which these first appeared - in 1967 not even Elastolin with their 40mm figures were modelling them with such attention to detail, although it must be said that it's set too far down the shaft and looks more like a medieval lance!
The lot stored for thirty-years in the humidity and heat of Florida have discoloured to a sandy-dun, and become as brittle as the biscuit they resemble. However, there was plenty of perfectly fine plastic in the collection, both hard styrene and softer ethylene's from around the world - including other Airfix sets, and US manufactured PVC.
While the local conditions almost certainly contributed to the degradation of this lot which was probably bought at the same time (from the same production batch) for a war-gaming army, the fact that this problem wasn't collection-wide, or even Airfix-in-the-collection-wide, suggests my previous comments about plastic 'disease' being down to batches hold more water than other theories you'll find out there.
Above are some 'standard' old-school drawing-pin conversions, to make earlier or later legionaries than the typical 'Empire' era troops, or for use as auxiliaries or skirmishers in the same. The kneeling guy preparing to receive chariots or cavalry works very well.
I have this set carded (above), bagged (below) and in various on and off-runner samples, including yellow and pink samples which I'll add here another day (as they are still in storage!), and I have never seen these with wheels, or ponies? They go to all the trouble of making a copy of the chariot's body and the draw-bar, then don't give it wheels or motive power? Which means the two chariot crew are wasted too...nor have there even been any shields turn up, it's among the worst sets ever to come out of the New Territories!
Complete set, sorters, for the use of. Issued in the standard Airfix 'neutral grey' for the first few decades of their existence, they have no real colour variation as far as the plastic goes. Silly pose award was given to the chap throwing a pilum is this set, it just doesn't work, it's like he's waving a giant foam toothpick in some televisual Jeux Sans Frontieres.
With 28 soldiers in all, the separate shields and anachronistic chariot really knocked the figure total down here. It's not that Chariots didn't exist, they did, but they were primarily a motor-car for very rich people in the cities, and flash-harry racers in the hippodrome, Italy in particular, and the ancient world's roads or landscape in general (outside of the plains of the 'fertile crescent') being unsuitable to such transport, especially as weapons...the Atlantic Greek Chariots being even more so, as they just didn't have them!
Major criticism of these figures has to be the Roman sword or Gladius, which on all figures are modelled as to be too short and not wide enough.
In the 1990's a sudden and unanticipated rash of re-issues saw the Romans released as part of a boxed set with the Ancient Britons and the Ceaser's Gate mile-fort, for which they got a fine shade of red plastic. A colour one felt they should have had all along...Hät Industries reissued them in silver at about the same time.
They come with two different standards, both sorts of Aquila [Types of standard in the Roman Army] and useful - again painted-up and hidden among other figures, but the set as a whole is all sort of blowy? How can I put it? It's all cloaks, and over-blown crests and sticky-out scabbards and...'stuff', you can recognise the sculpting from some of the 54/60/70mm rubber, composition and early plastic figures coming out of Italy in the 1950's and 60's, but someone needed to get the sculptor to tone it down for 25mm, that archer....uurrggh!
The Sumerian; hiding his bronze-age credentials behind the properties of being sculpted in this scale, can be enemy, local levies or allies or even an ad-hoc plebeian skirmisher, recruited in hurry during some emergency threatening the city! Sadly, despite the number of figures in the box, Avalon Hill only made the two sculpts.
Rest of them on the main Blog
Quaker / Tom Smith Gladiators, given away with breakfast cereal, then Christmas crackers, and absolutely the best enemy for the Airfix Romans, they may well share a sculptor, they have identical base designs, are the same scale, and while one of the criticisms of these figures from rivet-counters and moaning-minies over the years has been that "they don't look much like gladiators", the army of Spartacus was an army, not a display team.
It included slaves, mercenaries, deserters and other ner'do'wells, was equipped from the units and armies it defeated, old stocks of the local citizen militias and the like and would have fielded troops looking just like the five foot and three mounted sculpts in this set. Indeed, if one needed a criticism: It's that two of the figures look too-much like gladiators...the marching with trident (and throwing invisible net!) and mounted with full murmillo helmet.
Looked at on the main blog here - G is for Gladiators and by PSR here - Cereal Gladiators and they're NOT Kellogg's!
It was stated as being 1:80th scale, and the figures reflect that by being a tad smaller than the Airfix (nominally: 1:76th scale) figures. There were duplicates of some of the officer poses for a box count of ten, maybe 12 figures...I'll put the correct total up when I next get the box out.
Hong Kong Romans page going I should get comparisons of them all done? But this gives a good enough Idea of the general fit, which is not too bad, but the HK troops tend to be a bit larger and/or taller than the Airfix bods.
Unlike the US concept of 'Playsets' (in all scales), the UK (or more generally: 'European') 'play set', tended to only have the two belligerents and a building or large scenic piece of some sort, there are no trees, fences, stores, tents &etc. as you would expect to find in say a Marx Miniature Masterpiece set, but that didn't matter, 18 little shields and four wattle'n'dawb cart (sorry - 'Chariot') sides to fiddle with was enough for us!
The fort was also available as a stand-alone piece for any figures you might have kicking around already, so your gloss-silver WWII British Infantry could storm it and the black-clad SS-men inside if needs be, or it made a nice elephant house at the Zoo!...while the two useful 'in' buildings could be added to the Airfix French Waterloo Farmhouse as out-buildings!
There's something slightly disconcerting about that image, despite lots of horizontal and vertical parallel lines, it appears to be leaning slightly? Maybe it's the white background in 'edit'? Checks 'preview'...no it isn't!
Airfix Tribute Forum (main listing)
Airfix Tribute Forum (forum thread with some of those below + others)
Armada Models (best chariot ever! And compare with the original box-art?)
Benno's Figures Forum (Craig)HäT Industries (Chris Willmott)
HäT Industries (Dmitry Kurochkin)
HäT Industries (Guido Quaranta)
Paul's Bods (see what he did with the chariot)
Plastic Pelisse (metal figure comparisons - Garrison and Greenwood & Ball)
Plastic Pelisse (metal figure comparisons - Newline)
Plastic Soldier Review (PSR - more criticism I'm afraid, still like them though!)