Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Romans - a slight scale issue but progress made!

I have not been neglecting my 'DBA' project, but things did come to a temporary halt while I sorted out a slight problem I faced with the scale of some of my Romans. Hinchliffe code AR1 is a wonderful figure representing a Legionary with pilum behind a large shield, and I painted the first 8 as you see below. However, when I painted a base of AR2 'Light infantry', it became very apparent that the latter was much smaller than the former in scale, and as much as I tried to ignore this it bothered me! AR8 'Asiatic Archer' looked closer to AR1 to me, so I painted a 4 figure base of these and they do scale up much better. Looking through the range I saw AR31 'Auxiliary infantry attacking' so ordered some with a view to replacing the painted AR2 codes. These are indeed chunkier castings that match both the other Roman codes and the Brits so problem solved. For some reason that I assume is connected to the re moulding process (?)Roman codes AR2 and AR3 (slinger) are indeed smaller than the rest of the range, not a major problem but a heads up to anyone considering buying the Roman range.

The next issue to be solved was that of the Roman shield design. As said above AR1 is a great figure, but when I ordered the Veni, Vidi, Vici shield transfers they did not fit, the slightly raised rim of the shield being a little wide. I had in the meantime ordered up 20 of code AR34 'Legionary attacking' and these arrived bearing slightly larger shields with thinner rim and a more accurate curvature typical of the period.  They also come with nice separate cast pilum (I was expecting wire 'spears') so all good there. Had I been familiar with the range from the start I would no doubt have gone with code AR34 for my basic Legionary figures, but having painted 8 of AR1 I wanted to be able to use them too. Solution was ( after much head scratching) to order the shield transfers designed for the 20mm HaT Romans, repaint the shield rims red and Bingo! looks good enough to me at least. I will now crack on with both codes to produce two 5 base Legion units each of 20 figures  ....... somewhere down the line I think 'Double DBA' (yes, it does exist) beckons.

AR1 with shield transfers applied, not a perfect fit but good enough and greatly improves overall look.

Rear view showing the nice bright basing style.

Asiatic archers - reminds me of the old Aifix set!

AR2 ;Light infantry' sadly too small to use so will be replaced.

The figure that will replace them AR31, you can clearly see the difference in size here.

AR34 at right, a good match for AR1 and better shields.
So with the Romans sorted I turned my attention back to the Hairy Brits of which I had the first 8 figures half painted. The shield designs were a bit of a puzzle for me, I found painting Celtic style swirls a problem with even the finest brush, but persevered to what you see below. For the next 8 however I want more typical oval shields so a bit of conversion work is required, and a quick file job on a test figure produced the result you see below, not too bad and will provide some contrast in the units. I also plan to try fine art pens to line and detail shield designs and for those swirls.

All in all I'm now happy with things and have a good stock of castings laid in from the Hinchliffe Summer Sale, with figures reduced to 75p each from 90p, about 80 castings per side, two chariots and a fine Roman catapult. Time to crack on!

A mix of Ancient Briton codes, may add a touch of Woad to finish them off.

Slight shield conversion to produce rounded oval shields.

The Hinchliffe Ancient lead pile.

Finally: I received an email sent via 'Wellington Man' from 'Rob G' who is currently working on his own Romans v Britons project. Many thanks for the comments Rob and for the wonderful picture of your conversion work, I hope that you will not mind me sharing it here by way of inspiration?  I love the rounded shields and the animation and shield designs are fantastic.

Robs Ancient Brits!


  1. Very nice, though initially a bit disconcerting about scale variance. I smiled when I saw the Asiatic archers and thought 'Airfix' and then saw your own Airfix comment ... happy days!

    1. Hi Norm, the Airfix Roman set was great, and the Asiatic archers seemed to stand out and have stuck in the memory :)

  2. The size problem with Hinchliffes goes way back to the late 70's and much of the 80's: the figures were repeatedly resculpted, with the size becoming ever larger--some approaching 30mm! (And this was before everyone began using "28mm" to differentiate between larger figures and true 25's.) Unfortunately, Hinchliffe did not indicate whether the figures cast were larger than before, and worse, even used the same catalogue numbers! This created many disappointments, not to mention ill feelings towards the line as a whole. I don't buy Hinchliffes now without looking at the figures themselves; I do not trust the ID codes. Fortunately (I guess?) I've ordered enough of their Napoleonic, ACW, and AWI figures over the years that I can tell instantly what I'm dealing with. Figures from other periods--not so much.

    Best regards,


    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your comments. I became aware of a slight size difference when painting my ECW's recently, nothing like as noticeable, but for example, some heads and bodies just slightly larger than others. I know that the ECW range as added to later (1981 as marked) and these additions are all somewhat larger, but not so noticeable as the Romans. AR1 is a Giant compared to AR2!

  3. The conversion is the one without a cloak, the figures come with a cloak. From the Carthaginian range, so strictly speaking a Gaul and not a Brit.

    1. Thanks Rob for the clarification, still a great painting job :)

  4. Wonderful!
    Any tips on painting the steel armour? It's years since I attempted this.
    Nice to see the Met doing their bit for Old Brittania!

    1. Thanks Matt, the Romans are quite easy to paint, I'm just using two shades per colour. The armour is a dry-ish brush of gunmetal followed by a proper drybrush of gunmetal/silver 50/50. I think Roman armour was polished to a bright shiny steel, no doubt to impress the enemy.


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