Wednesday, January 30, 2013

HäT Industrie 1:72 Polybian Roman Army

I'm a fan of HäT Industrie's small-scale figures and soon decided that I needed an army of their Polybian Romans. I mean -- who doesn't need an army or two?

My Polybian legion is currently composed of various HäT Industrie 1/72 plastic scale models. The company is a designer & manufacturer of 1/72 and 1/32 scale soft plastic and 28mm hard plastic military miniatures designed with the plastic toy figure collector, wargamer or hobbyist in mind. I've included notes taken from Wiki regarding the figures depicted.

The Polybian legions of the early Roman republic was a manipular army whose structure was based partially upon social class and partially upon age and military experience. The army is based on units called maniples (Latin manipulus singular, manipuli plural, from manus, "the hand"). Maniples were units of 120 men each drawn from a single infantry class. The maniples were small enough to permit tactical movement of individual infantry units on the battlefield within the framework of the greater army. The maniples were typically deployed into three discrete lines (Latin: triplex acies) based on the three heavy infantry types of hastati, principes and triarii. 

Hastati (singular: Hastatus) were a class of infantry in the armies of the early Roman Republic who originally fought as spearmen, and later as swordsmen. They were originally some of the poorest men in the legion, and could afford only modest equipment — light armor and a large shield, in their service as the lighter infantry of the legion. Later, the hastati contained the younger men rather than just the poorer, though most men of their age were relatively poor. Their usual position was the first battle line. They fought in a quincunx formation, supported by light troops.

Principes (Singular: Princeps) were spearmen, and later swordsmen, in the armies of the early Roman Republic. They were men in the prime of their lives who were fairly wealthy, and could afford decent equipment. They were the heavier infantry of the legion who carried large shields and wore good quality armour. Their usual position was the second battle line. They fought in quincunx formation, supported by light troops.  Principes carried swords, or gladii, instead of spears. Each princeps also carried 2 pila, heavy javelins that bent on impact to prevent them being removed from the victim or thrown back.

Triarii (Singular: Triarius) were one of the early Roman military Manipular legions of the early Roman Republic (509 BC – 107 BC). They were the oldest and among the wealthiest men in the army, and could afford good quality equipment. They wore heavy metal armour and carried large shields, their usual position being the third battle line. During the Camillan era, they fought in a shallow phalanx formation, supported by light troops.

In most battles triarii were not used because the lighter troops usually defeated the enemy before the triarii were committed to the battle. In battle, triarii formed 10 maniples of 60 men each and made up the third line in the legion behind the front line of hastati and the second line of principes. Once the battle commenced, velites would gather at the front and fling javelins to cover the advance of the hastati. If the hastati failed to break the enemy, they would fall back on the principes, who now carried swords rather than spears. If the principes could not break them they would retire behind the triarii, who would then engage the enemy —hence the expression rem ad Triarios redisse, "it has come to the triarii"—signalling an act of desperation.

Velites were light infantry and skirmishers who were armed with a number of light javelins, or hastae velitares, to fling at the enemy, and also carried short thrusting swords, or gladii for use in melee. They rarely wore armour, as they were the youngest and poorest soldiers in the legion and could not afford much equipment. They initially used hastae velitares, light javelins with tips designed to bend on impact to prevent it being thrown back, similar to the heavier pila of other legionaries. They fought in a very loose, staggered formation like most irregular troops. They did carry small wooden shields for protection though, and wore a headdress made from wolf skin to allow officers to differentiate between them and other heavier legionaries.

Velites did not form their own units; a number of them were attached to each maniple of hastati, principes and triarii. They were typically used as a screening force, driving off enemy skirmishers and disrupting enemy formations with javelin fire before retiring behind the lines to allow the heavier armed hastati to attack. They were normally the ones who engaged war elephants and chariots if they were present on the field; their high mobility and ranged weaponry made them much more effective against these enemies than heavy infantry. An early Roman legion contained approximately 1,000 velites. 

Pitched battles would begin with the velites gathered at the front. The light troops would fling javelins to cover the advance of the hastati. The hastati were leather-armoured and wore a brass cuirass and brass helmet adorned with three feathers, carried an iron-clad wooden shield, 120 cm (4 ft) tall and a convex rectangle in shape and wielded swords, or gladii, instead of spears. Each hastatus also carried 2 pila, heavy javelins that bent on impact to prevent them being removed from the victim or thrown back. If the hastati failed to break the enemy, they would fall back on the principes, who had also been re-armed with swords. If the principes could not break them, they would retire behind the triarii, who would then engage the enemy.

This order of battle was almost always followed, the battle of the Great Plains and the battle of Zama being among the few notable exceptions. At the Great Plains, Scipio, the Roman general, formed his men up in the usual manner. But once the hastati had begun to engage the enemy, he used his principes and triarii as a flanking force, routing the opposing Carthaginian troops. At Zama, Scipio arranged his men into columns, side by side, with large lanes in between. The opposing Carthaginian elephants were drawn into these lanes where many were killed by velites without inflicting many casualties on the Romans. Once the surviving elephants had been routed, he formed his men into a long line with his triarii and principes in the center and hastati on the flanks, ready to engage the Carthaginian infantry.

    Info paraphrased from Wikipedia

Supreme 1:32 Vikings

I picked up a bag of rather largish 54mm Vikings from a Hong Kong company called Supreme. I'm pretty sure these are recasts but of what I have no idea. The figures are horridly painted but that doesn't matter since I'll be repainting them anyway.

The details on the sculpts look rather crisp though and aside from the rather Basil Rathbone-ish mustaches and beards, I figure these can be nice Norsemen when painted up. Here's the link to an online seller fo these figures -- Michigan Toy Soldier Co.

I'll be posting the painted versions soon. Enjoy!

Star Wars Recasts in 1:32

 Here's a lucky find in an obscure little toy shop -- 1:32 (54mm) hard plastic Star Wars figures! I managed to get 7 different figures in a hard, tan plastic. The sculpting is acceptable and the figures are free from mold lines. They are, however, studded with 2 or 3 plugs and mold holes. These can be easily cut from the figure and filled in with putty but I'm leaving them on until I decide to paint them. These are probably recasts from the old Kenner line of Empire Strikes Back action figures scaled down.

From top to bottom, left to right the figures are:

Han Solo in Hoth gear; X-Wing pilot Luke Skywalker; Leia in Hoth gear;
Bounty Hunters Dengar and Bossk the Trandoshan; 5D6-RA7 Imperial Espionage Droid; 21B Medical Droid

From top:

5D6-RA7 Imperial Espionage Droid

5D6-RA-7, nicknamed Fivedesix by those around him, was an RA-7 protocol droid in service to the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War. Fivedesix was known to be foul-tempered and vindictive for a former service droid, making him feared by other droids.
Taken from Wookiepedia

21B Medical Droid
2-1B surgical droids were advanced medical droids popular across the galaxy to those that could afford them. A 2-1B droid could easily become specialist in neurosurgery, podiatry, pediatrics, cybernetic limb replacement, and alien biology with a trip to a certified service center.
Taken from Wookiepedia

The cyborg Dengar and Bossk the Trandoshan were notorious bounty hunters active during the Galactic Civil War. The two were  among an elite group of hunters recruited by Darth Vader to capture Han Solo and the passengers of the Millennium Falcon shortly after the Battle of Hoth.

The Battle of Hoth was a major victory for the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War. The battle was an offensive by the Galactic Empire aimed at destroying the Rebel Alliance's Echo Base hidden on the remote arctic world Hoth. The base's location was compromised when a viper probe droid deployed by Darth Vader landed on Hoth. A major disaster for the Rebel Alliance, the loss of the base put the Rebels on the run once again, struggling to reorganize its battered forces.
Information paraphrased from Wookiepedia
Han Solo, depicted in Hoth gear, managed to escape in the Millennium Falcon with Princess Leia Organa, after a close encounter with an advance group of snowtroopers. Luke Skywalker piloted a T-47 snowspeeder but was shot down, subsequently escaped and headed for Dagobah to a fateful rendezvous with Yoda.

Britains Recast Saracen Knights

Some of my favorite toys are my toy soldier sets with plastics dominating a large portion of my collection. Featured here are plastic recasts of the Britains Saracen Knights, also billed as Storm Knights. These 54 mm figures come with removable weapons and bases.

The originals are quite rare, with mint samples reaching $70 to $100. Too bad mine are only repros, bought from a department store toy section for around $3 a bag. I still enjoy fiddling around with them immensely, with some figures receiving paint jobs and being basis for conversions.

Airfix 1:32 Afrika Korps

The Airfix range of military figures is one of the iconic brands of plastic toy soldiers I grew up with. Airfix is a UK manufacturer of plastic scale model kits founded in 1939 by Humbrol and currently owned by Hornby, a famous UK model railway brand.

This is the latest reissue of their classic Deutsche Afrika Korps, the German expeditionary force in Libya and Tunisia during the North African Campaign of World War II. The box contains 14 figures.
Click the picture above to go to the Airfix webpage for these figures.

Wee Men: My Box of Plastic Toy Soldiers

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers..."

I have been fascinated with plastic toy soldiers for a long time now. Big. Small. World War 2. Medieval. Soldiers. Civilians. Painted. Unpainted. Boxed. Bagged. Sprued. Loose. Toy figurines. Scale models. And everything in between. If it's plastic, odds are that I like collecting them.
 A toy soldier is a miniature figurine that represents a soldier. The term applies to depictions of uniformed military personnel from all eras, and includes knights, cowboys, pirates, and other subjects that involve combat-related themes. Toy soldiers vary from simple playthings to highly realistic and detailed models. The latter are of more recent development and are sometimes called model figures to distinguish them from traditional toy soldiers. 

from Wiki's entry on Toy Soldier

I can still remember summer days playing with plastic soldiers on our carpet, lining them up in rows and imagining leading them into epic battles. I had small cowboys and indians. Vikings and knights. Germans, Brits, Japanese and Americans. Farm animals and dinosaurs. Aliens and firemen. I graduated to "military miniatures" and started buying figures from Tamiya, Airfix, ESCI and Matchbox. I had favorite figures, those special figures sculpted in iconic poses. Somewhere along the way, I started collecting model armour, wargaming models and action figures -- and I still do -- but my fascination and love for plastic soldiers remained.

I've always included pictures of my toy soldier collections in my other blogs, one for wargaming and another for general toy collecting. But I've reached a point where I felt that I wanted a specific blog to highlight one of my favorite collections. I've been collecting for some time now, and although I've already lost a great portion of the toy soldiers I grew up with, I'm slowly building up a new collection, one I'd like to share with fellow enthusiasts. Thus, Wee Men was born.

To prevent overlapping content with my other blogs, my criteria for including content here are the following:
  • plastic only
  • figures must be depictions of uniformed military personnel from all eras and may include knights, cowboys, pirates, and other subjects that involve combat-related themes
  • Figure scale must be in the ff scales: 1:24, 1:28, 1:32, 1:35, 1:56, 1:48, 1:72, 1:76, 1:87 and even smaller scales
  • Posed figures only; no work-in-progress pictures
  • Painted or unpainted

Expect pictures of my collections as I get them, paint them and display them. Picture sets from my other blogs will also be ported here, to bulk up the content and to centralize the visual collection. Enjoy!