We dive into the ancient world today, a world of triremes, bronze shields, nasty business all around, and see how Victrix tackles the age-old question of how to feed and take care of your phalanx and make sure their helmet crests stay nice and glossy (do not feed after midnight)
If you’re ever in the lucky position to start a new historic period or, if you’re even more lucky and want to expand your force, there’s a good chance Victrix will have something to bolster the ranks. We’ll be looking at the Greek mercenary and Athenian sculpts, as I desperately need some hoplites for Saga, Age of Hannibal. This isn’t the first Victrix review featured on Goonhammer, and since the quality of all the kits that have passed review are generally Cool and Good™, we’ll explore how good these particular kits are and what you can expect.
The packaging is the usual cardboard stapled to a plastic bag, and contrary to what you’d think, this works pretty well. I’ve never heard of broken spears or twisted ankles, so it’s a nice cost effective way to package stuff. It also reminds me a bit of the bags of army men I used to get as a kid if I nagged my parents enough. Back then I didn’t remove mould lines of course.
The packages come with respectively 6 sprues of 8 men each, giving you the option to build 48 hoplites, with the option to model a leader or musician or at least people who could buy a fancy hat with some plumes and suddenly got put in charge of something. This excellent for Saga, and will fill out a nice no-frills 6 points that’s purely hoplite and works quite well, as the Graeculi battle board for Saga is geared towards maximum hoplite. There’s only one middling ability for psiloi, and you can take one unit of hearthguard of 8 men, which is pretty awesome. Keep in mind that you’ve got exactly 48 figures, so you do need an extra mini as a leader. I don’t have any other 28mm ancient Greek models handy to compare the scale, but they’re a head taller then the Warlord kit, which I could compare with my Victrix Republican Romans.
Options are fine. There are no spare head options in either set, and the difference in head options is practically the only thing that sets apart the Athenian and mercenary set. That is also the only Thing I have an issue with. Some more head options would be more than welcome, so if you see a head skittering off into the depths of your shaggy carpet or your dog’s bowels, you’ll probably spend some time on your knees with a lamp looking like some kind of idiot. This is not only a practical issue, as next to the shields, it’s an easy way to diversify your phalanx. The Athenian sprue does have a cloak, so you can use those to spice it up a bit. For weapons, there are three types of swords to choose from (kopis, falcata and xiphos) and you can model up to 4 models per sprue with sword in hand. Spears break, and when the initial push came to an end and the melee started, every hoplite had a sword to get stuck in. There are a couple of different ways to model the spears as well, with options for an “at rest” or more actively engaging pose.
Unlike my old army men, mould lines are few, but the ones that are prominent are on the helmets, which is unavoidable, but still annoying to remove. A mild gripe, as I haven’t come across the mastermind who will make that a thing of the past.
Let’s talk about the period these guys could be seen coming over the horizon in their fancy rowboats with pretty eyes on the sides, and a grim determination to bring some democracy to your bar-bar speaking ass. The suggested time frame these hard men can be used for is 5th– 3rd century BCE, which puts us squarely in the Peloponnesian wars. You have some leeway here of course, but it’s a period of time that pitted these boys against fellow city states, the budding roman empire, Persians, Carthaginians, Thracians, Dacians, Gauls and probably a bunch I’m forgetting here. This box bag will see you through plenty of conflicts. Mercenary life was rewarding in this time as well, as there was pretty much always a conflict going on. As I will be using this kit for a Sicilian mercenary force, I decided to go for the bright colors, representing the fact that they’ve had access to plenty of loot and this should be reflected in their armor and dress. Speaking of which, you have both the classic linothorax and bronze cuirass available, giving another opportunity to differentiate your elite or richer troops from citizens who just used granddad’s stuff. The linothorax gave me some pause. I assembled and painted the warlord games hoplite kit some time ago, and at that time I figured “glued felt over metal maybe, that’s got to look more natural looking”, so painted most of those linothoraxi in more subdued colors, or off-white.
I’m taking a detour for a bit: you probably shouldn’t fret too much about how you paint your ancient armies, and spending a lot of time researching what people wore more than 2000 years ago will only end in a lot of extra questions and no real answers, time better spent on finishing an army (you are playing historicals after all). I have the luck to know a couple (literally two) archeologists who not only spent time desecrating graves in Greece but also writing about it, and I’ve gotten pretty much the same answer from them. A lot of maybes and researched guesswork that’s probably correct until something new is discovered and you get a new perspective. The thing about doing research for me is connecting with the people who lived then, get an interpretation of how they saw the world. These people had social lives, culture, ideals and ideas, were married, had kids, worried about mundane shit and weren’t at war constantly (and like us, drew dicks wherever possible in public places). When you read the authors of the period they weren’t concerned with how a phalanx fought because everybody knew this, and if you didn’t, you’d soon find out. The purpose of their prose and letters was to tell a story, do propaganda, not give a dry account of logistics. For me it’s less about the process of constructing a shield but more about why they used it in the first place.
To end this little rant, do research the period, have fun, don’t fret when you use all the purple produced across the entire Mediterranean and when someone comes up with button counting ask them if they were there.
I used contrasts and metallics to paint up my little force and stuck to a color palette of greens, reds and yellow tones. I used a limited range of colors as I think using all the colors of the rainbow in this instance would be a bit too much, and keeping it ragtag but more or less cohesive is the objective here.
I ordered some Little Big Men studios transfers for the shields, as these are what really make your army stand out. The quality and range of different markings are excellent, although they are a bit fiddly as you have to cut them out.
My conclusion is that this is yet another Fine Victrix Kit©, and you should definitely buy these and maybe the unarmored hoplite ones as well to mix and match to your heart’s content. Victrix excel at producing models to provide a solid backbone to your army and the contents offered is flexible enough to provide different poses and keep it interesting for smaller scale skirmishes as well.