by: Costas Rodopoulos [ ]
I guess most of history lovers know at least the name of Vasco Da Gama. One more of the many interesting historical themes, that make up the range of Viriatus Miniatures from Portugal. Lately that I have been in close contact with these figures I must admit that, the company besides dedication to quality, also does an accurate recreation of these personalities.
So here we have to review Viriatus 54C007 Vasco Da Gama – Calecut 1498
This figure represents the Portuguese Admiral, Vasco da Gama, when he arrived to Calecut in India on May 20th, 1498, establishing the maritime route from Europe to india. Vasco da Gama wears a cloak made of black velvet lined with fur and a slashed blue doublet with red puffs. The breeches are of the same style as the doublet with slashes and red puffs. On his head, he wears a black velvet flat-cap trimmed with a golden lace. The boots are made of slashed goat skin. For his protection, he wears an etched decorated corselet and a thin mail shirt underneath. At his waist, he carries a sword and dagger. Pending from his neck, he wears the cross of the Order of Christ.
Vasco da Gama was born in Sines (South of Portugal), probably in 1468 and died in India on the Christmas eve of 1524 with the title of Vice-King of India. He became famous for discovering the maritime route between Europe and India in the trip of 1497 to 1499.
After the discovery of the Good Hope Cape that linked the Atlantic with the Indic by the Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias in 1486, during the reign of King João II, the conditions were set to arrive to India by Sea. However, this accomplishment would only be achieved in the Reign of King Manuel II.
Vasco da Gama was chosen to command the fleet of 4 ships that sailed on July, 7th 1497 with the purpose of reaching India. After months in deep sea without seeing shore, they finally reached the Indic on the 22nd of November and Mozambique on March, 2nd 1498. In Melinde, on April 13th they got help from an Arab Pilot by the name of Ahmad-Bin-Madjid who was knowledgeable of Indic. Finally, they reached Calecut in India on the 20th of May 1498 and tryed to set a trading Post without success. Therefore, on October 15th, they set sail to return to Portugal where they arrived on September 9th 1499.
Vasco da Gama would return to India twice in his life time in 1502 and 1524 with fleets of 20 and 14 ships respectively and the title of Admiral of the seas of Arabia, Persia, India and all Far Eastern Sea (1502), and Vice-King of India (1524).
The arrival of the Portuguese in Asia changed the balance of forces and soon they would dominate and rule the Asian seas during the entire XVI century substituting the role of the Arabs and turks. As a result, Lisbon became the most prominent city of Europe - ´the capital of the world’ . To ensure control of the seas, the Portuguese built fortresses along the eastern African coast, Malabar coast (India) and Malaca. In 1543, the Portuguese arrived to Japan and were the first Europeans to introduce Firearms in that country. The Portuguese presence in the Asian Seas lasted four centuries until the XX century (India 1961, East Timor 1974 and Macau - China 1999).
The white hard carton box with inside thick foam protection holds safely all 8 white metal pieces of the figure and its base
This carton box is inside an outer thinner cream colored, carton box that shows the box art figure painted by Victor Ribeiro de Almeida, while the sculpture is signed from same artist. After checking some Viriatus Miniatures I think that he is one talented and skilled figure man for sure
In the box, is also included a 6 page leaflet that holds detailed historical notes on the era and the figure, reference information and 4 different pictures of the painted figure.
Head: Very nicely sculpted with clear characteristics and detailed hair and facial hair sculpture
Torso with Feet that is always good to have tohether as it saves some time for getting parts together.
Cloak lined with fur
Base as a piece of wooden ship deck with detail added (balls, rope and chain)
Quality and Detail
This is the fifth figure of Viriatus that I lay hands on. By this time you may have read that they are made in only 200 pieces each. So this limited production makes them even more precious, at least to my humble opinion. My copy of Vasco Da Gama is numbered 76/200. The white metal quality is very high, and the casting is in very good level. A soft touch with fine wool wire, will move some traces of mold lines and you will be ready to wash and prime.
Sculpted Detail is more than crisp and clear. All parts are nicely detailed and the painter will have a nice surface to work on. Dry fit of the parts showed that you will only need some bits of filling to have perfect contact between the parts
I wouldn’t call, this one, an easy but even not a difficult to paint figure. You have to paint, leather, velvet, clothe and fur , and all these materials need some different treatment to imitate their texture in a realistic way.
It’s a colorful figure with some detail bits, that will need some patience, and of cource you ll have to try a good face painting to show some character in this figure. But I bet the result will reward all your effort.
Luís de Albuquerque (1987), Navegadores, viajantes e Aventureiros Portugueses Sécs. XV e XVI, Círculo de Leitores.
Geneviève Bouchon (1998), Vasco da Gama, Terramar.
Alberto Cutileiro (1983), O uniforme militar na Armada, Amigos do livro editores.
Carlos Selvagem (1931), Portugal Militar, INCM (1999)
Museu da Marinha
Museu Militar em Lisboa
Conclusion – Final Verdict
Vasco Da Gama is an important historical personality. Viriatus gives you here a chance to paint a nice, well sculpted figure, and you will have an attractive piece in your showcase. For those that are bored from khaki’s and olive drab’s, well that’s surely a good change !
Special Thanks to Miguel of Viriatus Miniatures for the review sample
Stay tuned for more Viriatus Miniatures figures to be reviewed soon