It would be an injustice to say that Rest Models are newcomers to the historical figures modelling genre, as their very first 120mm figure was in fact a Napoleonic era French Hussar. Similarly, Rest Models are no strangers to 1/32 scale (approximately 54mm), having previously released two sets of early twentieth century aircraft pilots in this scale. However what is a new avenue for Rest Models is the release of a “vignette in a box” style set of Romanesque period German Barbarians, namely figure set RM3204 “German Barbarians. Burgundians, 4th Century AD”.
Sculpted by Rest Models’ regular sculptor A.Gagarin, the set is inspired by two colour plates from Concord’s “Barbarians”, these being Plate 8 “Alamanni break into a Roman fort, German border, 3rd century AD” and Plate 9 “Burgundians enter southern France, 4th century AD”.
As the figures are not individually numbered, for the purposes of the review I shall refer to them as follows: “Warband Leader”; “Standard Bearer”; “Warband Member”; and “Legionary”.
The Warband Leader and Standard Bearer are most certainly inspired by Plate 9 “Burgundians enter southern France, 4th century AD” of Concord’s “Barbarians”. It is notable that the figures are not complete reproductions of the figures presented on the plate, but offer variation in pose and appearance.
The following abbreviated excerpt from the book describes the figures:
“The painting shows a warband of Burgundians leaving their mountainous homeland in central Europe to join in the barbarian settlement of Gaul in the late 4th century. The hexagonal shields [as held by the Warband Member] betray a Celtic influence… The leading warrior [the Warband Leader] also exhibits the impact of the Roman Empire, carrying both a Roman-style helmet and a Roman dagger [the Warband Member carries the latter as well], perhaps captured in border skirmishes with Roman soldiers [as represented by this vignette]. At his waist [in the case of the Standard Bearer; the Warband Leader holds the sword drawn in his right hand] hangs a long straight double-edged iron sword or spatha… Before their settlement on Roman land, the Burgundians would have had less access to body armour and relied mainly on their shields, but as they drew more on Roman wealth in the early 5th century, many of them would have joined the leading warrior by wearing either scale or mail shirts. The dragon standard held by the second warrior [the Standard Bearer] is also typical of this period, being based on the windsock principal with wind passing through the dragon’s mouth and inflating the body.”
The Warband Member bears a physical resemblance to a figure presented on Plate 8 “Alamanni break into a Roman fort, German border, 3rd century AD” of Concord’s “Barbarians”, but is there that the likeness ends: the context, poses, and personal equipment differ substantially. In addition to the above mentioned hexagonal shield and Roman dagger, the warrior carries another specifically Germanic weapon – the franciska. The franciska featured a curved axe-blade and often used as a throwing axe.
The fallen Legionary makes up the “ 1”, or fourth, figure of the set. The Legionary lies beneath the boot of the Warband Leader. He wears a mail shirt over his regulation tunic. He is equipped with the curved scutum and spear (I was not able to determine whether it is the pilum or later speculum), standard equipment for Roman legionaries. As noted above his helmet has been claimed by the Warband Leader.
What’s in the Box?
The set, cast in a light grey coloured resin, comes in a kit form consisting of a total of thirty-four (34) pieces. This may seem to be a mammoth amount for a figure set, but consider that there are four (4) figures in this set. The kit is packaged in a soft cardboard box with the parts in two zip-lock bags.
The Warband Leader consists of the following six (6) parts: Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms – with sword held in right hand;
The Standard Bearer consists of the following seven (7) parts: Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms;
Oval shield; and
The Warband Member consists of the following six (6) parts: Full figure, excluding head and arms;
Left and right arms – with throwing axe held in right hand;
The Legionary consists of the following five (5) parts: Full figure, excluding arms;
Left and right arms;
Roman shield; and
In addition to the above a further ten (10) parts representing daggers, swords and scabbards complete the kit. Strangely a brass rod, or similar, for the standard is not supplied with the set.
The figures proper, i.e. torsos and legs, are exceptionally sculpted and folds gather convincingly for the materials and garments portrayed. The drapery of the leggings and mail shirts is convincing, as is the muscle definition of the bare-chested Warband Member and barelegged Legionary. The casting is excellent, with nary a seam to be seen and only the remainders of the casting blocks on the soles of the Barbarians’ feet and on the back of the Legionary.
Like the figures proper, the drapery of the three cloaks is excellent, and they are cleanly cast. If I do have one criticism it is that there is a lack of integration between the bodies and the cloaks. To qualify what I mean, it appears that the cloaks sit too obviously on the shoulders and around the necks and do not interact closely with the upper bodies.
Overall the figures are very nicely sculpted and generally the casting is crisp and clean; previous experience with the sculptor and previous castings from Rest Models indicates that this is the expected standard from them.
The heads are well-sculpted with the faces in particular being cleanly sculpted and well defined with finely textured hair. The casting blocks have (mostly) been removed from under the neck and only a bit of clean-up is required. I did find that the join between (in particular) the Warband Leader’s right pigtail and head was a bit weak, which resulted in the pigtail separating from the head. Other similar joins appear to be secure, so I must conclude that this was specific to my sample.
The arms, like the prior parts, are well defined and cast. Slightly hollowed out tunic sleeves and clear muscle definition are nice touches. The arms are void of casting seams and casting blocks are placed on the inside of the shoulders.
The Roman helmet, bladed weapons, shields and standard are nice reproductions and neatly cast. The helmet does, however, have the remnants of the casting block attached to the top which will need to be rubbed down. The bladed weapons feature a lot of fine detail and a free of casting blemishes. Similarly the shields are cleanly cast; however with the exception of the Roman shield have no detail to the reverse sides. The standard is, as mentioned, well reproduced and cleanly cast; the dragon head is finely detailed, scaled and toothy, with a hole provided for a shaft. The shaft head which runs the length of the dragon head should not be confused for a casting block.
This is another outstanding set of figures from sculptor A.Gagarin and Rest Models. The figures interact well together or could even be displayed individually or in subsets. The issue regarding the cloaks is relatively minor and easily overcome. The quality of the cast and “vignette in a box” aspect of the set should prove to be very popular. Recommended.
The following material was consulted for purposes of this review: “Barbarians”. 6004. Tim Newark and Angus McBride. Concord Publishing. 1998.
Note: Due to this publication as being the [confirmed] inspiration for these figures, this reference was used solely.