Roman Cataphracts

Long-time followers of this blog will know that there have been two things I've been moaning about being unavailable for my third century Roman army - equites sagittarii and equites cataphractarii. In the past few weeks, Aventine Miniatures have released a fair variety of cataphractarii and contarii for their 'Early Imperial Roman' range (which is aimed primarily at the mid-late 2nd century). Careful examination of what's available made me realise that judicious selection of just the right packs would furnish me with enough figures in 'late enough' equipment and clothing, to put together a quingenary ala of cataphractarii. Keith was his usual obliging self, and as well as supplying the figures as 'an early Christmas present' (Thanks mate - you're a star!) provided a good selection of spare heads, so I can 'mess about' with the appearance of the figures. Here are some that Keith painted himself:

pp79a967b2 0a 06


The figures arrived a day or two ago… But, alas, my Father-in-Law chose that moment to die - not unexpectedly in that he's been unwell for some time, with a heart condition - but he took a considerable turn for the worse last week. So I've only just had time for a proper close look at the castings. It has to be said that I keep thinking that Adam and Keith can't possibly produce anything better than what they already produce, and then they do just that…

These figures are exactly like that. The casting is flawless. All I need to do is file the bottoms of the horse bases flat, and they'll be cleaned up - if al castings were like these, needle-file manufacturers would go out of business! No mould lines, no vent tags, nothing. And the sculpting is amazing - so much detailed, so well executed, and so nicely 'to scale' with the figures. Faultless.

I've got sixteen of them to work on (almost a full quinegary ala at 1:30) - officer, standard bearer, musician and thirteen troopers. I'm basing them similarly to my Sassanid cataphracts/clibanarii - each will be on a 25 x 50 mm 'pill shaped' base, with a steel bottom, and they will be mounted four models to a magnetic 'sabot base'. Some of the figures require assembly - the more animated poses have separate torsos, and some have separate heads (as mentioned). Brass wire pins will be in order - not least because of the long spears, which will be easily knocked, so the figures need to be fairly strongly built.

At some point in the future, I may make another judicious selection from the range, and put together a second ala - this time for my 'Early Imperial' army. Cataphractarii seem to have first made an appearance in the Roman army during Hadrian's reign - which is about the latest period my Early Imperial army is suited to.

But now I'm off to start assembling them.

Copyright Dr. P.C. Hendry, 2010