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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The new 'Retianus' (sic) is at once a joy & a disappointment both IN and OUT of the box. My review may be a bit lengthy, but I have a bit to get off my chest about the figure. I'll take this in the following order; first the business of the box art & descriptors. Then I'll deal with the weapons, the clothing, and finally the armor. Interspersed in the 'rant' will be some comments about the figure, but as it is a standard "ver. 2.0" IGNITE body, there isn't much to say.



Why do I keep using "(sic)" [the symbol for a quote as you find it, not as it ought to be]? Because the box is labeled 'Retianus!!!!' I can't find my Latin dictionary this instant, but from memory, this would be a compound word made up of "rete," a net, and "anus," the exit point in the human/primate body for excrement… Yeah, way to go IGNITE!!! The word is Retia-RI-us, literally a "net man." Beyond that, the box "art" is simple, but OK. As with more recent releases, IGNITE portrayed the figure directly, i.e. as a photo. He is superimposed over a two-tone Renaissance drawing of the ruined Coliseum in Rome as seen from an upper level (or the air). IGNITE did not try to use an artistic rendering of a "net man" of their own, or from either ancient or modern art [e.g. from the Osprey volume Gladiators, 100 BC-AD 200 (Warrior #39)] - and a good thing too as you shall see.

The inside cover has a pretty generic description of life and conditions in the gladiatorial sub-culture. The first paragraph is inaccurate in saying gladiatorial combats were staged by/for the "Kings" of Rome. If they would have used the word "Emperor," that would have made it accurate. It then goes on to describe in several paragraphs the same sort of thing Osprey does; e.g. "gladiatorial games of the Roman world comprised battle for entertainment and slaughter for profit. Although notorious for the use of prisoners of war, conquered slaves and condemned criminals as dispensable 'extras', some [citizens and freemen] did volunteer for the gladiatorial profession" [ http://www.ospreypublishing.com/title_detail.php/title=S2997 ]. The flap however does NOT describe anything about the Retiarius at all, which is a disappointment. The back of the box is merely a rehash of the legends of Rome (Romulus, Remus, Aeneas, etc.) that has appeared on all the Roman boxes.

The Retiarius is the normal opponent of the "Myrmillo," the "fish man," hence the fishing motif evoked by the use of the net and the trident as his normal "weapons." I'll deal with the "Myrmillo," if and when IGNITE finally releases him. For now I'll confine myself to this release.

WEAPONS

The figure comes with the required trident and net, and both are nice elements as far as they go. The trident uses a die-cast head that is finely rendered and shaped. It is glued to the same plastic "shaft" that is used for the Roman "spear" that comes with the several Centurion and Legionary figures. As such however it is as equally "top" or "front" heavy, and therefore just as "unbalanced" as the Roman spear.

The net appears to be made from the sort of off-white fine stretch mesh used in ladies' fishnet tights (or "scanties?"), though with tiny diameter "holes" (IOtW very small or "fine" mesh) as opposed to the larger variety. To this they have sewn some sort of blue-white dappled plastic or resin "rocks" (meant to evoke coral or shell?" I have no idea.). It is supposed to have lead or bronze (or perhaps drilled rock) weights distributed around the edges to give it "heft" when it is cast, as in "the real McCoy." Mine measured about fourteen (14) inches in diameter, NOT close to the actual eighteen ( 18 ) required if the assertions of a nine-foot diameter net are accurate in the Osprey volume.


Beyond these the figure is provided with two additional weapons, a dagger and a MACE!!!! Now the dagger is appropriate. In fact all gladiators carried one as it was the preferred weapon to dispatch one's opponent, NOT the sword or trident. I imagine in extremis the otherwise disarmed gladiator might also try to use it as a last resort in defense to save his life or reputation (if the contest weree not to the death). The blade provided is simply the Roman Army pugio - a money saving device for IGNITE as I am not aware of any Army pugio being found in a gladiatorial context archaeologically; anyone here? I'm not going to piss & moan about it, I just point it out.

As to the MACE!!!! OK, maces are known from the contemporaneous Parthian and Persian cavalry catafracts and clibinarri. But to suggest that therefore a "net man" would drag one around the sand is out of order!! No surviving Roman funerary or other monument to gladiators that "I" am aware of shows a Retiarius with a MACE!! Also from the teaser photo of one of the kah-niggets due for release "Summer '07," it looks like this is HIS mace, and IGNTIE threw it in here because they didn't want to lower the price point instead!!! This figure is pretty woefully equipped otherwise!! Of course the net man WAS lightly equipped, in keeping with the "fishing" motif. He was supposed to rely primarily on his speed and dexterity to out-fight his opponent BECAUSE he was not heavily encumbered. I don't see why they couldn't have simplified this figure (more on that in a moment) and reduced the price on this one.

CLOTHING
The figure comes with only four pieces of clothing. First off he has a "t-shirt" of some sorts, and a second garment, probably MEANT to be a "large" and ornate subligaculum.


I know of no representation in Roman art of any Retiarius wearing a "t-shirt." Not useful; not least as I am not sure what anyone would want to do with it "instead." As to the second garment, the problem is it is not really a scale subligaculum, but rather a simple "slip on" sort of "skirt" your sister or sweetie might wear on "Western Night" down at the K-Bar Inn for the line dance!! It consists of two "V" shaped pieces of red clothe, sewn at the hips and with an elastic waistband with a gold-ish sort of fringe at the lower "hem." Use it if you wish, but know that it is NOT the proper garment, just a cheap "phasmid."

The figure also comes with a sort of "panty" …sort'a like something worn by mature ladies http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/B0007UOLUI.01._SCMZZZZZZZ_AA160_.jpg.
Or……..

OK, maybe "swim shorts" of the sort used by male actors in the 1950s and '60s. The "shorts" have elastic at the leg openings and the waist, so it fits the form well, but as to its accurate portrayal of a Roman garment?

OK, sure the Romans certainly had a "bikini" of sorts worn by woman in athletic events (e.g. the famous Roman "bikini girls" mosaic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Casale_Bikini.jpg at the Villa Romana del Casale in Italy, which dates to the early 4th Century A.D.), and the Brits have recovered such a "bikini" in leather (discovered, conserved, and displayed in the Museum of London)... But as to form-fitting male shorts? Normal wear was the subligaculum, a Mediterranean-area loin-cloth made of white material, probably linen, but also possibly soft light wool. Gladiators appeared in the arenas wearing subligacula of a wide variety in colors and ornamentation.

This leaves the last piece, a wide leather belt with three metal ornaments. I have no complaint. The piece is difficult to get on/off as it is tied on, but IIRC that was how the originals went on so this piece at least is actually "accurate."

ARMOR
This brings me at last to the defensive equipment. First, there is the distinctive galerus, the piece of armor worn to protect the shoulder, typically worn on the left. The vertical plate was flared out away from the head to protect the head from flank cuts as a Retiarius did not wear any helmet.


The IGNITE galerus is made of soft plastic, so there is no way to have it behave "properly," albeit it is otherwise shaped OK. It has a leather strap glued inside, which began to separate from mine right out of the box. I hope the superglue I used to repair it holds!!!! Had this piece been made of die-cast material instead of giving us that useless mace, then it could have been made/shaped more accurately. At least it is better than none at all --- for now. It comes out of the box worn on the WRONG arm, unless your Retiarius is a left-handed man, and I know of no representations in Roman art of any such fighters. Fortunately it is not hard to switch it to the left arm.

Secondly we get three padded cloth pieces. These are a manica, worn on the arm, and fasciae, worn on the legs. All three are fair replications of the type of padded protection which were probably made of coarse linen-covered wool.
http://depthome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/classics/gladiatr/images/gladcmbt.jpg

Sometime around the end of the 1st Century AD the manica could be augmented by a defense of overlapping metal plates, or possibly leather, strapped on over the outside of the defense. These segmented plate defenses were the inspiration for the extra armor that made "super heavy" legionary troops used by Trajan against the Dacians. Anyway, these are neat, but a problem too.

I was afraid back when I saw the first teaser photos of these that they had been made as plastic "sleeves," like DML did for certain "bandaged" pieces for their stretcher-bearer figure a few years back. This could have meant the fasciae could not have been used on any other figure, especially if the only way to get them off was to remove the IGNITE figure's feet. This proves not to be the case, although the FIGURE I got did prove a problem! I was unable to remove my IGNITE figure's feet for fear the pressure needed would have broken the pin of the ball joint!!! I have complained in the past that ALL the IGNITE figures' joints are too loose, especially at their hips and waist, and one of my Hoplite Greeks is VERY "floppy." This gladiator figure is much tighter (almost acceptable!) at the hips and waist, but in the event the FEET are now so stiff that, as I say, I fear that too much movement/pressure will break the pin of the ball joint!!! I can't win!!

Well, I got the fasciae off the legs by taking a seam ripper and VERY gently opening the seam of each from the heel up to about a three-quarters of an inch up the seam (i.e. to just above the ankle). I was then able to slip these off over the IGNITE figure's feet. Therefore I then "tacked" these open seams with clean white thread, leaving the seam open. Not sure that these wouldn't soon fray, I decided I would also reinforced them by using BOTH "Fray Stopper" and Fabric-Tac glue. I think these are pretty secure now!!!! :lol:


I have to say, as now installed on a DML Neo-Adam body, the "splayed-open" look @ each heel actually makes them look more credible (to me anyway). Osprey's drawings of them by Illustrator Angus McBride in Gladiators, 100 BC-AD 200 (Warrior #39) show no hint of how the fasciae were held on. In the text OTOtH (pg. 24), the author, Stephen Wisdom, says that these were tied on with leather thongs. The illustrations by McBride of the manica do show this. Both IGNITE's manica and fasciae lack these ties. @ some point I intend to add a "refinement" to mine and add some "ties" to give the impression of how they are held on.

Ocrea, or greaves, could also be worn by gladiators over the fasciae. However, it appears from extant art that these were not worn by the Retiarius. The teaser photo we have for the "Myrmillo" shows him with both ocrea and fasciae, and that will be fine if he in fact shows up that way.

The manica also presents a problem, not because it was all that hard to get off the arm, but because as noted with the distinctive galerus, unless the man were left-handed, it is on the wrong arm!! The problem here is that the straps worn to hold it in place will not work if one simply shifts the defense to the other arm. I had to cut it loose from the straps --- VERY carefully so as not to ruin the defense or the straps. I then disassembled the straps completely and reassembled them in "mirror image" form, that is, opposite to that as the whole assembly came out of the box. To make the manica easier to get on/off I also sewed a small black snap to the inside of it (the defense) and to the back strap. This allows me to snap the strap tight, and keeps it well hidden inside the manica behind the arm.


So, here is my reinterpretation of IGNITE's figure compared to an Osprey image. He's shown with the proper placement of all the equipment, and with a scale subligaculum I sewed up some time ago now using the instructions found in Wisdom's text in Gladiators, 100 BC-AD 200 of how it was created from a single piece of triangular cloth. Admittedly I made a few "nips & tucks" to make it "hang" on the body better (more esthetically), but it is much closer to a scale piece than the "skirt" of IGNITE.


Over the next few weeks and/or months I will be working at refining him. For example, the belt hangs quite loose and too low, as is apparent. It was actually rather loose on him out of the box, but then it had to go over the larger "skirt." Now that it needs only fit over the much less bulky subligaculum it has too much slack in it, even when tied tight. I will probably remanufacture my own version soon to replace this one. I may also see if I can find a more suitable pugio.


:cheers
 

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Awesome review Nighthawk! Though I think Retianus could be retia (plural of mesh) and the suffix -nus (of, or belonging to). Your translation is funnier though for sure. Either way, as you suggest, Retiarius would have been the proper name for the figure.

Great pics and very informative. Thanks for posting this! :thumb
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
grizzerr said:
Well was it worth the price??
"Depends" :grinroll Overall, for those who are REALLY interested in Roman history generally, and in gladiators specifically, I would say a "qualified yes." The specialized pieces like the trident, the manica, and the fasciae, certainly were worth the purchase (with the exceptions I noted in my review, like the soft plastic used for the galerus, which I felt was a mistake; a die-cast piece should be preferred there). The few pieces that I feel "I" will certainly be setting aside and not use (essentially the mace, the t-shirt, and the "skirt") do not detract from it THAT much. I would certainly try to find the best PRICE on one, so I would caution anyone interested to "shop around" before buying one. However, that said I will probably get another for myself to kit-bash, so long as with #1, "the price is right!" :rolling

grizzerr said:
I like the Roman "Depends" LOL!!
Which one, theirs or mine? ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
DunkleGelb said:
The HT Muscle body and legs would be a perfect replacement body for this.
The HT MB seems to be OOS/OOProd everywhere I look :fit --- which is a pity, as that headsculpt in particular would be GREAT for this gladiator!! So, is this the same body used by "Rambo?" He seems still to be obtainable... :shades
 
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