Friday, October 29, 2021

You Say "Hastati" and I say "Princeps"


My planned Roman army.
HaT Industrie 1/32 scale plastic figures.

Click on all pictures to enlarge.

I have turned my brushes and attention towards my Punic Wars Republican Roman army. The Carthaginians have four units finished: 2 Iberian, 1 Gaul/Celtic, and 1 African (plus a half unit of Veterans). So now it's time to even out the forces on the Roman side.

Last week I finished sixteen more Roman Hastati to bring the size of the unit up to 32 figures. I have finally locked into the idea of using 32 figures for all infantry units. There will be a couple of smaller 16 figure units whose size is only determined by the lack of available figures to turn them into 32 figure units.

Here is a look at the first Hastati unit. The figures will be glued to 40mm round bases that fit into a Litko movement tray. I went with the 40mm rounds to accommodate the size of the figures and leave some area on the base that will allow chubby fingers to pick them up. The individual circular bases are the same as those used for the Dervish in my 54mm Sudan Project last year.

My first completed unit of Hastati

A Roman legion of the Republican Roman era consisted of light infantry called "Velites", a first rank of formed troops called "Hastati", a second line of better armed (chain mail protection) troops called "Princeps" and, finally, a third line of veteran Triarii soldiers armed with the best protection and weapons. So here is the problem with using the HaT figures: the Princeps/Triarii figures are out of production and the Hastati are going fast and will soon be gone too. That doesn't give me much flexibility in supply and sourcing of figures.


The Need to Improvise

A part of me is conceited enough to think that perhaps my Punic Wars Project has stimulated interest in the HaT figures, resulting in a run of purchases all over the world, the end result being no more Hastati availability. The likely reason is that HaT doesn't seem to run more stock off of its moulds, preferring to leave the product out of stock for several years (if at all). I talked to one retailer and he told me that he had been informed that the Hastati are going out of production after all of the stock is sold. This is a strange way of doing business to say the least. 

So my solution has been to acquire as many boxes of Hastati as I can before they disappear from the market too. My thought is that I can use the same figures for the formed troops (Hastati, Princeps, and Triarii) albeit with some "conversion with paint". The plan is for Hastati to be painted in off-white tunics and to distinguish Hastati units by shield color, either red or yellow.

The Princeps soldiers will also use the Hastati figures, but they will be painted with red tunics as shown in the picture below. The Triarii will also be painted with red tunics, but will have chain mail painted on them. Chain mail can be produced by painting the torso in black paint and then dotting the surface with a metallic color to give the appearance of chain mail. You have got to go with what you have, right?

I have 16 figures of the actual Triarii figures made by HaT and one of my blog followers has sourced two more boxes (or 32 figures total) of Triarii that are headed my way from the other side of the world. Thank you kind sir. Sixteen conversion figures will bring the second Triarii unit up to 32 figures.

So here are a couple of sample Princeps figures, compared to a similar posed Hastati figure.

Roman Princeps figures (left and middle) compared to a Hastati (right)
HaT Industrie 1/32 scale plastic figures.

Front and rear views of the yellow shield Princeps unit. I have only painted one of the shields on these sample figures so far.
Both Hastati and Princeps of the yellow shield legion will have the decorated shield design.

My Roman Legion Organization

My first legion will have red shields and my second legion will have yellow shields. Each legion will have one Hastati, one Princeps, one Triarii and a half unit of Velite light troops. So far I have completed the Hastati unit of the red shield legion. It's Princeps unit will have red tunics and red shields. The second legion will have yellow shields, so the sample shown in the above pictures show a Princeps of the yellow shield legion.

Ideally, my Roman army would have two legions totaling six units. Thus a legion will have three formed units plus some Velite skirmish troops. This gives a game participant a command of four elements - "Jim's Rule of Fours". My Rule of Fours indicates that the average war gamer can comfortably handle up to four units of figures, of any type, in a game without feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of figures that he is pushing around the table. Some people, of course, can handle more troops in a game, but when I plan out a convention game I like to adhere to Jim's Rule of Fours.

I like the way that that the sample Princeps figures turned out. The red tunic really makes the figure stand out compared to the white tunic figure, even though they are the same figure. With respect to my game rules, if a figure is wearing a red tunic, that indicates that it is wearing chain mail (regardless of whether or not chain mail is actually sculpted onto the figure). The shield design was relatively easy to do, but a bit time consuming to execute. However, I think that the added shield detail is worth the effort and really makes the figure pop.

To Each His Own

I enjoy painting my own figures. I find it relaxing and a level of excitement grows as I watch a unit or an army grow. When they are finished, I can look at them and know that it all happened because of the effort that I put into the figures. Some gamers can afford to send their figures to a pro painter and have the work done for them. The results can be spectacular;  however, are they really your figures if someone else has painted the pretty flags and uniforms? I find that such figures lack a certain spirit or soul, at least in my mind. The people playing with my figures won't experience the spiritual difference, but I would know, and that's what is important.

To each his own, I guess.


  1. Fantastic stuff Jim, I am sooooooo tempted to do this in 1/72 scale but I must resist. Too many other figures to paint.