Saturday, March 16, 2013

Roman Signifer - Young Miniatures Out of the Box

I have been a fan of, and purchased many busts from the Young Miniatures line. The quality of both casting and sculpting as well as the wonderful packaging truly set the mark in the industry at all levels. Despite having so many of these kits, this is the first one I have decided to actually tackle. Everyone knows my love for Roman subject matter and this piece has that little "something extra" going for it that made me want to start right in on it.
Packaged in the usual heavy black box, between solid foam were found the components seen above. Having been in the business myself for many years I was impressed by the parts breakdown. Some manufacturers attempt to make their kits "all in one sculpts". This inevitably limits the detail to that which can be removed from the mold. Others over-engineer their kits with far too many parts. Young gets the mix just right in my opinion. The kit consists of the torso, head, arm, helmet, 2 cheek pieces, leather tie, teeth for the pelt, paws, gladius handle and three components to complete the signum (more on this later). My only comment to this point is that I would have liked to have seen some sort of cast pillar support for the bust as I hate simple brass rod supports for busts. These have not been included in Young kits for awhile now.

The torso and head are cast separately to ease painting. Here I have placed the two components together to check fit and appearance. All is good at this point.

Here is the wonderfully sculpted head supplied as a portion of the signum mentioned earlier. Here is where we have problems with this kit. As many of you know there were a number of standard bearers in the Roman army, including the Aquilifer (Eagle Bearer), Imaginifer (Emperor's Likeness), Vexillarius (Flag representing the unit designation), and in later years a Draconarius (Dragon Bearer). Our bust is supposed to represent a Signifer.
Every century or cohort contained a signifer and the first century's signifer was senior. The standard carried was called the signum and was a military emblem that represented the oath every soldier took upon entering the service of the Emperor. This was typically either a large leaf shaped spear blade or more commonly, a large three dimensional hand to represent the upraised hand during that oath. The shaft would be decorated with a number of philarae (medallions, discs). Additionally the hand could be further decorated by a surrounding wreath indicating a military field recognition of sorts.
Although wonderfully sculpted and cast, this head bears no resemblance to any signum I have been able to find in my research. Additionally it doesn't match any Emperor's image I could think of off-hand. My gut tells me that I will have to create my own standard and for a quality figure such as this either the proper signum (hand with wreath) or even an Aquilifer standard will be in order. I find the eagle to be a bit daunting but if I could pull it off it would be an attractive addition to my collection. Only time will tell.

These are the remaining components. No problems here. In an effort to hide the simple brass rod that I will be using to support this bust I have chosen the following angled top, bust base from Ken Thomas. Another of the hidden stash of bases I keep, the colors will go nicely with this beautifully finished piece of wood.


  1. I think your choice of base is fantastic!!

    Will complement the completed bust nicely, with the grain leading the eye!!

    Looking forward to this!!


  2. Thanks Jamie, I went through four of them before I committed to this one. Mor ethe colors than anything else. I am starting on the flesh today, having finished Richemont. I also have more commentary on the standard as I have found out where the references for it came from. Still not sure of it's accuracy but there is one in the hands of an Italian reenactor group. ~Jim