Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Painted Hat 1/72 Dacians

This week I finished painting eleven 1/72 plastic models from Hat Industrie's #8069 Dacians. I have photographed each of the eight unique poses. The standard bearer and spearmen in the above photo carry an oval shield as depicted on Trajan's Column. These models are holding their shields with a vertical hand-grip. This is an inaccurate, yet minor detail. Apart from one example from Doncaster, England, all the archaeological examples of Iron Age Celtic, German, and Roman shields have horizontal hand-grips.

Most of the models wear caps which appear on the reliefs of Trajan's Column (Rome) and the Tropaeum Traiani (Adamclisi, Romania). Both Roman monuments were built to celebrate Trajan's victory over the Dacians and their allies. The plaids and stripes common to Celtic clothing were probably also worn by the neighboring Dacians. However, I painted the tunics and trousers in solid colors. This is to set them apart from my Celtic models and to save time painting! I did paint a blue plaid design on the cloak of one spearman. That particular pose could work equally well as a Celt or German, although in terms of production quality it's a rather flat sculpt.

The set offers two archer poses. These are versatile models, as they could also be used as any number of Iron Age to Dark Age European archers. Very specific to the Dacian army are two men wielding the two-handed falx (falx is the Latin for any scythe-like blade). These would be the Bastarnae allies. The cutting edge was on the inside of the curve, so the fellow in the blue trousers is not holding his weapon correctly.

Here is a photo showing my spearmen's shield blazons. I used Trajan's Column as a reference. The ovals and cross design held by my standard bearer appears on the base and several times on the column. The remaining designs appear to be rather generic Roman motifs. Indeed, many of the Dacian shields on the column are nearly identical to the shield blazons held by the Roman auxiliaries. So, these may not be authentic Dacian designs, but they are the only evidence we have.

Lacking in this set is an armored commander. Esci's old barbarian set offers one pose in a Phrygian style helmet. Hat's Thracian set has two helmeted poses which could be shoe-horned into my Dacian army. A Hat or Italeri Celtic commander model might also be substitutes, but there really isn't an appropriate Dacian noble available in 1/72. A musician would also be nice, but again I will have to make do with a celtic model. In general, Dacians are not too common as wargaming miniatures. Old Glory Miniatures and the Foundry offer 28mm metal Dacians, but it's the better-known Celts and Germans that dominate the selection of barbarian models. Strelets will be releasing their own 1/72 Dacian sets, but for now Hat is the only manufacturer producing 1/72 Dacians. And what a nice set it is!

Peter Connolly wrote two excellent well-illustrated books on the subject of Rome's conflict with Dacia: The Legionary and The Cavalryman.

The Emperor Trajan wrote an account of his campaigns against the Dacians. Sadly, this has not survived. Cassius Dio also wrote of the Dacian Wars in his Roman History, passages 68, 6.1 to 68, 15. This may be read online on

A lively debate about who fought with the falx on the Roman Army Talk forum.


Chris said...

Thanks for writing the interesting article. The figures have painted up very nicely!

Oscar1986 said...

Hi, those Dacians are some of the best painted 1/72 minis i have seen, realy cool blog. Have you ever thought about painting 28mm minis?

Andrew said...


Actually, most of what I have painted is 28mm. However, I am mostly a collector/painter, so I don't have enough 28mm guys to field an army. I do have all these boxes of 1/72 models, so I thought I would use them for wargaming.