DBA I/52b Early Hoplite Spartan Army

spartan1About 5 years ago I fancied trying out De Bellis Antiquitatis. This is normally played with 15mm models on 40mm wide bases, but these seemed a bit small, and many of the manufacturers sculpt in a style which is too ‘blobby’ for my test – oversized heads, thick limbs etc. In addition I was impressed by the quality and massive range of 1:72 plastics as shown on Plastic Soldier Review, and these tend to be scaled in a much more naturalistic way. I decided to go for these, mounted on 60mm wide bases and since then I have collected a number of armies in the Classical period – Greek, Macedonian, Carthaginian, Roman and Celtic (which between them can stand in for a high percentage of the armies from that period).

These Spartans are principally made up from 3 boxes – Zvesda Spartans, Zvesda Hoplites and Caesar Hoplites. One problem with plastics is that not many poses are available and the plastic is hard to glue which makes conversion more difficult. It really helps if you can find more than one box that can be intermingled – although the style and scaling from different manufacturers is often too different, even if the subject is appropriate.

There are 11 elements of Spears, including one which is a general, and a unit of Horde (helots). This could be substituted in the army lists for another Spear, but I haven’t got that option.


Spartan Command

In DBA there is only one general element, but I happened to have two generals. From left to right, 2 is from the Zvesda hoplites (based on an actual bronze statue), and 4 is a Caesar hoplite. All the others are Zvesda Spartans. I particularly like the strange instruments – a double shafted woodwind instrument and some kind of tube with a brass ball on the end.

Here you can see some of the shields. The Zvesda shields are moulded on, with patterns in relief. The Caesar ones are separate (and a more realistic shape). All the Caesar spears have been replaced with ones made from florists wire – I hammer a point onto them, as they were too bendy to look right. I also replaced many of the swords with spears – they are supposed to be Spears in the rules and it didn’t seem right for half of them to be waving swords instead.



All 3 on the left have hand painted shields. The bull and bird are based on motifs found on pottery. They may well have just been moulded reliefs in the bronze but I’ve painted them on to brighten things up a bit. My Greeks are quite multi-coloured but with the Spartans I have stuck to a limited palette of red, white, black and bronze, which I think gives an appropriately martial feel to them. The second one along did have a moulded shield but I cut it off. Having the same repeated motif draws attention to the fact that the same pose is repeated, and it is also often inappropriate – this one did have a Theban club,, which is a bit odd for a Spartan. On the historical accuracy front, I am also mixing quite early Hoplite armour (far right), with much later – the white linen on the far left. In addition I think there was a fairly swift switch from Spartans carrying different shield symbols to them standardising on the Lambda chevron – they probably weren’t mixed as they are here for very long. Still, relatively little is known about uniforms in this period, and I think a certain amount of artistic licence is fair.

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