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In-Box Review
Roman Signifer -Legio Ulpia
Signifer of the IV Cohort of the XXX Legion “Ulpia”
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by: Engin Kayral [ GRAYWOLF ]

Originally published on:
Historicus Forma

about Roman Army

The Roman Army was made up of men from all over the Empire, no women were allowed to join the army. The only job of these men was to fight and defend Rome. They could not see their families for years and they could not marry their girl friends until they left the army. But the wages were good and there were other benefits such as a payment of land or money when they retired. Sons often followed their fathers into the army. These professional soldiers of the Roman Army who would have to stay in the army for at least 25 years are called Legionaries. There were also auxiliaries in the Roman Army but with structure and equipment, they were differing from the legionaries. They were non-Roman citizens, recruited mostly from the Roman provinces with less pay than the legionaries, but at the end of their service they would be granted Roman citizenship.

The structure of the Roman Army was not complex but strong. The basic unit was Contubernium which consists of a group of 8-10 soldiers who share the same barrack or tent in battlefield , eat together and live as brothers-in-arms. 10 of contuberiums form a Century which is the essential fighting unit of Roman Army. A century was commanded by a Centurion and his second in command who called Optio. 6 centuries form the main tactical unit - Cohort. The Cohorts were arranged in battle so that the experienced, inexperienced, strongest and weakest soldiers would be mixed throughout the battle formations which maximized moral and military effectiveness. Each cohort was led by a junior officer named Tribunus militum. Every century and cohort had an emblem symbolizing the unit and it was carried by a Signifer. 10 cohorts form a Legion which is known as the main unit. The Roman army had between 27 - 30 legions. The officer commanding a legion was called the Legatus legionis. He was usually from a wealthy family. Each legion had an eagle made of silver called an Aquila which was symbolic of the legion's power. It was carried in battle by a soldier called an Aquilifer. Each of the 10 cohorts were numbered and consisted of specific types of soldiers. The organisation and numbering of the Cohorts were the same throughout the different legions.

The republican army's strength, in peace, was four legions, but the number was increased during wartime. The highest number of legions was 70 after the civil war between Octavian (Augustus) and Mark Antony, due to having two whole Roman empires fighting when the remainder of Antony's forces joined with Octavian's. The number was decreased to 28 legions soon after, as the economically strained empire could not pay such huge numbers. After the Varus disaster, only 25 legions remained.

about the figure

A signifer is the standard bearer of a cohort or century. He was chosen from the most valiant legionaries veteran legionaries who generally were serving their extended enlistments after 20 years of service, as the standard bearer certainly had to be the bravest and most exemplary. In the event of defeat, he was necessarily destined to sacrifice himself on the field, because a signifer who survived without his standard would most certainly be condemned to death for cowardice.

The figure RM-75-003 represents theSignifer of the IV. cohort of XXX. Legion “Ulpia”. Legio trigesima Ulpia Victrix (30th Victorious Ulpian Legion) was a the Roman legion levied by the Emperor Trajan in 100 for the Dacian Wars and stationed in the province of Dacia in the Danube frontier (now Germany). Ulpia is Trajan's own gens (Ulpius), while the cognomen Victrix means victorious , and was awarded after the valliant behaviour in the Dacian wars.

In 122 the legion was moved to Colonia Ulpia Traiana (modern Xanten-Germany) in Germania Inferior, where they remained for the following centuries. Their main tasks were public construction and police affairs. In the 2nd century and the beginning of the 3rd century, units of the XXX Ulpia Victrix were allocated in Parthia, as well as Gaul, Mauretania and other Roman provinces, due to the peaceful situation in Germania Inferior. In the civil war of 193, XXX Ulpia Victrix supported Septimius Severus, who granted them the title of Pia Fidelis - faithful and loyal.


The figure comes in 125 x 85 x 35 mm.standard medium size Romeo Models light blue cardboard box. The front cover shows the figure painted by Francesco Sapianza from two angles– front view and left view for shield details .

Inside the box, there is an A4 paper sheet including detailed historical info about Roman Centurion and painting instructions of the figure. This document is represented in 2 languages; Italian and English. The historical research of this figure and preparation of the text is made by Giuseppe Marseglia and translated by Riccardo Carrabino.

Parts are well protected between two slabs of thick white polyfoam and figure base is placed under the polyfoam not to damage the figure parts.


The figure is sculpted by Russian master sculptor Victor Konnov and made up of 12 white metal parts. All parts are cast clean and crisp in very good details. There is no need for a serious cleanwork, only brushing slightly with a metal brush and washing will make it ready to prime.

The main part is full body with legs and left arm. He wears a chainmail armor named Lorica Hamata over his short sleeved neckless tunic. Chainmail armor has 2 extra leather enforced supporting parts on both sides of the neck. Another coat named Subarmalis is worn between tunic and armor. Chainmail was silvered and generally about waist. Under his tunic, he wears knee-length tight trousers usually worn by signifers and all other standard bearers like aquilifers, imaginifers, duplicarii, vexillarii and draconarii. He carries a well decorated belt made up of lamellar metal parts named Balteus or Cingulum to hang his sword and dagger. Chainmail texture, cloth folds on tunic and trousers, metal belt and straps attached to belt to hang weapons, strap of the shield are very well defined. Left arm posed to hold the signum is cast together with this part and he carries a metal bracelet on his wrist. He wears standard Roman army heavy leather sandals named Caligae. These military sandals were as important as armour, because the legions won wars by fast marches as much as by battle. They were well-ventilated and strong with patterns of iron hobnails especially designed to take weight and withstand miles of marching. Details on the feet are very well defined.

  • Head : Sculpted in very nice facial details,it makes a very good fit to the hole on the neck. He wears a Gallic-C helmet with rich decorations on the long cheek guards. Over his helmet, he carries a wolf hide - Lupae. In the Roman Army, wolf hides and bear pelts were usually worn by signifers of centuries and cohorts and lion pelts were worn by the aqualifer, signifer or vexillarius of a legion. Wearing animal heads and hides was thought to have been a demonstration of the dominance of Rome over the forces of nature. Besides that ; signifer covered with an animal hide might have symbolically recalled the role of a guide of a people or an army on the march. Details on the helmet and wolf head are very well represented.

  • Wolf hide : It makes a very good fit to the shoulders of the figure. The fur textile is very well defined especially on tail and rear paws.

  • Wolf hide- front paws : The part wolf hide is tied on the neck. It shows nice texture and paws. Note that this part should be glued after the head is assembled to the body.

  • Right arm : Posed to grab the hilt of his sword. He carries a short sword called Gladius Hispaniensis, since it was supposedly copied from a Spanish sword in the Punic War era. Gladius was straight and double-edged, with a sharp V-shaped pointed tip and a rhomboid cross section. The weapon was about 60 cm (22 inches) long and generally weighed 3 pounds (1.4 kg) making it ideal for one handed stability and power projection. Unlike other swords that were used in strike to inflict glancing lacerations, the thrust of a Gladius was almost always fatal. A Roman legionary would always mount the scabbard for his Gladius on the right side, allowing a formation of soldiers to easily draw their swords in formation without accidentally injuring soldiers to either side. Centurions and Praetorian Guard units typically wore their swords on the left as a sign distinction from the regular legionnaires. The scabbard is wooden covered with leather and tied to the belt with four straps. Muscles on the arm, fingers, pommel and scabbard details are well represented.

  • Dagger : He carries a Roman Pugio dagger; a leaf shaped blade with a centered rib, on the left waist. Besides being a lethal weapon; it was a utility knife. Most items of Roman military equipment were decorated to some degree, but it was the pugio scabbard that the individual soldier paid most attention to. The amount and nature of this decoration appears to have been determined by the amount of money the legionary was prepared to pay, thus reflecting his pride and wealth. The sculpting and casting of this piece is incredibly good.

  • Shield : He carries his shield hanged on the left side of his body with a long strap crossed on his right shoulder. Unlike the usual rectangular Scutum shield carried by the legionaries, Signifers carried round type shields with big centered metal boss . This shield is called Parma or Parmula. It makes a good fit to the hole on the left skirt of figure.

  • Groin guard : One of the typical parts of the Roman belt Balteus was the apron in front named Sporran. It was more decorative than defensive. It had from four to eight leather apron straps decorated with iron or bronze studs with dangling terminals. It makes a very good fit to the two holes in front of the figure.

    Signum was the battle standard of each cohort and century.The signum was also an instrument used for signalling an order to an entire detachment if it was out of reach of a sonorous signal communicated by voice or horn-blower . For example, a halt was indicated by a rapid downward movement of the standard pole, and the lateral pendants may have served the purpose of making the movement more visible. It is given in 3 parts in this kit ; Body,staff, hand.

  • Body of Signum : It is decorated with a number of metal disks named Philarae along with a number of other elements. The number of the disks is thought to represent the cohort number in the legion. There are 4 disks on the pole of this figure and this supports the the COHIV plate over the disks. Legion plate on the top, leather apron straps decorated with metal studs and wreath centered are all well defined. Wreath denotes the cohort is awarded or honored. Left hand is cast together with the signum and makes a good fit to the hole on the left wrist.

  • Staff of Signum : Decorated with a fringed inverted bowl and an extra hand grab is added for easy carrying during march. It makes nice fit to the body of signum and fringes are well represented.

  • Staff of Signum : The top of the signum is decorated with a human hand symbol named Manus. Manus is believed to have designated the Prior or first century of a Roman two-century Maniple formation; while the spear top would indicate the Posterior or second century of the Maniple.

  • Figure base : An oval figurebase with a nice ground texture and different sized rocks. It makes very good fit to the blocks under the feet of figure and supplies a very strong bond

    The following books and websites can be useful when painting this figure.

  • Osprey Publishing - Men-at-Arms - 046 -The Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan by Michael Simkins & Ron Embleton
  • Osprey Publishing - Warrior - 072 - Imperial Roman Legionary AD 161-284 by Ross Cowan & Angus Mc Bride
  • Legio XXIV Media Atlantia Reenactment website
  • Legio XXX Ulpia Traiana Victrix Reeenactment website
  • Legio VI Ferrata Fidelis Constans Reenactment website
  • Legio XX Reenactment website
  • Roman Army Organization and Ranks website
  • Roman Colosseum website


    Great posing, excellent sculpt with many very nice details, high quality flawless casting, ease on assembly and correct fit with pins and holes on the parts. I believe any painter who will paint this figure will be absolutely satisfied.

    Very Highly Recommended
    Highs: Perfect sculpt and casting with many details. Details of the signum are excellent.
    Lows: No lows for this figure.
    Verdict: Absolutely one of the best 75 mm figures ever sculpted and cast.
    Percentage Rating
      Scale: 75mm
      Mfg. ID: RM-75-003
      Suggested Retail: 42 EUR
      Related Link: Product Page
      PUBLISHED: Apr 20, 2009
      THIS REVIEWER: 92.20%
      MAKER/PUBLISHER: 92.18%

    Our Thanks to Romeo Models!
    This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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    About Engin Kayral (Graywolf)

    Born in 1962,married and having 2 sons. I started modelling about 8 years old building USS Fletcher with mom. It was a model dad brought from USA., I think in those days only a few people in Turkey had info on scale model kits. Grown as an AF officer son , I built many aircraft models in years. Som...

    Copyright ©2021 text by Engin Kayral [ GRAYWOLF ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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