Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


20.12.09
  Roman Playmobil Fun

One of the features of the exhibition in the LWL Roman Museum in Haltern am See was the display of three legions of playmobil Romans spread all over the museum. The 15,000 figures were to demonstrate the number of Romans marching through the German forests towards their doom.

LWL Museum, Haltern

A part of the Roman army on the march can be seen in the middle of the photo (the red guys in the background), another in the upper part (blue ones) - both on boards suspeded from the ceiling. The greater part of the marching column walked on boards above eye height and was a bit tricky to photograph. I managed to get some acceptable closeups, though.

Some legionaries

We are Marius' Mules, one, two, three, and a-marching we go.

Sometimes also called Caesar's mules, but it was the consul Marius who standardized the Roman soldier's marching gear during the wars against the Cimbri and Teutones, another bunch of unruly Germanic tribes.

Legionary cavalry

Heh, you sorry footsloggers. We have horses, neiner, neiner.

Each legion had 120 cavalry soldiers, but overall the Romans relied on auxiliary cavalry from conquered or allied countries.

Part of the train

A legion on march had a train, mostly consisting of the larger baggage, the official families of the officers and sometimes the inofficial families of the soldiers (who were not allowed to marry), and provisions.

Poor sod

Some of the Playmobil soldiers got lost on the way, like this poor guy. Twisted his ankle when he stumbled over one of those damn tree roots.

There was a game for the kids who visited the museum to find all the stray figures.

Special polishing duty

Damn, how many of those helmets are there and why did I piss the centurion off again?

Romans soldiers had a lot of work to do besides walking (and sometimes fighting), like cleaning their armour, cooking, and digging trenches for the camp.

Digging ditches

Is that ditch no. 287 or 288? They never told us about that when they recruited us for the great of Rome and fame and regular pay.

Romans erected a fortified camp with trenches and palisades every night on a march, and they even did it the first night of the Varus battle, which says a few things about Roman discipline

Playing at dice

We should hide behind the tent. If the centurion sees us, it's polishing helmets again.

Dice was the most popular game, but there were also more strategical ones like nine men's morris or one a bit like backgammon.

Roman potter

If Gaius Incitus breaks another oil lamp, he can sleep in the dark. Or buy a bronze one, provided he wins at dice for a change.

Repair of armour, weapons and other items was mostly done in the forts, but there were always soldiers with special skills who could do emergency repairs on the march. They were called immunes because they were exempt from some of the regular soldier's duties, like digging.

Aquilifer

Oops, where is my lion hide?

I suppose Playmobill doesn't produce those, but the aquilifer, the bearer of the legionary standard, was dressed in a lion fur with the headpiece over his own head. I've yet to figure out where that custom comes from.

More Roman soldiers

Another closeup of some marching legionaries with their pack mules. Every contubernium, a group of eight soldiers who shared a tent and cook fire, had a mule for the larger items the men didn't carry themselves, like tent poles and the portable millstone to prepare the daily grain ration.

I was tempted to buy a Playmobil soldier in the museum shop, but managed to resist.
 
Comments:
Gabriele

I was tempted to buy a Playmobil soldier in the museum shop, but managed to resist.

Good, how could one buy only one?

Good pictures! That exhibit looks like a good way to explain much of what happned.
 
That is an amazing exhibition! I don't know how you managed to leave it without buying half a legion including train, dice and helmet polishers!
 
I'm with Jerry!
Makes one extraordinarily covetous!
 
Damn, at 36 am I too old to put Playmobile on my Christmas list? This is great.
 
Lol, Jeri and Hank are right, I would have liked to get more than one, and then I'd have to get a mule, too and a few cavalry .... I so don't have the space to put a Playmobil cohort.

Brian, why not? There's no age limit to having fun. :)
 
This is just astonishing, Gabriele. A great post. We visited the new Great North Museum in Newcastle, with its model of Hadrian's Wall back in the summer - and went on to Arbeia, the Roman fort at South Shields - amazing reconstruced buildings there.
 
Sorry, I have been trying to rectify the broken link ... unsuccessfully!
 
Constance, I've been to Arbeia, but didn't manage to get the museum into my schedule. But I've been to the Hadrian's Wall in 2007.

Here's the Great North Musuem link.
 
Very cool. Almost makes me want to recreate a roman battle, just for the Playmobil Romans.
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.
 
Now there's an idea, Ann. Hm, where to get some playmobil Germans, lol.

Merry Christmas to you.
 
I bet someone had great fun putting that exhibition together - almost as much fun as you had with the captions!
I don't know if you got my e-mail, but if not, have a great Christmas and wonderful New Year!
 
Precious!
 
That is awesome. Really kills the stodgy museum reputation. Kudos to whoever thought it up. So much easier than making your own out of discarded GI Joes and polymer clay . . .
 
Hi Jules aka Lady D. ;) Merry Christmas to you as well.

Contance, I thought you'd build a trebuchet and a siege tower first, and then man it with cla - or playmobil - soldiers. :)
 
What a great idea, and full marks to whoever on the museum staff thought it up! Maybe they could commission you to write captions....
 
Thanks, Carla. Yes, I had some fun with those captions. :)
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction and Fantasy living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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