Unboxing: Plastic Soldier Company Corvus Belli 15mm Romans (Ultracast)

When I restarted my wargame hobby in 2009 I picked up the smart & simple DBA rules and I bought, amongst others, the excellent 15mm Corvus Belli Early Imperial Romans, a DBA boxed set. CB switched to Infinity and the the DBA sets became out of production. My interest in the classic wars never faded. PSC recently published the Mortem & Gloriam rules and struck a deal with CB to remanufacture several original white metal ranges in Ultracast Plastic. In this blog I unbox and review the Plastic Soldier Company Early Imperial Roman Army boxed set.

The original Corvus Belli box

A detailed review here. Pictures:

Painted (by Dan Becker, mine are in boxes at the club) a CB army looks like below:

A 15mm blog published a wonderfully detailed painting guide, here with pics like these below:

Back in 2009 I rated Corvus Belli higher than Essex but modern ranges seem improved.

Box Comparison

Corvus BelliPlastic Soldier Company
2009 price: 29 GBP 2020 price: 35 GBP
6 roman cavalry12 cavalry
3 mounted command3 mounted command
16 auxiliaries14 auxiliaries
16 legionaries42 legionaries (14 ‘veteran’ poses and 28 ‘standard’ poses)
4 foot command6 foot command
2 Numidian light horsen/a
2 Balearic slingersn/a
4 Roman archersn/a
1 complete artillery in cartn/a
11 cavalry 42 infantry 1 artillery15 cavalry 62 infantry

Price, compared with 2020 Essex: 64 Essex Roman infantry cost 30,80 GBP and 16 cavalry 15,40, total 46,20.

The Good

Price: a similar collection in 1/72 would cost an estimated 20-30 GBP with more figures, in different boxes. So it’s slightly more expensive but this is a variety of miniatures all in one box and in the common 15mm wargame scale. It’s cheaper than 15mm Essex.

Detail: perfect, like the original:

The Bad – sort of

The (soft) plastic is stiff and ready to paint. Horse legs and tails are good. Hard soft plastic. Excellent. I bought it because I believe in it.

Still, it is plastic. I can bend the lances.

I mistrust soft plastic somewhat, I always fear flaking, these lances in particular.

In comparison: I bought very detailed hard plastic SF miniatures for Dropzone Commander from TT Combat. Apparently, harder plastic than Ultracast is possible. DZC models, however, are without antennas or lances or thin parts. Maybe it’s a technical impossibility. Hard plastic lances can break.

So I can’t really judge it for now. I might be prejudiced. Can’t say what happens with the lances in the long run. I use my Romans twice a year so maybe it’s no big problem at all. Should say that PSC selected the most sturdy CB poses, in general. No spear thrower for example. I will give PSC the benefit of the doubt.

The Ugly?

Nothing ugly. Nice figures. Maybe the only ‘negative’ is that the PSC box is not as diverse as the original Corvus Belli box. No bows, no skirmishers. I understand that these will be added later on as separate bags.

The Final Verdict

I think this box fits in a modern approach on the Ancients wargame hobby. Ancients is IMHO dominated by 15mm, unlike WW2. A modern trend in wargaming is that manufacturers sell a flashing rule system and miniatures as combo – think Warlord, GW, Mantic, Corvus Belli with Infinity, TT Combat with Dropzone.

Ancients 15mm is the black swan. Osprey/FoG, WRG-Barker/DBA and Herve Caille/AdlG publish (15mm) rulesets, while Essex, Lurkio, Peter Pig, Magister Militum Old Glory etc produce the miniatures.

PSC is – I think – the first company that combines a DBA-ish ruleset in a starter and more advanced version with high quality and easy to ship plastic ranges. The widely popular Early Imperial Roman era is essential.

With 2-4 boxes and a M&G ruleset PSC can now sell a complete package for 80-100 GBP. Easy all in one – that’s how interest new gamers in the fascinating classic era.

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