Signifer from Julius Caesar's Legions

Ignite, well known for their highly detailed historically accurate sixth scale figures, has turned their sights on Caesar and his Legions. They've recently produced a figure of the man himself, along with several of the boys from his troops, including a Centurion, Vexillarious, an Imperial Legionary, and the Signifer reviewed tonight.

The Signifer is a broader term for the guy that carried the signum, or standard. That's the pole with the military emblem for his unit. It did have an sharpened metal end of course, in case it had to be used as a weapon. Once again, Ignite has used metal for the accessories in many places, and gone with a historically accurate depiction.

Ignite's website has these up as pre-orders for $75, along with several of the other Caesar troops. Some (not the Signifer, but others) are a limited edition of just 500.

Packaging - ***
Ignite's packaging has thickened up a bit, which is a good thing. The packaging is also relatively collector friendly, although there are three twisties this time around. Nothing you can't put back if you really want to though, and no need for any real damage to the packaging just to get the figure out.

The package does sport their usual detailed text on the history of the character, giving lots of background on both the figure and the Roman Empire itself.  Yep, even the box is a history lesson!

Sculpting - ***
Ignite's sculpts *tend* to look like famous people. While not outright copies (usually), they do share characteristics with many big name movie stars, and I think this guy looks a bit like a younger Sean Connery. I'm betting you'll see someone else in the face as well.

The sculpts have improved over time, and this one has an appropriate amount of detail in the hair, beard, nose and skin to give him some personality and life. Rather than appearing like a mannequin, this guy comes closer to a realistic appearance. Ignite isn't at the level of a DML in terms of generic sculpts yet, but they've certainly reached an acceptable point.

The hand sculpts are quite basic, and the soft hands are designed to simply hold the weapons. Unique hand sculpts aren't really necessary, but if they came up with a couple other sculpted poses that could be used across the line, it would improve the posing potential of the entire series.

These figures are a fairly standard sixth scale size, coming in at just a smidge over 11 1/2 inches tall. While that might seem a little short, let's remember that Roman's were of shorter average height than today's humans. It's estimated that the average Roman male height was around 5' 7", and that 5' 10" was considered very tall. Therefore, these figures shouldn't be a full 12", and a height of 11 1/2 - 11 3/4 is about right.

Paint - ***
The paint work has also improved, with better skin tones, great hair lines, clean, straight eyes, and more realistic lips. There's not a ton of detail here, and the heads aren't going to rival the best of the sixth scale world, but for a nameless guy in the crowd, they work just fine.

There are some issues with the cast body colors though, which I'll mention again in the next section. Various parts of the body aren't ending up in the same cast skin tone, and when there are bare arms and legs, this becomes more obvious. In person, there's quite a difference between the knee caps and lower legs, although it isn't as obvious in photos. While not a huge problem at this price point it's something that should be corrected.

Articulation - **1/2
Ignite is using a pretty basic sixth scale body - all the articulation that's become the industry standard, like double jointed knees and elbows, cut biceps, and even ball jointed necks - but the bodies are clearly cheaper construction than what we see from companies like DML, Hot Toys or Medicom. The seams are very visible, there's differences in the skin tone between different parts, and the joints themselves are looser and feel cheaper.

If I could only change one thing on these figures at this point, the base body would be it. Going with something that had swappable hands (and a couple other standardized hand sculpts), tighter joints, and a higher quality feel would be at the top of my priority list.

Outfit - ***1/2
The bread and butter of these figures is the outfit and accessories, where historical accuracy and cool designs make for visually interesting figures. I usually give four stars in both the outfit and accessory category to Ignite figures, but this time around they drop slightly.

The drop isn't due to quality issues. Once again the entire outfit is made from high quality materials, with great stitching and tailoring, and looks terrific. However, there's very little here you haven't already seen - and probably bought - before.

The outfit starts with his undershirt/skirt. Yes, unlike Elric Edward from earlier this week, he's going commando. Or in this case, gladiator. He has a heavy shirt over this, made from material that is supposed to look like a kind of chain mail. The material is the same as every previous release, so there's no surprise there. I like it, and I think it looks good while still being lightweight.

He also has the metal helmet (most of the helmet is metal, but there are some plastic pieces) which fits the head well and looks terrific, and the same sandals as past Roman releases. These are made from a rubber, rather than a leather, but look decent nonetheless.

Last but not least is the nifty gold belt. The belt is NOT metal, however, but rather vac-metalized plastic. It looks great, and has a working buckle in back. I found that the figure looks much better if you take off the gold belt, put on the two sword belts, and then reattach the gold belt over these.

The big issue with this outfit is what I already mentioned - reuse. This is the same outfit we got with the Vexallirius, with just changes in color (from red to blue) and the removal of the leather straps with brass rivets from the front of the belt. Even then, a couple of those exact same leather/brass strips ended upon the standard!

Accessories - ***1/2
Again, reuse is the only issue that pulls this score down from four stars to three and a half. If you've bought any Roman before, you have most of this stuff.

There's two bladed weapons - a short and long sword. They both come with appropriate sheaths, with pleather straps. The short sword sheath is belted around his waist, while the long sword is belted over the shoulder. Both the swords and sheaths have been used with several of the previous figures, and there are only minor color changes. The swords are still made from actual metal, but the blades do not have the high gloss shine of some of the previous versions.

The shield is also a reuse, identical right down to the emblem. It is blue though, instead of red, giving it at least some color distinction. There is a handle on the back so that it can be held in one hand, with no straps for the arm.

The final two accessories are new to this figure. There's the new standard, or signum. This one is done in a very traditional manner, with several 'plates' running up the pole. These plates are plastic not metal, but the wreath and hand at the top (also a very traditional Roman design) are made from metal.

The other new accessory is his bear fur coat. The Vexallirius figure has the wolf pelt, but this one is a very distinct bear sculpt, quite different from the previous version. And let's face it, bears trump wolves. The coat fits pretty well over the helmet and shoulders of the figure, and makes for a very unique look.

Fun Factor - **
Lots of sharp, pointy metal objects, perfectly designed for poking out eyes. Not something I'd recommend for the pre-school set by any means. But older kids with a thing for history - and yes, they're out there, getting wedgies and solving calculus problems as we speak - these figures would make for some fun, and promote their geek love of warriors past. Hey, I said "geek" love, with no 'r'!

Value - *1/2
At $75, these are part of the higher end scale for sixth scale figures, particularly those that aren't licensed. The metal weapons and detailed outfits are the cause, along with the low production runs of course. But considering the amount of reuse on a figure like this, it's tough to justify the high price point.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much. As always with highly detailed and expensive figures, there is the potential to break things if you don't use some basic care, but with many of the accessories made from metal, and the others made of high quality plastic and pleather, the odds are pretty small that you'll have an issue.

Overall - ***
There's a ton of reuse and similarity between this figure and others produced by Ignite, so the casual buyer that already has one of the other signifers or centurians is likely to be put off by the high price tag. The two people who would be most interested in this guy would be a) those folks who haven't bought any of the other Romans, and find something uniquely appealing about the bear skin or signum, or b) are looking to build a legion of their own, but want the figures to have some basic differences to make the display more interesting. For the big fan of the Roman empire, the unique signum and bear skin might be enough to convince them they need another warrior on the shelf.  In picking my final grade, I'm assuming you don't already own one of the other Romans - if you do, there's obviously less drive to own this guy.

I'll probably end up picking up Caesar himself, since that's such a unique figure, and I'm REALLY interested in their two upcoming Gladiators. Those are both fairly unique figures, and the promo shots look really good.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***
Paint - ***
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Outfit - ***1/2
Value -  *1/2
Fun Factor - **
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Ignite has a good price at $75, although you may find some sixth scale dealers carrying him slightly cheaper.

Related Links - 
I've reviewed quite a few of the past Ignite figures, including:

- there's the Vexillirius, Greek Hoplight, Viking Bowman, German Knight, Knight of Outremer, Crusader and Viking, Gladiator, and my favorite, the Napolean Guard.

- Dragon has also done some early warriors, including the barbarian Atilla and the viking Olaf.

- and of course Sideshow has their Vlad the Impaler from a similar time frame.

- and if you want to check out Ignite's upcoming product, hit their website for details.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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