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Athenian Warrior

Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S.
by yo go re

It's nice to see someone acknowledging that Sparta wasn't the only military power in ancient Greece.

The birthplace of democracy, Athen's [sic] army was comprised of its citizens. Those same fishermen, philosophers, farmers, merchants, and artisans that made up its population. Although not professional soldiers, like the Spartans, Athenian Warriors were highly trained in the art of hoplite and naval warfare. Where the elite Spartan army held superiority on land, it was the trireme fleet of Athens that ruled the seas. Each ship was loaded with troops ready to board enemy ships or mount coastal raids. They were fast, maneuverable, and capable of ramming with great force. The Athenian navy would defend from threats both above and below, with the invasion of the Gorgon Horde looming, Athens, Sparta, and the citizens of all Greek city-states must be prepared for battle and defend to the last.

Even beyond the fact that Athens owned the sea (and consequently, did a better job of moving their people and ideas around the Agean than anyone else), their soldiers were some of the best. Around 390 BC, the Athenian general Ιφικράτης took a small group of lightly armored soldiers and thoroughly kicked the asses of an entire Spartan mora (one sixth of the full Spartan army, and thus the largest battalion in all of Ancient Greece).

The Athenian Warrior is wearing his full panoply - today that word just means "a wide assortment of things," but it originated as the name for a full suit of armor. Soldiers had to buy their own equipment, so only the most prosperous citizens could get the whole set. That also meant there was no set, uniform appearance. While some wore a bronze breastplate, this guy is fine with his linothorax, a stiff shirt made from layers of linen glued together. There are shoulder plates holding it up, and a meander on the abdomen. He's got a skirt, of course, and clearly he sprung for bronze greaves to protect his shins. The armor is white with red accents, and two black stars on his shoulders - coincidentally, almost identical to an encyclopedia image you can find floating around all over the net.

He tops this all off with a Corinthian helmet, the famous old look with the eyeslits, nose guard, and cheek panels. You know the sort. His is painted black with golden trim, and it's topped by a red horsehair crest - the fact that it runs longitudinally rather than transverse suggests he's an officer. The head inside the helmet is bald and bored. He looks like he'd rather be at home farming whatever he does on his days off. He is not impressed.

The Athenian Warrior has a balljointed head and neck; swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows and wrists; a balljointed torso (limited realistically by the chest armor); balljointed hips; double-hinge knees; and swivel/hinge ankles. The set's accessories include an extra pair of hands with the hinge joint running the other direction, and a display base to help the figure stand in extreme poses. If you really want to show off his articulation, every bit of the armor is removable, leaving you with a nearly nude Greek. His skin is more olive than the Spartan Warrior's, for some reason.

Hoplites had to buy their own weapons as well as their own armor, but the standards were a sword, a spear and a shield, all of which this toy comes with. They're the same molds seen with the other figures, as is the scabbard that can sling across his chest. The design on the shield was left up to the individual, and was often chosen to represent their family or neighborhood. This one depicts a wild-eyed, bearded face with its tongue sticking out. A rather popular design among model-makers and historical re-enactors, this design actually represents a gorgon! Called a gorgoneia, it's a highly stylized apotropaic icon meant to confer protection upon the bearer.

The set also includes a plain Corinthian helmet, left bronze and without any crest. Basically, you can make this one figure into an officer or a foot soldier, making it an ideal choice for those people who love to build giant armies of their toys.

When you jump in a swimming pool, it's usually pretty cold, right? But after a while, it starts to feel fine, as you get used to the new environment. Similarly, the more Vitruvian HACKS we review, the less impressive they seem - not because they're not awesome (they are), but because we're getting used to the level of quality they bring. The water used to be shockingly cold, but now we barely even feel it. The Athenian Warrior isn't the flashiest figure in the series, or even in his own wave, but he's still better than anything you can buy at mass retail.

-- 07/15/16

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