THINGS TO AVOID
Everything on this page is FORBIDDEN, UNAPPROVED, UNUSABLE, AND UTTERLY IRREPARABLE! 10/2/10
There are HUGE numbers of things being sold as "authentic" or "accurate" "Roman" "replicas". Don't believe a word you read. The vast majority are not historically accurate at all, or may look "Roman" to a non-expert while having serious historical problems. Below are some of the most common offending items, all of which are completely banned from Legio XX use and display. We do not even use them as "loaners". Really, they are not even "better than nothing"! If you are thinking of buying any of them for reenacting or living history displays, please do not. If you already have any, you will improve your accuracy greatly by retiring them from reenacting use permanently, and investing in something more accurate. This will also greatly enhance your reputation among other reenactors. See the various Handbook pages listed above for better reproductions, and the Suppliers page for craftsmen and vendors.
If you want to make yourself safe from these undesirable items, it is worth studying their flaws, so that they become instantly recognizable. If you think they "look good", you need to step away from any modern sense of attractiveness, and ask yourself if they resemble the originals in their construction details and appearance. The answer is No. With experience, a good reenactor develops an eye for authenticity, and things only look good if they are historically accurate. Hollywood glitz and gilding cease to please, because they are nothing like the real thing.
The main flaws of each piece are listed in its description. They are generally problems that cannot be fixed without more effort than would be needed to build a whole new piece. So none of these items can be converted into anything usable for a reenactor. If you are only buying equipment for use in some sort of stage production, church show, or fantasy setting, natually the stricter rules of living history need not apply, but you may find that the more accurate reproductions cost less!
Museum Replicas LTD (MRL), owned and supplied by Windlass Steelcrafts in India, takes a beating here. Almost nothing they produce is salvageable, in fact it looks like extra effort was made to make some items less accurate. This is a shame, since they were offered help in improving their Roman products years ago but refused it. Other company names to avoid like the plague are Denix, Marto, "Gladius", Artesania, Knight's Edge, Martespa, Variacraft, and the Noble Collection. These manufacturers and the vendors that serve them might be honest businesses with excellent customer service--my only complaint is that their Roman products do not adequately reflect reality.
We are getting some good reproductions from Deepeeka in India, through various vendors. But even they sell their share of iffy, questionable, or downright unusable items (including their own versions of the Troopers helmet). Contact the Commander at matthew_amt AT yahooo DOT com for a full critique of Deepeeka ancient products.
Oh, and by the way, even if a company is selling good reproductions, do NOT trust any little "history lessons" their catalogs or websites may include!
HELMETS TO AVOID
| First off, the infamous
Helmet", invented by Windlass Steelcraft and copied by every Asian and
Pacific junk factory since. The eyebrows meet in the middle, and
are soldered on. The neckguard is domed (rather than flat or
and lacks its steps. The ridges across the back of the skull are
too large and rounded. Cheekpieces are too domed, and lack proper
raised panels; hinges welded to edge of bowl rather than riveted
Brow reinforce should be either flat and thick, or thin with
front edge, not both. Earguards too narrow. Bosses at sides
are not in right place for cheekpiece hinge rivets. Crest is too
narrow, should not have built-in post, and improperly
Hair might not be well-secured. Comes in transverse crest style,
as well, or with brass eyebrows, etc.
Join the Crusade to abolish these things from reenacting!
|Deepeeka's "Charioteer" and "Cavalier" helmets. Might be based on something from "Gladiator"...|
| Four more misfires by
"Imperial Gallic G" at left has soldered-on eyebrows that meet in the
brass browband too wide, depth behind ear too much. Same problems
with hinges and fittings as Trooper's helmet.
At right is a knock-off of a good Deepeeka helmet. Big rounded ridges at the back, cheekpieces not very good, crest and attachments all wrong. They even copied the incorrect rings that Deepeeka put on the neckguard...
| Left, MRL/Windlass
About the worst Attic style helmet I've seen! Black bands and
Browplate really out of place. Gross.
Right, their "Imperial Gallic H", which is really an Italic type G. Still has bad ridges and some other minor problems--Deepeeka makes a better version.
|This one is from a Czech company. Not good shape, especially cheekpieces and neckguard. No eyebrows. Bad ridging, very bad fittings, earguards have no flange, brow reinforce way too wide.||"Trooper" knock-off by Paul Chen. All the usual problems (though it lacks eyebrows entirely), and might even be stainless steel.|
SWORDS TO AVOID
|Three variations on a theme. Zinc blades with incorrect shape and fullers (grooves). Schlock cast hilts. Curiously, some of the scabbard parts are rather accurate copies of originals, but might be cast zinc rather than embossed brass sheet.|
|Bad blade shape, probably stainless steel, with etched and gilded designs. Schlock hilt.||Probably supposed to be an officer's sword...||Yuck. Poor attempt at a hispaniensis scabbard, but blade more like a spatha. Very questionable hilt.||Above, Deepeeka #3311--Sort of Fulham blade, but has
Steel guard plate, grip too long. Below, terrible blade shape,
brass pommel and guard. Same scabbard for both--long point like a Mainz
scabbard but with separate chape and throat like a Pompeii.
rings incorrectly mounted on little finials. Scabbard is very
to modify, since the brass is heavy and strongly brazed together.
Please avoid--really not worth it!
|Some of these are pretty good for American Civil War
(artillery swords). But not Roman...
||MRL "Maintz". Bad blade shape. Thick steel guard plate. Grip is reportedly plastic! Scabbard is Pompeii style, with cheesy decoration.||MRL Pompeii. This is about the only item on this page which can be modified with decent results, see Gladius Hints page. Costs more than better Deepeeka swords.||Hanwei gladius. Same general problems as MRL
"Maintz". Really bad suspension loops.
||What is this? Apparently comes in dagger size, too.|
ARMOR TO AVOID
|The infamous Museum Replicas/Windlass lorica. Based on the old interpretation of the Newstead lorica, but too long, too heavy, poor fit. Shoulder guards too wide, mid-collar plate made in one piece with backplate. Fittings may be flimsy. We now know the Newstead lorica had large lobed hinges and a completely different closure system--click here for details.|
|The way the hinge tubes stick up from the surface shows that these are converted modern hinges, made in a single thick layer. Their shape is also incorrect, with only 3 rivets on each side. Straps lack hinges, and buckles ar modern. Lacing loops are wrong. Too many shoulder guard plates, and collar plates overlap upper shoulder guards. Plates may be too wide, as well.|
| Looks like a very bad
old-style Newstead with a very bad hamata chest hook stuck on!
Lacing loops wrong, collar plates are enormous and overlap shoulder
DAGGERS TO AVOID
|In the place of, uh, honor goes the Deepeeka
AH3264E, the "Embossed" Pugio. The scabbard is a bad
interpretation of a completely hypothetical design. The blade and
hilt are salvageable (see the Pugio page),
but the scabbard is NOT. Trust me. It cannot be fixed, and
it is NOT "better than nothing". Avoid at all costs. Oh,
and the "Royal" version is even worse!
|Zinc blade, hilt, and scabbard. Decoration all incorrectly done. Your belt will look better with no dagger at all than with this one.||MRL/Windlass. Flat blade with machined grooves. Copper hilt over epoxy filler. Bad copper suspension loops.||Early Deepeeka pugio. Similar to MRL, but worse.||Paul Chen pugio. Impressive at first glance, but blade is iffy, hilt is dubious, and the scabbard has a black background and is not inlaid.|
BELTS TO AVOID
|MRL/Windlass belt--leather, apron straps, studs, terminals, and buckle all terrible.||Deepeeka's first belt--plates, studs, terminals, and buckle all wrong, apron too long and bottom ends should be even.||Parts from that Deepeeka belt.|
CLOTHING AND MISC. ITEMS TO AVOID
|MRL "Roman shirt". Cotton, has pteruges (flaps) attached to the shoulders!||MRL "Civilian tunic". Cotton, wrong shape and trim.||MRL "Stola". Cotton, has drawstrings at neck and waist! Gads...||MRL greaves. Cavalry type with hinged knees, but not good fit on most people.|
|Windlass "square pilum. Junction block glued to wood
shaft, and wood is stained. Metal shank is too thick and
untapered, and point is welded on. No ferrule or buttspike.
||Point is WAY too big, shaped like a spearhead. Shank is
untapered and too thick. Steel ball weight? (Some versions
have BIG weight!) Grooves turned in shaft, should be cord
wrapping. Stained wood?
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