More Projects than a Hydra has heads

54mm Gladiators

Mosaic, 4th century BC, showing a retiarius or...

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Remember me picking up the Italeri 54mm plastic gladiators at HISTORICON? I started painting them last night. Italeri basically either starts with big figures and scales them down, or vice versa, because the 1/32 (54mm) kit is basically two identical sprues from their 1/72 (20mm) release, “made all big and stuff”.

Italeri 1/72 scale gladiators, couldn’t find a picture of the larger figs. The poses are identical

Italeri released their 1/72 gladiators in a big box that included a chariot, a “death stroke” vignette, and one other retiarus pose (the figure on the right above), combined with the rest of the figures on the sprues above and below. Apparently they have released the remaining figures as a follow on to the 1/32 scale release. I don’t know as I’ll buy the second box; all I would be getting that I could use would be the other Retiaurus figure. On the other hand, I am very pleased with the 1/32 gladiator set they did release. The repetition of sprues gives me two of everything, but that can be handled with a paint job. Besides, that gives me TWO lions and TWO bears. It wouldn’t take much to find a tiger in 54mm scale, and then my gladiators will be singing “Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh MY!” With that said, I do have to take issue with the poses on some of these figures.

Second part of Italeri 1/72 scale gladiators, couldn’t find a picture of the larger figs. The poses are identical

The Retiaurus (net and trident guy, second from left) has his trident on the ground at rest, with no net is in sight. The axe wielder (left of him) looks even MORE at rest, almost like he is having a coffee break.. Otherwise, I love this set.

I didn’t know this before doing a Google on the subject, but Irregular Miniatures makes a small line of 54mm Gladiators. I have no experience with them but I already prefer their Retiarus to the plastic ones I have. So I will at least get that, and maybe one of their myrmillos.

The contra-Retiarus, Samnite and Secutor all appear to be interesting choices. I certainly may find my interest piqued by Irregulars one of these days.

NOTE: if you know of a good loose netting or mesh, roughly in scale, that would make a good net for a 54mm Retiarus, please let me know.

Last, and sadly, Alpha Miniatures has given up the ghost and will no longer be operating as a company. This New Zealand company made some quirky gladiator figures. One thing I like about them is that they truly covered the waterfront in terms of choices and they usually offered up more than one figure in each category. On the down side, some of their sculpts are decidedly… er.. unheroic looking, I guess. Like flabby, balding gladiators.

This may be just my perception. There certainly are some heroic sculpts, as this effort on the Miniatures Page Painting Studio attests to. On the plus side, I managed to scoop up as much as I could get in Alpha’s going out of business sale (including two dwarf gladiators) and I can attest that they fit in very well with the Italeri plastics.

Pegoso Models (from Italy) has four beautiful g;ladiator sculpts in 54mm, a Secutor, a Myrmillion, a Laequarius (spearman), and “Spartacus”. Simply gorgeous. Check out this detail!

These are great models and Pegoso makes other Ancients that will certainly do for gladiators. Alas, they are priced far to high for me to afford.

Bronze Age Miniatures has a small and growing 54mm line, nothing period specific yet, but they are promising “Greeks and Romans” and they appear to have some fantasy figures in the works, too!

Rosedale has some cool Gladiator figs, but really, these are 100mm so you would have to buy all of them and just game with them.

Verlinden has a sweet Gladiator vignette that is wonderful and in scale, but essentially useless for gaming.

If you want to go in a more, er, “whimsical” direction, there’s always STIKFAS, which makes a dandy ROMAN LEGIONAIRE FIGURE that can be customized with gladiator gear. At 19.99 each, this might be an expensive game, but since gladiator fighters are usually small scale affairs, you don’t need that many to get started.

That’s all I have for review at the moment. I haven’t ordered the Irregulars yet. I won’t order them until I finish painting what I have in the hopper now.


There’s a bunch of small cottage industry rule sets for Gladiator combat. I have RUDIS by Tabletop Games, which I have always liked. I also have Gladiator by Fantasy Games Unlimited which I thought was cumbersome and headache inducing. There are some big professional efforts, like the confusingly named Gladiator Wars from Westwind (which I have not heard many good things about) and em4’s own gladiator in a box game, Ludus Gladiatorus. Likely, however, I will use Steve Gibson’s homemade Gibsonsystem Gladiator rules for this game, they do a fine job of depicting “blood on the sand…”

Note: “Zgeist” has collected a lot of the same information on gladiator figures and rules on his blog, HERE

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3 responses to “More Projects than a Hydra has heads

  1. I believe there’s a Web site or two for Really, Really Big Gladiators and the Men Who Love Them.

  2. typical

  3. Look here:

    At the very bottom I list some other gladiator rules I found when I was searching…