First off, the Hastati. The most obvious differences here are the different stance and the lack of a bronze plate on the back of the MM. The plumes on the helmet are also somewhat different and the shields are slightly different, but not by much. On close inspection, the MM are beefier than the Essex and would actually stand a bit taller if it weren't for the more dynamic pose, but from arms length they mix with no problems at all.
|Essex on the left and MM on the right|
|Essex still on the left|
|This shot shows the tunics off quite well|
Next are the Principes. These are the figures that are the most similar to look at from a distance. When you get a bit closer, though, I think the mail looks more finely detailed and regular on the Essex than the MM, which is what drew me to the conclusion that MM were a bit rougher round the edges than the Essex. Also the tunic and mail are a bit shorter on the MM, but the shields are again quite compatible despite the MM being a bit more oval. Both sets model the Montefortino helmet quite closely to the pictures I've seen, but again, the MM have higher, more impressive feathers on the crest. As with the Hastati, the MM are bulkier then the Essex, but will mix and match OK on the tabletop. I suppose that comes as no surprise!
|Just to mess with you the MM are on the left in these pics|
|This angle shows how the Principes will mix well|
|This angle shows the difference in texture of the mail. The Essex are a |
bit dull, though, due to slightly too liberal application of matt varnish!
My personal preference for the Hastati lies with the MM due to the more action-like pose and the lack of the back-plate which shows off the tunic a bit more, but that is not to say I suddenly dislike the Essex. The Principes I am less inclined towards a preference due the similarities, but I think the MM slightly win out due the pose and the somewhat more imposing crests. If I had to only buy one of these ranges I would probably go with MM, but I think Essex are maybe a shade cheaper and are by no means a poor alternative. Also, Essex often have 3 for 2 sales on DBA armies. The ratio of troop types in a DBA army mean that this would be a very cheap way of putting together a core force and is how I gained at least half of the legionaries I have!