For this set Strelets have referred back to their Russian history and produced figures for the much celebrated Alexander Nevsky. Alexander (1220 - 1263) defeated the Swedes (1240), Teutonic Knights (1242) and Lithuanians (1245), but recognised the overwhelming power of the Mongols and spared his people their wrath by cooperating with them. Up until this product appeared the only set depicting Russian warriors of this time was the Zvezda Russian Knights, which claims to cover two centuries but was surely designed with Alexander in mind.
The Zvezda set is not without merit but it seems Strelets wanted to add to it, and particularly with spearmen. The spear was one of the main weapons, and 12 of the 18 foot poses carry this. Our picture only shows a cut-down view of each of these figures, but it can be seen that the poses are a fair mix and all quite suitable. The rest of the poses are more of a brief selection of the other common weapons of the day - no more can be achieved with only six poses anyway, and most of these are also covered in the Zvezda set. Some of these poses are quite flat, particularly the axe man, but we much liked the man with the standard.
The remainder of the box is filled with an assortment of mounted men. Cavalry was less of a major component in Alexander's army but it certainly had a role to play. Again we find an assortment of weapons, all of which are perfectly authentic. One or more of these figures, particularly the archer, might not be Russian at all but one of the allies or mercenaries to be found in many Russian armies of the time. The horses for these men all seem to be moving rapidly forward, which matches the stance of the riders well.
Novgorod and the other Russian domains had long been influenced by the diverse cultures that surrounded them, not the least of which were Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, the Steppe peoples and Byzantium. One result was a unique mixture of styles in terms of costume and weaponry, and that style has been captured well here. The quite typical Russian helmets are much in evidence, and most of the men wear mail or quilted armour, although scale or lamellar armour is also correctly present. Some of this has quite an Eastern look to it, while other items look more Viking, which is as it should be. By Western European standards this style was quite old-fashioned, but distinctly Russian. Shields are mostly the old kite shape or simply round, but a few are rectangular with a central ridge ('keel') known as 'small Lithuanian pavise'. Plate armour was just beginning to appear in Russia at this time, and in this set this is shown with some simple chest and back plates on some of the mounted men. In terms of authenticity there are no problems with this set.
While we have already mentioned some flat poses it must be said the general level of sculpting is some of the best Strelets has ever produced. For the most part detail is very sharp and clear, and if the style is not of the highest standards it is certainly pretty good. Some shields are separate, but these are also nicely done and fit onto the figures well. The spears, seen as light brown in our pictures, are naturally also separate, and fit either ring or cupped hands. The ring hands are a firm fit, but gluing is necessary for the cupped hands. As with the recent set of Army of Robert Bruce the passage for the spear between the hands is not always clear, causing it to be bent and unrealistic, but in this case the problem is limited to only a couple of poses. The spears themselves are 62mm (4.5 metres) in length - far longer than they need be for Russian spears - but they are easily cut to whatever length is desired, and they are at least quite straight. Flash is largely non-existent, so this is a fine sculpting job from Strelets.
While various aspects like the straight swords suggest more of a European than an Asian influence, which is quite correct for Alexander and Novgorod, these figures would not be out of place in any Russian army of the time. The separate spears and shields mean there is a fair amount of setup time once the box is opened, but the result is a pretty reasonable set of figures. Once again we despair of some of the Strelets horse poses, and a more balanced representation of Alexander's army would be achieved by combining this set with that of Zvezda, but this set has some charm and will doubtless find a home in future models of the exploits of one of Russia's greatest heroes.