It is the Hyksos that are credited with introducing the chariot to Egypt when they took control of lower Egypt around the middle of the 17th century BCE, and when they were expelled in the following century Egypt kept and developed this innovation. Initially they were Canaanite in style, being exceptionally light and used mostly as mobile archery platforms, with a crew of two – a driver/shield-bearer and a warrior. During the reign of Tuthmosis IV the crew began using more armour and the cab became a little heavier. The most obvious changes were the adoption of six spokes in the wheel (previously they had used four), and the increasing use of protection for the horses. As can be seen above it is this later New Kingdom chariot and crew that forms the subject of this set.
Although heavier than before this remains a light chariot and it has been well modelled here. No one design was universal but this seems very typical and nicely done, including the woven floor and the weapon cases on the sides. The horses too look good, and wear protection that was probably fabric but could conceivably be bronze. The driver is simply clothed in normal style but the warriors wear corselets of scale armour which includes a helmet of similar construction. The second warrior shown has a ring hand (which does not face the mould, so difficult for Caesar to do but well worthwhile), into which the separate weapons can be placed. Thus he could carry an axe or spear, although the bow would not work for this pose.
A very important part of the chariot was the runners – foot soldiers that accompanied the chariot and provided both protection and support. This set provides such a man, although his attitude is one of simply walking alongside the chariot rather than running to stay in contact with it. The archer figure is welcome but we would have preferred a running figure to accompany the chariot in battle. Completing the third row are two bonus civilian figures. The first is a man carrying a bag over his soldier – perhaps going off to join the pharaoh’s army for the new campaign - and the second is a woman, who looks like she may be waving him goodbye. Neither are directly related to chariots but make interesting additions to the set.
Caesar have always been remarkably consistent with the high quality of their sculpting, and these are more of the same. Very good details and nice crisp sculpting make these as good as anything on the market, so for example the scale armour is clearly defined rather than simply having a texture that suggests the correct look. Flash is at zero and the poses are good too. We have already commented on the lack of urgency of the foot warrior, and we felt his lifting of his shield looked quite unnatural, when you might have expected him to have his arm down at rest. The chariot comes in several parts, all of which fit together effortlessly and with no need for glue unless heavy usage is anticipated.
The last item on the first row is something of a mystery, with the best guess being that it is a bow case or quiver. Naturally the chariot can only accommodate the driver and one warrior, so it would have been nice to have a separate empty base to allow the spare crewman to stand on his own. Overall however this is a very attractive set which finally replaces the aged and very basic Atlantic product, and extends the rapidly expanding Caesar Ancient Egypt range with another top quality offering.
The final picture is of bonus figures only available in some copies of this set. The first depicts an Assyrian king and looks to be based on a portrait of Ashurnasirpal II (ruled 883 to 859 BCE). He wears the polo crown and holds aloft his mace as symbol of his office. The second is a Hittite king. Note that only one of these bonus figures appears in a box, and many have no bonus at all, so what you find seems to be largely random.