It is customary for these reviews to set the scene for the figures they discuss, but that seems fairly pointless with the Vikings as almost everyone knows of their fearsome raids and eventual colonisation of parts of Europe. The box claims to cover the 9th to 11th centuries, which is the bulk of the period during which the Vikings made their name for good or ill.
As we might expect from Zvezda this set covers a bit of every element of a likely Viking raiding party or larger force. The ordinary warriors are armed with an assortment of swords, axes, spears, javelins and bows, all of which are perfectly accurate. Each man also has a sax (knife) and carries a round shield held by a central grip behind the boss, which again is absolutely fine. Clothing is the usual mixture of tunics and trousers, with a few having the luxury of a mail corselet while others have to make do with quilted clothing or simply their ordinary clothes. However most have acquired a helmet, and here again designs vary but all are authentic and well realised.
The poses are mostly the usual kind of fare but perfectly suitable nonetheless. The man thrusting with his sword is very nice, and we thought the man wielding the long broad-axe was particularly well done, although that could really be said of them all. Except one. Special mention must be made of the last figure in the first row, however, who looks, well, rather odd. Not quite running, he is probably inspired by a picture in an Osprey book, but if so then the intended pose is not particularly useful. He could perhaps be imagined as kicking down a door or similar obstacle, but while we like to see original poses we can think of others we would have preferred to this one. Also since we are looking for imperfections both the archers are holding their arrows on the wrong side of the bow, which is a fairly basic error.
The first figure in the bottom row is labelled as a berserkir. Although popular imagination sees such men as working themselves up into a frenzy and seeming to possess super-human strength, the historical reality may be much less exciting. Although not necessarily always bare-chested as is popularly supposed, this figure certainly seems particularly ferocious, and such bravado does not seem out of place here so this figure works well and certainly has plenty of life about him, as do all the poses. The middle man in the last row is clearly some sort of chieftain, and very splendid he looks too, while to his left is a man with both horn and standard. Viking standards were often based on birds, particularly ravens, but this one is engraved with a pattern that does not seem to represent anything in particular, but is none the less appropriate for that.
Once again the pictures speak for themselves in regard to the quality of these figures. Zvezda’s high standards are maintained here with excellent sharp detail and thoroughly realistic proportions and poses. Faces are great and in all cases correctly bearded, although the man with the small throwing axe looks a little odd. All the shields are separate, which aids the good poses, and all fit snugly on the hand/boss with no need for gluing.
The preferred Viking tactic of constructing a shield wall when in battle can’t be reproduced with these figures as these seem much more fluid and have plenty of movement about them. However it is this action that helps to make this such an appealing set, and the style works very well with the Emhar set too. Overall a required purchase for fans of the period.