This set is labelled as for the 13th and 14th centuries, a period when the various Russian principalities frequently warred with each other to gain prestige, booty and land. Having no one united state made them weaker when faced with invasion from outside, although on occasion they could join together to defeat foreign aggressors. By far the most important of these foreign invasions was that of the Mongols, who devastated much of the region and settled as neighbours and overlords as the Golden Horde.
Russian military technology and taste was influenced by both Europe and the Steppe, and by central Asia after the coming of the Mongols. This produced a rich variety of forms as well as some characteristics that were peculiarly Russian. To what extent any given individual or group exhibited these influences depended to a great extent on whether they were in the east or the west of the Rus lands, and of course such styles also changed over the two centuries discussed here. What we find in this set seems to be a representation of the broad array of Russian knights, with different figures exhibiting difference styles. This allows for a good deal of diversity, which is indeed what these figures display, yet all are perfectly reasonable and accurately done. Certain items are unrepresented, but given the number of poses this is not particularly surprising nor a detriment to the set.
With such a wide range of possible styles and weapons this kind of set seems to beg for more poses than a uniformed troop might require, yet eight poses is by no means bad. The knights are using lance and sword while one is using and others are carrying bows - all perfectly well done. The last three poses - a prince, trumpeter and standard-bearer - are also nicely realised.
We expect a lot from Zvezda sculpting and as usual that is what we get in this set. The figures are beautifully proportioned, with slender and elegant lances, swords etc, while the level of detail is outstanding. As well as all the usual areas every shield has been carefully engraved with a suitable pattern, as has every saddle. The standard is a veritable riot of delicate detail, which will certainly make painting easier. In general we prefer such things to be plain to allow the customer more choice, but there is no arguing that plenty of time and skill has gone into these details, which make the unpainted set all the more attractive. The only assembly (apart from putting man on horse) is to insert the lance into the hand of the man on the second row (which is a perfect fit) and to attach the cloak on the 'prince' figure. This item cannot be seen in our photo, but when viewed from a better angle this adds some drama to the figure although it does rather force him to be either at full charge or in a very high wind (after all, cloaks were generally fairly heavy items). There is absolutely no flash on man nor beast, but particularly observant readers will have noticed that once again all the riders have pegs on their legs and the horses holes in their sides. Our complaints about this unnecessary practice have been made many times before so there is no need to repeat them here. Sufficed to say the best thing to do is remove most of each peg so you can mount the figure properly (particularly the archer, where one peg fails to reach the hole anyway).
Once again we find gloriously made figures in a Zvezda box. The effort made to add fine detail to almost every surface verges on overkill but certainly produces some very striking figures. No accuracy problems and a reasonable selection of poses make this another highly appealing set for those interested in medieval Eastern Europe.