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Coates & Shine

Set 8143

Indian Chariot

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2008
Contents 3 chariots with 15 figures and 6 horses
Poses 5 poses, 2 horse poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Soft)
Colours Light Tan
Average Height 24.5 mm (= 1.77 m)

Review

Chariots were introduced to India by the Aryans during the mid second millennium BCE, and as in more western regions they came to dominate the battlefield. India was a patchwork of kingdoms and other states who fought each other at various times, ensuring there was no shortage of practice in the arts of war, and many states maintained a chariot force (the south had few good horses and therefore few chariots, while the mountainous north-west had none as the terrain was unsuitable). The chariot was the most prestigious part of the army, and was usually ridden by a wealthy noble. The evidence suggests they were generally quite heavy vehicles, possibly quite slow, and were often deployed in front of the army as a screen. Their role was in large measure psychological, but they were intended to charge and break up enemy formations in conjunction with the cavalry.

Indian chariots seem to have come in various sizes, and both two- and four-horse teams are known. This one has a two-horse team, but is still quite a substantial vehicle. The design is authentic, with the tall sides that almost reach to the necks of the crew (as illustrated here and much higher than the box artwork suggests).

Although ancient writings sometimes attribute chariots with up to six crew (probably including dismounted attendants), a vehicle this size would have had a crew of two or three. In this set three figures have been provided, which are (from left to right) a driver, bowman and high status warrior. As can be seen all have a base (rather than pegs and holes in the chariot floor), and it is quite a tight squeeze if all three are in the chariot together, but perhaps it was also so in the real thing. The driver and bowman are fairly minimally clothed as usual, but the high status individual has scale armour and a helmet wrapped in a turban. Again such things were indicative of wealth and status, but quite reasonable in this context. The warrior is supposed to hold the separate spear/javelin supplied.

The bottom row shows something of a surprise. These figures are meant as extras for other Indian sets made by this company. On the left we find a man who can only be riding an elephant, and is an addition to their Indian Elephant set, while the other is merely standing holding something (perhaps the second spear or the parasol included in this set. This second figure could also be used for the chariot, although it is labelled for the Indian Infantry set.

Having said there are no historical problems here we come to the much more subjective issue of sculpting and style. The sculpting style used in these Indian sets is not to our liking, but that is a personal preference naturally. The fairly chunky appearance will please some more than others, and these are quite well detailed, but these look somehow odd and some of the poses like the warrior look very awkward (although make more sense when seen in the chariot itself). The horses too seem very strange, although one odd feature can be explained; their tails are meant to be tied to the traces, although of course the traces themselves are not modelled here. However all the figures are completely free of flash or other excess plastic, and while the soft plastic is not ideal for such a kit the chariot parts go together quite easily and in many cases with no need of glue.

While the style may provoke different reactions this is an historically accurate model that is well engineered and easy to put together. With this set Coates and Shine have completed their depiction of all the major elements of an ancient Indian army.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 8
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 7
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"Ancient Armies" - Concord - Tim Newark and Angus McBride - 9789623616461
"Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars" - Wargames Research Group - Duncan Head - 9780950029948
"Military Costume and Accoutrements in Ancient India" - Manohar - Uma Prasad Thapliyal - 9788173049552

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