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Strelets

Set 103

Dacian Cavalry

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2008
Contents 12 figures and 12 horses
Poses 12 poses, 6 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown
Average Height 23.5 mm (= 1.7 m)

Review

Dacia, so far as the evidence seems to suggest, was not rich in cavalry, and what there was consisted mainly of light skirmishers with javelins. When the need arose, Dacia called on their Sarmation neighbours to bolster their resources. Quite how a sophisticated society like the Dacians, on the edge of the Steppe, failed to have much interest in heavy cavalry is difficult to understand, but in truth there are many unknowns on this subject today. A quick scan of the figures in this set is enough to see that these are not light skirmishers, so it might well include the Sarmation allies that Dacia might field.

Some of these figures wear the simple clothes that would have been typical of peoples in the region at the time of Dacia’s final wars, but many are wearing mail armour and a variety of helmets. This kind of variety must be to some extent speculative as the evidence is far from comprehensive, but we would have to say there seems no specific reason to doubt any particular item of clothing or armour here. The weapons, however, are a different matter. Swords and javelins are quite acceptable but several of the figures are carrying the falx, a two-handed curved blade that could do terrible damage. However by the nature of how it had to be handled it was an infantry weapon, so why mounted men, and Sarmations at that, have been given this we do not know. A smaller version of this weapon, the sica, also existed, but again this was not a mounted man’s weapon as it could not have been handled properly while on a horse. The shields are mostly oval, which is well documented, but there are some round ones, which would seem reasonable too.

The horses too present a worry. One has a simple saddle cloth with no restraining straps, which seems strange but such straps could be painted on, while another has a proper saddle and more sophisticated harness which might be the property of a particularly wealthy or well-travelled noble. The remaining four horses however have an animal pelt thrown over them, for which there seems to be no evidence at all for the Dacians or Sarmations. Dacia was not a primitive society, and knew how to harness a horse when it needed to, so these animals seem completely out of place here.

Some of the horse poses are a little suspect, but the men are less so. Given our misgivings about some of the weapons the poses are OK, and include a man with a horn in the style of the Celtic carnyx and another with a Sarmation vexillum standard.

The sculpting is not too bad, with some nice work on some of the cloaks and shields. Finer details like the texture of mail and the hair and beards of the men are quite well done and proportions are reasonable, but there are oddities like the carnyx, which seems to point down rather than out. The riders fit their horses well, and the flash and mould lines are at a minimal level.

The infantry weapons and the animal skins are inappropriate here, but what’s left is not too bad. That is hardly a glowing endorsement for any set, so perhaps we should just say that it is quite good in parts and very poor in others.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 6
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 7
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Rome's Enemies: Germanics and Dacians" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.129) - Peter Wilcox - 9780850454734
"The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" - Wargames Research Group - Phil Barker - 9780904417173

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