In recent years there has been a lot of discussion, and some opposition, to genetically modified food. What many people do not seem to realise is man has been genetically modifying his food, both crops and animals, for thousands of years. While modern scientific advances have changed the nature of this manipulation, the fact is that most if not all the farm animals we would consider as normal today would be viewed with wonder by farmers of a few centuries ago. In short animals, or at least domesticated animals, have changed more than many realise over the past few centuries.
Whatever form they take these animals have been a fundamental part of human life for thousands of years, and although these days they are often kept out of sight in intensive farms their importance remains as strong as ever. In centuries past different systems of agriculture have usually meant man and beast living in close proximity, and so until the relatively recent rise of large urban areas the human world has also been liberally stocked with farm animals. Indeed many armies such as that of Napoleon relied on this to supplement or replace their poor supply arrangements, and many armies would have taken with them herds of animals as food 'on the hoof'. All of which is justification, if it were needed, for a review of this set of farm animals from Pegasus.
Domesticated animals have been done before (see below), and can also be obtained from model railway sources, but this seems to be a pretty good set to add to those that have gone before. The larger animals such as cattle, oxen, pigs and sheep are all obvious choices, while the goats, dogs, and small animals are both worthwhile and add to the appeal of the set. All are of an appropriate size, which means that for the creatures on the bottom row in particular the pieces are extremely small. The final bird, which we understand to be a dove (which was kept for meat and eggs mainly), is 3mm from head to tail and 4 mm tall.
The set has no date, which is only natural. Given the changing shape and size of domesticated livestock an expert would be able to tell you for what period each of these animals might be most appropriate, but we do not have that expertise. All we can say is they all look correct to our uneducated eye, which implies they are best suited to the more recent history of farming.
We are on firmer ground when discussing the quality of the production for this set. Everything looks to be beautifully done, down to the plumage on the smallest pieces. The horns of the oxen are a separate piece but otherwise there is no assembly here, yet Pegasus have done an admirable job with the legs of the notoriously difficult quadrupeds. The small two-legged fowl were clearly more difficult because their legs were so slender at this scale that they would not have survived, so here there is excess plastic between the legs. However it would take a very adventurous modeller to choose to remove that! There is a fairly small amount of flash in some places but these are generally quite clean. Those animals without bases stand on their own without need of one, although for the donkey in particular it takes very little to topple over.
This set delivers what it promises very well and is a considerable improvement on the old Airfix offering. While a peaceful civilian setting might be the most obvious use for these figures, it is easy to imagine them also being accidental witness to some military action down the years too.