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Orion

Set 72032

Kievan Rus Infantry

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2009
Contents 52 figures
Poses 13 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Silver
Average Height 24.5 mm (= 1.77 m)

Review

Medieval Russian princes, of which there were many, had three main sources to call upon when they wished to raise troops for war. The first were by far the best as they were the professional soldiers, the personal retinues of the prince and loyal to him alone. Naturally their numbers were relatively small, and when more were required the polk or town militia might be called upon, which were not professional soldiers but were often wealthy enough to be fairly well armed and armoured, and if sufficiently motivated could make very passable soldiers. Orion have already made a set of professional retainers with their Rus Foot Knights, so this set complements that with this lower level of Rus soldier.

Although the set title mentions the state of Kiev, which dominated the Rus states for a time, there was little difference between such soldiers serving any state, although such differences as there were were mainly divided between north and south. These figures then are suitable for any Rus state, and for accuracy they are very good. The actual appearance of these men would depend on the wealth of the individual or town, so could vary greatly. Some of these figures wear full mail armour and a helmet, and would be no different to the elite druzhina knights. Others have quilted armour, while some have no more than a thick coat or tunic. A couple of figures have no more than fur-trimmed caps while one man is bare-headed. At the other end of the body we find a mix of boots, leggings and trousers, but everything here is good.

The majority of such men would have been armed principally with spears or bows, and a fair number of both are to be found in this set. Quite what the last figure in the top row is doing with his spear held up at his left ear we cannot guess, but it is a peculiar pose in an otherwise satisfactory selection of spearmen. Also on show is a very relaxed individual resting his large axe on the ground, and another apparently aiming a javelin, while the bottom row is mostly devoted to the missile troops. We liked all the archers, although the third figure in our picture has such a short arrow that he cannot draw this bow in order to fire it! The crossbow was certainly used by such Rus infantry although it was never particularly popular, so one figure so armed is about right here. This man however is rather awkward in moving forward, presumably done so as to allow the crossbow to be sculpted sideways. Finally our bare-headed friend completes the selection, wielding nothing more than a club and clearly at the bottom of the infantry pecking order.

The odd spearman and the crossbowman are the weakest poses of the bunch, although we were not impressed with the man resting his spear on his cranium (third figure, top row), nor the javelin man getting his beard entangled in his javelin, but the rest of the poses are fine. We would have liked to have seen at least one archer aiming up (as would normally be the case, to avoid his own shield wall to his front), however, and the usual complaint of shields being held sideways makes for some rather flat poses.

For the most part the detail on these figures is superb, with lovely definition on the mail and some excellent faces and beards. However hands seem to get very vague in places, and some of the spear points are extremely rough. Also in places there is an annoying amount of flash to be removed, so the admirable work in some areas is rather spoilt in others.

The overall look of the set suggests the research has been well done, with accurate clothing and weaponry, and a good mix of older round shields with newer kite shields. The lack of expensive swords is good too, with most having either an axe or simply a dagger as a secondary weapon. In a bizarre move the sculptor has unaccountably made the crossbow loaded with a bolt, despite being vertical and clearly on the move. It’s a small point that can be resolved, yet it is a careless mistake that common sense could have avoided.

During the period in question the importance of the infantry declined, and mounted men constituted the majority of most Rus armies, particularly when facing mounted armies such as the Mongols. However there was always some infantry element, and this is a fairly respectable depiction of them despite some poor pose choices. The contrast between the best and weakest areas of sculpting is hard to understand, but this is still a useful set for an area of Russia’s history that is fast gaining a very decent representation in this hobby.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 6
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 9
Mould 8

Further Reading
Books
"Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath - 9780904417432
"Armies of Medieval Russia 750-1250" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.333) - David Nicolle - 9781855328488
"Armies of the Middle Ages Volume 2" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath
"Kalka River 1223" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.98) - David Nicolle & V Shpakovsky - 9781841762333
"Lake Peipus 1242" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.46) - David Nicolle - 9781855325531
"Medieval Russian Armies 1250-1500" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.367) - Viacheslav Shpakovsky & David Nicolle - 9781841762340

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