This set is subtitled for the 16th and 17th centuries, a period that began with the Ottomans enjoying an unmatched reputation for excellence in artillery. The really big guns inevitably took much of the attention, but from the early 16th century the Ottomans adopted the European field carriage, giving their smaller guns much better mobility, which was particularly important when a battle was expected rather than a siege. However during the two centuries in question the European powers improved their artillery such that it matched and in places surpassed that of the Empire.
As is usual with Mars this set provides six poses for each gun. The first is rather odd as it is of a man holding what looks like a spear with presumably a match wrapped round it, so he is using this as a linstock. The second man holds a scoop, and the third another, much shorter but more typical linstock, again with match wound round it. The fourth holds a round for the gun. The fifth man (second row) is a peculiar piece however. He holds a rod at chin height, but what this is and why he is doing it is hard to guess. The box illustration shows a similar man ramming down the barrel, but this figure holds the rod way too high for either of the guns in this set, so we must assume the box shows us the intention, but the sculptor was not up to the task of delivering it. Instead we have a figure that is largely useless. The final figure is waving a mace about, and from his costume must be someone in charge. While the mace was a common indicator of rank, why an artillery officer would be waving one next to a gun is beyond us.
As can be seen each box includes four carriages and eight barrels, so there is some choice, which is always good. The carriage follows the standard design of the day, but is the most appalling model to make. You may well have looked at our picture and thought it looked wrong because the wheels are much too far from the carriage itself. Well, we thought that too, but that is the only way it can be assembled. As it was, one of the wheels has no hole drilled through it, so we had to do that ourselves, and the other also needed enlarging before it would accept the end of the axle. In reality the wheels should be placed much further along the axle, but this is so thick that you simply could not enlarge the hole in the wheel enough; you would end up completely removing the hub. So again, it looks like the intention was reasonable but the reality has gone terribly wrong. Either way, it is a horrible little model which also looks to have a surprisingly short carriage length.
The two gun barrels are clearly shown above, and it is clear these are also far from acceptable. They both seem to be of a similar calibre, so the main difference is in the design on the barrel. The slightly thicker of the two (on the left) is poorly balanced and so falls forward rather than resting on the carriage, so will need to be glued to stay in place. We have already observed that the barrels are far too low for the man allegedly ramming down them, but the shot held by the fourth man is also as wide or wider than both barrels, so clearly absurd here.
Mars sculpting has never been anything to recommend it, and this set is typical. The figures are thick, crude and extremely ugly. A couple couldn’t be described as having a face at all, and the rest are horribly disfigured at best. Clothing is bulky and not well done, and as usual hands are really just a mess. The fact that they are rather too large for Ottoman men of the period does not help either. One positive is there is almost no flash, and very little unwanted extra plastic, but that does nothing to salvage these deeply unpleasant figures.
We couldn’t find any problems with accuracy here, which is something, but the ugly and crude figures will put many people off from the start. How Mars could make so many basic mistakes like the carriage that won’t go together, and the man ramming something far above the barrel, we cannot guess. However it is indicative of the very poor quality of this set, which is made all the worse when compared to the very good sets from RedBox depicting the same subject.