If you had been living in the 13th Century, and you were anywhere from Europe to Japan, then the most terrifying news you could have heard was that the Mongols were coming. By the end of that century the Mongols had conquered an Empire larger than any yet seen, including all of China and vast areas of land over Asia and Eastern Europe. This set is one of two produced at similar times depicting these awesome armies.
Mongol armies were generally mounted, which gave them incredible mobility, but on occasions they also included infantry, sometimes that of conquered peoples. This set contains both mounted and dismounted warriors, with slightly more of the former. The four foot poses are of swordsmen, a man charging with a lance and a kneeling archer. Two of the mounted men are also archers, with the rest carrying a mace, a lance and a standard. The bow was the most important weapon in the Mongol armies, so it is appropriate that it is well represented here. Some of the mounted men carry a shield, though it is believed that only dismounted men carried them.
All the figures are dressed in coats with helmets or caps and in most cases armour on top. This is authentic wear for these men and has been accurately modelled, though it seems that armour was only used by a few warriors, perhaps 10% of the army. Still the various styles adopted here fit what is known about Mongol costume and look very realistic. Even little touches like the heel-less boots are correctly sculpted.
Mongol horses were tough, short and stocky and capable of amazing feats of endurance. Some are thought to have been armoured, though other observers say they were not. This set includes both kinds, with the harness and armour correctly shown. The horses are indeed a little smaller than other horses made by Zvezda, though their appearance is much like any other horse and lacks the stocky impression. Several have the rope, axe and bottles that warriors carried, but these items should be on all of them.
One feature of note is the lance for the mounted and dismounted charging warriors. It is supplied separately, includes the hook for pulling enemies off their horses and is correctly sized at about 4 metres long. With so many sets including shortened lances it is nice to see the proper length here. Better yet, the problem with the Russian Knights set whereby the lances were buckled on the sprue has been overcome as these are perfectly straight and usable.
The figures have a slightly chunky feel to them (which is good), with detail being good rather than excellent. However, this set has clearly been very well researched, and whilst our knowledge of the Mongol warrior is not complete, this set is a splendid depiction of these fearsome soldiers (but less so of their mounts). There is however too much emphasis on the armoured elite at the expense of the unarmoured majority of warriors - a common complaint of many sets.