As is often the case with large empires, the army of the Persians was made up of contingents from all its parts, each of which were dressed and equipped in their own tradition. In addition a large proportion were mercenaries, men who again would have their own distinctive appearance, and by far the most important of these were the Greeks. This set does not attempt to portray all these troops, but instead concentrates on the native Persians, whose appearance was the most easily recognisable as being 'Persian'. Indeed the Zvezda box refers to the 'Immortals', although these figures are usable beyond that elite unit.
The packaging states these figures are for the fifth to the fourth centuries BCE, which means the troops should be dressed in Median style, as indeed they are, with short tunics and trousers. The headgear is the tiara, a cloth cap with flaps that hung down and often covered the lower face. Some of the figures are wearing armour in the normal style of the time, but many that appear unarmoured may well be wearing it under their tunics. The officer is wearing a sleeved overcoat, which he is using as a cloak, and the standard-bearer has the wolf-skin headdress as a sign of his rank.
The weaponry reflects the range utilised by the Persians. The bow was very important, and several men here are using this while several others are equipped with one. Four of the poses are of spearmen, who were mainly used to protect the bowmen. To help them they carry the spara, a large wicker shield. Both spear and spara are separate and fit into ring hands and peg holes respectively. In both cases the fit is good and firm. The men with javelins and swords are all cast as one piece. The officer carries a sagaris, a pick-like axe, while the standard-bearer is carrying a standard bearing the image of a falcon, thought to be one of the popular images used on standards.
All the poses are good, with the spearmen prodding with their weapons, the javelin men throwing theirs and those with swords and axes engaging in close quarter combat. The level of animation is of the usual superb Zvezda quality, with the running figures showing plenty of action, but all are very well done. Detail too is beyond reproach, and there is no flash or excess to spoil the look. The Persians sometimes constructed a makeshift wall using their spara shields to allow more men to use their bows, and this set has thoughtfully provided props which attach to the shield, allowing it to be free-standing if required.
As already mentioned, this set does not attempt to portray all elements of the Persian army, but it is surprising that no slingers were included as these were also an important arm. Still these figures are of the highest quality, and so far as the available evidence can attest, are completely accurate. A most beautiful set.