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Atlantic

Set 1510

Greek Cavalry

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1977
Contents Varying number of pieces
Poses 4 poses, 6 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Light Orange, Light Tan
Average Height 25 mm (= 1.8 m)

Review

At a time when most horses were not big enough or strong enough to bear the weight of a man on their back, chariots provided a rapid way of delivering troops, usually bowmen, to an enemy. Many ancient civilisations used them, but by around 1200 BCE they were giving way to cavalry as larger horses were bred to take a rider, and of course cavalry was a great deal more manoeuvrable and could operate on uneven and even mountainous ground. Chariots did still appear in warfare in later centuries, most notably with the Persians and the Celts, and may even have occasionally been seen during the Greek Classical period, but for the most part chariots were a weapon of the Bronze Age and not of the Iron Age.

With these facts in mind, this is an odd choice for a set. The Greek Army set that accompanies this one shows Greeks of the Classical period, a period marked by the use of the hoplite as the major element of warfare. The figures in this cavalry set are broadly similar in dress to the infantry, so clearly these two are meant to be matched. As we have seen, chariots were not used as machines of war at this time, and in any case the Greek countryside is not suited to them, so the only possible use was as transports to take the men to battle.

We know little about what Greek war chariots looked like, though like many others Greeks loved to race them. This model has four horses, but is missing all the traces, so it could either have all four harnessed to the vehicle, or only two, with the outside two as reserves and to encourage the pulling animals. The shape of the chariot itself is broadly along the lines of what images there are, though clearly simplified.

As chariots disappeared so cavalry emerged, but here again there are historical problems. Cavalry was not a major arm in Greek armies of the Classical period. Some regions certainly did provide cavalry, but many city-states never produced any, and none were ever raised by either Athens or Sparta until the last half of the fifth century BCE. This set only provides two figures, both of which look more like mounted hoplites than the more lightly attired cavalry that did exist. Some wealthy hoplites may have ridden to battle, and so looked something like this, though they would always dismount to fight. One man wears a muscle cuirass, which was sometimes worn, and the other is unarmoured, but both wear large helmets that are out of place. Their horses are correctly shown with only a simple cloth - no saddles or stirrups at this period, though they have not been provided with a base. While they successfully balance on their own legs, they are much more unstable as a result, which is a serious flaw. Also even the largest horse available in southern Europe at the time would be considered a pony today, so these splendid animals are rather too large and splendid for the period.

The standard of sculpting is the same as for the other Greek sets, which is fine, and there is not a lot of flash. Both the whip of the chariot driver and the spear of the cavalryman fit into ring hands on the figures, and this fit is properly done. Both the driver and warrior on the chariot come with a base, so they can be used on their own as well, which is all to the good. Though we are loathed to say it, this is perhaps a set that didn't really ever need to be made, but since it was made the designers should have paid much more attention to the history of Greek warfare.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 2
Pose Quality 2
Pose Number 3
Sculpting 7
Mould 8

Further Reading
Books
"Armies of the Greek and Persian Wars" - Wargames Research Group - Richard Nelson - 9780904417104
"Cavalry" - Arms and Armour - V Vuksic and Z Grbasic - 9781854095008
"Fighting Techniques of the Ancient World" - Greenhill - Simon Anglim - 9781853675225
"The Ancient Greeks" - Osprey (Elite Series No.7) - Nicholas Sekunda - 9780850456868
"The Greek and Persian Wars 500-323 BC" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.69) - Jack Cassin-Scott - 9780850452716

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