Just about the most ancient figures so far made, and by far the best set that Atlantic ever produced, these Egyptians were at the top of the list when Nexus decided to reissue old Atlantic sets, and it is easy to see why. Incredibly this was for a long time the only infantry set representing a civilisation that lasted about 3 millennia, a civilisation that has fascinated people since before the land was conquered by Alexander the Great.
The first task with these figures is to try and date them. Although Egyptian military technology changed incredibly slowly by modern standards, over the 3,000-year period the appearance of the infantry did alter considerably, and the original packaging does not volunteer a specific period. All the men wear nothing but a linen kilt and in a few cases a head covering. Most carry a shield that is rounded or pointed at the top, and only large enough to cover the trunk. These sorts of shields suggest the end of the Old Kingdom and through the Middle Kingdom. During the New Kingdom many troops wore armour (metal or linen), including protection for the groin, so these figures would seem most useful for the late Old to perhaps the very early New Kingdom, dating them to around 2300 to 1500 BCE. However the stripped headcloth is a New Kingdom feature, and equally swords were very rare until the New Kingdom, so in all likelihood the design was intended to be generic Egyptian rather than any one particular period - these were toys after all.
The poses are pretty good, with plenty of weapons being wielded. Though not as lively as some, these should represent troops in action or on the march nicely apart from the sole archer figure, who holds his bow across his chest in a very odd way and is a strange pose. The bow that he carries looks like a self bow, which is good for our suggested period (before the composite bow was introduced later), but it is much too small for war. The man thrusting down with his mace axe is the pick of the bunch in our view. Although there are several spearmen, all hold their spear straight up or down, so no one is thrusting or actually fighting with them, which is a pity. The red headdress (first figure, top row) seems to be a representation of the crown of Lower Egypt, which of course makes the man who wears it the Pharaoh. However it seems likely that the Pharaoh would normally have been more splendidly dressed even in battle and even at this early period.
Both costume (such as it is) and the various weapons match what we know of this period, although they do not necessarily all come from the same period. The kilts bear little relation to the way the Egyptians wore these simple garments - here they look more like skirts. However it is undeniable that the set has a strong Egyptian 'flavour'. The standard of sculpting is excellent and all the figures are well proportioned, though some have annoying mould marks on their backs. We have examples that are perfectly clean, and others that have a fair amount of flash, so that aspect at least varies greatly. Though Atlantic claimed HO scale for these men they are a good deal larger - in fact rather too tall even for 1/72 scale, which is a real shame. Apart from the Pharaoh the only other quibble we have is the lack of archers, which would have included many Nubian mercenaries or conscripts, and were perhaps half the army at this date. However the Egyptian Cavalry set provides a number of archers so a well-balanced army can still be constructed.
Only in the last few years has the pre-Christian period been receiving decent coverage, so at last this set can be matched against some opponents, which is no less than this attractive and only moderately flawed set deserves. A pity the designer couldn't decide on just one time period however.