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Caesar

Set H004

Ch'in Dynasty Army

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2005
Contents 42 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Olive Green
Average Height 26 mm (= 1.87 m)

Review

As you might expect from such an ancient and sophisticated civilisation, China has a long cultural and military history - a history hitherto ignored in this hobby. It was high time that changed. This set from Caesar represents the army of the Qin (also spelt Ch'in) - one of many warring states - who succeeded in subduing all others to form a united empire under the First Emperor in 221 BCE. The Qin dynasty that followed was short lived (only 14 years), but it was a major landmark in Chinese history, and the army that achieved that success is known to us today largely through the discovery of the Terracotta Army in Xi'an.

The figures in this set are using the standard weapons of the day - swords, halberds and bows - with the emphasis rightly placed on the sword. Some of the sword poses are fairly similar, and the same can be said for the two men armed with a halberd, but all the poses are reasonable and quite lively apart from the general, the last figure, who is clearly just watching events (he is a direct copy of a figure in the Terracotta Army, but with a sword added).

Although several styles are to be found in the Terracotta Army these figures are all armoured in a similar way. Their main armour is squares (which might be metal or leather) tied together to form a cuirass. All are bareheaded and display a variety of hairstyles. They are an accurate reflection of the Terracotta Army soldiers, and since this is our main source for information on the army we must presume that they are also historically correct.

This relatively new company has already demonstrated that it can produce very fine figures, and these are no exception. They come without a sprue and some have clearly had a multi-part mould to allow detail in areas that are normally hidden. That detail is superb, with the hairstyles and facial features being a particular highlight, and not a trace of flash to be removed.

Having enthused about this set we must report some concerns, principally how representative these figures are of the Qin army at large. Although no one knows, it is reasonable to suggest that the Terracotta Army might be a Royal Guard, and therefore likely to be better equipped than the bulk of the army. Certainly if you were to create an army for the afterlife then you would choose to make it strong, even if you could not do so with the real thing. In addition, there are many Terracotta figures that are unarmoured, possibly skirmishers and certainly including many archers, so although nothing can be proved we wonder whether this set might more accurately be described as Qin heavy infantry. Another feature which has been reproduced in this set is that none of the soldiers wear anything on their head, yet it is known that in reality caps and helmets were worn by some, particularly the heavier infantry.

Our final point is the most important. While these figures are well proportioned they stand on average 26mm (1.87 metres) in height not including the top knot. This is an accurate reflection of the size of the Terracotta figures, yet it is considerably taller than almost any race on any continent over the past 2,000 years, including First World populations today. Some authorities believe that these figures are the correct height, arguing that as an imperial guard they would be the tallest examples of the population, while others say they are deliberately oversized. We find it hard to believe that the figures are a representative height of the army, or even of an elite (there are thousands of them in the tomb) as it would mean the Chinese shrank considerably over the following centuries. However it is these sources that Caesar have used for their research, and naturally neither we nor anyone else is now in a position to know for sure. Our instinct is to consider the figures as very inaccurate in height, but with conflicting opinions there is no way to be sure, so we have not reduced the accuracy rating on the grounds of height. The reader must decide for themselves whether they are comfortable with this size. We are not.

In conclusion then these are good figures that are an excellent but not a comprehensive reflection of the Terracotta Army. To what extent they are a fair reflection of the actual forces of the Qin is much less sure, and the possibility that they should have caps or helmets leaves us worried as to their historical authenticity. It is to be hoped that light troops, cavalry and chariots will appear to join these figures, and perhaps with more of an aim to show the men as they really were, and not just the ideal, depicted by the Terracotta Army.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 8
Pose Quality 8
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 10
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"Ancient Chinese Armies 1500-200 BC" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.218) - CJ Peers - 9780850459425
"The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army" - British Museum Press - Jane Portal - 9780714124513
"The Terracotta Army" - Bantam Press - John Man - 9780593059296
"The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China" - Odyssey - William Lindesay - 9789622177963

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