When growing up in Macedonia, Alexander had thought that India was on the edge of the world. A few years later he had conquered the Persian Empire and now set foot in that once-distant place at the head of an army. Having secured local allies (his army now included allied Indian troops), he looked to continue his conquest eastward but faced the army of Porus at Hydaspes. Despite facing the new threat posed by elephants, Alexander was triumphant in his last major battle, although his campaign was soon to come to an end. The army of Porus was like nothing ever seen by the Greeks before, and this set depicts it in 1/72 scale plastic for the first time.
The box says 'Army of Porus', and that is exactly what you get, with all the major elements of infantry, cavalry, chariots and elephants together. The first two-and-a-bit rows show the infantry figures, with a mix of archers, javelins and swordsmen. All have the characteristic long hair and wear the kilt down to the knees. Some of the figures have scale armour, and while this is very likely it is a matter of debate as to how common armour was within the ranks. The long bamboo bows and other weapons are all accurate, and we had no problem with the accuracy of the costume either. The shields are more difficult to be certain about as evidence is far from complete, but do not seem unreasonable. The drummer is a nice touch, although his drum does seem rather small.
It is thought that the cavalry was mostly or entirely unarmoured and armed with javelins and swords as shown here. It is also possible that some men used bows whilst mounted, although it is far more likely that the smaller composite bow was used rather than the longbow modelled in this set. The horses are unusual in that they are all rearing, so no form of cavalry advance or charge can be created. Their harness seems fine, but it is far from clear whether saddles were used at this time, and are not mentioned in any source, so may be a problem here. Finally they all have small bases which, while allowing the horses to stand, make them pretty unstable if jogged.
Next we find the chariot, which again conforms to what is known of chariot design for this army. The two horses, which are galloping at absolute full stretch, are connected via pegs on their backs, and the chariot itself has holes for the two crew figures. The driver is wearing armour but the other appears to be richly clothed and certainly carries no weapon, suggesting he is a senior commander, and is not actually in combat.
Finally, there is the famous elephant. This creature is correctly done as an Asian elephant, and carries his handler, who is armoured and carries a javelin and mace, and another relaxed and unarmed passenger who is reclining in a wicker chair. With his parasol keeping the sun off his back, this seems to be another commander although he has no rich costume, so he may simply be a soldier en route as he is obviously not in a fight at the moment.
There is much to put together in this set, and in the past Lucky Toys have not had a good reputation for the engineering of their figures, but happily with their recent releases this has all changed. The riders fit their horses effortlessly, and the chariot assembles easily enough with no need for trimming or exertion. The elephant comes in several parts, but fear not because it too is perfectly engineered and fits together very securely with no need for glue or knife. There is no flash anywhere, and all figures and parts are both well detailed and properly proportioned. Weapons and shields are all moulded with the figure without any obvious compromises in terms of choice of pose. One man has been done without a base, and while he does stand he looks out of place and is naturally shorter than his fellows, which seems pointless to us.
Queries regarding finer points of accuracy are few. Apparently archers held their quivers using two cross belts, but these only have one, and no figure has any obvious means of support for their scabbard (a baldric may have been normal), which appears on either hip. Also such evidence as there is suggests the chariot wheel had many more spokes than the eight on this model.
Overall however we must say this is a good set. Regular visitors will know that we are not keen on mixing types within one set, and this must be the ultimate example of that. The strange choice of horse pose and the small horse base are particularly annoying, but the chariot and elephant are excellent. It is a pity however that both are clearly not in combat, and while command models such as these are welcome the more pressing need is for an ordinary war chariot and war elephant. Poros himself rode an elephant during Hydaspes, although the rider here seems too plain to be the king himself.
Technically the set cannot be faulted, and it is certainly a very attractive product, but the desire to cover everything has meant that cavalry and chariots in particular are not well represented, leaving plenty of scope for future figures to complete the job later, but this is certainly a good start.