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Orion

Set 72021

Parthian Heavy Cavalry

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2006
Contents 12 figures and 12 horses
Poses 12 poses, 6 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown and Green
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

What is it about Parthians? For the last two centuries BCE and the first two CE they by and large resisted Rome's best efforts at conquering them, and indeed were one of their most formidable opponents, yet when this product was released we were yet to see a single decent set of Parthians. Alas gentle reader that statement not only covered the old and very poor LW products but also this one from Orion. The pictures tell much of the story, but read on and prepare for much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Where LW delivered a handful of poses Orion has at least delivered the customary 12. Half are wielding the familiar kontos, the long lance with which they are most associated. This was often used with both hands (for obvious practical reasons), but for equally obvious practical reasons most here are only using one hand. Many of the rest are waving a mace or sword, while the set also includes a standard bearer.

The styles of armour on these figures vary considerably, which is reasonable as these were the wealthiest nobles (only they could afford such armour and horses), and doubtless they pleased themselves in terms of style. However it is apparent that the figures are modelled on illustrations of cavalry covering the whole of the Parthian period, and whether all these were to be seen together at the same time is much to be doubted. However, given the less than complete knowledge of how these men appeared, and accepting that they span a very broad period of history, we only raise two major accuracy queries. First, three of the men have been given bows and arrows as well as their usual weapons. The bulk of most Parthian armies were made up of light horse archers, and we can find no mention of the ultra-heavy cataphracts, which is what these are, carrying bows until the latter part of the period. For the earlier years therefore we have our doubts about this feature. Our second worry is the kontos itself. Reported as nearly four metres in length, those in this set are around 40 mm long, which equates to a much less impressive 2.9 metres.

So far so average, but the sculpting lets this set down more. There is reasonable detail, but it is quite patchy, and in places items like lamellar armour and faces just melt into nothing. Sometimes the detail is clear on the back and blurred on the front. None of the men fit their horses (see below), and the man holding his kontos at the hip has actually pierced both his thigh and his arrows. At least the lances fit the ring hands fairly well and are straight.

The pictures tell their own story about flash. There is flash aplenty here, with lots of trimming required. The horses have a thick ridge down the base which means most do not stand until this is filed down. Speaking of the horses, these are tremendously thin - hardly the sturdy beasts used to support such a large amount of Parthian encased in metal. Because they are thin the men don't sit well on them and all will need gluing. Sadly the base is also narrow, so even when bonded together man and horse will topple over with very little provocation.

On the bright side they are better than the LW figures, but not by a lot. Still plenty of room for decent sets of Parthians, and a disappointing drop in quality for a manufacturer that has produced some superb figures in the past.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 7
Pose Quality 5
Pose Number 10
Sculpting 4
Mould 4

Further Reading
Books
"Rome's Enemies (3) Parthians and Sassanid Persians" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.175) - Peter Wilcox - 9780850456882
"The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" - Wargames Research Group - Phil Barker - 9780904417173
"Warriors of Eurasia" - Montvert - Mikhael V Gorelik - 9781874101079

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