It is one of those clichés of ancient history documentaries that the Nile was the lifeblood of Egypt, but of course in an otherwise arid landscape, the river was the only means of bringing fertile silt down onto Egyptian lands and watering their crops. As with the rest of the ancient world however, the river was also the quickest and easiest way to travel, so it would be full of craft busy in trade or on the pharaoh's business. Luckily we are blessed with a large number of ancient models of such river craft as they were popular inclusions in tomb goods, and while they reveal a variety of designs there are those that closely resemble this model. To our untrained eye however they look strange, mainly thanks to the very high bow and stern, but we will leave it to the experts to be the judge of that.
What is undeniable is the boat has no apparent means of propulsion. When the wind was in the right direction the Egyptians sailed their craft, and at other times they either rowed or paddled them, but here there is neither sail nor oars. The box artwork clearly shows a small number of figures holding what look more like steering oars than ones used for propulsion, but what they are is a moot point as neither they nor their operators are included in the set. The picture is likely to be of a pre-production model, after which it was decided not to include such figures. As a result, all the boat can do is drift with the flow of the river. In addition, there is no means of steering, so while this looks much like a funerary boat (which would perhaps find its own way into the afterlife), we remain to be convinced of historical accuracy. Yes, it is only a toy, so perhaps we should not care, but it is hard to break the habit of a lifetime!
On a more practical level, the boat is pretty small, so not a lot of room for people or goods. For transporting a coffin that is fine, but for a more general purpose vessel it is greatly limited. The boat measures about 150mm to the extremes, which is over 11 metres at HO scale, but the deck is a lot shorter, and much of that is sloping and so tricky to use. You can't place figures on the rear deck, unless you wedge them against the central shelter as the photographer has done for the box picture. Each boat comes in seven pieces, being the hull, deck, two end decorations plus the shelter, which has two sides and the roof. These are fairly tight to put together, so in a set of this age it is easy to break items where the plastic has degraded. Tolerances are pretty relaxed, but again, it was only a toy. This is a waterline model, so flat on the bottom, which surely means they will not actually float (we did not dare to test this, but some small child long ago probably has).
It would have made sense for Atlantic to have included some of their At The Pharaoh's Court sprues as the closest thing they had to Egyptian civilians, but instead they added two full sprues (62 figures) of their Egyptian Army. While the Egyptians doubtless moved troops by river on many occasions, the link between these small boats and the military is hard to see clearly, but again, we are being hypercritical. You can hardly get any soldiers on the small deck, so any HO 'sea battle' would be a very modest affair.
So another innovative historical model from Atlantic, and nice to see a toy based on other aspects of ancient civilisations than just warfare. How popular this set was with children in the 1970s we do not know, and it has been out of production for decades, so while it offers nothing for anyone wishing to depict a Nile vessel today, it is one the completest collectors still like to see in their inventory.