Everyone knows how important the Nile was to the Ancient Egyptian civilisation, so it carried much traffic of all descriptions. Of course this would include the mighty pharaoh, and naturally he would require the biggest and most impressive craft, in just the same way as more recent societies have seen royal trains and presidential jets. There are many ancient Egyptian ship models that have survived to the present day, and there is the 'Khufu Ship', discovered in a pit in the Giza Pyramid Complex and now reconstructed and on display. Although it is uncertain whether this was an actual vessel or a specifically grave good that might not have been used in real life, it looks great and would have been impressive amongst the smaller craft. Doubtless there were many royal barges over the years, probably following different designs, and must have been quite a sight at the time
It must be said, however, that the model in this product from Atlantic does not have the look or feel of such a royal boat. It is certainly bigger than the vessels in their Boats on the Nile, but not by a large amount, and it suffers from several of the same curious features that to us simply seem impractical. Like those smaller boats it has a very high stern, which means fully half the deck is on a severe slope. This includes the main cabin, which must have been a very uncomfortable place to be, and so hardly suitable for a person of importance. The designer of the model has placed ridges along the deck so you can prop up figures along it, and has a sort of floating deck at the stern which is almost flat, but these are surely curious devices to get around the fundamentally flawed basic design. In short then we very much doubt that any pharaoh would have set foot aboard such a vessel, and we cannot imagine a vessel of this design ever existed anyway. An interesting model, but too impractical to be taken at all seriously.
The model has some advantages over the Boats on the Nile vessels in that it has a means of propulsion and some basic means of steering. Firstly, it has a sail, which is fine when the wind is in the desired direction. This is a good size on this model, and is a single rigid piece which looks reasonable. On our part-painted example this has been nicely decorated (by a previous owner) but is actually supplied with a good surface texture but no other engraving. The hull is a single piece, with separate pieces for the forward deck, rest of the (sloping) deck, mast and block into which the mast fits. The central cabin has two solid walls (again part-painted on this example) and a roof, which extends to the very back of the ship. Here a sort of extra deck hovers at a less-steep angle, but as we have said, we find the whole design highly unconvincing.
The entire model measures 240mm stem to stern, and the top of the mast is about 150mm above the waterline. At most the ship is 64mm wide, so hardly the size of vessel that could carry a decent proportion of the court. The cabin and sloping deck severely restrict the ability to place figures on board, but the set does come with six extra figures specifically for this ship. These are the oarsmen pictured below, and come in two poses, three for the left and three for the right. They have no base, but pegs under their feet allow them to be fixed to the decks using the holes drilled for the purpose. They 'hold' the pictured large oar, which is almost 70mm in length. Four of these figures fit into holes toward the bow of the ship, and the other two are on the raised rear deck. Presumably the front four are rowers propelling the ship, although this would be entirely inadequate in real life. In any case, positioned at they are, the oars barely reach the waterline, so not much propulsion there. The two rear figures are much higher up, of course, so their oars come nowhere near the surface of the water, so while we assume they are steering the craft, they cannot achieve this without reaching the water. It is easy to be critical, and basically nothing about this model makes any sense, but it is an appealing and unusual model. Like the other Atlantic ancient kits this one goes together reasonably well, and is pretty simple in its construction. There is evidence that some examples were made in a grey plastic, but we have only ever seen ones in the chocolate colour shown here.
It looks like the kit came with sprues of At The Pharaoh's Court and The Egyptian Army, as arrayed in the box artwork. This makes sense, and the mix of soldiers and civilians does bring the ship to life quite nicely.
As an idea it has much appeal, and fits in well with the rest of the Atlantic Ancient Egypt range. As historical model there is nothing much here, and to be honest as a plaything the glaring issues with the basic design make it less fun that something closer to the real thing would have been. Certainly if you were tiring of building model aircraft in the late 1970s then this was something very different, if a much less serious project, but mostly it is a highlight of the fairly early history of this hobby, and a subject of curiosity and nostalgia rather than anything else today.