The location of the Sassanian Empire (224 to 651 CE) inevitably meant that much use was made of light horsemen, just as had been done under the preceding Parthian Empire. On the whole such horsemen came from the direction of the Steppe – nomads from the Iranian plateau and allied tribes from the north-eastern border. Their role was to harry and discomfort an enemy, and when the climactic battle came they were to shower arrows down on them until they were so disordered that a charge from the elite heavy cavalry would win the day. Of course some enemies were themselves predominantly light horse, in which case they were to counter their efforts. Their skill with the bow was acknowledged by friend and foe alike, and archery in Iran had a long tradition the Sassanians were happy to maintain.
The primary weapons of light horsemen were the bow and javelin, and we find two poses of each here. The two javelin poses are a considerably compromise as both are very flat, and so easy to sculpt, but hardly reflect how a javelin would normally be handled in battle. Both men hold it out to the side, point facing the ground rather than forward or at an enemy, so don't really convince as a realistic pose. In addition both are holding the javelin some way behind the mid-point, so away from the point of balance, again making them less than convincing. Detail on the clothing is vague and ill-defined, but both seem to wear a loose robe or tunic and baggy trousers, so the costume looks very typical for virtually any time during the history of the Empire; the larger cap of the first figure is particularly so. Both have a straight sword, which is very short, and no sign of any other weapon or equipment.
The two archers are dressed in much the same way as the men with javelins, so again while it is hard to be sure everything seems to be in order here. One man has drawn his bow to the full extent, with arrow correctly held to the left of the bow, while the other holds an arrow but has yet to draw, so the bow is horizontal and facing us in the above image. This means it is a separate piece which needs to be placed in a hole in the left hand, which works well. Initially the horizontal bow made us think of the nawak dart system, but this used much shorter darts than the arrow held here. Both men have their bow case suspended from the left side of their belt (rather than on the horse), and a quiver of arrows on the right hip. Unlike the set of Clibanarii these quivers have some arrows in them, and are of a reasonable length.
The two horse poses leave a good deal to be desired, but the horse furniture looks to be reasonable, although it has little of the decoration with which many Sassanian horses are depicted. The saddle has none of the horns or other means of keeping a grip, and the men are correctly without stirrups. These look to be fairly impressive horses, when it is very likely that many Steppe peoples and others would have ridden little more than ponies, though perhaps that is asking too much in a small set like this.
As well as the separate bow, the set comes with two small round shields per sprue. For the most part such men did not carry a shield at all, but late in the Empire some do seem to have been carried, and to have been of this type, so it is good that these have been provided as an option. However there is no means of attaching shield to man except simply gluing to an arm, so that is a tricky job.
As with the set of heavies, these figures and horses are nicely proportioned but detail is very vague on the clothing, which almost entirely lacks any sort of creases or folds as you would expect of such loose garments. Faces look quite good but hands and fingers are very basic, so a decent sculpting job but not a great one. Every man does fit his mount well, though will need gluing to stay put, and there is virtually no flash anywhere.
HaT have been in production for many years now, so customers are well used to sets of cavalry with just the four poses. For many games that is fine, but if you want to recreate a Sassanian battle then just two of each type of light cavalryman is not going to go very far. However, as has been said before, two is better than none, and at the time of writing no one else has attempted any Sassanians at all. The javelin men are not in ideal poses, and the lack of any real definition on the clothing is a disappointment, even though that clothing was relatively simple anyway. This set provides a very necessary element in any Sassanian army, but does so in a workmanlike manner, so a reasonable set but one that will not be raising the heartbeat of any fans of the late antiquity period.