As with most ancient armies, those of the many small kingdoms in India at the time of the Greek invasion were predominantly infantry. Texts often ignored them as they were usually drawn from the bottom of the social ladder, yet while their role was hardly glamorous they were an essential part of any army. Naturally many found themselves fighting against Alexander the Great as he first entered India, but by the battle of Hydaspes around 5,000 are thought to have been included in his army as they defeated Porus.
Indian infantry was mainly made up of archers and javelin men, both of which are to be found in this set. The archers, shown in the top row, are correctly modelled with bamboo bows roughly the same height as the archer himself, while the arrows are held in a long container down the back held by two cross belts. The two javelin men (figure two in row one and figure one in row two) hold their weapon at the ready and both have a shield in the left hand. A third man (third figure in second row) could already have thrown his javelin and has now drawn his sword. The first figure in the top row is identified as armoured infantry because he has bands of cloth or leather round his abdomen. How common such armour was is unclear, and may have been quite rare, but in any event these bands are hard to see so can easily be ignored if desired.
The second figure in the second row is described as a 'wild tribesman auxiliary'. Quite why such men were considered 'wild' is hard to say, but they seem to have been mainly archers and had no sword. Also differences in their dress help to pick them out, so while this is the only representative of such people in this set at least they are represented. The most exotic figure is the last, a female guardsman. It is known that the great king Chandragupta Maurya (340 BCE to 298 BCE) had armed female guards, and so did many subsequent kings, although their exact appearance would have varied. Whether they ever ventured onto the battlefield is much more debatable, although there is no rule saying a box of figures must all be appropriate for the battlefield so this makes an interesting feature for the set.
The overall historical appearance of these figures is fine, with the long kilt and the hair tidily wrapped in a turban with a top-knot. Weapons are also appropriate, and the shields present no problems with accuracy either although both costume and equipment may well have varied over the course of the century and between distant parts of the Indian subcontinent.
The sculpting matches well with the previous Coates and Shine ancient Indian sets, which is to say the detail level is pretty good but the figures are rather chubby and unappealing, while most of these poses are a little flat. Also there is not a lot of life in these figures, so while they would work well as markers in a wargame they will not generate much excitement in a diorama. The first figure in the bottom row has a separate javelin which fits well into his ring hand. He also has an empty left hand, onto which one of the two shields shown can be applied. This fit is fairly good although the soft plastic means gluing would still be recommended. Happily there is no flash or areas of plastic to be removed.
Only eight poses does not cover the subject particularly well but the figures can be added to those in the Lucky Toys set to increase the options, although the styles are rather different (see comparison below). Also there is a standard-bearer in the chariot set, which helps a little. Still all the basics are covered well enough and there are some interesting exotics so this is a necessary and worthwhile companion to the growing list of ancient Indian sets already available.