When you see a set that mentions a Celtic warrior queen the name Boudica always springs to mind, although she would not be the only example in Celtic society. Nevertheless Tacitus tells us that Boudica addressed her troops from a chariot as they rebelled against Roman occupying forces in 61 CE, so it is easy to think of this set as modelling her during this violent climax to her life.
As a weapon of war the chariot had largely died out by the time the Roman Empire was founded, as even the Celts of Gaul had long since stopped using them. However they continued in use in the British Isles until the late first century, so they were something of a novelty when the Romans arrived. There is no reason to suppose that all Celtic chariots were of a consistent design, and indeed coins and other evidence suggest the contrary, but there are no surviving examples to use as a guide - merely parts in various graves which have been discovered. The chariot in this set closely resembles images found on some coins, and largely conforms to what we know about such vehicles. However this model is remarkably thin - only a scale 72cm wide internally, which is roughly the width of an average domestic doorway today. Such a width allows one person to stand well enough but not two side-by-side, and it is known that these chariots had a crew of two. The chariot is considerably more narrow than the yoke, so there seems no reason why it should be so narrow, although lack of evidence means we cannot discount this, but we would have preferred to have seen a wider version, at about 1 metre width, which would have been more comfortable and more stable. In addition we are talking of a royal chariot - all chariots were to a considerable extent status symbols, but that of a royal could be expected to be more impressive than any others, yet this does not give that impression. However the horses, while rather too fine to be the usual ponies of Celtic chariots, are perhaps more in keeping with the high status of their owner.
The chariot comes with two holes drilled to accommodate the two figures with pegs shown above. The intended result looks like this, with the charioteer partly standing on the pole while his queen holds the head of some unfortunate in one hand and a sword in the other. Both are in reasonable costume and when placed in the chariot make quite a dramatic effect. The third figure is on foot and could also serve as a queen, or indeed as an ordinary Celtic woman - the differences would have been mainly in jewellery and the quality of her dress, which are irrelevant for such an unpainted figure. Her pose is particularly dramatic however, which does limit her usefulness, but put a few in a line and you have a great chorus line!
The various pieces of the chariot go together quite easily although the horses have pegs on their shoulders for which there are no holes in the yoke, so the pegs must be trimmed off and the yoke glued to the horse harness. Since the central pole is quite straight the whole platform is lifted up towards the front, and while the soft plastic is easy to bend it needs to be bent double to force the pole to stay bent enough to form a level platform. The sculpting of the figures is reasonable with some quite nice facial features and there is no flash to be removed.
This is a nice little model although we have our doubts about the small size, particularly considering the royal passenger. Still such things are impossible to prove today, and this is a dramatic model which will inevitably be an eye-catcher in any diorama of Celtic warfare.