The nature of the countryside in much of Lithuania in the Middle Ages, mostly forest and marshland, meant the people’s military skills were primarily in the tactics of light cavalry, with skirmishes and ambushes being the preferred methods. Much the largest part of any Lithuanian army at this time was made up of light cavalry, and they filled a vital gap in the armies of Poland when it came to the fight with the Teutonic Order in the early 15th century, when this set is based. As a result this is the most important of the sets Mars has made representing the Lithuanian forces during the Tannenberg campaign and thereafter.
As you might expect Lithuanian light cavalry did not wear armour, or at least no metal armour. Instead they wore typical peasant costume, made up primarily of warm woollens and a great deal of fur. The assortment of kaftans, fur-trimmed jackets and hats on these figures is entirely typical of their wardrobe, so no problems there. Light weapons included the common spisa, a light spear that could also be thrown as a javelin, and all the figures in the top row hold this, with the first man having several to hand. The second row contains men holding a sword (a fairly rare item), a type of flail called a kistien and an axe. This is a pretty reasonable selection of the major weapons of these horsemen, although we were surprised to see that only one pose carries a bow when this was in fact quite common. Five of the poses carry a shield, four of which are the characteristic Lithuanian ridged pavise-style. The fifth is a teardrop shape, which was not so common but certainly quite reasonable here, so happily in terms of both costume and weaponry these figures are accurate.
Although the research and design is fine the execution of this set is quite a different story. The sculpting is really quite crude, with some poor proportions and unconvincing details. The faces are not too bad although no one could call them beautiful, but there is a certain rudimentary look to the sculpting, with items not matching up well and a lot of strangely-shaped or flat areas. A lot of the poses are dreadful, with the first two figures being about the worst. What is not apparent from our photograph is these figures are very flat, so these two are essentially holding their spears directly across their head and touching his caps, which just looks rubbish. The swordsman also has his sword resting on his cap, and the guy with the axe is about as unconvincing a pose as you could hope to meet. Clearly having the plastic flow properly was a big consideration because all the weapons touch other parts of the figure as you can see, so only the third spearman is anything like decent.
The horses are no better. They have been used in other Mars sets, so we must repeat our observations. While the intended poses are by no means the worst we have seen the way they have been done is very poor. The legs are in some cases virtually in a straight line, and in some cases the sculpting of the lower legs just stops entirely and you are left with a formless lump. As always we chose the best examples from our copy to photograph, but some had bases that were only partly formed, badly warped and even torn, making it impossible for them to stand. How this could have happened we do not know - presumably damage suffered as they were taken from the mould - but it is very disappointing that Mars consider such items still worthy for releasing, or else have such poor quality control.
We have reviewed quite a number of sets now for the Tannenberg campaign from Mars, and in several of them we have ended by pointing out that the killer fault is that the figures are nothing like 1/72 scale. Well you may not be surprised to hear that we will have to repeat ourselves again here, because these figures average well over two metres in height. That is simply absurd. How could Mars ever imagine that medieval Lithuanians grew to be over two metres in height (getting on for seven feet in old measurement)? Even today that would give them a head start in any basketball team! In fact the figures are wildly out of scale in all respects, which means they are also much too large to fit on the reasonably sized horses. Most don’t come close to fitting between the pommel and cantle of the saddle, which is quite correctly somewhat raised as it was at the time. Since the margin of error is so great there is not much you can do to remedy this - they simply dwarf their poor animals.
These figures are well researched, but what good is that when they are so poorly sculpted and are so enormous that they look ridiculous next to any properly-scaled figures? Nothing can be done to remedy the size issue, so there really is not much that can be done with these, unless you are building a 28mm Lithuanian medieval army, in which case you will need to find some suitable mounts.