The strongest element of the Persian army was its cavalry, but as with the rest of the army the cavalry was provided by many different subject peoples, each bringing their own costume and tactics. Much of the Empire was vast plains ideal for cavalry and particularly suited to mounted archers, of which there had been many in the earlier days, but by the time of Alexander it seems that mounted archery had much declined since it is barely mentioned in the available sources. Nevertheless there must have been a great deal of light cavalry in the armies of Darius as he faced Alexander, perhaps the majority of the whole mounted force.
This set comprises archers and spearmen, and all are dressed in typical Persian style, which makes sense since the Iranian plain must have provided many such men. The first archer is holding his bow, but apparently making no attempt to use it. Presumably he feels it will be required soon, otherwise it would be returned to its case. The second man is certainly using his, and unlike some mounted archers in this hobby he is facing partly forward, not directly to the side, which is good. The first spearmen carries two spears, known as palta, with the first probably thrown as the combatants draw close and the second used for stabbing or thrown if necessary. The second spearman is clearly down to his second spear or javelin already. We thought all the poses were perfectly respectable if not particularly energetic, and a fair sample of much of the Persian lights.
Each figure has different variations in clothing, possibly betraying his origin, but all look reasonable for such troops. None have any visible armour, though it is quite possible that some may have had armour under their tunics. All have an axe, a sword or a dagger as a sidearm, but none are carrying both bow and spear.
The two horses are very suitable for these figures; they both have decorated saddle cloths which match contemporary illustrations well. The bridle etc. is also suitable, and the animals display the common Persian habits of short-cropping the manes, tying the forelock into a short plume between the ears, and also tying the end of the tail with a ribbon. One of the animals is walking, and the other trotting, but we liked both poses very much.
Sculpting as usual is pretty good, with all the folds in the clothing being well done. The spear fitted the ring hand without any problem, and there was very little flash to be trimmed. However we found several of the figures had legs that were slightly too narrow to sit fully on the horse, so some trimming was necessary to achieve the necessary fit, though this was not difficult to do and did not noticeably damage the models. There was a variable amount of flash on the figures, with some almost clean and others with quite noticeable amounts.
This is a set of unremarkable but very workmanlike cavalry figures with good sculpting, no accuracy problems and usable poses for both man and horse. With only four poses to play with these are not exciting but do the job nonetheless. This set and the complementary sets of medium and heavy cavalry, HaT have delivered a good range of mounted Persians that between them offer considerable coverage of the subject.