LogoTitle Text Search



Set 1516

Roman Cavalry

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 1978
Contents Varying number of pieces
Poses 4 poses, 6 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Light Orange
Average Height 26 mm (= 1.87 m)


With the recent expansion of this hobby has come a number of sets depicting the imperial Roman army, including the mounted arm, which is just as well as before them customers had no option but to use this product. As we shall see, that was really no option at all, since this set suffers much from a number of very fundamental faults.

A grand total of two mounted poses are provided, both holding a weapon in the air and differing only in costume and equipment. The costume much resembles the indistinct assortment found on the corresponding infantry set, although in fact some elements are perhaps more appropriate to cavalry than infantry anyway. Detail is unclear, but we found the choice of armour unconvincing (it should be mail or scale), and equipment is worse yet. One man holds an oval shield, which is possible, but the other holds a rectangular example reminiscent of the infantry scutum but not used by cavalry. The two weapons supplied are a sword, which is not too bad a model, and some sort of spear or polearm which is pure fantasy, looking more like something to be found in the hands of a gladiator.

The two horse poses are of the usual Atlantic style, and are really just toys. There has been no attempt to sculpt the Roman saddle, although the figures do fit them adequately.

The Romans loved their chariot racing. Whether it was the thrill of seeing their favourite team thunder round the track or the prospect of earning a little money with the betting, it was Rome's favourite sport. The whole thing was big business, with each of the coloured teams owning stables, grooms, etc., and competing with each other for the best drivers. The crowds flocked to the circuses to see the races, and the biggest of them all, the Circus Maximus, was about 600 metres long, 200 wide and had room for at least 150,000 spectators. The majority of these chariots were quadrigae, that is to say pulled by four horses harnessed abreast, but apart from that there is little resemblance between them and the model in this set. As racing vehicles, they were as light as possible, and only accommodated the driver in an otherwise minimalist carriage - nothing like the chariot here. This one is as wide as the team - comfortably accommodating two men - and is far heavier and more elaborate than the images of Roman chariots we have today. The only real hope for this model would be as part of a gladiatorial display at some games, when the look of it might be more to do with theatre than any real-world situation, so perhaps something like this was once seen in an arena, but certainly not as part of any 'cavalry'.

The two crew are equally unsuited to the task. They are dressed in the same style as the cavalrymen and infantry soldiers, and both are armed. Clearly they are intended to be in battle rather than in a race, yet the Romans did not use the chariot in battle, and such military chariots as there were looked nothing like this.

Overall the pieces in this set are reasonably sculpted, though many do suffer from both flash and mould marks in obvious places. The chariot fits together fairly well, and Atlantic have cleverly used the soft plastic material to make a one-piece chariot side which can be wrapped round the platform. However such considerations are largely immaterial compared to the rock bottom historical accuracy and tiny number of poses. Fine as a toy but otherwise just a curiosity piece.


Historical Accuracy 2
Pose Quality 1
Pose Number 2
Sculpting 6
Mould 3

Further Reading
"Ancient Rome" - Oxford University Press - Peter Connolly - 9780199107636
"Daily Life of the Ancient Romans" - Hackett - David Matz - 9780872209572
"Greece and Rome at War" - Greenhill - Peter Connolly - 9781853673030
"Roman Army: Wars of the Empire" - Brassey (History of Uniforms Series) - Graham Sumner - 9781857532128
"Roman Auxiliary Cavalryman AD14-193" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.101) - Nic Fields - 9781841769738
"The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" - Wargames Research Group - Phil Barker - 9780904417173
"The Complete Roman Army" - Thames & Hudson - Adrian Goldsworthy - 9780500051245
"The Roman Legions Recreated in Colour Photographs" - Crowood Press (Europa Militaria Special Series No.2) - Daniel Peterson - 9781861262646

Site content © 2002, 2009. All rights reserved. Manufacturer logos and trademarks acknowledged.