As with many other aspects of warfare Assyria had taken the chariot and refined it. For centuries it was basically a mobile platform for missile troops, but towards the end of the Assyrian period it became progressively heavier as first Tiglath Pileser III (ruled c.745-c.728 BCE) added a third crewman, a shield-bearer, and then Ashurbanipal (ruled c.669-c.627 BCE) added another shield-bearer. The model in this set is clearly depicting this last design, which was seen as the empire was at its height but also on the verge of falling spectacularly.
The chariot is square and has a single axle at the back, allowing great manoeuvrability. HaT have provided four crewmen but in truth it is a very tight squeeze to get all four into this vehicle, although perhaps the same could be said of many of the original article. In general the design looks reasonable to us, although we were not sure of the reinforcement for the central pole (the evidence is less than clear on this point however). Also we were surprised to see such relatively small and thin wheels, and would have expected ones of the proportions of those shown on the box artwork.
The crew is correctly made up of a driver, archer (a man with a javelin would also have been OK) and two shield-bearers. All the poses are well done, with the driver in particular being quite convincing, although the pose has been achieved at the cost of some extra plastic between his arms. Each man has a peg with which he can be placed in the chariot, but if you chose to place all four then you may well find it better to remove the pegs and place them as desired. The sculpting is not of a style that we prefer but the detail is quite good. However there are problems such as the sword each man carries, which is very short for the archer (you could argue this is a knife), while the sword of one of the shield-bearers consists only of the hilt.
The horses are of two poses, and while not particularly well chosen they tend to be lost in the tightly packed team. They have what appears to be fabric coverings as some form of protection, and some decorative devices on their heads. Strangely their ears are pricked to match these devices - convenient for the sculptor but not very realistic. They attach to the yoke with small pegs on their shoulders, but this is not a great fit and we found removing the peg and gluing worked better.
In our picture a small parasol can be seen. This is shown in several ancient depictions, but was apparently the prerogative of the king alone. In this model it has been fixed to the chariot via a hole at the rear of the platform, but some illustrations and logic suggest that this was normally held by a servant in order to get the right protection for the royal cranium. Whatever the truth of the matter this does at least make a very clear indication of the command chariot for a wargame. If you do not want a royal chariot then it is a simple matter to discard the parasol and trim the corresponding hole on the platform, but if royalty is required then HaT have very considerately provided a spare head suitable for converting one of the figures.
The chariot fits together pretty well and none of the parts or figures suffer from any flash. While the chariot was declining by the late New Empire thanks to the rise of cavalry, it was still a much feared weapon and had considerable psychological impact, which makes it an interesting element in any late Assyrian model or wargame.