The Vikings may usually be pictured today swooping down on an unsuspecting settlement, raping and pillaging as they went, but when they found themselves faced with a full battle their favourite tactic was the skjaldborg, or shield wall. It seems this would normally entail several ranks of men closely packed with shields overlapping, at least initially, to show an unbroken wooden wall to the enemy in the hope that they could overwhelm them. This and the similar swine array formation are what the designer had in mind when this set of figures was produced.
All 12 poses are doing what you would expect – holding a shield to their front while they swing a weapon to attack whatever crosses their path. Some contemporary images suggest the shields could overlap by as much as half a shield, in which case the men would have had to have been side on to the enemy, as are most of the poses here. The poses are quite flat, as they would have to be if the wall were so crowded, although we would have preferred a little more depth to some of them.
As we might expect from Strelets the costume is diverse and everything looks accurate. Some of the men wear armour, others quilted fabric armour or just ordinary clothes while one man is stripped to the waist - perhaps a sign of bravado. While everything here is correct we would seriously doubt that such an enormous variety of costume would have been worn at the same place and time. One man seems costumed for eastern Europe, which rather makes him stick out amongst the others. What we have here is a parade of Viking costume when the average shield wall was probably made up mainly of men in similar costume. Of course if such pedantic concerns trouble you then you could choose to omit one or two of the more unlikely figures for the intended period to improve the look. Regular Viking watchers will probably already have noticed two of the helmets in this set - one with wings and one with horns. Winged helmets are a 19th century fantasy and nothing to do with the Vikings, and while horned helmets have been found they were not worn in battle, so both helmets need to have these offending articles removed (which is easy enough). Strelets justify this deliberate inaccuracy by saying purists can easily remove them while they suggest some fantasy uses for the figures.
Sculpting is about average for Strelets, with nice if not particularly subtle detail, but some of the textures on the mail and furs are nicely done. The figures have no flash to speak of, and perhaps surprisingly the majority of the poses are in one piece, with weapon and shield moulded on. The three spears are naturally separate, as are one sword and one axe, while just two shields need to be attached. All these items attach in the usual way and do so very well, with no need to glue.
So this is a set of nicely done Vikings, all of which are authentic in themselves but together are not a particularly realistic cross-section of any one Viking army. However the singularity of purpose means the poses are easy to mix together to create an apparently lifelike shield wall, even if you choose to leave a few poses out, so this set is a good building block for putting together a large body of warriors. Other sets can provide the more exotic poses and specialists, but this one contains the basics for virtually any Viking land battle.