Parthia was a country in what is now roughly North-East Iran. It reached its peak under Mithridates I and often found itself in conflict with Rome, although it always managed to resist the latter. As a Scythian people they were naturally gifted horsemen and archers, and the bulk of their army was therefore mounted light archers. One oft-noted feature of their tactics was the ability to race toward an enemy then turn sharply away, firing arrows behind them as they went, hence the term 'Parthian shot'. While Scythians have been modelled before this is the first set that is specifically Parthian light cavalry.
The main weapon of the light cavalry was the powerful composite bow, and although they also often carried edged weapons it is the bow that is properly featured here. The first four poses pictured largely speak for themselves. They show men in various stages of loosing an arrow and all are fine. While the third figure is twisted a little the practicalities of the mould mean there are no figures actually firing to their rear, which is a pity although understandable. The fifth man is much less animated, and has an empty cupped hand into which either the supplied separate bow or standard can be placed. In our view he looks better with the standard, but the choice is welcome nonetheless.
The two horse poses are not ideal but passable and both are on the move, which is fine. Both have a bow on the left side, with the arrows on the right side in a cylindrical case being part of the man rather than the animal. Some examples of the second pictured horse pose have pegs each side of the neck onto which the separate kettle drums can be attached. Since such drums were used by the Parthians this is a nice option, but the pegs are easily removed where the drum are not required. The man with the cupped hand could be holding drumsticks, which might perhaps be cut from the pole of the standard!
In terms of accuracy we have no complaints. From the evidence available these figures are all reasonably clad, including the 'chaps' to protect their colourful trousers. All are bareheaded apart from a headband, which is fine, although some may well have worn caps on occasions. The wearing of the Scythian cap or bashlyk was common before around the first century CE, after which uncovered hair as here became much more popular, so as a group these work better for the later part of the Parthian period. The dragon standard is thought to be one common form used by the Parthians, and this can also be used with the heavy cavalry set.
The sculpting is reasonable with fair detail and proportions. The men fit the horses well enough but will need gluing, which this soft plastic accepts well. The drums are very loose on the pegs so here too gluing is essential. On our sample we found no flash at all and no excess plastic to be removed.
The single foot pose has been included because it is called for in DBA rules, and while not very important foot warriors were sometimes featured in Parthian armies.
The lack of caps and the seperate bow case and arrow bag date these men to the later part of the Parthian period, which these were the fashion. With slightly more poses than the traditional HaT offering in the past and a reasonable sculpting job, these accurate figures finally mean the armies of Parthia can be recreated as they face their formidable neighbours. A long-awaited and worthwhile set.