The recent trend to make command sets has often led to some very interesting figures, as well as offering an important extension for all those basic infantry and cavalry sets. Hat's extensive 'El Cid' range is an obvious candidate for such treatment, and happily here we have the result, the command and support for the Christian side.
The size of this set is not large, and thanks to the space taken up by the horses there are only five different figures on offer. However HaT have done their usual trick of offering a choice of arms and items to make the most of what there is, and the result is pretty good. The top row shows the dismounted figures, with the first either being in combat or showing the way with his sword - a nice pose. The second is shown with the choice of two right arms; the first holds a horn and the second is a generic cupped hand into which one of the banners could be placed, or indeed a spear or some other item from elsewhere. The horn arm in particular makes for a very realistic, '3-D' figure that is blowing the horn in a more natural way than most one-piece figures can achieve. The third figure is a monk with a simple hooded habit or cowl and holding a processional cross - a nice reminder of what was at least in theory meant to be the motivation for many of the Cid's wars.
Row two contains the mounted figures. Both are very generic knights, and suitably armoured and equipped for the later 11th century. The battle dress of 'El Cid' or even a king would be no different from a wealthy knight except that it would be of the finest quality and often adorned with precious metals or gems - details undetectable at this scale. The second mounted figure comes with a similar choice of right arms to the dismounted man, with one grasping a horn while the other is cupped as if to 'hold' one of the banners. The advantages of these are the same as those for the foot figure. This row also contains a couple of shields, which have to be glued flat to any appropriate arm. Both the kite and the round shape are authentic, and the tassels on one betray the Andalusian influence on even Christian knights by this period. Finally we find an array of alternative heads, which are all excellent.
The two horses in the set looked a little thin to us, but still reasonable animals and in useful and natural poses. The saddles and other gear are all correct for the region and period too, and the men sit on them fairly loosely, so will need gluing.
The sculpting is excellent throughout, with lots of nice detail and good texture on the armours. Faces are nice and expressive even on the spare heads, and the anatomy of the men is first class. Neither banner is engraved with any design, which always meets with our approval, but in this case some religious images would be highly appropriate. The open cupped hands do not actually grasp the banners of course, so will need gluing, but the results still look good and overall we really enjoyed looking at these figures.
With no accuracy problems and some top class sculpting this is a cracking little set. There could always have been more figures of course, but given the space available on the sprue we were very comfortable with the figure choices made. With some potential for use on the First Crusade and other campaigns of this era, this set packs a lot into a small space and will surely find favour with all those interested in the High Middle Ages.