The Sassanian army was built entirely round the heavy clibanarius cavalry, supported by light cavalry and sometimes elephants too. Infantry also played a part, although considered much less important unless in a siege, with the bulk of the infantry being lightly armed conscript peasant infantry of little military value. However archers, and to a slightly lesser degree slingers and javelin-men, were held in high regard and were a more important part of Sassanian tactics, which often consisted of showering the enemy with missiles until they were disorganised enough to succumb to a charge by the elite heavy horsemen.
Clearly such men had some skill and experience with their weapon, and were often paid mercenaries brought in from the fringes of the Empire. They were often therefore culturally distinct from the mass of the Persians, so for example many slingers and javelin men were Medes, but these figures are simply dressed which works well enough for most peoples that might make up such a corps. Most notably only one man has the large hardened Sassanian cap, which helps to make these men pass as Syrians or any of the other nationalities, but the simple coat, trousers, boots and caps all look fine. One man is particularly distinctive as he wears a jerkin, presumably of animal skin, for extra warmth.
The shape and size of the bows look OK to us, and the slings and javelins are simple enough to present no problems either. All the men have a large dagger on their belt, both slingers have a bag for their shot, and of course the archers have a quiver for their arrows, again on their belt. Many also carry a small round target shield for deflecting missiles and blows rather than protecting the whole body. All the weaponry and equipment is accurate.
Having more archers than the rest is a good move, and we liked all the bowmen. The slingers too are excellent, with the man about to release his stone being especially realistic we thought. The two javelin men are OK, but the second one pictured above is holding his javelin right over the centre line of his head, which does not look comfortable or particularly natural. However every pose here is perfectly usable.
The proportions are good and the gaits mostly very natural. What little detail is required is well delivered, and the faces are nicely done. One slightly odd feature however concerns the jerkin worn by one man, which is quite heavily dimpled on the front side to suggest one texture, but almost smooth on the back. Assuming this is meant to be fur we would have preferred the fairly smooth texture on both sides, but it is hardly a major issue. We found no flash anywhere, and thanks to careful design there is no excess plastic either. This can sometimes be achieved only by making the poses flat, but here that is only true of the javelin men, and even then it is not particularly noticeable.
For centuries the Sassanian Empire was Rome’s most dangerous opponent in the East, and while the focus of a Sassanian army was on the cavalry, the foot missile troops, particularly archers, were also a very important part of the military machine. Although there are only eight poses all the important elements of these troops are here, and well done both technically and in terms of research. This is a vital set for anyone looking to model the wars of the later Romans and the Eastern Romans, or for that matter any of the many conflicts from Arabia to India up until the rise of Islam in the seventh century.