The majority of Lithuania’s warriors in the early 15th century, and certainly the most important element, were cavalry. For the campaign of 1410 they provided the light cavalry that their Polish allies needed, and while estimates vary wildly it seems clear that Lithuanian infantry was not a large part of the forces that did battle at Tannenberg. Those that had the wealth to procure good armour and weapons were mounted, which effectively meant those that were infantry were by default classed as 'light', or at least not heavy. At this time many Rus states were subject to the Lithuanian king, and numerous incursions into others meant there were many Russians amongst the infantry in a Lithuanian army. Such men were almost always drawn from the city militias rather than the rural peasantry, but at the start of the century these had long been in decline, so as with the Lithuanians they were not the best of the army.
Although there are characteristics that are considered typical of Rus or Lithuanian costume, it is reasonable to lump both together in a set such as this, particularly since they represent some of the lowest elements of the army. Conditions for these men were similar, and so was much of the costume. Nor surprisingly we find a lot of furs being worn, with many having no other form of protection. Fur-trimmed caps of various sorts are on display in this set, which is fine, as are various long tunics and kaftans, including some with the long false sleeves. Several do have metalled armour (which makes them more likely to be Russian), so would be the best equipped of these men, but still basically operated as 'light' infantry. They have mail or scale armour, and one man have strips across the chest and discs over the loins, for which there is pictorial evidence. Most seem to wear boots, but one has leggings secured by thongs, all of which is fine. Basically, everything here is authentic.
Weaponry for such people was relatively simple, with axes, knives, maces, spears, clubs and bows, most of which we find here. One man holds a kistien, which was a ball-and-chain type of mace, and a couple of more fortunate ones carry swords. Almost everyone has the pavise-style shield which is particularly associated with Lithuanians, so quite appropriate here, but as some of these are supposed to be Russians we would have preferred to see a bit more variety in shield styles.
We will discuss the sculpting and the poses together, because both are pretty poor. These are ugly figures - there is no way of getting around that - with some highly deformed stances and faces you wouldn’t want to meet under any circumstances. There are a lot of figures with arms held very close to the body or head, making for a thoroughly awkward position that is neither elegant nor natural. The way the shield is held is also badly done (in order to have the shield pressed firmly to the body and avoid excess plastic), and some poses are simply amusing. The man trying to fetch an arrow from his quiver is absurd and very very flat, while the man to his right seems to have just brained himself with his mace! Surprisingly the detail is really quite good, with decent folds in the clothing and good texture on the armour, but the basic human proportions are dreadful and about as bad as anything we have seen. Most of the figures have no flash, although one in the top row seems to have more than enough for everyone strangely. The separate weapons fit the cupped hand well enough but will need gluing, as will the shield, which has no positive means of connection with the figure for which it is intended.
On the whole the accuracy of these figures is fine for both costume and weaponry, and they are even the right size, which is not something we often say about Mars figures lately. However the basic inability of the sculptor to capture the human form seriously mars them, resulting in a set that will take a lot of willpower to love.