The early 15th century saw Lithuania at its greatest extent, stretching from the Baltic in the north to the Black Sea in the south. Naturally this encompassed many Rus lands, and in large measure it was the Russians that provided much of Lithuania's infantry at this time. Lithuanians themselves were more likely to go into battle mounted, and much of what infantry they did field was quite light, so for the heavier foot soldiers they turned to the Rus, as depicted in this set.
In the past we have been very critical of Mars sets, so it is good to report that in some respects this set is quite an improvement of what has come before. Firstly, there is very little flash, and while there are a few small areas of extra plastic, on the whole this is quite a well engineered mould. Another improvement is in the scale of the figures, for these are of a good size, which is something we have not been able to report of some Mars sets, particularly their cavalry. Also there are no ludicrous separate spears or pikes, or indeed any assembly required, so that minefield too has been avoided. However some bad habits remain, and in particular the sculpting and positioning are still quite poor. Detail is pretty good but the proportions are very ugly (as are the faces), with many of the figures having no neck and sometimes the head is rammed down with the chin well below the shoulders. Many of the poses are extremely awkward, with the last spearman in the top row being the best example as he holds his erect spear against his cheek for some reason. Two of the figures are advancing with axes waved in the air, yet both have these directly above their head and with the side of the head showing to the enemy, making them no better than a stick although a lot easier to sculpt. At least everyone is using their shield in a realistic way, although the fact that all these are moulded with the figure forces some compromises as usual.
All of these men wear a good deal of armour - mostly mail or lamellar - which would have been very rare for dismounted Lithuanian troops. A couple of the helmets have quite a distinctive Lithuanian appearance but most are again more Russian. Several wear cloaks but there is otherwise little to suggest cold weather clothing, but this is fine. By western standards of the time this sort of armour would be quite old-fashioned, but for Lithuanians and Russians all the clothing and armour here is authentic.
Like armour, swords were a rare and expensive item amongst Lithuanian infantry, so as every single pose here is armed with one this reinforces the mainly Russian appearance. The spears are quite reasonable, as are the axes, which were both popular weapons throughout the region, and one man in the bottom row holds a kistien, which was a local kind of mace or flail. The crossbow too was part of the armoury and so its inclusion here is reasonable. The shields these men are holding vary enormously, with heater-shaped and almond-shaped examples on show, but the most common are variuous forms of the pavise-style shield with the central ridge. This was typical of these troops and worthy of such a large representation here, but all the shields are reasonable and properly done.
The quality of the sculpting, and in particular the way the poses are fashioned, still needs a lot of improvement in our view. However these are properly researched and quite well produced, while the choice of weapons and poses is good even though their execution is not. Although this is not an attractive set to look at it is not without merit and makes a fitting companion to the many other early 15th century sets this company has produced.