'Achaeans' is the name given by Homer to the Mycenaean-dominated Greeks, and the attributed dates of 13 and 12th centuries BCE means these are warriors from that society in the last two centuries before it went into a sharp decline, perhaps brought on by a 'Dorian invasion' or conflict with the Sea Peoples. Like so many ancient subjects there is much we do not know about this period, although there were doubtless many internal conflicts as well as wars with neighbours, not to mention expeditions further afield such as against Troy or perhaps the Hittite empire.
Evidence for warriors from this period is limited mostly to weapons found as grave goods and some fragmentary depictions on frescos or pottery. From these it has been deduced that early Mycenaean infantry tended to be lightly clothed and armoured, but carried a large shield and long spears to fight in formation, while for the very late Bronze Age, which is what this set deals with, there was much more body armour and generally shorter weaponry with much less emphasis on the shield. Almost all these figures have some sort of body armour, including several cuirasses and some scale corselets, and all have a helmet, mostly of metal although one has the traditional boars-tusk construction. Most of the helmets have some form of plume or crest, and these are very varied, as is all the dress. Under the armour the men wear either kilts or tunics (which reach the knee, so are much longer than the evidence would suggest), and some have a cloak too. Several look to have some form of greave, which could be metal or cloth, and all seem to have shoes, many with the turned up toe characteristic of the time. There is reasonable evidence for all these features, although of course no one can really say which were more typical, but a mixture such as depicted here would seem plausible so we have no accuracy concerns with the clothing and armour.
Weaponry is mostly swords and spears, but there is also an axe and a bow on show. All the spears are very long - a good three metres - which would have made them difficult to use with just one hand as three of the four spear poses are doing here, especially if they also hold a shield. We suspect the man using both hands is much more realistic, although most spears by this date would have been much shorter than these ones. The swords are of various styles, and quite crudely modelled, and the axe is of a shape we could not validate. The shields are all of the large, full body type, either tower or figure-of-eight, which surprisingly seem still to have been used by this date, although it would surely have been unusual to see one carried by men already fully armoured as some are here. The basic design of the shields is fine, although the figure-of-eights should curve in top and bottom as well as at the sides, but we were surprised to see none of the smaller shields that were much more in vogue by the 13th century BCE.
The sculpting of these figures is not a pretty sight. Proportions are really poor, and lots of men have the usual Mars feature of no necks and pretty horrible faces, made more vague by some quite long beards. Detail such as clothing and the texture of the armour is there but a bit basic, and there are some thoughtless errors. Some of the scabbards are just too short for the sword (which are in most cases rather too large), and the man holding his spear with both hands has the hilt of his sword showing beneath his cloak but the rest of the scabbard has been forgotten, with just looks silly. The only separate components are the shields, which we have photographed next to the intended carrier. However these are smooth on the back, so there is no means of fixing shield to arm except gluing and pressing one against the other and hoping there is enough of a bond to make it last. There is also a fair amount of flash in places (our photos show the best examples we could find) and all the spears have long joins with the sprue, so are not the easiest to extract and make good.
Mars figures are usually horribly posed, and these are typical. Generally weapons are held along the precise mid-point of the figure, which makes them easy to mould but very flat and unrealistic. The last swordsman in the middle row is particularly absurd as he presses his sword against his own helmet, although most of the spearmen also fail to keep their weapon away from their own helmet. The basic idea behind many of the poses was probably sound, although what the thinking was behind the man in the top row holding a three metre spear over his head we cannot begin to guess. Since all the spears are very long they are clearly not javelins, yet some of the poses suggest they are about to be thrown (surely impossible) or else being used against enemy cavalry/chariotry, which is a pretty unusual circumstance. So while the poses are pretty poor, some don’t even make sense as an idea.