The geographical position of Russia meant that it was influenced by both the West and the East, and this showed in their fighting men. A rich variety of styles, including imports from as far away as Scandinavia and Byzantium, made the Rus warriors of the thirteenth century an impressive sight, particularly those with the money to import the best. This set from Strelets is intended to complement the Zvezda set of Russian Knights, with both being intended for the Battle of Lake Peipus in 1242.
The twelve poses in this set are all different, and feature many different weapons. Swords and bows, lances and maces are all on show, as is one man with an axe and another with a flail. Three of the figures have ring hands, and several weapons have been provided to fit these (one of each). All the poses are reasonable, and lend themselves to either charging or melee scenes.
The types of costume and armour are varied, as they should be, but all the items are appropriate for this period and place. In all cases the shields are moulded with the figure, so setting up is easier, and the various shield shapes seem correct. The emphasis on bows and swords is about right for these warriors, but we liked the inclusion of ring hands to allow some flexibility of weapon choice as well as realising better poses.
Such figures as these require a lot of surface detail, and those in this set do pretty well. All the armour, mail etc is nicely textured and every shield has a design embossed on it (though as always we would prefer plain shields). Though there are some very small areas of plastic where the mould could not reach, we found no flash at all. Even the separate lances were straight (unlike some earlier sets), though the very thick joins with the sprue means such delicate items need a lot of trimming to produce a good result. The ring hands needed slight enlargement to take some of the weapons, but this at least means the fit is tight, which is much better than being too loose. The horse poses are a great improvement on some previous efforts, and all the men sit on any horse, though they will require gluing to remain seated. When placed next to the set from Zvezda these figures are on comparable size, but exhibit a rather more chunky appearance which is a feature of all the figures from Strelets. Nonetheless the two sets could easily be placed next to each other without looking mismatched. This is a fair set which, at the time of release, filled a hole for this period left by the Zvezda sets.