At the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, the US cavalry faced an estimated 2,000 warriors, mostly from the Lakota (Sioux) and Cheyenne tribes. At this stage in the Wars some warriors had learned how to fight the white man more effectively, and their skill and sheer numbers were sufficient to inflict a rare but famous defeat on the Government force.
Most of the poses in this set are of mounted warriors, which is quite appropriate for the Indian tactics at Little Big Horn, which involved encircling their enemy, sniping at them and eventually overrunning them. However there are only four such poses, which is few enough at the best of times, but particularly so for a subject such as this, where men fought as individual warriors rather than as a formed and organised unit. What is more two of the poses are particularly unusual. The first man on the top row is actually falling from the toppling horse, as can be seen here. This is an event which occurred to all cavalry in battle, yet has rarely been modelled in the past. Here the pose is most impressive and really dramatic, yet many will feel that to have fully one quarter of all the mounted poses in this state is not useful - one such pose in 12 or more would have been better. The second man is even harder to understand by himself, and again only makes sense when seen mounted. He is riding and firing his weapon while leaning beside the horse's neck, an impressive feat but perfectly possible. Again however, this nice pose should not make up a quarter of the total. The remaining two figures - one with a bow and one with a lance - are much less interesting but better choices for most people. The sole foot warrior is an odd pose. He carries a knife and has a bow on his back, but his left arm is in the air. Though hard to make out he may be carrying something in this hand, perhaps even the scalp of the fallen cavalryman.
All the men are wearing just the basic breech clout. Little Big Horn took place on a hot day, and many warriors were undoubtedly dressed in this manner, but more were dressed in one of a number of other fashions, and depicting every man dressed thus does not accurately convey the actual variety of dress. Two of the men have full trailer bonnets, denoting experienced and skilled fighters, and the rest have just one or two feathers, all of which are correct.
Each man has a weapon, yet we would have expected each to have several - at least everyone should have a knife. With two of the five poses having firearms this accurately reflects the likely proportion of such weapons at the battle, although so few poses means some common weapons are missing entirely from this set. One man holds a lance in the air - a weapon decorated with feathers. This is fine, and it is of about the correct length, but it comes in two halves because the ring hand is closed and therefore it cannot be slid into place. The fit is not particularly good, and the result is rather fragile. Making the lance whole and having the ring hand open at the top would have been much better.
The ponies are a fair job, though not the finest animal sculptures ever seen. The purpose of the falling animal has already been described, and the rest are a standard selection. All are correctly equipped with a simple rein tied to the lower jaw, although the sculptor has shown reins both side of the head rather than just one strap. In addition, some warriors had the white man's reins with bridle, so we would have liked to have seen at least one such horse here. Most of the men rode bareback, yet all these horses have a saddle cloth, and all have a strap round the belly, which is wrong. Worse yet is that two of the riders have stirrups, a device the Indians are thought not to have used at this battle.
The final figure is of a US cavalry casualty. The pose is fine and this is actually one of the most useful in the set. For comments on uniform etc. see our review of his comrades in the set of Custer - The Last Hunt.
The sculpting on these figures is pretty weak, with poor anatomy and faces. A fair amount of flash only adds to the woes, although at least the two standard poses fit on their horses quite well (naturally the other two will need gluing). All in all a set with some great ideas but poor execution, and one that will feel more at home next to some of the old poorly-defined figures from the likes of Giant than the best of more recent years.