The role of cavalry in the armies of Rome has long been underestimated, in large measure because it was thought that the absence of stirrups made mounted men relatively unstable and therefore ineffectual. Ancient writings never supported this theory, and recent research has shown that Roman cavalry had no stability problems, so the mounted arm can finally receive the recognition it deserves. In the past Imperial Roman cavalry has had very little representation in 1/72 scale plastic, but with this and other sets released by HaT that deficiency is rectified, and there is no better place to start than with the auxiliaries.
The overwhelming majority of cavalry in Roman armies was made up of auxiliaries such as those found in this set, and their main weapon was the spear or javelin, so it is something of a surprise to find such a high proportion of swordsmen here. One of the poses is of a standard bearer, but with trimming this can be made into a spear, which is much more useful. The remaining man carries a spear above his head, and this separate item fits very well in the ring hand. The man slashing his sword to his left has his arm in a physically impossible position - a common problem in cavalry sets - but otherwise we thought the poses were OK. One problem with all of them however is the position of the shield, which is held face forward, an uncomfortable and unlikely position adopted here because it is much easier to mould, but not ideal, especially for the man facing to his left.
Three of the men wear mail armour while the fourth has scale armour. All have a fairly standard helmet with cheek pieces, with some of these being engraved to resemble real hair - apparently a popular fashion at the time. They are armed with the spatha sword which was longer and more narrow than the infantry gladius and therefore better suited to use on horseback. The shields are oval in shape, a classic shape for auxiliary troops, and in all cases these are supplied separately, fitting onto pegs on the soldier's hand. As with the spear this is a firm and well-engineered fit.
The two horse poses, which are the same as those in set 8067, are quite similar but realistic. They have the classic four-horned Roman saddle, or at least as close as can be achieved for a two-piece mould, and all the harness is accurately done, although we would have expected a saddlecloth under the saddle. Our main complaint is that these horses are large impressive beasts whereas the Roman mounts were quite small. However the men do fit well on the animals.
The quality of detail and sculpting is comparable with the best HaT have ever produced, with excellent surfaces on both mail and scale armour. Flash is at a low level but there is some evidence that the two parts of the moulds were not a perfect match as there is a ridge between the two halves in some areas, particularly the feet. From the style of dress we would say these men are appropriate for at least a century from the early first century CE, and in a hobby already well endowed with Imperial infantry their appearance is long overdue.