In the second millennium BCE Greece was a collection of city states, similar to the later Classical period, but the states were larger and fewer in number. These states were at various times allies or enemies, but around the 16th century BCE Mycenae came to be the dominant state, and this dominance lasted until the 12th century BCE. This box is labelled as 'The War of Troy', and is intended to date to the mid 13th century BCE, a time when the state was on the verge of going into decline.
While evidence is as usual fragmentary for the late Bronze Age, it seems that the 13th century BCE saw a change in the makeup of the Mycenaean army. The army took on a lighter appearance, and the big heavy tower and figure-of-eight shields mostly disappeared in favour of smaller round shields, as did the four metre long spears, which were now barely half that length but could be handled with one hand. This reduction in shield size required that the men wear more protection, and corselets of leather beneath scale armour appeared. At the same time or a little later greaves make an appearance, but these seem to have been quite thin and gave little protection, and were discarded within a generation or so. Sources of this time show helmets with what seem to be horns, or a 'hedgehog' style, and for the first time warriors wear footwear rather than go barefoot.
Many of the figures in this set have the scale corselet, while some others wear a bronze cuirass, which is a reasonable response to the smaller shield. They all wear a reasonable representation of the horned helmet (we do not know the exact look of this item), and they all wear both greaves and boots. There are no lights here, which is to say no one is without some sort of armour. Given the limited knowledge currently available on these warriors, we found no reason to quibble with accuracy of costume, although the wearing of greaves might limit the appropriate period for some purists.
There are no slingers in this set, but a couple of archers do make an appearance. Otherwise we have sword and spearmen and a good many figures with ring hands into which any of the weapons on a separate sprue can be inserted. Where we have added these to the base figure is clear to see in our picture as the weapons are grey in colour. This approach allows much more variety of pose, but in any event the variety is pretty good, with some very believable poses that are well realised. Ring hands that are side on to the mould mean better poses are possible, and we really liked them all.
The separate weapons largely speak for themselves but are a fair selection and there is plenty spare to allow more mixing and matching (there are six of each). The provided shields are mostly either of the round sort or the 'inverted pelta', which was a round shield with a section cut away to allow easier movement. However the sprue also includes one of the now old-fashioned tower shields, which would seem to have been little used by the 13th century BCE. Luckily there are sufficient of the other shields to equip every man without needing to use these large shields at all, and they do at least provide some scope for converting figures to early period Mycenaean if desired.
Stop us if you have heard this before, but these Caesar figures are beautifully sculpted, with perfect proportions and crisp, clear detail everywhere while if you were to search for flash then you would search in vain. The weapons fit the ring hands easily and the shields fit the appropriate pegs on the arms, although gluing is still recommended. Be aware that on one or two of the poses attaching the large shield to the outstretched arm makes the figure prone to toppling over as the shield has not been considered when sizing the base. However with the round shields this is not a problem.
Caesar has done a decent job with the historical aspects of these figures, but as always it is the technical excellence that really marks them. With the chariot set these figures do justice to the Greek heroes of which Homer spoke and should stimulate interest in an era that has received little attention before now.