Just look at that box artwork. What small child of the late 1970s could possibly resist such an impressive and exotic set. At a time when most model soldiers were Romans, knights, World War II or modern, suddenly finding the Sphinx surrounded by ancient Egyptians, chariots and all, was something very new, and in such an impressively large box too. Of course the pocket money may not have stretched far enough to own one, but this set and the others in the Atlantic Ancients range made a great display in many a model shop, and marked a step forward in both quality of production and breadth of range available.
A sphinx was an animal with the body of a lion and the head of a human, and sometimes the wings of an eagle too. It was a common feature of ancient mythology, but today most will associate it with the Great Sphinx of Giza, which sits close to the famous pyramids of Giza. That particular sphinx is 73 metres long and 20 tall, but the Atlantic model measures 215 mm long and 115 mm tall (about 16.3 metres long and 8.7 metres tall at the advertised HO or 1:76 scale), and the model is much more anatomically correct than the historical monument, though that has been badly eroded over time. The model shows the sphinx in prime condition, lacking only the false beard that was sometimes depicted on the face, but intriguingly it has some sort of plaque between its paws, which is slightly reminiscent of the Dream Stele placed in front of the Great Sphinx by Thutmoses IV. There was no single pattern for a sphinx, but this model is pretty much typical of those found all over Egypt.
This Atlantic model is really simple, being just three large pieces (see below). The fit is quite good but not as tight or seamless as it might be, but of course this was only ever a toy so who cares. The completed model is really satisfying and chunky, and has been nicely sculpted - particularly the face. Even after 40 years our example is still flexible and as good as the day it was made, with no evidence of the plastic having deteriorated at all. A most pleasing model.
Along with the sphinx Atlantic bundled four full sprues of their Egyptian Cavalry, which we have reviewed elsewhere. That provides eight chariots and 24 figures. These have been neatly painted and displayed along with the unpainted sphinx for the box artwork (although there is much evidence that sphinxes and other statuary were brightly painted in antiquity). The back of the box gives the very basic instructions necessary to construct the sphinx and chariots, along with teaser images of the rest of the Egypt range.
The main problem with the Sphinx is it is not exactly a military accessory you can play with. To be honest, all you can do with it is put your Egyptian troops round it and admire the view, but it hardly has the same appeal as a fort, for example. Since Atlantic never made any opponents for their Egyptians, that too limited the play potential to an extent, although obviously in modern times many other manufacturers have filled that gap. Today the Sphinx set is quite rare and tends to be pricey to buy, and is really one for collectors only, but a great set to own and a point of interest if you are showing your collection to visitors.