Very little is known of the Dorians, but they originally inhabited what is today northern and central Greece, and after the fall of the Mycenaean states around the mid 11th century BCE they gradually became more widespread generally in Greece, forming one of the four major ethnic groups of Classical Greece when that emerged from the Greek Dark Ages in the sixth century BCE. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, historians attributed this spread to a ‘Dorian Invasion’ of the Peloponnese, as did some Classical Greek historians, though there is absolutely no evidence for this, and while there are many theories as to how this change came about, it is no longer thought that an invasion is a likely candidate. The influence of the Dorians is most readily seen in the changes in dialects spoken in Greece, but the basic problem is that during this period writing ceased and there are therefore no written records and very little iconography to illuminate these centuries for us. As a result there is little firm history of the time, hence the very apt name ‘Dark Ages’.
The lack of information on the history of this region during the Dark Ages extends to the look and activities of the Dorians and others, so in assessing these figures we have looked at evidence for Greeks in general during the period, though this is far from definitive. In any event such evidence is scarce, and as so often any historian has to make informed guesses and extrapolate using what fragments of evidence are to be found. It is thought that the tunic and kilt remained common garments at this period, and there is evidence for various forms of helmet as well as greaves and possibly some body armour, though this is highly speculative. Many of the figures in this set have such garments, and one seems to have a cuirass, though others may have these too. A couple have something you often see in children’s books but we have never seen as a serious suggestion, and that is a robe swept over a single shoulder, which would seem less than comfortable and apparently unproven for this period. Helmets are hard to make out but here they are in various designs, and given that we are talking about several centuries and quite a wide area, none can be dismissed, even those with horns. In truth no one can be certain of what the Dorians looked like, and so we have not offered a score on this aspect of the set, though nothing here particularly leaps out as impossible.
Warfare of the period was likely to be little different from that of the preceding age, though on a much smaller scale. Spears and swords remained the major weapons, though bows and axes were also used, as were slings - this last item is the only one missing from these figures. Again shields seem to have come in many shapes and sizes, and while there are many shapes in this set too, all may be correct at some point in time. One figure seems to carry a mace, for which we could find no evidence, but it cannot be ruled out completely. Five of the poses have no weapon, so we assume they are the intended recipients for the separate ‘spears’, of which more below, so there is nothing particularly troubling here given the little evidence available.
The poses and sculpting we will consider together, because both are pretty terrible. The figures are quite crude, with rough detail which is not always possible to identify. As usual, the backs of some of these figures are much worse than the fronts, and are often very flat and with little or no definition. The crude style also extends to the poses, which mainly involve a man holding his arms out to the sides as he holds a weapon and shield. All the poses are very flat, and we have to wonder at the value of a figure who is holding his shield in the air and behind him (second row). Those with nothing in their hand are presumably meant to be given the separate ‘spears’, one of which can be seen in the third row. These are simply strands of plastic with no form at all, and it is up to you to make them resemble a spear if you can. Even then, no figure has a ring or cupped hand to take such a weapon, and indeed many have nothing that could possibly qualify as a ‘hand’ in any case. The right arm of the middle figure in row two stops at the elbow, and many have no more than a lump at the end of their arm (the archer lacks even this). The only pose that we found at all pleasing was the man in the bottom row playing the panpipes or syrinx, which looks far more natural than any of the others, though far from a good figure.
While we always welcome diversity in this hobby, choosing a subject about which so little is known, including their appearance, is a brave strategy if you want to sell a set. Nobody can prove you are inaccurate, but to make such figures appealing you need to make them as pleasing to the eye as possible, and these are the complete opposite of that. Ugly, malformed pieces with some flash and also very large lumps of excess plastic, especially between the legs on some, plus flat poses and no attempt to fashion proper spears, all make this a set with no real appeal at all. Even if you wanted to model the Dorians during the Dark Age, this is hardly the set to do it. Oh, and no, we have not forgotten the final piece in the bottom row – we simply have no idea what it is, so cannot comment!