The Incas were originally a mountain tribe that first appear in the Andes around 1000 CE. With the ascension of Pachacuti to the throne in 1438 they became a strong centralised state that began conquering and absorbing their neighbours, and over the following decades the Inca Empire became the largest pre-Columbian state, covering what is today Ecuador, Peru and much of northern Chile. When the Spanish first encountered it in 1532 it had just endured a long civil war, which helped the Europeans to destroy it relatively easily, although final resistance was not crushed until 1572.
There are virtually no records of the appearance of the Inca army before the end of the Empire, but from various sources shortly after this date we know that the Incas had an army which was, in common with most imperial armies, made up of contingents from the various provinces, each with some distinction in terms of dress or method of warfare. It seems there were uniformed and colour-coordinated regiments, but also much diversity, mostly between different tribes. The figures in this set might be described as the 'classic' Inca look, with the men wearing the simple shirt (uncu) and much more ornate headdress or helmet. The latter was usually made of padded cotton, leather or plaited wood or cane, and was surprisingly strong. It's ornamentation was often a sign of the province and/or the rank of the wearer, and a transverse crest as shown on many of these figures was very common. The uncu was often decorated, with checks being particularly popular, and many in this set are engraved to depict suitable patterns. Some of the figures wear sandals while the rest are barefoot. A few have knee tassels, which are certainly depicted in Inca art but whether they were worn in combat is not known. One man has a round breastplate on his chest. Such devices (canipu) were the closest the Inca came to metal armour, and were partly badges of honour, with the quality of the metal indicating the status of the wearer.
The traditional Inca weapons were the sling, mace and shield, but they also used spears, clubs, a macana (like a sword) and pole weapons. This set includes all except the macana, so it provides are pretty broad range of weapons. All are correctly depicted, with perhaps the most surprising being the yauri (the last figure in rows one and two), looking not unlike a European halberd. One weapon that is missing is the bow, which was used by some of the forest tribes in the Empire. However they looked very different from the rest of the army and have not been included in this set.
The usual Inca shield was a small square wooden device covered with leather or matting, and with a soft apron around it to give some protection to the legs. This unique design is correctly captured here, as is a larger and simpler square example.
So with no problems on the accuracy front we turn next to the poses. As you might have guessed most of the figures are supplied with ring hands into which a variety of weapons can be inserted. This is clearly visible above as the figures are in the brown plastic and the separate weapons are in grey. The set is provided with six copies of the separate weapons sprue which can be seen here. Each contains three shields, a spear, sling, mace, club and yauri. This means there is considerable room for variety of weaponry, although as the number of weapons and shields is about the same as the figures require there are almost no spares. Some of the ring hands are a little loose, requiring the weapons to be glued, and equally the shields will require gluing to stay put, but in general the engineering is very good and the weapons fit easily. We thought the poses were very well done, with plenty of life and very good proportions.
The sculpting is of the usual Caesar high standard, with nice and clear detail and not the slightest trace of flash. As always you don't even have to remove the figures from a sprue, so these figures are ready to go straight out of the box. The only fault we found was on the pose carrying the feathered spear (llaca) and shield, who has a carrying handle on the cloth apron of the shield, treating it as if it were solid.
Once again Caesar have produced something that further expands this hobby, and they have done so with their customary excellent engineering and attention to historical accuracy while still making an exciting set of figures. As the first set ever to depict a South American subject this was a long time coming but now that it is here we think it was worth the wait.