LogoTitle Text Search



Set 72151

Byzantine Clibanarii Set 1

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2024
Contents 12 figures and 12 horses
Poses 6 poses, 6 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown
Average Height 25 mm (= 1.8 m)


The term clibanarii and exactly what it means has long been the subject of vigorous debate amongst historians, particularly in terms of how they differed from catafractii. This is because there is no clear consensus as to their definition from ancient writers, some of whom even seem to use the terms interchangeably, and indeed for long periods we have no mention of either term in works on Eastern Roman armies. The answer is probably that there was no consistent distinction between the two, but in the modern world we like to impose structure and order on such things, so a common modern approach is to see the clibanarii as heavy cavalry and the catafractii as extra heavy cavalry, and this appears to be the method adopted by RedBox for this and its sister set.

All the figures in this set are riding with the aid of stirrups, which were only introduced in the late 6th century, and by this time the Roman Empire had long developed a strong cavalry arm, which would become the most important part of the army. The Romans learned much from their opponents in the east, including how to deal the knockout blow to an enemy with cavalry that was well enough armoured to simply smash into their ranks. All six of the poses in this set are armoured, including various conical helmets with a central plume. One has a turban wrapped around it, and most seem to have a mail aventail to protect the neck, although in at least one case this may instead be a mail hood or coif. The body armour is hard to make out, but looks to consist of a scale or lamellar corselet, sometimes with the classic Byzantine breastband and shoulder straps. A couple of the poses have splint armour on at least the right forearm, and one man has the same on the lower legs as greaves. Two of the men are wearing long cloaks as well, which is not something that would actually be worn in battle for obvious practical reasons. Other than that however, everything here looks authentic.

There are two types of mounted warrior here – lancers and archers. In fact these roles were not mutually exclusive, and indeed some of these figures have both weapons. The lances are about 40 mm in length, which equates to 2.9 metres, which is a fair bit shorter than the full-length kontus lance of 4 metres, but there is evidence that shorter lances such as this were widely carried by these men, so everything is fine. The other two men are using their bows, and one of the lancers also carries his bow, so this important weapon is also well-represented. Every man also carries a sword of course, usually straight-bladed, but there is no sign of the maces you might expect some to also carry.

The six horse poses in this set are shared with the second set on this subject, and are not good models. The general anatomy is not particularly good, being rather stocky, and the poses vary from marginal to downright impossible, although all seem to be in motion. Every animal has tack which looks reasonable, although the saddles have rather high sides which makes us think of the later years of the Empire rather than the first few centuries. Every animal also has frontal armour which is in one case apparently sculpted as mail, but the rest are scale armour, or potentially padded fabric. These designs are reasonable in themselves, and most of the horses also have head protection in the form of a solid chamfron. Historically speaking they are accurate and reasonably typical, but not great to look at.

The sculpting of the men is quite pleasing, so we find plenty of nice detail and good faces, and no flash at all. The horses however do have a fair amount of flash, and the bases leave plenty to be desired. On our sample these often had a very uneven surface underneath, causing difficulties with standing, and several of the animals also lean significantly to one side or the other, again making standing difficult. Also many of the horses are too fat to allow any rider to sit on the saddle, so will require a good deal of filing down to allow the fit to be made, which is poor.

As can be seen from our scans, our sample came in a marbled sort of colouring, which is not ideal, and we assume betrays poor pigment mixing during production. In other respects however the production is very good, and some uninspiring but perfectly useful poses and nice sculpting have combined to create a pretty good set of men. The horses are definitely the weak point in this set in terms of quality, but since there are no issues with accuracy (aside from the unwanted cloaks) this is a decent set that covers the subject pretty well when combined with the set 2.


Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 8
Mould 8

Further Reading
"Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath - 9780904417081
"Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath - 9780904417159
"Armies of the Middle Ages Volume 2" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath
"Byzantine Armies 1118-1461 AD" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.287) - Ian Heath - 9781855323476
"Byzantine Armies 886-1118" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.89) - Ian Heath - 9780850453065
"Byzantine Cavalryman c.900-1204" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.139) - Timothy Dawson - 9781846034046
"Roman Heavy Cavalry (2)" - Osprey (Elite Series No.235) - Andrey Negin - 9781472839503
"Romano Byzantine Armies 4th-9th Centuries" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.247) - David Nicolle - 9781855322240
"The Eastern Romans 330-1461 AD" - Concord - Raffaele D'Amato - 9789623610896

Site content © 2002, 2009. All rights reserved. Manufacturer logos and trademarks acknowledged.