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Set 72152

Byzantine Clibanarii Set 2

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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 24.5 mm (= 1.77 m)


By the fall of the Western Empire, the Roman world had long embraced the importance of cavalry, and as usual it was the heavy cavalry that formed the elite of the whole army. Indeed the infantry seems to have been treated as no more than a support for the cavalry, offering a refuge should the horsemen need to shelter on the battlefield. The introduction of the stirrup further improved the effectiveness of cavalry, providing commanders with both a highly mobile force of archers to disrupt an enemy, and a means of breaking an opposing unit by sheer force. As discussed with the first set for this set 2, RedBox have provided the medium and moderately heavy cavalry under the name of clibanarii, and here we find six more poses to depict these warriors.

The men in this second set are wearing body armour made up of either mail or scale short-sleeved corselets, worn over a long tunic and trousers. Some look to have a short corselet worn over another piece of armour, and three of the poses have splint-armour vambraces and greaves too. The helmets are of different styles but all have a central plume and look reasonable, and all the men have some form of neck protection. In some cases this appears to be an aventail, mostly of mail, which hangs from the helmet itself, although on many figures this is clearly a coif that was worn underneath the helmet (an item that dates from the 10th century). Half the poses are wearing a cloak, which would have seldom been worn in action as it inhibits the freedom of movement of the individual, although away from the fight it would have been perfectly reasonable.

The main weapon being wielded here is the sword, and we see both straight and curved examples in this collection, which is fine. The remaining two poses carry a mace, which was also an important weapon, although the mace head of the man at the end of our top row is far too massive to be realistic. Three of the poses also carry a bow in its quiver on their left hip and a quiver of arrows on the right. This might seem surprising for heavy cavalry, but this type of cavalry did include many archers despite the good levels of armour, although examples of men using their archery skills can only be found in set 1. Every man here carries a shield, either round or the cavalry version of the kite shield which dates those men to the 11th century at the earliest.

The horses in this set are exactly the same as those in set 1, so the same comments apply as for that set. Essentially the poses are not a good natural selection, although they are ones often found in this hobby, but all would seem to be in the act of at least trotting if not at the gallop. The saddles and straps all look okay, but the chief characteristic here is that all have armour protection for the chest area, and most also have a chamfron protecting the head. Apart from one apparent mail example, the horse armour is all scale or possibly fabric armour, and the chamfrons are mostly solid, although again one has been sculpted as being made of mail. Only the front of the animals has armour, which leaves the heaviest horse armour for the sets of catafractii, so for this set the level of protection looks appropriate.

While we were not pleased with the horse poses, the men are better. Basically most are waving their weapon about as you might expect in a charge or close-quarter combat, although the man simply holding his mace by his side is the most passive pose here. The middle figure in the second row is apparently about to strike to his left, but as so often, his arm is directly in line with his head, and in fact his sword hand is behind the plume of his helmet, so how can he hope to move his arm at all? A flat and absurd pose, but an aberration in an otherwise decent array of poses. The first man in the second row has a sash tied round his chest, an indication of high rank in Byzantine armies, so he is most likely just using his sword to emphasise his instructions rather than actually in combat.

The sculpting here is pretty good. The horses are the least pleasing part of the set, with some fairly chunky anatomy as well as the very unnatural poses of many. In addition, some of the horses lean alarmingly to either left or right, which does make the model quite unstable. Worse yet are the bases, some of which have a very rough and uneven bottom surface, further endangering the ability of the model to remain upright. The humans however are very nicely sculpted, with good detail and some nice facial expressions. They also have no flash to speak of, although the horses are not so fortunate and will require some cleaning up.

We have already mentioned some elements in this set which limit the valid date range of these figures, and one more is the quite pronounced pommel and cantle on all of the saddles, which look to us more like those for the later period of the Eastern Empire, so generally we would say these are less useful for the early period. However, in time Byzantine heavy cavalry came to closely resemble the knights of Western Europe, so again this set is not ideal for the very late part of the period. Nevertheless this is quite an attractive set of mounted figures for Eastern Roman heavy cavalry, and the main problem we have is with the unsatisfactory quality of the horses. The fit of some of the men on some horses is not good either, with their legs being too close together to sit properly, so work will be required there, or perhaps even sourcing horses from elsewhere. That said, there is enough to recommend this set for many of the actions that would define the history and future of south-eastern Europe, and when combined with the set 1, this offers much for the modeller interested in this period.


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

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