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Avar Heavy Cavalry
(1 pose, 4 models)
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6 January 2000new research update
3 January 2000page first published

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©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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pack of Avar cavalry

One of the many joys of Medieval wargaming is that it can combine the hobbies of gaming and history. This 15mm scale pack is a prime example - not too many of your neighbors have ever heard of the Avars, let alone being able to tell you where they lived and when. In fact, even some encyclopedias fail to provide information on this obscure people.

So, who were the Avars? They were an amalgamation of nomadic peoples, driven west by the Turks in the 6th century A.D. They set up a kingdom (Avaria) in central Europe, subjugating the Bulgars and Gepids, but their power receded after their failure to take Constantinople from the Byzantines in 626. Their enemies described them as cunning and dishonest, "the most insatiable of the nomads." Their power was finally broken by the Magyars, who took their place as masters of central Europe.

There is some question in historical circles as to how the Avars were equipped. Ancient sources speak of armoured riders and (in some cases) frontally armoured horses, but archaeologists have found evidence that some (most?) Avar fought without armour or shield.

Thankfully, this manufacturer gives you many of the possible options, and lets you decide how to equip the troops. Besides the set reviewed here, they also make light cavalry and extra-heavy cavalry (conveniently matching the three types of Avars allowed in the DBM Avar army list).

3 parts to each model

The Heavy Cavalry model comes in three parts - horse, rider, and shield:

  • The horse is unarmoured. The mount has reins and bit, straps at front and rear (with decorative tassels), and a fringed saddle blanket.
  • The rider is posed with right hand holding an upright lance, and left hand resting near the reins. The rider wears scaled torso armour, including sleeves that flare outward. Below the waist is a split skirt of armour, scaled or segmented, worn over an undergarment. The figure wears boots, with stirrups attached. At the rear is a triangular bow case, from which a bow is protruding; opposite it is a long rectangular object (scabbard? quiver?). The helmet is conical with prominent vertical bands and a plume; a nosebar and cheek protectors frame the face. A chainmail coif at the rear links helmet to torso.
  • The shield consists of a nearly flat, featureless disk. Attached to the rear is a shaft which ends in a hilt or decoration. (This might be a sword, except that it doesn't end in a point.)

side view of assembled model without shield

You may need to adjust the legs (wider) in order to get the rider on the horse, but when properly done he fits perfectly (and very tightly). It seems evident that the shield should be cemented to the figure's left arm, but it will take research to know how to properly orient the shield. (We left ours off - which may be historically accurate...)

The rider's only visible seam is on the lance, and should be easy to clean up. The horse has uneven surfaces on the top rear, and minor seam problems across the saddle blanket and into the mane. (These may not be worth correcting.)

close view of assembled model

38mm from bottom of base to top of lance. Horse is 29mm from nose to tail.