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Greek History sets 2022: 70949 Thermopylae 70950 Alexander the Great

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At the start of the new year the 2022 Greece-exclusive History sets finally also appeared in the German web store. They have now arrived with me and I would like to share some first impressions, staring with set 70949.

Set 70949 is the highly anticipated Battle of Thermopylae play set. It consists of 4 Persians with a tent and a chariot and 3 Spartans. A large rock stands for the mountainous pass of Thermopylae, where in 480 BC the Persian Empire under the Achaemenid Xerxes I and an alliance of Greek city-states led by Sparta under Leonidas I fought a famous battle. The Greeks lost the battle, but only after withstanding the Persian onslaught for three days. Their defiance in the face of a numerically superior force is epithomized by Leonidas' words μολὼν λαβέ, "come and get them," spoken to a Persian ambassador demanding the surrender of Greek weapons in a parley before the battle – his words are printed on the face of the box:

The box is exceptionally full of stuff and the smaller parts are organised in 4 numbered bags:

Assembly requires applying stickers to the chariot and Xerxes' throne. As we know, no new parts are ever produced for the Greece-exclusive History sets, so the only avenue for individual expression is the printing on the parts as well as the stickers. The sticker sheet for 70949 draws on Achaemenid iconography, best known from Persepolis and Naqsh-e Rostam, especially the winged disk with a figure inside:

This figure is often identified as the Zoroastrian main deity Ahura Mazda, but there is actually little reason to do so, considering the considerable ancestry of this symbol already in the Achaemenid period. We seem him holding a ring, reminiscent of the "ring and rod" handed over to Mesopotamian rulers (Hammurabi, etc.) by the (sun) god of justice in much earlier times. The other motive common to the sticker sheet, the tent and the printing of the Persian figures is the rosette, a common floral motive in Assyrian and other Mesopotamian design, and not something particularly pertinent to Persian art.

Applying the stickers and putting everything together, your set will look like this:

The tent is particularly alluring to my eyes, even if we miss a fourth wall that would turn it into a suitable dwelling – perhaps it is better seen as a mobile pavilion for Xerxes to display his might and wealth, in this set represented by his golden throne, goblet, candle and flower. This is a reduced version of the medieval tournament tent (set 3654), later incorporated into the Roman army (sets 4273, 7471, 71015). The canvas design is floral (rosettes) and geometrical, and the top of a different, lighter shade of yellow than #3654 and #71015. The winged disk and figure appear again in the top flag:

The chariot is the standard Roman model but without the wheel spikes, which is surprising, given that the Persians are said to have used scythed chariots in battle. The horse harness is brown but the animals lack bridles. The chariot requires 4 stickers.

Xerxes' throne is a common model (first seen in 3268 und 3269, I believe) in gold and with one sticker.

As said, we get four Persians, three of which are identical and the fourth distinct. They are all very colourful and all share the same beard and hair (non-metal chainmail, like Dürer previously). The three identical soldiers have bodies with a fixed pin on the side and are decorated with a printed design of circles and rosettes. The fourth figure, presumably Xerxes himself, has a Pharaoh-style skirt and carries printing on the body where it isn't covered by the toga. His toga, and the soldiers's ponchos, are printed at the front only. The set includes 2 magnificent shields, which are the original Roman scutum with centre boss in a new print design.

In more detail:

Finally, the three Greek, or presumably Spartan, soldiers are individually designed, each with different hair and one with a bandage across his face. The bodies are Roman type and come in two designs, the arms are muscular. They lack cuffs, which makes the arms look a bit off. The overall design is very similar to that of Ares in the Greek Gods series (#70216). Like with Ares, the three shields included here are too small to properly represent the hoplite shield (aspis), which in reality had a diameter of 80 cm to 1 m and effectively covered the entire upper body. Two shields are identical (red straps) and one carries a frontal face. The Greek figure on the left (of unique design) presumably is Leonidas.

All seven figures have the same "tan" skin colour.

A great set, lovingly designed. Quite expensive (49,99 €), but worth the money, in my opinion.

Next comes 70950 Alexander the Great, a more modest affair: a rider with some architecture and other fittings. The set belongs to the Play + Give range, which are sold in Greece for charitable purposes. This is the first Play + Give set to be sold regularly outside of that country, perhaps because of the subject link with the History sets.

The small parts are in one plastic bag:

The sticker sheet is for Alexander's "trunk" (formerly known as an Egyptian shrine). The prominent star also appears on his shield.

This is the complete set:

I like the columns, similar to the one in the "Ceasar" set 4277 but now entirely white. Larger flames would probably look better still.

Alexander wears a diadem but could also wear the hoplite helmet from the weapons rack (model previously seen in sets 9209 and 70302).

Finally a close up of Alexander and his horse Bucephalus:

Nothing special, really: tan skin colour, Roman body and legs. Nice printing but again nothing special. Short white cloak instead of something longer, so that the figure can sit on his horse comfortably. The saddle is nice: I did not know this model yet.

The set is priced at 14,99 €, which I consider a bit too much for what it offers. Still, I had to get it because the Greek history sets RULE.

Thanks for reading :wave:

Great reviews of two attractive sets there, StJohn. It's good they are available outside Greece and give hope for even more historical sets to come?

Thank you for the the detailed and knowledgeable review :love:

 :roman: :roman: :roman: Thanks for the excellent review and pictures! I can't wait to get mine. I dream of a full Ancient World theme, with multiple sets for Persians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Chinese, etc. etc.  :prays:


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