These figures were taken from two compatible suppliers, Baueda and Essex.
Let's start with the latter:
Essex DGS1 - Dark Age: Heavy Cavalry in mail with lance and round shield
These are lovely figures: extremely realistic and detailed, both riders and horses. They could represent most European heavy cavalry between 750 and 950, milites protected by chain mail and open helms, armed with spears and round shields.
Essex DGS2 - Dark Age: Heavy Cavalry in mail with assorted weapons & round shield
These are leaders: two of them look like generic west European knights from the Carolingian and post-Carolingian era, while the other two wear helms with visors making them resemble Norman horsemen. The poses are beautiful, four different ones, and the horses are again great.
Baueda CRL1 - Carolingian Mounted Command
Speaking of leaders, here are the Baueda captains. The miniatures from this producer look more stylized than the Essex ones, with more strinking but less realistic details. There are four poses among the riders and all of them are very well done; and 3-4 poses among the horses. Oh, the horses: sorry Baueda, your horses are not the same as Essex; they are very crude, and I'm being generous. Those that you see in the pictures are actually Essex since I felt bad using Baueda ones with the riders, who are actually beautiful, but you'll see below what I'm talking about.
The Command Group from Baueda well represents the élite of an armed force: counts, gastaldi or sculdasci in charge of a retinue.
Baueda CRL3 - Carolingian Caballari
Caballari, on the other hand, are generic knights armed with a lance and a round shield, and protected by mail armour. These riders (three poses) are less well sculpted than the Command Group, but still nice; but then you see the horses: two poses, and not at all well done.
Baueda CRL4 - Swabian, Bavarian or Thuringian Caballari
The same could be said for the CRL4, with very well detailed, if stylized, riders and mediocre mounts. These are horsemen armed with swords and shields.
Now, let's draw some conclusions: which are best? I like them both, I would say. Essex minis are more proportionate and realistic, but Baueda minis are more varied, easier to recognize in the crowd of other figures, and funnier to paint; the Command group is delightful; but their horses suck. So it really depends on personal taste, I would say.
Both lines are 100% compatible: just compare DGS2 and CRL1.
These are incidentally some of those that I really like (again, CRL1 horse is actually stolen from Essex set).
But here are some extra pictures, just to show off the painting, because this time I'm quite proud of them and I'm not sure next time they'll be as good!
|Essex Normans, the horse on the right is actually Baueda|
|A better view of the command group CRL1, only the white horse is Baueda, the others are all Essex|