You might have seen them in the earlier battle reports, but here is the review of the 9th-11th century Byzantine force I built for my games.
The force is small and based on a few units, but I plan to expand it with more. Overall, I'm very happy with Essex Byzantines.
A few words on the company: it is a well-known manufacturer of 15mm and 25mm historical figures located in, well, Essex - southeast UK. They have exceptinal variety of armies and the price is very honest. Service is good and my items got shipped in a timely and efficient way.
Now, to the figures:
BZA01 - Byzantine: Command: Mounted General
Three figures, horseman and steed separated. Two different steeds, very well made. One, same figure for the horsemen. Seriously? They don't even look like Byzantines of that era, without armour and with a very simple helm. Armed with mace, no shield, a scabbard hanging from the side, under the cloak. Frankly speaking, I've seen better, but anyway.
BZA14 - Byzantine: Kataphraktoi Extra Heavy Cavalry
These are not actually BZA14, since the shield is different - my figures have a kite shield, apparently not available anymore. BZA14 have a round shield. Everything else is the same.
Now I must say these miniatures are very nice - not like BZA01. They seem to respect history very well, and they have fine details and all. Again, they are four and all exactly the same. The horses have two poses, but again wonderful sculpt. Alas, the Essex website does not credit scultpors!
Now the backbone of this force: the Skutatoi. These are my favourites. In every pack there are 8 pieces that are exactly the same BUT there are three different poses under different codes: BZA17, BZA18 and BZA25, so one can have some variety among the ranks. Additionally, the details on the figures allow for differentiation by colour:
BZA27 Byzantine: Varangian Guard
These are also good: 8 figures with two poses, and fine detail. Historically realistic. Full of character, too.
They even have relief decorations on the cloak, Chinese brocade style.
All in all, Essex Byzantines are a good range and I'll be purchasing more of them. I'll probably need a command group and some archers, light cavalry and a couple more Caraphracts with different poses. Well done, Essex!