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"... the old Italeri Persian Infantry and Cavalry (+ chariot) sets."
Originally, these were Zvezda sets
Honour to whom honour is due.
"This thing about musicians ??: Have you ever tried making music when in full Cataphract armour? All that rattling metal is surely a substitute."
Well, the Parthians (and Sasanians) used to beat large drums during battle. Probably not the cataphracts (nor the archers) themselves (they had other things to do), but professional musicians who most likely were only slightly armoured or unarmoured and positioned at a secure place during the fight. They just delivered the sound to spur their own and intimidate the enemy. Parthians and Sasanians also used horns and trumpets. As a matter of fact, I remember a photocopy showing an ancient (and I mean ancient - 1st c. BC, or AD, or so) figurine of a Parthian cataphract blowing a horn (ram horn, or so), I've got it somewhere. Will scan and post it when I find it ...
Yea I remember those HaT sets! You would know better than me, but those sets seemed very well organized for me. To be honest if I went for Nappys those would still be high on my list for acquisition, although the new ones standing at attention from Strelets are super nice too.
Just as an edit, STRM049 Praetorian Cohort is actually pretty much a perfect Before Battle set. 44 before battle legionaries with command. So 1 of 663, which is better than none!