The Conquistadors were essentially mercenaries and adventurers who sought useful employment in the newly discovered lands and earnestly hoped to acquire great riches in the process. While the Spanish crown certainly gained enormously from their endeavours, the campaigns of Cortes and others were mostly privately funded expeditions employing whatever men could be found. These men were some of the best soldiers in Europe at the time, and their enormous technological superiority over the bronze-age natives meant that despite their small numbers they could prevail over armies many times their size, and ultimately destroy the civilisations they encountered.
This particular subject has been covered before, by the very attractive set from Revell. When opening this Caesar set one of the first impressions is that the contents are remarkably similar to that of Revell. While the Revell set has more poses the makeup of weaponry and the inclusion of two cavalry is much the same, with some of the poses being quite similar. This set includes two crossbowmen and two arquebusiers. These were both common weapons by the early 16th century, and both were certainly used by the Conquistadors, but they were slow to reload and their armour-piercing qualities were wasted on the unarmoured natives. Many of the infantry must have been swordsmen, which make up the majority of poses here, all of which are pretty good. Finally we find two mounted men. Although never very numerous the cavalry was an important part of Conquistador armies as the natives had never seen horses and had no effective defence against mounted troops. Both these are armed with a lance, which is fine. However the heavier man is holding his shield well out to the side in an unconvincing manner. Only having 11 poses split between so many different types of troops limits the numbers of each, but we liked most of the poses on offer.
No one knows for sure how the Conquistadors appeared, but these figures wear fairly classic costume and equipment for their time. The helmets are a mixture of burgonet, cabacete and the recognisable morion, and all are correctly done. All these types were around at the time (the morion only later in the period), so while we cannot be sure they seem reasonable for this set. Most of the swordsmen wear a good deal of metal armour too. Again this is a debatable subject but it seems that most Conquistadors soon adopted the lighter native fabric armour as heavy metal armour was incredibly hot and quickly deteriorated in the climate. However native images and descriptions do mention Spaniards ‘encased in iron’, so these figures conform to the generally recognised image if less certainly the actual appearance. In all respects their clothing is appropriate, and much the same can be said for their weaponry and equipment with the notable exception that most of the missile troops and cavalry lack a sword, which is wrong.
The usual Caesar production qualities are again on show in this set, with well proportioned figures that have no trace of flash or unwanted plastic. The riders fit the horses very well, and detail everywhere is well done and clear. The plastic is of medium softness but this does mean that long weapons can be quite bent in the box and need careful attention to straighten out again. There are no separate parts to assemble apart from the couched lance, which means the crossbows are held at an unnatural diagonal angle to expose them to the mould, but otherwise this is a very well engineered set.
In overemphasising the metal armour this set shares this fault with that from Revell, but it does at least avoid having any pikeman poses, which is good. The more lightly armoured cavalryman with the adarga shield is more typical of most Conquistador cavalry, so it would have been nice to see two such poses rather than the correct but less common full-armoured knight. Still the quibbles are small, and if not perfect then at least this is a definite improvement on the Revell set, and we are happy to report that both these sets work together perfectly.