Throughout the troubled history of Korea there have been many times when the organised military forces have seemed to fail to protect the interests of the country. During such times the country has seen the creation of the Righteous Armies, essentially peasant militias that take up the fight against the enemy. During the 16th and 17th centuries such 'armies' were raised to face the Japanese invasion of 1592 as well as the Manchu invasions of 1627 and 1636. During the Japanese invasion it is reported that around 22,000 men were in such guerrilla armies, and at a time of military humiliation it was these amateur soldiers that achieved Korea’s first victories on land and gave great heart to that unhappy country.
While these men were organised and conducted far more sophisticated actions than the term 'guerrillas' suggests they were still basically civilians and as such wore no uniform but just their ordinary clothes - a simple belted tunic and trousers. These figures show this costume correctly, as they do with the hair, tightly bound into a topknot and with a headband. The weapons too are correct for Korea at this time - swords, spears, bows and polearms including a trident. One man wields an axe while another simply has a club, which may not have been usual weapons of war but in an emergency any implement close at hand could be put to use. The second figure in the bottom row seems to have cloth wrapped around his spear - presumably the flaming device depicted on the box artwork.
The poses are quite lively and not as flat as some other RedBox offerings. The running figure in the bottom row is a tricky pose to do but here it is well done and about the best of the bunch, although they all have merit.
RedBox sculpting has not traditionally been amongst the best, but while these figures will not be winning any awards they are still quite decent. There is flash but it is fairly minor, while the chosen poses mean there is very little excess plastic. Such plain clothing means detail is to be found in the folds of the cloth and in the faces, and both are pretty good although most of the faces could do with looking more animated as these seem very calm given the violent activity in which they are engaged.
The righteous armies co-operated (sometimes) with regrouped regulars and monks to keep Korean hopes alive during the darkest days of the war with Japan, and today these men are celebrated as heroes. Their impact on the Imjin War was considerable and they fully deserve their place in the parade of plastic soldiers of the period. RedBox have made this one of their best sets yet, which duly honours their memory.