By the time the first shot was fired in the Thirty Years War the arquebus was already a venerable old weapon that had been made obsolete by the more modern musket, although even that was decades old by this time. Yet the arquebus continued in use, not least because it was lighter and easier to handle, not requiring a fork like the heavier musket. Along with the caliver it served as a light firearm, and only gradually vanished from the European battlefield, yet remained in sufficient numbers to warrant a set such as this.
In a set identified as arquebusiers it is remarkable to note that there are so few of them in this box. Only the figures in the top row have the weapon, and even then there are some doubts. All we can say for certain about the first figure in this row is he is doing something with a long strip of pink plastic, but exactly what he is doing, and what the plastic thing is we have no idea. With no discernible detail he could be holding an arquebus (which in other circumstances might seem like an obvious guess) or a sword. The poorly painted example on the back of the box implies this is a sword being withdrawn from its scabbard, but the whole thing is so bad that it is impossible to know. The remaining three figures are more conventional, showing a man giving fire, one perhaps blowing on his match and one using his firearm as a club ('falling on'). As poses these are all good choices.
With the end of the first row we exhaust the arquebusiers in this set, and the second row shows us mostly pikemen for some reason! One pose has the conventional sloped pike driven into the ground, but the other two are holding the pike by the very end, making a very unwieldy weapon even more difficult to use, and therefore are very poor poses. The fourth man by contrast is excellent, lying on the ground as if wounded or at least pushed over. He has no weapon visible but makes a great generic 17th century casualty.
The final row begins with a man apparently drawing his sword. In fairness he too could be an arquebusier who has discarded his firearm in favour of the blade as he prepares to engage in hand-to-hand combat. Beside him is a flag-bearer in relaxed pose, followed by a drummer and an officer. These poses are fine although the drummer holds his instrument completely horizontally when this would usually have been at a more comfortable tilt.
As might be gathered from our comments on the first figure this set is not a fine example of the figure-maker's art. The detail is at times pretty crude and there is a very rough quality to everything here. There is no hope of identifying subtleties such as the type of lock on the firearms - they simply do not have any. The separate pikes will need gluing to the figures yet they have little or no means of holding them. Many of the poses are quite flat, and while the level of flash is not too bad that does little to salvage the appearance of these creations. The flag is a case in point. It has a really makeshift crest design engraved on one side which looks like someone spent no more than ten seconds in its creation, and perhaps that is the reason for the general bad quality. Whatever the cause, these are quite ugly figures.
With no uniforms to speak of and a widespread use of all manner of civilian and military clothing and equipment, it would be hard to go too far wrong with accuracy on these figures and as far as can be seen there are no errors here. All the clothing looks fine, with the pike wearing much more armour than the shot, and the officer looks good with his sash and more flamboyant suit. The pikes, which are separate (see the image of the sprue) are a good length at 62mm to the tip, which is a respectable 4.5 metres, although they tend to be rather curved, which spoils the overall effect.
Historical accuracy is all very well but if the figures are of this sort of quality then it is largely wasted, as is great sculpting on inaccurate figures. Added to that the rather mixed choice of poses, and the fact that fewer than half the figures in the set could actually be described as arquebusiers anyway, and we are left with a set that has little to offer.