The bulk of the population in Medieval Europe would only see warfare if they were unfortunate enough to have it visit their neighbourhood, when it could be personally devastating. For the rest, their most likely exposure to soldiers would be from the retinues of the local lord, or otherwise from small numbers of guards, perhaps protecting tax collectors or part of the Watch in a town. Such guards were not knights of course, but professional men-at-arms that provided the basic functions that modern police do today.
Guarding has never been exciting, and usually entails a lot of standing around doing nothing but being observant and ready for trouble. As you might expect then all these guards are standing in fairly relaxed poses, holding their spears and crossbows, and watching. There’s really not much more to be said about the poses, which are beautifully natural and very well done, although the last figure looks a little odd in our photograph as he is actually intended to be leaning on some castle wall looking below.
Most wear mail and all have surcoats which may well hide a mail hauberk underneath. All have helmets of various types, which can help to vary the appropriate time period but which could also be seen together (after all, many guards had to get by with archaic equipment). All have warm cloaks, some hooded, which again suggests their duties, where keeping warm would be a more immediate problem than freedom of movement to use weapons. From their general appearance we would think these are most appropriate for the 13th century or before, but everything is authentic.
Valdemar plastic figures have always been beautifully produced and these are as much of a treat as any. The detail is exquisite and the way the clothes hang is just superb, while the character to be found in the faces is breath-taking. As works of art then these are from the top draw, and there is no hint of flash or excess plastic. The elegantly slim spears and crossbows are separate, as can be seen, and are equally well produced, but attaching them to the men is something of a challenge as none of the figures have a ring hand. All the fists are solid, so must either be drilled out to take the weapon (an extremely daunting prospect for most and tricky with the inevitably fragile thin weapons) or the weapons must be cut and arranged around the hand, in which case the join would not be particularly strong. However with such fragile items these are not toys, but models for the connoisseur, so the lack of any bases is merely a small inconvenience.
All these figures are a trifle tall for western European men of the 13th century, but are beautiful models in their own right and would grace any display of medieval war or peace.