At the start of the Thirty Years War cavalry was broadly divided into the heavier cuirassiers and the lighter arquebusiers. The latter were armed with an arquebus or carbine as well as pistols, and usually a sword as a sidearm. Their role was to support charges by the cuirassiers by firing in turns on the enemy to weaken them, and also to perform the many other actions of light cavalry like skirmishing. However during the thirty years in question they were to decline greatly as dragoons became more important. In 1633 there were 20 regiments of arquebusiers in the Imperial forces, but by the war’s close there were none at all.
As a lighter cavalryman the arquebusier wore relatively little armour - usually a helmet and sometimes a breast and back plate. The body armour declined in popularity at this time, so that late in the war many had only a helmet and possibly a buff coat. This is the condition of these figures, for most have no body armour and only a helmet, which curiously is of the old-fashioned morion style. Many seem to have a buff coat, which is reasonable, but some look to simply have a fabric coat, which too is authentic. Various kinds of boots and breeches cover the legs, so these figures are authentic in clothing if somewhat contradictory in the dating of the various parts of their apparel. However two of the men have no crossbelt to carry their firearm, and one of these still has the powder flask on the hip, despite having no means of holding it where it is. The figure with the brimmed hat looks to be an officer as he wears a sash across his body and has no arquebus. Even more than the men, officers pleased themselves in terms of costume, and this one has chosen front and back plates over a coat as well as armour on the thighs.
Not unnaturally most of the poses are of men handling the arquebus. This must have been a tricky operation while mounted on a horse, but all these poses are fine although as usual they are quite flat, so for example the man in the top row using his ramrod is doing so beside his right ear. The horse poses suffer from two problems. The first is several are completely unnatural and make no sense. The second is several would seem to be at full gallop, or at least moving quickly, which would make the job of the rider virtually impossible. The usual tactic was to move forward to within range of the enemy, fire your weapon, and then retire so the next rank could step forward. Firing at the gallop would have been all but impossible and highly ineffective, so for a set such as this all the horses should have been either walking or standing in our view.
These figures have quite a lot of flash in places, although the flat poses means there is no excess plastic apart from on the first figure in the top row. The sculpting is quite poor, and it is difficult to make out too much detail. For example, the men would have a powder flask, ball bag and generally one or more tools on their right hip, but in many cases nothing seems to be there, or if there is something, it cannot be identified. Ironically the best figure in this regard is the only one with a bandolier of pre-prepared charges - a device that was unpopular with mounted men. At least the men fit their mounts pretty well, although the bases on the horses are quite thin and narrow, making them a less than solid foundation for the figure.
This is not a set to impress, and we would also have liked to have seen a wider variety of helmets to add a more natural mix to the collection, as well as perhaps giving some a breast plate. One curious feature is that although all the men have a (sometimes extremely long) sword scabbard, in every case this is empty, which seems highly unlikely and certainly not the norm. In short then we have a set with many problems that those with a good eye for detail will probably find hard to forgive, but at the time of writing there is no alternative product for such men, so they are at least better than nothing.