Hussite armies, which gained victory after victory in the first half of the 15th century, were in large measure a peasant force with relatively few experienced soldiers and aristocratic leaders. Initially this meant there was relatively little sophisticated armour, and many weapons would have been no more than suitably adapted agricultural tools. However the many victories against the crusaders would have provided the Hussites with increasing amounts of both modern armour and quality weapons, so that in time a Hussite army would have looked little different to that of any other of the region, and the soldiers would have been as experienced as any mercenary or professional sent against them. Well led, as they often were, they could be more than a match for any army.
The figures in this set are all relatively lowly soldiers with a pleasing array of armour and clothing ranging from mail hauberks and decorated helmets to no armour at all. Some have padded tunics and some simply wear their ordinary clothes of hose, a tunic and hood. A number have kettle helmets and there are a handful of basinets, perhaps looted from a defeated enemy. This complete mix is highly likely to be typical of Hussite infantry and so is very appropriate here, meaning we have no issues with the costume.
As with the clothing, so the weapons were many and varied, and largely reflected the wealth (or luck) of the individual handling them. Flails were a common weapon, and there are two here, while polearms - another common weapon - are also in good supply in this set. One man has a mace, and a lucky few have a sword on them. There are two crossbowmen and two with handguns, both of which were known to be quite numerous, so again the weapons here are absolutely fine. There are a number of shields, all of which are large and several look to be a pavise, which would shelter a man as he reloaded his weapon. All of these, as well as some of the clothing, bear Hussite symbols of the chalice and the goose. Unfortunately the goose symbol is an error, which is often repeated in contemporary and modern references, but would never actually have been used by the Hussites (the goose was an insult concocted by a hostile artist). Luckily the shallow engraving is easily cleared or ignored when painting. In general such shields could be more highly decorated than this, so the engraved designs provided here are more symbolic than anything else.
It must be said that RedBox sculpting has been more than poor in the past, so it was a pleasure to see that this set is very much better than anything they have done before. The style looks very much like that of Orion, and boasts much better proportions and good levels of detail. We must not, however, get too carried away as this is still some way from the best sculpting on the market. Yes the detail is good, but sometimes the proportions do stray rather, and there are various small issues like some of the hands, which seem not to grip what they are supposed to be holding. We were not particularly keen on the faces either, but this is more a story of various small imperfections than anything too terrible.
The poses are on the face of it pretty good too, but again we were uncomfortable with some. Trying to reproduce the pose of the second figure in the top row proved very difficult, particularly his right arm, and the third figure in the second row left us asking why he is holding what is clearly a slashing weapon as if it were a pointed one. The two crossbowmen are both interesting figures and very nice, although neither is actually using his weapon in anger (perhaps waiting for the moment to strike), which allows for a natural pose that still means the crossbow itself is easy to sculpt. The second handgunner in the bottom row is holding his gun with his right hand and the match with his left, which is the reverse of the normal procedure but might well make sense if the gunner was left-handed. The pavise at the end of the last row is quite pointless really because the support with which it is supposed to be resting is parallel with the shield, so the whole item barely stands and just looks odd.
Another RedBox feature of old - flash - is still here but not in particularly disastrous quantities, and while some of the poses are quite flat there is not a lot of unwanted plastic here. The poses do not really suggest the most famous tactic of the Hussites - the use of wagons as a form of temporary fortification - but then as there is no wagon in this set perhaps that does not matter, since not all of the fighting was like that. This set is certainly a great improvement on previous RedBox output, and of a sufficient quality to be perfectly usable with a few genuinely interesting poses.