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RedBox

Set 72045

Mounted Men at Arms

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2014
Contents 12 figures and 12 horses
Poses 6 poses, 2 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown
Average Height 25 mm (= 1.8 m)

Review

In the early Middle Ages the mounted knight had come to dominate the battlefield, but as the Scots and later the English were to demonstrate, steady infantry could withstand their attack while the longbow could devastate cavalry from a distance, so by the late medieval period it was the foot soldier that dominated. The Wars of the Roses (1455 to c.1485) were a series of dynastic conflicts over the throne of England, but the battles were largely infantry affairs. Those that could afford to travelled to the battle by horse, but dismounted to fight. Horsemen of course played their usual part of mounting guard and scouting, and sometimes a mounted reserve was kept back from the battle so as to scatter a weakened enemy at the critical moment, while the men at arms might call for their horses once the enemy was fleeing so as to inflict further damage. Occasionally too there were full blown cavalry actions during a battle, as at Bosworth in 1485 when Richard III charged with his cavalry in an attempt to reach Henry Tudor.

The set delivers six different poses, which between them carry all the usual cavalry weapons. Two have war hammers, one a sword, one a mace and two have lances. The weapons are generally well done, with a nice shape to the lances and sword, although the first figure in the top row holds a fairly strange war hammer with what looks like an axe head opposite the hammer head. Stranger still is the bizarre way he is holding this, because he holds it sideways, thus being completely incapable of striking at anyone. Actually since his right hand lacks a thumb he doesn’t even really hold it, so this pose is very poor indeed. The rest are fine, although the swordsman is in a classic but not very convincing pose of holding his sword directly out to the side.

There are just two horse poses, and while neither are brilliantly natural they are clearly both at the gallop. This is all very well although having some poses with the horse largely stationary would have allowed figures to be portrayed actually fighting, either infantry or other cavalry, as the box artwork seems to promise.

As men at arms these are all naturally encased in plate armour, and everything looks pretty good here. Some have a tabard over the armour while others have it bare, but while the designer has chosen fairly uncomplicated armour nothing here looks out of place. The helmets look to be a mixture of sallets (with bevors) and armets (the former was much the more popular in England at the time), and one man wears a barbute. Some have decoration like a plume or an orle, and two have their visors up, revealing their face despite the risk, which reminds us of how hot and uncomfortable it could be wearing a full helmet in the middle of battle.

Also well sheathed in iron or steel are the two horses, both of whom wear practically a full set including chanfron, crinet (with mail underneath the neck), peytral and crupper. This matches well with some magnificent surviving examples of horse armour dating from this time, but these are all from the Continent as English knights usually went without horse armour, or at most added a chanfron. It would be exceptional indeed to see a horse so well protected on any Wars of the Roses battlefield, and to include nothing else in a set such as this is to wildly misrepresent the typical appearance of such men, no matter how splendid they look. We liked the high saddles, which helped keep the men on board, particularly if they were using the lance, but otherwise the horses are not well chosen for the subject.

The sculpting is very nice, with good detail and no flash. The poses are a bit flat – the unloved first figure in the top row is an extreme example admittedly - but the man with lowered lance is anything but, yet has been cleverly done to come as a single piece, which works well. The riders sit easily in the saddle apart from the lowered lance man, whose legs are a bit too close together so he springs up. We also found that both horses lean a little to the right, so while they both stand OK even with a rider it looks a little odd from the front. Still as a whole this is a very nice sculpting job and the mould is really well done.

Having nominated our candidate for runt of the litter we thought all the other poses were usable and some are really nice, but sadly there is not much that can be done about the horses, which are far too exotic for the time and place intended, so perhaps look elsewhere for replacements or field these men on mainland Europe instead. The men are accurate and the sculpting good, so while such mounted men had very little impact on the battlefields of the Wars, this set delivers some attractive figures for which those with an interest in the later Middle Ages might well find a use.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 7
Pose Quality 8
Pose Number 7
Sculpting 9
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"Armies of the Middle Ages Volume 1" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath
"Bosworth 1485" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.66) - Christopher Gravett - 9781855328631
"English Medieval Knight 1400-1500" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.35) - Christopher Gravett - 9781841761466
"Tewkesbury 1471" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.131) - Christopher Gravett - 9781841765143
"The Wars of the Roses" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.145) - Terence Wise - 9780850455205
"Towton 1461" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.120) - Christopher Gravett - 9781841765136

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