The military order known as the Teutonic Knights, or the Order of the Hospital of St. Mary of the Germans of Jerusalem, to give them their full name, was originally created in 1189-90 as hospitallers and within a few years also included a military element. Originally they operated in the Holy Land, but older Orders already dominated that area so attention turned to Northern Europe, where the Order set out to 'convert' pagan tribes there, and it was in this region that they made their name.
This set depicts knights during the 13th Century, when some of their most famous exploits took place such as the Battle of Lake Peipus. Naturally all knights were usually mounted, so there are no figures for the infantry contingents here. All the knights wear full mail with a surcoat, which was typical crusader dress of the period, although it has been suggested that the Order did not wear a surcoat when in Northern Europe. Several helmet styles are evident, including the 'Great Helm' which completely covered the head. However there is no evidence for the various horns that three of these poses have on their helmets, despite the modern conception that such things are typically 'Teutonic' and often appear in films, so they should be trimmed off. Most also wear poleyns, which were plates of metal covering the knees and were the first plate armour to be developed. This feature first appeared around 1230. Some also wear cloaks, which would have been necessary as campaigning in Prussia and north-east Europe was done in the winter when the rivers and swamps froze, thus allowing armies to move. However a cloak can be an encumbrance when actually fighting, so we would have preferred to see those that are actually in combat having no cloak.
A majority of these men are using their sword, but other weapons are also modelled. All have the simple cross design on their surcoats, and all but three repeat this on their shields. The three that do not are confrere knights, who were allowed to bear their own arms on their shield. The shields themselves are of several patterns as the shield was evolving from the kite shield to the 'heater' shield at this time. In this set all shields are moulded on to the knight rather than being separate.
The four horses are also all charging, and three wear full covers which would have displayed the livery of their owner for ordinary knights, but which were apparently prohibited within the Order. This means these three are inappropriate for Teutonic knights, which naturally is a considerable blow, although they are perfectly usable for western European knights in general. All the horse poses are actually pretty good; far better than many made in this hobby, and work well with the positions of the figures. These figures fit their mounts well, though not as tightly as some Italeri sets of the past, which is not a particular problem.
Most of the figures are in charging poses, though a couple do seem to be paying attention to something below them - presumably a dismounted opponent. The man clutching his sword with both hands will struggle to deliver an effective blow like that while on horseback, but basically all of the poses are good. The dress of these men is typical of knights during this century, which as we have said makes them less than ideal for the Teutonic Order, but the detail is spot-on.
The usual excellent sculpting and moulding combine to make this a very attractive and quite dramatic set of figures. The fine detailing marks them as members of the Teutonic Order, but by hiding or overpainting this they could serve as any knights of the 13th century. For specifically Teutonic knights however the various horns would have to be removed (as all such decoration was forbidden), and the three horses with caparisons are also wrong for the Order. Since the set claims to depict the Teutonic Order, this costs it several accuracy points.