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RedBox

Set 72041

Town & County Levy

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2012
Contents 40 figures
Poses 10 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Tan
Average Height 23.5 mm (= 1.7 m)

Review

The Wars of the Roses were essentially a series of conflicts between different families and factions for control over or possession of the English crown between 1455 and 1483. While the knight was still a force in military terms, and indeed reached something of a climax with his almost complete encasement in plate armour at this time, the majority of those fighting were of course ordinary men who might be paid mercenaries or simply levied to fight for their lord or town. Such men wore no uniform and could only be distinguished by the badge or livery that they wore, or the banner they fought under, so any figure for this conflict can serve either side equally.

By the late 15th century the English longbow was well established as a battle-winning weapon, and the majority of any army fielded during those years of strife were archers, as depicted by the first five poses pictured above. All carry the longbow of course, although in truth this was usually about the height of the man, so most here are noticeably too long, although this is easily rectified with a knife. Most wear the usual garb for soldiers of this era, a jack with hose on the legs and a sallet helmet on the head. One also has a livery jacket, which is nice to see, and one of the helmets has a visor, but most are more plain, though all are authentic. The archer with bow sheathed and dagger drawn seems to wear some sort of cap, which again is OK, but the last figure in the top row is wearing a sort of turban hat with a long piece of material hanging down the left side. This form of headgear was a development from the old capuchon, and was popular at this period, but it was an item worn by the rich and fashionable, not least because it was clearly wasteful of material and therefore implied wealth, so it is strange indeed to see an archer dressed so well, particularly as he also wears a very fine gown. The shorter jack worn by some of the other archers allows us to see the tops of the hose, which seem to be separate pieces for each leg, which would have been very old-fashioned by this date as one-piece hose were the norm by now. Another unusual feature can be seen on one of the archers, who seems to have plate leg defences. These would have impeded movement, something archers generally avoided, although no one can say they were never worn. One particularly pleasing detail however is that all have a bracer on their left forearm.

The next two figures are of a sword-and-buckler man and one carrying an axe. Many foot soldiers carried a sword and a buckler, even if they were not their primary weapon, and this figure is quite fair although undeniably flat and a quite awkward pose. The small buckler shield was intended to strike the enemy rather than offer much protection, so its raised and unprotecting position here is fine. The axe man, holding a simple yet deadly weapon, is remarkable in that he wears a mail coat, but again he is accurately done.

The bottom row shows the billmen – men carrying the long pole-arms that could defeat a mounted knight just as easily as any common foot-soldier. Bills came in many shapes and sizes, but all these are authentic. The dress of the men is again appropriate as they wear quilted jacks and in two cases a livery jacket. Two have sallets and the third wears a form of kettle-hat; again a common item.

With only a few reservations then we really liked the costume and weaponry given to these men. Nearly all have also been given a dagger, which is just as it should be, and many have a bag or purse, which is great, although one or two more could have been given a sword. Still the good news continues with the sculpting, which has not always been a strong point of RedBox sets but here it is very good. The folds of the clothing are well done, and while the faces are not the most attractive or realistic we have seen the standard of detail generally is more than acceptable. Another problem with some RedBox sets is also much better here, for there is only a moderate amount of flash which is easy to remove.

The ideas behind all the poses are great, and mostly the results work well. Some are certainly a bit flat, but not so much that the figure might be considered unusable. We were pleased to see some good research here, such as the arrows either bagged or thrust into belts rather than in quivers (which would have been wrong), so with pretty good sculpting and generally high standards of production this is a very worthwhile set that raises the standard for quality from this manufacturer, which is always very good to see.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 8
Pose Number 6
Sculpting 8
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Armies of the Middle Ages Volume 1" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath
"English Longbowman 1330-1515" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.11) - Clive Bartlett - 9781855324916
"Medieval Costume in England and France" - Dover - Mary Houston - 9780486290607
"Medieval Military Costume" - Crowood (Europa Militaria Special Series No.8) - Gerry Embleton - 9781861263711
"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
Magazines
"Military Illustrated" - No.11
"Military Illustrated" - No.7
"Military Illustrated" - No.8
"Military Illustrated" - No.12

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