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Mars

Set 72049

Imperial Mercenary Infantry in Winter Dress

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2013
Contents 48 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

Winter was not usually a time for going on campaign in the 17th century. The roads would often become almost impassable muddy tracks, rivers became harder to ford or bridge, the army required much more protection from the elements and the countryside generally had fewer resources as the peasants lived off what they could store after the harvest. Nevertheless even in the warmer months no army campaigning in central Europe during the Thirty Years War could expect continuous warm, dry weather, and some larger operations certainly were carried out during winter months, so a set of figures suitable dressed for this is appropriate, and this is what we have here from Mars.

When the weather became inclement civilians wore warm coats, caps, cloaks and capes, sometimes lined and edged in fur (although fur encouraged more vermin), and it was no different for the soldier. Therefore these figures wear the same sort of garments, which in the absence of modern man-made fabrics would have been mostly woollen. One further problem for soldiers was their mobility and sometime distance from resupply, so you would have seen some wretched men simply huddled in a blanket to keep warm, but there are no such figures here. However what is here looks reasonable, although two of the cloaks have a very curious kind of 'square rig' affair over the shoulders, which is not authentic. Perhaps the sculptor was trying to show a hood, but if so then they failed. Otherwise all the clothing is fine, as are the few items of armour on show here.

Seven of the 12 poses are musketeers, shown in various reasonable poses. Two are firing their piece, which reminds us of another reason to avoid the wetter winter months, when it was much more difficult to keep a match alight and give fire. There are a couple of men on the move that we quite liked, but all the poses are OK.

The last figure in the second row is a buckler, wearing armour and carrying a sword and shield, this rather old fashioned-looking man helped protect the main infantry and while the pose is quite flat it is not too bad. The bottom row begins with the sole pikeman, who is holding his pike horizontally by the very end. This is by no means an easy thing to do, and not a good choice of pose, although he does have the advantage over other pikemen made by Mars in that his hands are so placed that the pike can easily be put in place. However the separate pike is the same as in other sets (see sprue image), which is to say it is simply engraved in what amounts to a solid slab or plastic which you are supposed to fashion into a pike. That would require a lot of skill and patience, and we suspect very few will see it is worthwhile, reaching instead for a proper pike made by someone else.

The last row is completed by a drummer (who happily has a satisfyingly large drum), an NCO carrying a halberd and a more senior officer. Curiously the NCO is holding his halberd at arm’s length about as far behind his body as he can, which is very odd, but both he and the officer are warmly wrapped in fine coats and are well dressed.

The sculpting is of the usual Mars standard, with crude figures that suffer from dreadful proportions and look ugly both overall and in the face. No one has a neck, and some of the heads are rammed into the shoulders, while the hands are often virtually missing or else extremely rudimentary blobs with just a suggestion of fingers. The hands of the pikeman are the worst, for no effort at all has been made to make them look like hands - they are simply squared-off blocks. The poses are for the most part pretty flat (apart from the NCO, who ironically would have been better if he was flatter) but reasonably well chosen aside from the pikeman. Flash is quite variable, with some having virtually none and others like the drummer having a lot.

With no uniforms, mercenaries dressed like anyone else in any army when the weather demanded, so this set covers any European army of the period. Historically our only complaint was with the square affair on some of the cloaks, but these otherwise accurate figures have been quite badly produced and are thick and chunky, meaning they do not mix with more natural sets made by other manufacturers. For foul weather infantry of the 17th century there is currently no competition for this set, yet their bad appearance makes these figures hard to accept.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 4
Mould 7

Further Reading
Books
"European Weapons and Warfare 1618-1648" - Octopus - Eduard Wagner - 9780706410723
"Imperial Armies of the Thirty Years War (1) Infantry and Artillery" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.457) - Vladimir Brnardic - 9781846034473
"Lützen 1632" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.68) - Richard Brzezinski - 9781855325524

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