The Hundred Years War was really a string of wars between England and France, sometimes with years of peace in between. Certain aspects of it are well known to most people in the countries concerned, though these are not necessarily the same. The English tend to remember the battle of Agincourt, whereas the French might think first of Jeanne d'Arc. This was an interesting and colourful period which had only been addressed by the two good sets from Accurate/Revell prior to the release of this one.
The set is named 'Knights and Foot Soldiers', though in fact for the most part the foot soldiers are also knights. The normal infantry would have been poorly equipped and clothed, with far less armour than the figures here. However, although knights preferred to fight mounted, circumstances dictated that they often had to fight on foot, particularly later in the war, which mostly consisted of sieges.
Of the mounted poses perhaps the most familiar is the knight with lance tucked under his arm in the charge. Naturally the lance is separate and fits into a ring hand, though at about 2 metres long it is a lot shorter than the 3 metres or more it should be. Two of the poses shown above are actually the same figure. The second man in rows three and five is the same body but his right arm is separate. One of the supplied arms carries a lance and the other a flag which, along with the separate shields, allow two different poses. Though not labelled as such, the first figure in the third row is clearly meant to be Jeanne herself, wearing full armour and holding her sword aloft.
Apart from the two crossbowmen all the foot figures are also knights. They are all reasonable poses though we were not keen on the figure with the mace who seems to be moving to his left without looking where he is going.
Like most European armies that of the French contained many crossbowmen like the two figures in this set. Both are dressed very similarly, with quilted armour and metal strips down the upper arm, but are otherwise unarmoured. The complex crossbow is always a problem for manufacturers, and here it has been solved by having the crossbow, hands and part of the arm as separate pieces. These fit fairly well, but they do not make a firm joint so they should be glued. However both the figures are pretty good.
Two of the three horses have housings that cover much of their body. These would display the same heraldic emblems as those of the armour, and these has been engraved here too. In both cases they have armour on the head and neck, and may also have some concealed under the housing. However by the middle of the fifteenth century horse armour and housings were no longer fashionable, so the third horse represents the style common by the end of the war. Of course, both styles would often have been seen together in the field.
All the figures are correctly costumed and their clothing and armour is engraved with appropriate motifs, particularly the fleurs-de-lis and the double-headed eagle. The sculpting is excellent with plenty of crisp detail, and the figures are well proportioned anatomically. All the shields come as separate pieces. They have a tube of plastic on the back that fixes on a peg on the figure. This fit is not particularly tight so the shields tend to fall off while being handled, and this method of fixing causes the shield to be some distance away from the hand that is meant to be holding it. This is particularly noticeable on the foot figure with the mace, where the shield and hand look very peculiar. The shield on this figure is a buckler, a small round shield that was used at this time. However a buckler was normally only about 30cm in diameter, so this is rather too large, and it also bears a heraldic device, which did not appear on bucklers. Nonetheless this is a very nice set which restored some faith in Italeri quality after the very poor sets of Romans and Gauls that had immediately preceded it.