William Wallace was a little-known figure outside of the British Isles until he became the subject of a successful Hollywood film. 'Braveheart' (1995) had many factual errors and a good deal of pure fantasy, but the real man is an interesting character even though very little is actually known about him. From his victory at the battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 to his execution in 1305 his career was short but spectacular, and he showed the Scots that the English could be beaten in battle.
The infantry are variously wielding swords and axes (a popular Scottish weapon) in some very dramatic poses. We particularly liked the two-man piece of a man having grabbed an enemy around the throat and apparently about to finish him off with his axe. One man is advancing with a shorter spear, which is perfectly accurate, though the manner in which he carries it is very strange and this is a very flat figure, as are several others. One figure however is completely wrong. The piper, who is standing and resting one foot on a stone, is playing an instrument unheard of in 1297. Bagpipes had been around since ancient times, and there were plenty of references to them in most of Europe since well before this time, but they were basically a bag with a single pipe, called a drone. Around 1500 a second drone appeared, and two centuries later a third was added, so the instrument modelled here is 400 years too modern.
The majority of Scottish infantry used the pike, which was three to four metres in length, and was organised into the famous schiltrons. There are six such poses here - hardly a majority, but the difficulties of such poses make this understandable. In all cases the pike is modelled separately, and they fit into cupped hands on the figures. This fit is not always good, and the pikes themselves, though of the correct length, are marred by frequent joins to the sprue and are mostly bent. Some considerable work with knife and hot water is required to remedy this.
Scotland was not well endowed with archers, despite attempts to promote this activity at various times. The few archers they had are represented by three poses here, all of which carry a short bow, which is very unlikely as this would normally be the same longbow that was the norm in the rest of the British Isles.
The costume on these figures ranges from mail to simple plaid, and has been quite well done. The helmets are also very diverse, and very many have no helmet at all, which is correct. Some carry shields, all of which are moulded with the figure. These include the round targe and the smaller buckler, both of which would have been seen in such an army at this period.
Like the infantry, the cavalry was not so dissimilar to that of other countries, though generally more poorly dressed and equipped. The armies under Wallace did not enjoy large numbers of cavalry, but the few figures included here seem to be a fair reflection of the mounted men that did serve. With many Scottish nobles staying away when Wallace called for an army, their dress and equipment is consequently more simple. Several wear mail and have the long surcoat, though some have the shorter tunic or jupon that became popular in the fourteenth century. Most have swords or the short axe, but two have very short clubs with a knob on the end, which seems a very unconvincing cavalry weapon. However the poses are quite good and lively.
The horses are the same as those used in the Carolingian Cavalry set, which is a mistake as they are dreadful models. The saddle back on many is exaggerated, and though the sculpting of the horses is reasonable some of the poses are completely absurd and anatomically impossible. However the men fit the horses nice and tightly, and should not need gluing.
Detail is fair on these figures, though it can sometimes be less clear than we would have liked. The was no flash to be removed, though the very thick burs that connect figure with sprue takes some removing. Though the accuracy is pretty good (if you ignore the piper), there is a certain roughness to these figures. The horses suffered the most, with some bad poses and unlikely saddle furniture, but the humans are much better and depict a colourful and interesting subject.
Note The final figure is of a soldier from the Streltsi of 17th century Russia. Though he is unrelated to the subject of this set, he is one of a series of 'bonus' figures which when combined will create a set of this unit for the Great Northern War. See Streltsi Bonus Figures feature for details.