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LW

Set 8

Swiss Mercenaries

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2005
Contents 14 figures
Poses 14 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Light Brown
Average Height 22 mm (= 1.58 m)

Review

As usual we have few clues as to what this set is meant to represent, merely the name of 'Swiss Mercenaries' and the legend 'Burgundian Wars'. From the Swiss point of view the Burgundian Wars were the campaigns of the 1470s to stop the expansion of Burgundy under Duke Charles the Bold, so obviously the Swiss were fighting for their own cantons (i.e. the Swiss Federation) and were in no sense mercenaries. However as with other parts of Europe Swiss mercenaries were to be found in many armies, including those of Burgundy, and in any event there was no specifically Swiss-style costume, so we will treat these figures as foot soldiers of the 15th century.

LW have provided quite a broad range of figures and styles, with everything from well armoured knights to men wearing nothing more than a jacket and hose. There was nothing like a uniform at this period, although some small units did have some uniformity if they were kitted centrally, but the bulk of the infantry was expected to supply it's own clothing and weapons, and this was particularly true of mercenaries. All the clothing and armour is appropriate for the 15th century, although some are better suited to the end of that period. Those with handguns are lightly clothed while the pikemen have much body armour, which is fine.

The poses, in common with most LW output, are very flat, although the intention seems to have been good. The three pikemen have empty hands for their pike, but no pike or other weapon is included in the set. In any case, two of these figures do not have hands that line up such that a pike would fit into them. The large horn is a famous feature of the Swiss, used unsubtly simply to make a lot of noise and sound the charge. The flag bearer is holding a flag on a short staff, and the recent trend towards showing more downed men continues with a well executed example here.

Many of the men carry halberds, a weapon much associated with the Swiss, as was the pike which was later used with such effect. The two hand gunners are an important element of this set, but we were surprised to find no crossbowmen. Still it is the weapons that give this set its Swiss flavour, although of course such weapons were used in all armies of the time.

As can be seen in the pictures, this is not a particularly attractive set. As we have said, the poses are flat, and that largely applies to the finer points too. Detail is often there but is not sharp or clear, and in some cases it is missing completely (for example one of the handguns is just a straight, featureless rod). There are some tabs of flash to remove but generally flash is pretty minimal.

At this period the Swiss were very innovative in their tactics, and they enjoyed a good reputation as mercenaries. The broad nature of this set means there are not the poses to really do the Swiss formations justice, but these figures can have many other uses in European warfare at this time. A less than pleasing sculpting job lets down what is otherwise a very reasonable set.


Ratings

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

Further Reading
Books
"Armies of the Middle Ages Volume 1" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath
"Medieval European Armies" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.50) - Terence Wise - 9780850452457
"Medieval Handgonnes" - Osprey (Weapon Series No.3) - Sean McLachlan - 9781849081559
"Medieval Military Costume" - Crowood (Europa Militaria Special Series No.8) - Gerry Embleton - 9781861263711
"The Swiss at War 1300-1500" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.94) - Douglas Miller - 9780850453348
Magazines
"Uniformes (French Language)" - No.108

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