When in the 1470s Maximilian I, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1508 – 1519) formed his own regiments of German soldiers in imitation of the highly successful Swiss troops, creating what would become the Landsknechts, he followed the successful formula of having pikemen as the core of the unit. The Swiss had previously enjoyed much success with the use of the halberd, but by this period it was the pike that dominated and the halberd had been relegated to the weapon of some officers and certain guards (such as those accompanying the colours), plus perhaps a few soldiers in the formation that could protect the flanks or rush out to take advantage of a disrupted foe. Nevertheless it remained a weapon in the arsenal, and RedBox have devoted a whole set to the arm – well, sort of.
As with the Swiss sets, this box of Landsknecht halberdiers is exactly the same as the pikemen set but with a different set of separate weapons. On the whole the poses work equally well with a halberd in their hand as with a pike, although of course they wouldn’t be fielded in massed ranks like the pike, so in many ways this represents better coverage. The last figure in the top row is still pretty ridiculous, holding the forward/top of his weapon from above and the rear from the bottom, but otherwise the poses all make perfect sense with either weapon, and having a selection of 10 halberdiers is pretty good in our view. The figures holding the weapon more nonchalantly would work well as junior officers, even on the field of battle, as they shepherded their men into line.
There would have been no distinction between pikeman and halberdier in terms of clothing, so our approval of the costume for these men in the other sets echoes here. The variety of clothing, including plenty of slashing and the different forms of covering the upper legs, all look good, as does the armour. Although the box claims a period of the whole of the 16th century, these are best suited to the first half of that century, when the clothing seen here was fashionable. In our review of the pikemen we cast doubt on the coated individual in the top row, but this seems to make more sense as some sort of officer with a halberd in his hand, although the huge sword remains an issue.
The separate weapons in this set are the same as those in the corresponding set of Swiss, so we find four sprues, each containing what would more correctly be termed four halberds and one glaive. All of these look authentic in design, and while they are quite long on the sprue the lack of any sort of foot means the pole can be cut down to the ideal length of approximately two to two-and-a-half metres. The shafts are far from round, however, and rather too thick, while there is some tidying up of flash to be done. Since these are the same figures, our lack of enthusiasm for the swords all these men carry is the same also, with the unconvincing and very thick guards looking nothing like the elegant curbed quillons of the original.
Sculpting is reasonable, with a good effort made on the complex clothing, but it is not always as clear as it might be, and the much older set of Landsknechts from Dark Dream Studio did this bit much better. One man has a large amount of flash, and another a smaller amount, but otherwise these are fairly clean. The positioning of the halberds in the at times poor hands is no easier than for the pikes, however, with some of the weapons having to be bent round obstructions on the figure.
Although basically accurate the very odd pose of one of the men, with his hands on the wrong sides of his weapon, and the enormous sword dragging down what might be an officer, would have been the main issues were it not for the considerable flash on some and the difficulty on others of getting them to hold their weapons in a believable way. This is a set that will take some time and skill to produce good figures, although to look on the positive side at least the potential is there!