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Set 01720

Robin Hood

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 1964
Contents 39 figures and 1 horse
Poses 14 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Cream, Green, Orange, Pale Green, Tan
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


This is one of a number of sets Airfix produced on fictional subjects, mostly prompted by successful TV series. Apart from recreating an Errol Flynn movie however, are these figures of much use to the modeller and wargamer?

Happily, they are, on the whole. Until the 1300s soldiers were usually drawn from the agricultural peasantry, men who owed military service to their feudal master. As such they would simply have worn the strongest and warmest clothes they possessed, and these figures wear fairly typical peasant's clothing for the period. This included a tunic of varying length, almost always with a hood, and hose covering the legs. Generally the peasant tunic was long and with long sleeves, but for some reason many of these figures seem to wear a second, outer tunic with short sleeves, which is not wrong but also not as typical as would be suggested here. We would have liked to have seen more wearing a separate hood/cape garment however. A couple of the men, including the monk, also wear small helmets, which would generally indicate a wealthier peasant or a more generous master. However these very simple hemi-spherical helmets owe much to the 1938 film and little to historical reality, and would have offered little real protection anyway. Equally, the archer in the bottom row, which we might imagine to be Robin Hood himself, seems to wear some form of leather jerkin (as he does in the 1938 film), which is not appropriate for the 12th century.

Such men as these were expected to provide their own weapons, or have them provided by their master. Most of the figures in this set are armed with a bow, a sword or a knife. Some carry a stave, which would not be considered a suitable weapon for full-scale warfare, but for outlaws this would not seem unreasonable. Swords of course were expensive items, and few peasants would have one, so while outlaws may have managed to obtain one by some means or other, they would be rare amongst ordinary infantry, not least because few would have the skills to use one effectively. For the subject matter the weapons here are generally appropriate, though much less so for real peasant infantry.

By the time this set was released in 1964 Airfix were producing much better quality figures, and these are not bad at all. Though the nature of their dress does not demand a lot of detail, these have been well sculpted, with natural-looking folds in the clothing and good expressions on the faces. There is a nice variety of styles in the clothing, and although certain aspects like the cap worn by the 'Robin Hood' character might be suspect, there is nothing here that seems too glaringly out of place. The anatomy is correct and the poses are lifelike and varied, so a really nice quality product for what was still a relatively early point in the history of Airfix figure making.

The mounted woman wears a long dress and a cloak, and consequently rides side-saddle, although this style of riding is thought to have only been introduced into England as late as 1382, which would be well after the time Robin Hood is imagined to have lived. The horse bears a fair bit of decoration, marking the woman as being something much more than a peasant's wife (not that peasant wives rode around on horseback anyway). Like all Airfix horses, however, this one fits (badly) into a separate base which makes it very fragile. Uniquely (as far as we know), the horse and rider are moulded as one piece here, so at least that is one less part to glue.

As representatives of the lowest of the infantry in early medieval warfare these figures do a fair job. With some effort the staves could be turned into spears, and the whole set, particularly the bowmen, could be very useful for many armies. Peasant infantry often carried an assortment of polearms which are lacking here, but as outlaws these men could expect to encounter no one armed with more than a dagger (contrary to the Hollywood image, outlaws were not stupid enough to look for fights with local garrisons). Therefore the weapons on show here would be more than adequate for outlaws. In depicting the popular image of Robin Hood and his Merry Men this set pretty much delivers what it promises, and for use in the real medieval world it also has much to offer.


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

Further Reading
"Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath - 9780904417432
"Medieval Costume, Armour and Weapons" - Dover - Eduard Wagner, Zoroslava Drobna & Jan Durdik - 9780486412405
"Medieval Military Costume" - Crowood (Europa Militaria Special Series No.8) - Gerry Embleton - 9781861263711
"The Longbow" - Osprey (Weapon Series No.30) - Mike Loades - 9781782000853
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