Bank robberies, gunfights at noon, drunken brawls - all familiar components of many a Hollywood Western, giving the impression of a land with little law and order. Certainly the American West was a difficult place to police, with a thinly spread population including many that were escaping the law back East. Possession of firearms was much more common in the West than the East, and both law enforcement officers and judges were in short supply. It therefore seems fitting to include a set such as this in the extensive Far West range from Atlantic.
Much of the gunplay and many of the murders resulted from some dispute over drink, gambling or sex, and were frequently enhanced by alcohol. However the 'baddies' in this set have all covered their faces and seem to be involved in a premeditated action, perhaps robbing a stagecoach or bank. In respect of clothing of course they are dressed like any working man of the time, as indeed would most of the lawmen. The outlaw being shot is a particularly realistic and well sculpted pose, but they are all quite good. The mounted outlaw has been given a horse that is merely walking when one at full gallop might have been more fun, but the man being dragged by a stirrup is beautifully animated and a highlight of the set. Finally there is the man swinging from a tree. Men were hanged on gallows when executed by the law, so this chap has had the misfortune to be lynched by vigilantes or a mob. When the law seemed powerless or distant, people often took it into their own hands, and stringing up a suspect from the nearest tree was not unknown. A particularly unpleasant model for some, this is nonetheless pretty well done without being too gruesome, though it is odd that the man was not relieved of his gun belt before he died.
The last figure on the top row wears no mask, and under his coat part of a star badge can be discerned, so he is one of the sheriffs of the set's title. He is smartly dressed with a neck tie, and sports long flowing hair. His gun belts have been strangely done with an unconvincing method of staying up, but overall this is a nice model. One possible subject for this figure is the famous James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok (1837-1876), who did serve as both a deputy and a sheriff, and did dress in this manner, with long hair, but the look is far from unique to this one individual.
There were no female sheriffs at all in 19th century America, so the two women in this set must presumably be villains, and there were certainly plenty of those. One woman wears a dress and is armed with a rifle and pistol in a belt, and the other is dressed more like a man, or at least a man's fantasy, with thigh-length boots and a brace of pistols. Neither look much like any woman of the period, but the sculptor had some fun creating them as both are well endowed in the chest department and don't mind showing it off - a very un-19th century thing to do. The woman in the hat has her pistols held by some weird arrangement that never actually existed, but her whole costume looks more theatrical than anything actually seen in reality. Also both she and the lawman are holding two pistols at the same time, a very unlikely circumstance unless they are largely ambidextrous, which very few were. The woman with the dress could also pass as a homesteader defending her property or, indeed, her chastity, though again her hairstyle and low-cut dress look very wrong here.
The general standard of sculpting is one of the better examples from this range, and there is relatively little flash. The figures are not as thin as the early examples, though many still have disfiguring mould marks on their backs. The choice of poses is quite fun (and sometimes absurd in the case of the women), and while this might not have many uses for collectors of military figures, it is an imaginative set well worth having in the collection.