For much of the 14th century military might in Italy had mainly been provided by mercenaries, whose loyalty was to whoever paid them, but during the following century the major states in Italy began building more permanent national armies like those emerging in other parts of Europe. Nonetheless mercenaries still had a part to play, but some Italian soldiers chose to hire themselves out as mercenaries in other parts of Europe. Also Milan in particular was a great centre for armour production, and Italian armour was to be found all over Europe, regardless of the nationality of its owner.
The 15th century was the golden age of plate armour, and all the figures in this set are completely encased in it apart from one who is bareheaded. As the century wore on plate became ever more sophisticated and more flexible, and these figures have the armour of the period authentically sculpted. All the helmets are sallets apart from one barbuta, which was a particular type of sallet. These are in styles generally considered as 'Italian', and have been correctly done here.
The weapons are a fearsome mix of swords, war hammers, axes, glaives and awl-pikes, and all look pretty good. A couple of the men carry shields. One is angled to deflect blows while the other has extensions on the top right. This is likely to be a rest for a lance, in which case the shield is a bouche, although we have not been able to find this particular form in any reference source.
The proportions on these figures are not always what they might be, with the figures being quite flat. There is a fair amount of detail, but it is not particularly sharp or clear. In general the flash has been kept low, but again some places suffer more than others from excess plastic. The poses themselves are certainly very flat, which is not apparent from the pictures above. In all a passable job but not going to win any awards.
These figures are correctly described as knights, and are certainly not typical of the vast bulk of Italian armies of the period. However it was not only knights that might be so attired for war - anyone wealthy enough to afford the expensive armour and all the other paraphernalia might appear in this way. This isn't the greatest set of knights ever made - it is not even in the top ten - but if you want to add a little Italian flavour to your medieval army then it is worth a look.