There are those that claim the modern world is increasingly lawless, but it is as nothing compared to the Medieval world. In most societies the law was the King’s law, and was enforced by a variety of agencies and individuals, but for the most part the apprehending of law-breakers was supposed to be the duty of all citizens. As a result the world could be a very lawless place, particularly outside the towns, which would at least normally have some form of sergeant, beadle or constable. For those intent on robbery the roads were an obvious and lucrative target. Almost never patrolled by any authority, only the wealthiest travellers could afford armed protection, with the rest relying on travelling in groups to deter potential attackers, although quite often large gangs would operate on certain roads, against which there was little real protection. Many robbers were not so organised, of course, and were ordinary people who simply waylaid travellers and relieved them of their valuables. A set of robbers such as this, then, is one of people in ordinary dress but suitably armed and aggressive to bring terror to their victims.
All these figures wear typical labourer’s clothing, with tunics and hooded capes with long liripipes. One man’s hood is dagged, and another has some form of coat on, but these are quite simple garments and are entirely appropriate. The weaponry too would have been simple, with several here having a simple cudgel. One man carries a rope (perhaps his job is to tie up the victim), and several have hands suitable for attaching any desired weapon. However one man sticks out from the others as he has not only a full broadsword but also a crossbow. Clearly this is rather more than a peasant, and is perhaps an ex-soldier returned from some war and taking a life of crime with the tools of his trade.
The poses are a little hard to read. The first figure is holding some weapon but stooping well forward, as are several of them. Perhaps they are hiding by the roadside, but we do not know. The second man carries the rope, and the third is loading his crossbow. The fourth seems to be talking and pointing – again perhaps waiting in ambush. If the poses are hard to understand then the next question has to be what is a typical pose for a robber. To be honest we don’t really know, so these poses seem as good as any. They are certainly very nicely done and thoroughly realistic, although with the stooping poses there is a need more than ever for a base to allow them to stand.
Valdemar’s very fine sculpting is the order of the day again, with all the clothing being very well produced and the faces fantastically done with loads of character and life. Despite the complex poses these figures are delivered as one piece, so a very flexible mould has been used to produce such deep and believable poses.
This is another very successful medieval civilian group from Valdemar, and while there are no obvious military uses, the sheer quality of production and the unusual subject matter make this a set well worth owning.