When considering a set labelled as French musketeers of the 17th century it is easy to think first of the Dumas novel The Three Musketeers and picture the King’s men and the Cardinal’s men, but in fact this set contains something much more straightforward than that - ordinary musketeers wearing typical costume of the early 17th century. Naturally France participated in many wars at this time, not the least being the latter stages of the Thirty Years War, so sets dedicated to such troops were long overdue.
As we have said, this box contains a selection of soldiers as they would typically have appeared in the first half of the century - longer coats and other changes gradually appeared later on, but these figures will span quite a long time frame. All the costume is quite authentic, and where it is possible to make out the weaponry looks suitable too. However not all the figures here are actually musketeers. Two are pikemen, although it is true that neither have a pike. One is a drummer, who carries an exceedingly small drum and has failed to provide himself with any sticks with which to beat it. Another figure, the third in the second row, is certainly dressed as a musketeer but again he lacks any form of firearm. Indeed this lack of so many weapons makes the set seem almost pacifist, and certainly the poor customer will have to provide suitable items from elsewhere if these figures are to be of much use.
The most positive aspect of this set is surely the choice of poses. Yes you get some of the classics like the man firing, and that is no bad thing, but you also get some more interesting and yet still quite useful ones. We particularly liked the man in the top row apparently blowing on his match, and if the two men waving their hats in the air are less useful they are still quite appealing. The other three poses in the second row would be fine if they were carrying anything, but the kissing couple in the third row stand out as really great. Women played a large part in the life of an army, even on the battlefield, and most soldiers would have taken any opportunity to have a moment of intimacy such as this. Very nice. The two figures clutching the flag in the bottom row is another innovative pose or group, and while they are very flat (like several of the others), they make an interesting change and a nice centrepiece for a small diorama perhaps.
If the ideas were good then the execution leaves plenty to be desired. The poses are quite flat and in some areas things get quite vague and hard to make out, as for example the left leg of the standing man with the flag, which would seem to be wooden as there is no foot and it does not even reach the ground. Some of the figures are quite hunched in the shoulders and proportions are not always quite right. Detail is fair and some of the faces are quite nice, and there is only a relatively small amount of flash that must be removed. However the mounted officer is a long way from fitting on his horse as his legs are much too close together.
This is a set with some very nice ideas that covers a pretty broad subject, as any of the figures would do for almost any troops of the Thirty Years War or beyond. However the presentation fails to impress, although LW have certainly improved on some previous sets. So this is a set with several flaws but also some charms.