Communication was a big problem in the medieval world, and if you wanted someone to know something, with no broadcast media or postal service you had to go out there and tell them. If the king or a lord wanted people to know something he would send heralds out to make an announcement in the towns, from where word-of-mouth would finish the job. This set contains just such a herald, accompanied by two trumpeters and a guard.
Looking at the herald first, he is a fine figure in appropriate clothing and reading from a scroll that bears the seal of whoever created it. He is twisted in his saddle as he shouts, and we mean really twisted, not the usual straight-ahead body with the head turned through ninety degrees that we normally see. At this precise moment he is not holding the scroll taut, but the overall pose is magnificent and superbly done.
The rest of the top row is taken up with two trumpeters and another official of some kind. In the medieval world, when you wanted to make a lot of noise and attract attention you used musical instruments, which was known as high minstrelsy. Here there are two trumpeters, which was typical, although of course they would not be playing while the poor herald is speaking! Trumpets of the day conformed to no standard pattern, and the two trumpets in this set are separate and can be seen in the final row. Both trumpeters are in civilian dress of course, and with the separate trumpets in position they are great little poses – again, not like the flat examples we usually find in sets made with a steel mould. The last civilian is perhaps there to supervise the whole exercise – like the rest he is dressed for travel.
The second row contains the herald’s escort plus a foot figure. The soldiers are all in full mail armour, with a mixture of helmets. One seems to have a quilted tunic, but all have long cloaks and look good. As a guard they are not actually doing much, although the third figure seems to be concerned with something behind him, which is where our dismounted figure comes in. The guard is holding a rope by which the dismounted man is being led, so this man is clearly a prisoner. Presumably he has been either apprehended by the party or else picked up during their tour, but the fact that he is being taken like this rather than being held locally to be tried in the manorial or other lower court suggests his crime is quite significant. This might not have anything to do with the herald, but it is an interesting extra for the set.
The figures are all excellent, with perfectly realistic detail such as the mail and the folds in the clothing, and as always the faces are superb. There is no flash, and everything is entirely realistic in proportion and posture.
Creating realistic poses for horses, or any quadruped, using an inflexible steel mould is very hard, although some manufacturers do much better than others. When it comes to a standing horse, the best manufacturers provide a horse in two halves, but here Valdemar’s flexible mould means they can produce relaxed horses with all the legs in exactly the right place without any assembly. All the animals are either standing or walking, and all the poses are excellent. Some have a covering and a quilted saddlecloth, but all are correctly kitted out for the period. Note all the saddles are part of the riders, not the horses, so the high pommel and cantle of medieval saddles is correctly represented.
This is a lovely little set, which might not have the action and excitement of a group of combat figures but does what it promises with the highest quality.