On the whole the medieval period in Europe was one of increasing importance for foot soldiers as they showed they could both withstand cavalry attack and defeat them by massed formations of pikes and increasing use of missile weapons. In addition much medieval warfare boiled down to a series of sieges, at which cavalry were marginal at best, so by the 15th century it was generally the humble infantry that won battles, much to the annoyance of the elite with their notions of chivalry.
There is a good array of weapons in this set, even though there are only a modest 12 poses. Four of the poses carry a sword, which was the principal weapon of the knight but was increasingly carried by the general infantry as the 15th century wore on, although of course mostly of inferior 'munition' quality. There is also a man with the most enormous axe (too big in fact), another with a polearm and one with a simple spear. While all these weapon types are appropriate we would have liked to have seen more polearms at the expense of swords, since these were the most common weapon to be carried by such men. The crossbow man is an important addition as this weapon grew in importance in much of Europe (except England), and of course there are the longbows that had proved their worth at such battles as Agincourt. The axe is much too large, and the crossbow much too wide, but otherwise we had no problems with the representation of these weapons.
By this date more and more knights were wearing full plate armour, and so had little use for a shield, but these are not knights, and so several still carry the heater type, which would have gradually disappeared as the century progressed. The shields are fine, but sadly all the archers have sturdy quivers on their backs, which were unknown throughout this century. Instead, arrows were held in soft bags, and when in battle they might still be taken from such bags, or some may have been stuffed under belts - the sturdy quivers on show here are more about Hollywood than history.
The clothing worn by such men varied greatly, particularly over the course of a whole century. Most here look to be wearing a padded jack, but some may have a brigantine instead. Either is authentic, and while styles vary everything looks OK on these figures. They wear hose on their legs of course, and some have poleyns too - as a rule the amount of armour available to such common men increased as the century went on. Most look to be wearing a form of sallet, although there is at least one pure bascinet and several that look to be hybrids, which is fine as such helmets developed greatly over the course of these hundred years. A few have sorts of the kettle-hat with a wide brim, which is also good except that two of the archers wear these, which would have been rare as the brim could easily interfere with the bowstring as it was drawn. A simpler, brimless form of helmet was the norm and would have been a better choice here. Most have swords suspended from belts worn diagonally across the hips, which was the fashion at the time, but surprisingly one of the archers has no secondary weapon visible at all.
The poses are pretty good, and are well animated with no suggestion of flatness, even for those carrying both weapon and shield. All the weapons come as part of the man, as do the shields, so clearly a sophisticated mould has been used to achieve good realistic poses here. The second figure is the second row seems ready to strike with his sword, yet is showing the flat to a potential opponent, but otherwise there are no problems with poses.
The same technology that creates nicely rounded poses also makes sure there are no blind spots where the mould cannot create the required detail, which is very good everywhere. Faces where visible are very nice and the clothing is realistic. The usual problem of Caesar figures suffering from bent weapons in the box shows itself in sets such as this, but the sculpting is excellent. Unfortunately a couple of areas have not been sufficiently engineered to remove any excess plastic, so for example the archer reaching for a new arrow has the gap between hand and arrow entirely filled in, which is a pity, and the crossbowman also has a surprising amount of unwanted excess. However there is no flash so these are still nicely produced.
This is a set that just fails to score full marks in all categories. A couple of careless accuracy problems don't seriously damage the set but are annoying, and the poses too are OK but we would prefer a more realistic spread of weapons. The sculpting is excellent but some excess plastic again means the production is not perfect, and given the wide nature of the subject and time period 12 poses does little to do it justice. So, lots of good marks but we believe Caesar could and should have done a bit better.