The make-up of Polish armies during the first half of the 17th century is a complex subject, but Mars are clearly intent on representing many of these elements in their range of figures. This set is labelled as ‘Poholki’, which loosely translates as ‘servants’ or ‘retainers’, and depicts men who were generally raised by wealthy nobles or families from their own holdings and were basically part of the noble’s private forces under no authority but his. They were not seen as military per se, but at best as enforcers of their lord's will, although on occasion that might entail them engaging in some form of large fight, perhaps with the forces of another lord, or in enforcing the lord's commands on his people. As a result any military value of such men was very low, and even when marched off to war they were often given labouring tasks rather than actual fighting, particularly as many nobles saw war as a noble activity not for the likes of such men anyway.
Regarding the appearance of such troops, this set is something of a mixed bag, and it is hard to see exactly what Mars are trying to depict here. There were no uniforms, but in general the costume here is appropriate for the time and place. Figures of particular note include the first man in the top row, who looks to be some sort of noble rather than a retainer (although there were also poor nobles who acted as retainers for others), and our final figure, who wears an expensive mail coif and a fabulous but also expensive delia coat, perhaps making him some sort of officer, although his sword is more medieval than 17th century.
Nobles would have had swords, but few of the ordinary men would have these, so there seems quite a lot of those here. There is just one arquebus, and the spear seems a bit primitive but was indeed used, but pistols were not the kind of thing such lowly troops might be expected to have so this figure too is a surprise. The axes on the other hand seem perfectly suitable if simplistic in form.
The poses are a decent bunch, with some quite lively choices and lots of weapons raised ready to strike. However these have often been realised in an unconvincing way, with arms being close to the body and many being especially flat. Thus the axe-men at the start of the second row holds his axe tight to the back of his head, for example, and all the weapons raised above the head are directly over the centre of the head, which is far from convincing. The third figure in the bottom row seems to wield some sort of hammer, and he is about to hit something or someone with the flat end rather than the pointed bit.
Sculpting too fails to make a positive impact, with at times quite basic detail and poor proportions. The generally fairly enlarged heads contrast with the small head of the last figure in the bottom row, and many of the faces are nothing short of grotesque. The face of the arquebusier is on one side of the front of his head, with acres of nothing between this and his left ear - horrible. Weapons generally are not well done, and the pistol is rather short by the standards of the day. On the brighter side there is no flash anywhere, although the strange spear is attached to the sprue along a very long join and takes some effort to extract neatly.
The overall impression is that Mars have not been focused enough with this set, depicting all manner of nobles and their retainers with some poorly chosen weapons. This is certainly a poorly documented subject, and Mars should get some credit for attempting such a difficult project at all, but the result is not particularly satisfactory in historical accuracy and really quite poor in terms of quality of production. Unfortunately this set does little to promote an interest in the history of Eastern Europe around this time.