The core of the Landsknecht infantry formation was the square, a massive solid block of men mostly carrying pikes which proved to be a battle-winner, particularly when faced with less professional troops or cavalry, which simply could not get near them. Following the Swiss model, such blocks also included a number of men armed with massive two-handed swords which could be used to smash enemy pikes and make breaks in their formation which the pikemen could exploit. Right from the start there were also arquebusiers, who generally supported the main block from the flanks or sometimes at the front. As time went on and the technology improved such men would become much more important on the battlefield, but for the heyday of the Landsknecht, the first half of the 16th century, these men played no more than a useful supporting role.
The first figure in the top row is simply wielding his ordinary sidearm, his Katzbalger. This would not have been his principal weapon, so he might be a pikeman, halberdier or Doppelsölder who has lost or discarded his primary weapon and continued the fight with his sword. Most men were armed with one of these, as are most in this set, but we found the blade rather wide and also quite thick. Also it has a massive guard at the bottom of the blade, which is presumably supposed to represent the large 'S'-shaped quillons that were so common on these. If so then the effect is not good, and while it might not have been possible to sculpt such things convincingly we felt they were better ignored since what we have looks very odd. The pose is not great either - he holds his sword directly over his head which, if like us you try and reproduce this pose yourself, is clearly very hard to do anatomically and even harder to understand; a flat and not convincing figure.
The next three figures are the Doppelsölders, the men carrying the huge two-handed swords with which they hope to hack into the enemy formation. Although fairly flat the first two figures are quite decent poses, but the third is just weird. He holds his sword directly over his head but sideways, so is he about to strike to his right? Of course he is meant to be striking forward, but the pose is so flat that the idea has been lost and the figure is just silly. Again the swords are quite thick, but the second pair of quillons are good to see, so the weapons are properly designed.
Row one ends with a men wielding an axe. The axe was not a normal Landsknecht weapon, but there again this man seems to be wearing some sort of hooded cloak, so the assumption is that he is tasked with some sort of engineering duty, or simply chopping firewood for his fire. It is unusual to see such figures in sets based before the rise of organised national armies in the 17th century, but good to see here, and not too bad a pose all things considered.
The next row is entirely filled with arquebesiers. One man is firing, two loading, one marching and one relaxing, making a decent selection of poses for this weapon. The man firing has his weapon quite low, which may well reflect the relative inaccuracy of such pieces, making careful aiming pointless. There is really not much else to say about these poses except that they cover the basics well enough and are certainly a necessary element in even the early Landsknecht armies. Happily the figures seem to have some form of bags etc with which they might carry their powder, bullets etc., although these are hard to make out.
The last row contains the specialist troops, of which there is one in each box. First is a drummer, who is standing still but is beating his drum, which itself is a fair size but not as large as some. Next is the fifer, who is quite nice and has been given a case for his instrument, yet is holding it all wrong and so cannot be getting a sound out of it. Next is the flag-bearer - ouch! He seems to be in his shirt sleeves and hose, which is fine, but he has a particularly exaggerated example of the sword with the grossly enlarged quillons. The flag that he holds is creased and fluttering a little bit on the front, but is perfectly smooth on the back - no attempt at all has been made to produce any sort of a credible cloth. The obverse has some engraving on it but we could not make out what it is supposed to be – the reverse has no engraving of any kind. In short the flag is flat and looks poor from the front, while the back has been ignored completely. Finally we have an individual with a fine coat and holding a partisan, so clearly an officer of some sort. This is quite a nice pose.
The extravagant costume of the Landsknechts is quite well reproduced here, with much suggestion of the characteristic slashing on the clothes and the various ways in which the hose could be worn. The styles are all from the first half of the century, and all looks good, but we were surprised that no one has any sort of a knife on them. The men with swords and firearms have some flash, but the four specialists in the bottom row suffer very badly from this. The sculpting is reasonable, although not as crisp and clear as the similar set from Dark Dream Studio, which also rejoices in having poses that are more three-dimensional than many here. One particular feature is the bases, which are quite thin on everyone. In a few cases (which are immediately evident from our photographs), the base has warped and fails to give the figure a steady support, which is really annoying. Also the drummer simply does not stand up - his drum is heavy enough for him to topple forward on his inadequate and thin base.
We liked the idea behind these figures, but in places the figure has been made much too flat to do the pose justice - particularly the swordsman. Detail is OK without being great, and there is a good deal of flash to be got rid of before some of the figures are ready for action. The flag man is half-baked, and giving the drummer an inadequate base is an elementary mistake. Although the Dark Dream Studio set has issues (particularly the separate hats) it is a better set than this one in several respects, and the main selling point of this one is the specialist figures, flawed as they are, which have not been made before in this hobby.