The Wars of the Roses were a struggle for power in England, but Scotland, as her only land neighbour, could not help but be interested in events south of the border. On several occasions Scottish troops went south to assist an English claimant or fought an English invasion, and Scottish mercenaries could also be found in armies during the period, but even without such troubles Scotland had many of her own. Internal dissatisfaction with the young James III lead to much military conflict culminating in the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488, and battles for control of the Western Isles and Highlands also meant the later 15th century was far from a peaceful period for Scotland.
This was a time when the infantry was much the dominant force of the battlefield, with the Swiss and others causing a revolution in the way war was conducted. However while cavalry no longer had the prominence it once had, there were still plenty of uses for light cavalry, including the usual roles of scouting and raiding, and Scottish cavalry was rated amongst the best throughout Europe, causing them to see much service overseas. A major reason for this was the border reivers, men who lived their lives raiding across the border into England, combating similar raids by the English, and generally living a fairly lawless existence. Their lifestyle made them ideal light cavalry, and so much in demand, though they were not always easy to control.
Scotland was a poor country, as were the reivers, so it is good to see a relatively small amount of plate armour on these figures. Two have small metal caps, but the rest have sallet helmets, one of which has a closed face, which is a fair reflection of headwear amongst such light horsemen. The rest of the clothing is also extremely varied, with a range of plate, mail and padded armour being visible as well as jacks or brigandines and other elements; no two figures seem to have any particular item in common, which is great. Everything here looks correct for the period, and generally well done too.
Weaponry for such men was also varied, but all would be likely to carry a sword and a knife. Every man here has a sword and, doubtless, a knife too, and two also have a lance or long spear (sometimes called a 'pricker stick' hence these men also being known as 'prickers'), which was another favourite weapon. The flail carried by the middle figure in the top row was a surprise to us, and while not impossible would have been unusual, while the polearm carried by the well-armoured man in the second row is obviously not a weapon for a horseman, so this man is effectively a mounted foot soldier (even in Scottish armies, many foot soldiers rode to battle before fighting dismounted). All but one of the men also carry a targe or buckler shield, which again is highly appropriate, so generally good on the equipment front for this set.
There are a minimal two horse poses, one trotting and one walking, so both useful and fairly well done. Their saddles and harness are perhaps a bit elaborate for such light troops, but not wrong, but there is a fair amount of flash on these animals. Also, the walking horse is a shade fatter in the body than the trotting one, so while all the men sit well on the latter animal they need to be forced onto the former, which is annoying.
The rider poses are mostly good, though the first swordsman is holding his sword in a position that is impossible to achieve in reality (without breaking your wrist that is), and also highly undesirable - in fact he suffers from attempting to do a reasonable pose but being far too flat. The rest are not really flat at all, and while we would have liked the man swinging his flail to be looking at what he is doing, all of them are quite useful. The man with the polearm is the only one not in combat, but with only six poses the choices are OK. The sculpting is pretty good, with lots of nice detail on the various garments and armours making them easy to make out. Overall proportions are good for both men and horses, and unlike the horses the men are all free of flash, at least on our examples.
As we have said, all these figures make perfectly good Scottish light horse, and with nothing to distinguish them as exclusively Scottish (as there should not be), they work for other European armies too. We would have preferred to see a bow or crossbow rather than the flail, and the flat swordsman we could have done without (or at least done better), but for the most part this is another nicely done set for the very impressive range of figures RedBox have produced for the end of the medieval period.