The rise of Sweden in the first part of the 17th century from an obscure backwater to a great European power helped to define the nation, and when her king, Gustavus Adolphus, brought his country into the Thirty Years War in 1630 it saved the Protestant cause at a crucial moment. Many military innovations were subsequently attributed to the king, and while these were exaggerated it was a time of important changes in military science, and the Swedes were as much in the forefront of that movement as any nation. Despite the enormous importance of the Thirty Years War in the history of Europe, and its dreadful costs, it was a conflict the hobby had ignored until this set heralded coverage by the German modelling giant Revell.
The poses in this set are very similar to the Imperial infantry set, but then the infantry of both sides were trained to do much the same thing in battle, so this is not a problem. As with the Imperials, the pikes here are much shorter than the regulation 9 Swedish ells (5.3 metres), but again many were cut down at the time so this too is not a problem. The pike poses are identical to the Imperials, and follow the standard steps in the pike drill, so are perfect choices and well done here. Many of the musketeer poses are also the same as those in the imperial set, and again reflect perfectly the musket drill of the day, but there are some notable differences between the two sets too. One man is using a musket without a rest, and such lightened weapons were certainly introduced in the later part of the war, and used in the Swedish army, so this is good (but also see below for more on this figure). We also get another nice pose of a musketeer using his weapon as a club, and another apparent anti-cavalry pose. The Swedish officer carries a partisan (rather like a halberd), which is quite correct, and the ensign is waving his short-staffed flag which, as with the Imperials, is only engraved on one side (with the traditional triple crowns). There seems some uncertainty whether such short staffs were used when on campaign, and the longer full staff certainly would be more practical, so this figure may be more of a ceremonial one, since short staffs certainly were used for show. Overall the poses are really great - they follow the standard movements of the time but there is also plenty of life here, and even tricky ones like the man clubbing and the drummer have been done perfectly.
When this set was made Revell were at the top of their game, producing multiple top-quality figure sets each year, and that reputation was made by sets like this. The sculpting is flawless, with great detail and practically no unwanted plastic, yet without any of the poses feeling at all flat. Even the pikemen have been done as one-piece figures, and while the pikes lack any sort of a head there is no flash anywhere, so a great job in terms of production standards too.
Apart from using a different colour plastic, Revell chose to distinguish Swedes from Imperial troops by the former wearing hats and the latter helmets. However this is for the convenience of customers today as the Swedish army wore plenty of helmets, just as hats were sometimes worn in the Catholic ranks. As a result these figures could be placed in all the armies of the period, because they follow the normal clothing and armour in use throughout Western Europe at the time. Although without helmets (so likely to be in rearward ranks), the pikemen wear the breastplate and tassets over a jacket just as any other pikemen would, and the breeches and stockings are also universal. The musketeers are not armoured, and most have a bandolier of charges around their trunk and a powder horn on their belt, though the man with the lighter musket has a bag of pre-prepared charges instead, which is fine. This figure also has some other distinguishing features, in that he is firing a wheellock musket rather than the usual matchlock, and he wears boots rather than shoes. While it would be wrong to apply any particular label, these features do rather suggest a mounted man, as in a dragoon, for while dragoons of the time typically wore shoes and stockings like the foot musketeers, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that some at some point acquired boots like these, though without spurs. The lack of a bandolier on this figure has already been noted, and it is also worth mentioning that he alone has his rapier hanging from a baldric over the right shoulder - a fashion that only became common very late in the Thirty Years War. Everyone has a sword (likely to be of only munition quality), and the officer wears a sash as a mark of rank, plus boots rather than shoes.
We love this set, and the whole range of Thirty Years War figures Revell produced. You can't argue with perfect accuracy, great sculpting and lots of useful poses, and because they are so typical of the time they can be used in all sorts of conflicts and armies. This is an excellent set with plenty of life, and in our opinion represents some of the best output Revell ever produced.