To the modern mind the name Cossack conjures up a nomad highly skilled with weapons and horse, and that is not far from the truth. While Cossack warfare could be more complex than simply mounted archers, any people occupying such a vast and sparsely populated area of the Steppe would need to be hardy, resourceful, and accomplished riders. Their existence on the margins of civilisation also made them great fighters, and while they often made a nuisance of themselves raiding the territory of the settled peoples around them (or other Cossack groups), they could also be found in the employ of Muscovy, Poland/Lithuania and others, protecting those same flanks from raids by others. Excellent light cavalry, but often hard to handle, the Cossacks made their mark on their corner of south-eastern Europe, and were a major factor in the history of all the powers in the region.
This second set in a series from RedBox provides us with six more poses of men along with the same horse poses as in Set 1. This time we have three with drawn swords, one holding a battle-pick, one an arquebus and one reaching for his bow. All these are suitable weapons for Cossacks of the 16th century, and all are properly done here. The arquebus is hard to make out clearly, but the curved sabres and battle-pick are well done. Two swordsmen hold their sword across and directly over the centre of their head, which is a common pose in this hobby, but if you think about it a pretty unlikely pose in reality – you would expect the blade to be more or less pointing behind the man, ready to strike on contact. However this pose is much easier to mould, and while it makes the figure look quite flat it is not the worst ever made. Equally, the figure with sword held out at an angle from his thigh is both common and pretty unlikely in reality, but easy to sculpt and mould. Much the same applies to the man holding the battle-pick over his head, but the arquebus man is fine (as he is clearly not using his weapon), and the man reaching for his bow is really very nice and our favourite here.
The horses are the same as in set 1, and while they are an improvement on some in older RedBox sets, they do not impress. The anatomy of the legs is not good, and some of the poses are not particularly realistic. However the bridle and saddle furniture looks reasonable for the subject. Every animal looks to be at full charge, which gives an exciting impression, but limits their use if you want your warriors to be at anything other than full gallop (and several of these men would work as well or better on walking or standing horses).
Most Cossacks made no use of metal armour, which was in any case likely to be restricted to a handful of wealthy individuals, particularly those in command. Most here wear the normal Cossack garb of warm coat (often with decorative lace on the chest) and a warm cap with broad fur trim. These items took many forms, but everything here looks authentic. One of the swordsmen is more unusual in that he wears a mail shirt, and another wears a very typical mail helmet/cap, so while these are accurate they would be the exception rather than the rule.
The standard of sculpting of the men is better than for the horses, and is pretty good with nice detail throughout. The faces have plenty of character and easily show the moustaches all wear, and the textures such as fur and mail are well done. Slender items like swords and knives are as slender as they should be, and thanks in part to the relatively flat poses the only extra plastic is behind the arquebus and the bow. However we did find a fair amount of flash in places, which we suspect most people will find intrusive enough to need trimming off. Also the men are a good bit larger than they should be for the period, as a height of 1.87 metres would have been exceptional indeed and far from the average. Happily the men fit well enough on their mounts.
Taken together with the first set, these two achieve a fair result in portraying mounted Cossacks of the period. The range of weaponry is good, and the clothing is all well done, even the fairly rare armour. The horses are both limited in scope and not so well made, and both man and animal do suffer from flash, while the men are too tall for 16th century Steppe peoples. However with some preparation these are good-looking figures that interpret their subject nicely.