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Set VA113

Russian Hird

All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2009
Contents 5 figures
Poses 5 poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Hard)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24.5 mm (= 1.77 m)


A hird in this context is a retinue of a prince or lord, who would be obliged to render military service to him, usually in exchange for land. The term is more Scandinavian than Russian, but a similar arrangement prevailed in the medieval Rus states, where armies were often small and mostly composed of such men.

This set is something very unusual for this hobby. It contains five figures which are all moulded onto the one base as shown above. Only the weapons are separate, and the piece is described as representing Russian soldiers in close combat. This of course means close to the enemy, but in truth men often fought battles in very close proximity to their fellows too, but this aspect is difficult to recreate because the bases of the figures preclude standing them so close together. A recent set of Zvezda Romans overcame this problem when depicting a testudo by having small, carefully shaped bases, but this does make each figure fairly unstable and is not ideal. In this case the figures are all together, and therefore interact with each other in a perfectly natural way. The result is simply a work of art, with fantastic animation and thoroughly credible poses that do much to convey the crush of battle that separate figures can never do. The figures are joined in many places, so there is no hope of separating them, but as a single piece they are stunning. Such a piece would be virtually impossible with a traditional steel mould, or would at best be very flat, but Valdemar have created a group that is anything but flat and must therefore have used a flexible mould because this incredibly complex model has no areas of unwanted plastic, nor even any flash.

Apart from the single piece the set also includes a small sprue of five weapons – a sword, axe and three spears. It is easy to see why these are separate, but in adding them they do require some time and patience. This is because the figures do not have any real ring hands in the traditional sense, so you must either spend a long time drilling out your own holes for weapons or, as we have done, cut the weapons and glue them around the hands. This requires a good glue (we used cyanoacrylate as always) and a steady hand, and is not recommended for the beginner. However the weapons themselves are beautifully slender and well worth the effort to put together.

The devastating attacks of the Mongols changed everything in Rus lands in the 13th century, but prior to that the Scandinavian origins of the Rus were evident in their military technology, and these figures seem to have much more of the Scandinavian about them than the later eastern influences that shaped Russian thinking. Mail and scale armour is worn, while one man has quilted armour. The helmets too are of northern appearance, although some are more pointed, suggesting the adoption of this feature later on. These should work for quite a long period during the mid medieval period, particularly since change in Russia tended to be very slow and old styles persisted longer than elsewhere.

Whether it was a shield wall, the push of pike or a good old-fashioned scrum, pre-gunpowder battles were often crowded affairs and this piece captures that perfectly. Many an ancient soldier will sympathise with the plight of the figure in this set trying to find sufficient room to swing his two-handed axe. We have already used the word, but this group is simply stunning. Not the kind of thing that everyone will be able to find a use for, but a model of great beauty nevertheless, which is a considerable achievement in itself given these are ferocious warriors!


Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 10
Pose Number 5
Sculpting 10
Mould 10

Further Reading
"Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300" - Wargames Research Group - Ian Heath - 9780904417432
"Armies of Medieval Russia 750-1250" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.333) - David Nicolle - 9781855328488
"Warriors of Eurasia" - Montvert - Mikhael V Gorelik - 9781874101079

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