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Set VI001


All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2009
Contents 1 figure
Poses 1 pose
Material Plastic (Fairly Hard)
Colours Grey
Average Height 25.5 mm (= 1.84 m)


Throughout recorded history states have always seen it as their right to terminate the life of anyone who they feel has offended them sufficiently, and it is only in the modern era that this practice is dying out. Man has rarely been more inventive than when he devises ways of executing his fellow, with many methods being deliberately slow, painful and horrific for both the victim and often the onlookers. Perhaps the least of these has been decapitation, where in theory the victim dies instantly and does not suffer, and as a result this was the method of choice for those victims of the highest rank. Hanging and the various other forms of execution were for the masses, but meeting a rapid death with the blade was seen as both less cruel and more dignified, at least in Europe, and was therefore high profile but fairly rare (until the introduction of the efficient guillotine in the 18th century).

Like hanging however, the virtues of the blade depended on the man wielding it. Public perception today is of a swift single blow causing the head to separate from the neck, but that is an ideal portrayed in films but not always achieved in reality. Mary Queen of Scots was by no means unique in suffering the first, non-lethal blow to the back of the head rather than the neck, and it took two more blows to complete the job. However she might have considered herself lucky compared to the Duke on Monmouth in 1685, for when the executioner took his first blow it did no more than slightly wound the Duke. In the end it took between five and eight blows (accounts differ) to remove the head. Executioners tended to be from the lowest parts of society and often bunglers, although few of us today can imagine how difficult the job must have been.

Executioners had no special apparel, but sometimes they might wear a mask, although many such as Jack Ketch were well known at the time and made no effort to conceal their identity. This figure from Valdemar wears quite typical civilian dress of two tunics with a hood, which in this case includes an element of a mask around the eyes. Hose are worn on the legs along with soft boots, and a belt completes the ensemble, making this figure no different from many that might turn up to watch the spectacle were it not for the mask. We might have expected that he would wear a knife, which was not an unusual item to have on your person at any time but in this case was sometimes needed to complete the decapitation.

As we can see this chap is in relaxed mode, presumably waiting for the condemned to place their head on the block which is beside him. Valdemar have provided a choice of tool for his trade, with the separate axe and sword shown. The sword was usually seen as the preferred tool as it was often sharper and generally considered a more fitting means of death than the common axe, especially if the condemned had been a military man. For this figure the axe fits nicely under the hands of the figure, but the sword is too long for this purpose. There is a very similar model to this in 120mm scale sold by Frontier Models, and there the sword rests on the block. The headsman is unlikely to have both sword and axe to hand, but we are not complaining. Be it axe or sword the weapon was always held with two hands, and both these items look authentic here.

The modest costume of our headsman has been superbly sculpted with all the right proportions and folds, while that part of the face that is visible looks great too. Indeed this is simply another great figure from Valdemar where you couldn’t wish for more from the sculptor. Although the sword and axe are separate other areas that might have had some excess plastic are completely free of it, presumably thanks to a flexible mould, which means there is no flash nor any suggestion of a mould line. The sword and axe are beautifully slender and match the quality of the figure perfectly.

While an executioner is certainly an unusual subject for this site we are always happy to review non military historical subjects, and after all as a man hired to deliver death on those chosen by the state, be it king, council or whatever, he is not so very different from professional soldiers anyway. While avoiding the potentially less palatable inclusion of a condemned individual Valdemar have delivered a superb figure which continues their good name for quality figures on interesting subjects.


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

Further Reading
"Lord High Executioner" - Robson Books - Howard Engel - 9781861050960
"Medieval Costume, Armour and Weapons" - Dover - Eduard Wagner, Zoroslava Drobna & Jan Durdik - 9780486412405
"The Chronicle of Western Costume" - Thames & Hudson - John Peacock - 9780500511510

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