Thursday, 23 September 2010

Mars Swings and Misses, Again!

Well, PSR finally got their hands on a set of the "Scots Mercenaries (Thirty Years War)", and the review and photos, sadly, are about what I expected. That the figures are based heavily on the Köler engraving of "Irelanders" arriving at Stettin is obvious, which is why I included that engraving at the top, originally published in 1631. This engraving has long been used by figure manufacturers as justification for depicting TYW Scots in typical Highland dress, whether accurate or not. It's depiction has also been surrounded by controversy for even longer than we have had figures to go with it.

While the engraving may, indeed, accurately depict "Irelanders" (actually Scots Highlanders) as they might have arrived, fresh off the boats, it certainly does not depict them as they served in the Swedish or French armies of the TYW. It has long been shown, from other illustrations, muster rolls and anecdotal sources, that the Scots in Swedish service were uniformed by their employer. So too were the Scots in the French army. In fact, considering just how stereotypical "Highland" these figures are, it's difficult to imagine what they might be used for, except possibly a small Highland contingent in the early ECW, and they're too well armed for that with 20 matchlock muskets to 12 pikes (and 2 of the pikemen are definitely wearing trews and later armor with tassets, back & breast and helmets, while the third appears to have a belted plaid worn with his trews and a bonnet). You do get two archer figures, but with an odd recurve bow instead of the more traditional straight stave Highland longbow.

I'll leave you to read the full review on these on PSR's site, as well as see the pictures, but I fear that once again Mars have taken what could have been a promising set and missed the mark badly. Also, following Mars' recent practice, there are four (4) of each and every figure/pose in the pack, showing once again that Mars knows little (or perhaps cares little) of what the wargamer does with their figures. As always, my opinions only, your mileage may vary.



little keithy said...

May I ask a few questions on this matter.
If Scots were kitted out by their employer when warring on the continent, would not the traditional 30YW/ECW figures (Revell, Zvezda, Acta and Mars) do for such troops? That is, no special characteristics just pick and mix so the idea of doing a separate set is wrong in the first place.
Maybe throw in a few Mars Scots for table recognition purposes only.
Or would there have been still some characteristic part of clothing that would have marked them out as Scots/Islanders/Irish ie headwear or even flag? (i was thinking comparison with Convenanters and their headgear in ECW).
I thought I read on the Scots wars site that the Irish/Islanders who fought for Montrose did wear traditional dress (accepted that these figures aren't meant for ECW and you did say they would be carrying to much of the latest weaponry)?
Could they be used for troops in Ireland in the 17th century or earlier Scots troops.

(Word verification unworker how apt as I am unemployed. Last time it said Quark which is the software I use when in work. Spooky heh?)

Sir William the Aged said...

Most of the better depictions that I have seen of Scots on the Continent have involved mixing "regular" TYW figures with Covenanter figures in trews, short jacket and bonnet, maybe a handful with a plaid draped over one shoulder just for "color".

There were Scots mercenaries fighting all over the Continent as it presented a better employment opportunity than they had in Scotland (or Ireland) at the time. The problem is that we have very little evidence of specific Scots units other then the ones in Swedish service (Munro's beginning in 1629 being the most prominent), and in French service (Hepburn and the Gardes Ècossaises were both present from the 1630's).

As to these figures; depending on how large a force you planned on building, then a set of these would not be out of place in the ECW under Montrose or in Ireland. The problem with the weaponry is that there are no swords or targes, no charging Highlanders, no "humblies" with the Family axe or broadsword and bare legs. What you can do is take a look on PSR, check the link for "Periods" on the left, then check the link for "Jacobite Rebellions" and look at Strelets set number 2, that has your charging Highlanders and Humblies in it. Their set number 1 has the lads with French firelocks and some more pikemen, but also has some Highlanders with traditional weapons as well. If you were to mix parts of these three sets you could get a pretty good Highland band together, but you still need some lowlanders present. For these I would use A Call To Arms ECW pikes and muskets and either do a few head swaps or make bonnets for a few out of a bit of Green Stuff. Hope this helps a bit.