Normans (from Norrmaen which means Northmen, people of north) was the name used in western Europe for people from Scandinavia during their economical and territorial expansion between VIII and XII century.
From IX century Normans started to create their own countries on conquered terrains like Normandy or Iceland.
In X and following centuries word Normans was used only to describe strong and well armed group of feudal knights ruling the Normandy and being Vikingsí successors. In this meaning the Normans became strong part of West Europe knighthood.
Normans managed to conquer England under the command of William the Conqueror, Sicily and southern Italy under the command of Robert Guiscard who also managed to force out from Italy. Theyíve took part in First and Third Crusade spreading their influence in the Near East, and conquered Maltese Islands and parts of Tunisia and Libya.
As well for their military accomplishments Normans are famed for their culture, architecture, music. Their adoption of Romance Language and creating Norman dialect which was important literary language left strong mark on medieval literature.
Their influence left marks from Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales through France, Italy and Sicily to North Africa and Near East.
In XII century Normans blended to native citizens of Normandy, England and Italy but many aristocrat families claim to have Norman ancestors.
One of the most famous episodes of Norman history is conquest of England in 1066.
At 28th September 1066 Norman invasion forces lead by William, Duke of Normandy landed unopposed at Pavensey. 5-10 thousands soldiers started their two weeks long march for victory which was achieved during the battle of Hastings. 14 October 1066
After a day-long battle, the English have finally been defeated and King Harold killed. Despite of tremendous losses of troops William could not be stopped in his march on London and gaining the Crown of England.
Normans and their descendants replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class of England.
, Scottish vendor, branch of Friendship Models
, offers 54mm figure sculpted by John Tassel
.Figure shows Norman foot soldier from IX century.
Norman clothes of that time consisted linen shirt and baggy breeches which narrowed to fit tightly below the knee. Criss-cross bindings round the lower leg denoted the nobility, as opposed to spiral wrappings for lesser men. A tunic and cloak was worn over a shirt. Shoes were of leather and laced up. Scale or chain mail and/or quilted armor were worn over the tunic.
Wee Friendsí Norman soldier stands still wearing a helmet with nasal over the hood, a knee-long tunic, trousers, and shoes. Over a tunic he wears a padded armor - gambeson, laced on the back. Belt with sword in a scabbard completes the outfit.
In his right hand the soldier holds a spear that is resting on the ground. Left hand holds kite shield with a round metal boss.
Kit is packed in a clear plastic box. Inside the box there is paper label with picture of unpainted figure made of metal. Beside the picture label consists only information about vendor. No assembly (except the picture of built figure) or painting instruction is attached to the kit.
Parts are additionally placed in zip-lock plastic bag.
Kit contains 7 parts:
- spearís pole
- spear head
- body with head in helmet and legs (without arms)
- left hand holding shieldís handle
- right hand
- sword in scabbard
- kite shield
Assembly and painting
Since there is no instruction for the assembly in the box the picture on the label is only assembly reference Ė nothing more is necessary since there are only few parts to assemble.
Search for painting reference is necessary since there is no instruction attached.
Bayeux Tapestry may be very good reference for start. Many helpful information may be found HERE
Detailing and quality
Parts are made of light-cream resin. Surfaces are smooth and clean.
Seam lines are present mainly on legs and chin covered with hood. Very thin flash is present on some parts though it is very fragile and should not be difficult to remove. Part of face visible from under the hood and helmet is nicely sculpted with all details flawless. Casting block and pins may require some work since hands are attached to them in few points (including elbows). Top rounded part of shield is all attached to the block. Shield has protective pad sculpted on back side and good impression is destroyed only by delicate crack on the front side (maybe itís my bad luck but itís the second Wee Friends kit with crack on the shield Iíve seen). Problem may be in the casting form but itís impossible to say for sure basing on only one figure.
Few delicate air bubble marks are present on several areas of figure.
Dry-fit check of hands and body showed that parts fit nicely and the fact that hands and body are covered with padded armor only helps in getting realistic effect after assembly and hide fit areas.
Helmet is forged from one piece of metal which was rare but existing method of helmet production at that time.
Figure is nicely sculpted and the material quality is also high. Casting has few minor flaws but after few minutes of work no sing of them should remain visible.
Padded armor texture seems to be a little bit too deep, but with painting nice effect should be easily achieved.
Sword in scabbard is simple and so is the spear but shield with inner pad is nice detail.
Segmented helmet would probably be more accurate but forged version is acceptable as well.
Lack of dynamism in pose may be considered a drawback but still the figure is very good representation of XI century Norman soldier.
This is a very nice figure in reasonable price.