Last month I watched David Mackenzie's film Outlaw King on Netflix. I thought it was really good, especially the cinematography, though perhaps a missed opportunity to actually feature William Wallace as a living character, which could have served to undo the grotesque cultural misrepresentation that was Braveheart. However, it certainly made Robert de Bruce himself into a far more courageous, heroic and noble character than his cowardly counterpart in Mel Gibson's film.
|Chris Pine as Robert de Bruce in Outlaw King|
The film rekindled my interest in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the early 14th century, which is interesting timing, as it was also only last month that I learned the identity of two English Knights who fought in those wars, whose 90mm likenesses, unbeknownst to me, I've had sitting on my shelf for several years (see my posts on Sir Roger and Sir William).
It also just so happens that Papo, one of the companies whose models I collect, released a King Robert de Bruce figure earlier this year:
|90mm Robert de Bruce: King of Scots, from Papo|
A couple of weeks ago I made a trip to Harburn Hobbies on Leith Walk, a lovely little family-owned shop that sells model railway supplies, Scalextric kits, diecast vehicles, dolls houses and 90mm figures. I highly recommend a visit if you live in the Edinburgh area. Don't bring your children though, or you may wind up, as I did, promising to buy them a Scalextric set sometime in the future.
Anyway, I went there in the hope that they would have this figure in stock. I say hope, because, yes, I could have called ahead in advance to find out if they did or not, but I thought it would be more fun to make the trip in hope, rather than knowledge. My hope, however, was rewarded, as they did, to my delight, have a number of copies of this figure in stock. So I bought one, and I'm very glad I did.
I do have an idea for a forthcoming session of The Dolorous Stroke which will hopefully feature Robert de Bruce, but I don't want to write too much about that now, so I suppose this post will amount to a simple review of this figure. I don't normally make such a song and dance about the purchase of each and every model, but only do this now because this is the first model I've added to my collection in several years, and because my choice was inspired by the recent film.
Papo have, as expected, gone for the classic depiction of Robert de Bruce as King of Scots, in full battle gear, as featured in many an illustration of Scottish military history: a crowned bascinet, with a tabard and shield adorned with the classic Royal Arms of Scotland: the ruddy lion ramping in his field of tressured gold (as the Scottish poet, William Edmondstoune Aytoun, once put it).
|Robert de Bruce, axe in hand, riding into battle against his foes|
The Papo figure is also armed with a finely-made, gold-hilted arming sword, sheathed in a beautiful scabbard hanging from his belt, as well as a mighty-looking battle-axe in his right hand. I don't know how accurate the type of plate armour worn on his lower legs and feet is for the period, but I'm not going to complain about it because I think it looks smashing! It is indeed very fine work for a Papo model (they can be a bit hit-and-miss) and the paint job is simple but bright and effective. I particularly like his chainmail coif, especially where it hangs around the shoulders; the detail there is very crisp and sharp.
The only negative thing I will say about the figure is the size. Robert de Bruce in real life was 6'1" (an imposing height even now, but especially intimidating for the period in which he lived) and sadly the Papo model does not reflect this. I don't know if there is some kind of reverse scale creep going on, but several figures in Papo's 2018 range seem shorter than those of previous years, and their Robert de Bruce is no exception. I measured the model with a ruler; he is closer to 80mm than 90mm, making him more like a young boy in comparison to the other knights in my collection. It's not just the height of the figure either; they have given him a very slight and petite build which is sure to diminish what should be a mighty presence on the tabletop.
In any case, height issues aside, I really look forward to deploying him in a forthcoming game of TDS!