When revolution began in the North American colonies, the British Army was, as usual, at a peacetime level, which is to say dramatically lower in numbers than it had been during the hugely successful Seven Years War just over a decade earlier. Making war on the American colonists was widely unpopular in Britain, with many senior soldiers and politicians opening expressing support for the claims of the Americans, so it proved difficult to recruit sufficient forces to meet the sudden new emergency. Add to that the very long supply line to Britain, and it is remarkable that the British Army was so successful in that conflict. Ultimately of course the war was lost, yet the British infantry had shown considerable courage and adaptability during those difficult years, and the impact of the war undoubtedly shaped our modern world more than most other conflicts, so it was strange that this debut figure set from Accurate was only the second set to depict these men, following on from the very unsatisfactory Airfix set of some years previously.
This is in fact a scaled down copy of their 1:32 British Infantry set, but with a number of new poses. With a very impressive 17 poses in all, this set comes close to the largest sets Airfix ever produced, and all bar one of the poses are very good in our opinion. There are 12 ordinary soldiers, with all the usual necessary ones like firing, advancing, standing and marching, plus some more interesting and useful poses like the man shouting and the one standing at ease. This makes for a wide and attractive range of poses, and the only one we did not care for is the man holding his musket over his head; presumably supposed to be bayoneting or clubbing, but we did not think this was a particularly convincing pose, though like many of the others it is very lively. Having amply provided for the private soldiers, the set also delivers some fine command figures, starting with an excellent drummer who is convincingly actually using his drum. Then we have an ensign holding the flag, again a very lively and appealing figure, as is the sergeant holding his halberd and clearly exhorting his men to greater efforts in an unsubtle way. Finally we have two officers, both of which have been given particularly unusual and well-thought out poses. The first is thrusting with his sword and holds a pistol in the other hand; not the kind of posture most officers would take very often, but that is OK because the other man is far more typical, simply standing and watching with sword drawn but clearly not in actual combat. A mounted officer would certainly have been very useful here, but on the whole we cannot complain about the number of quantity of poses in this set.
Another great feature of this set is the men are not all dressed and equipped in exactly the same way. The basic coat, tricorn hat, breeches, stockings, shoes and gaiters are there of course, and all are correctly done, but there is variety in some of these, and particularly in the kit they carry. Only the marching figure has what might be described as a reasonably complete set of accoutrements, with cartridge pouch, water bottle, bayonet scabbard, haversack and knapsack, while all the other figures are missing several of these, but in different combinations. Thus several are missing a cartridge pouch, which is unforgivable, and most also lack a scabbard for their bayonet, which is also extremely unlikely. More credible is the lack of haversacks on some of the men, though we would have thought very few should be missing the water bottle. Most have no knapsack, which is fine. On the subject of the water bottle, two types are on show here. Many have the circular wooden keg which would be so familiar on British troops of the later Napoleonic Wars, but it is unclear when this was first issued. Certainly it was around in the 1790s, but whether it was in use during the Revolution is far from certain, so we would have much preferred the metal container, seen on some of these figures, to have been on all of them.
The sculpting is excellent, with crisp, clear detail and perfectly done human anatomy and folds in clothing. Since the flag wraps round the ensign somewhat, problems of undercutting have been avoided by making this man lose his hat, but nowhere is there any excess plastic, even on the drummer, which is perfectly done as one piece despite this being a challenging pose often poorly done in other sets. All the poses are realistically done, and this is one of our favourite Bill Farmer sets. On the samples we have seen there is no flash at all, although a couple are missing belts round the back that should be there, but that is easily resolved with painting.
There are plenty of highlights in this set for us. The drummer with his fur cap is wonderful, even if he should be armed with a sword, and the standing officer will always feature in our top figures even though he is doing very little. There are some down sides too, though. Apart from the questionable water carriers and the lack of bayonet scabbards already mentioned, the flag is a fair bit smaller than it should be, and the staff is also a little shorter than the real thing, presumably to allow the figure to fit on the sprue. Although both officers and the sergeant wear a sash, quite correctly, neither officer has a gorget, which is a surprise (and in fact the halberd of the sergeant was only carried in the early part of the war, replaced by a fusil later on). Despite the small errors we continue to have a warm regard for this set, and while IMEX would later actually improve on it once they had bought the mould, to date no one has come anywhere close to producing a set of these men to the same quality as this one. Even after all these years, this remains the definitive set for British infantry during the Revolutionary War.