While the Cossacks were excellent horsemen, their value in World War I as cavalry in other respects was debated both at the time and since. Less willing than regular cavalry to submit to discipline, they were often given the least popular duties to perform, although they did excel at reconnaissance. This set contains Cossacks from the Kuban and Terek hosts, most of which were Ukrainian but with many that were Great Russian, and both were considered Caucasian.
Something like a quarter of the Cossack cavalry squadrons raised upon the onset of war were Kuban or Terek, and the figures in this set are a good representation of their clothing. They wear the papakha busby and most wear a greatcoat which is of infantry pattern. The officer, trumpeter and one trooper (last figure in third row) can clearly be seen wearing their traditional czerkeska coat with the cartridge loops on the breast, and the last figure also wears the sleeveless black felt cloak known as a burka which is typical Caucasian garb. All the men have their sword and knife (kinjal) correctly hanging from their waistbelt, with rifle slung over the right shoulder and bandolier over the left.
Caucasian Cossacks were not issued with lances, so all the men here have swords and rifles. They are a fairly standard selection of poses, but there is not much wrong with any of them. Some of the horse poses however are not physically possible, although most are OK.
The sculpting is not particularly attractive, with some lack of detail and poor definition. We also felt the figures were a little flat, although they still fit their horses well enough. However there is no flash so the figures are ready to go straight off the sprue.
The horses are also used in other World War I Russian cavalry sets, and don't really match the small hardy animals most Cossacks rode. Equally the saddles and harness are not correct, although to many eyes they will probably be close enough. While some Cossacks may have been remounted by the central government, and therefore rode standard army horses, it is unclear to what extent this occurred, and in our view this retracts from the Cossack look of the set.
Cossacks were fiercely loyal to the person of the Tsar and felt no bond with the Russian peasantry, so they made excellent troops in support of the civilian police suppressing revolt and unrest. The fact that they refused to do so in early 1917 did much to help the first revolution succeed, but in the following years they fought a long and ultimately fruitless battle with the new government to maintain their status and lifestyle. Therefore these figures have many uses not only for the Great War, but also the revolutions at home and the civil war that followed.