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IMEX

Set 553

Mexican Round Hat Infantry

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2006
Contents 49 figures
Poses 16 poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Hard)
Colours Red
Average Height 25 mm (= 1.8 m)

Review

This set is labelled as 'Round Hat Infantry', but that's not really true. These men are cavalry, Presidial cavalry to be exact, but they just don't happen to be mounted on horses. The history of the Presidial cavalry stretched back to the 16th century, and their role was to protect the northern border areas of New Spain (renamed Mexico in 1821 after independence). Although they also protected Spanish interests from rival colonial powers, their main task was to guard against raids by natives like the Apache, and this produced a tough and effective force that operated despite poor supply and backup. The revolt in Texas in 1836 was clearly within their area, and they were mostly used in the traditional light cavalry roles.

The first question that springs to mind is why is this a full set of dismounted cavalry? Originally the intention was to make one set, with a mix of mounted and dismounted Presidials, but this developed into two separate sets, and this one contains all the dismounted poses. We are all in favour of dismounted cavalry, but many of the poses in this set are fighting with their lance - not an ideal weapon for a foot soldier. The uniform of these men was much used for many Zorro films, so many will associate these figures with generic Mexican soldiers, usually dismounted, but in truth they would usually have been mounted or, if dismounted, would have used carbine or sword.

There are a generous number of poses in this set, the majority of which are using their lance. Given our observations about how unusual this type of combat was, the lance poses are pretty good. They also include several apparently on the march or on parade, a much more likely pose for a cavalryman, and of course the downed man (third row) could have been mounted. Two men are using firearms, and both have been supplied with a bayonet, although their weapon seems like an ordinary infantry musket rather than the shorter cavalry carbine. Two others have their swords drawn, although all the men are correctly provided with this weapon. The final two figures are of ordinary infantry with shakos (one an officer) climbing ladders such as those found in the IMEX Alamo Accessories set.

The sculpting in this set is a great improvement on their previous Mexican sets. Detail is everywhere well done although it is quite shallow, which makes them more difficult to paint. The proportions and general anatomy too are much better than the earlier examples, although it should be noted that the figures average 25mm (1.8 metres) in height, which means they are compatible with the earlier tall sets but makes them taller than the average European or North American of today, and certainly very much taller than the average Mexican man of 170 years ago. The plastic is hard and poseable and takes both glue and paint very well. We found many thin items - lances in particular - were quite bent while still in the box, which was presumably done when the box was filled. While they are easily straightened too much such bending can lead to breakage, so IMEX need to be more careful with their packing.

The Presidials, who were the original garrison of the Alamo, wore a distinctive uniform compared to the rest of the cavalry, and that has been correctly represented here. As with most sets of figures those here represent the ideal, dressed as per regulation, and with this set more than most the reality would often have been very far from ideal. The lances are a good length (and beautifully if delicately thin), although as we have said the 'carbines' are more suspect. The two shako infantry present more of a problem, with exaggerated shako peaks and very poor representation of the coat tails - something else they have in common with the Mexican Infantry figures.

Presidial cavalry did not serve in Texas in large numbers, and when they did they would be mounted, so these figures represent a tiny part of any Mexican army. Having said that all are welcome, and these are a very fine sculpting job with some very interesting and well-animated poses. We still keep expecting to find a solitary Zorro figure somewhere in the box, but at least this set is a massive improvement on the earlier Mexicans. Now when the mounted set of Presidials appears that will be much more of an event than this, but still this has some uses and clearly shows IMEX intend to fully cover the Alamo campaign, something many have been crying out for for years.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 10
Pose Number 10
Sculpting 9
Mould 10

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