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Esci

Set 230

British Light Dragoons

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1986
Contents 12 mounted figures and 12 horses
Poses 7 poses, 3 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown, Tan
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

This set is one of those 'cheap and quick' sets produced by Esci. Basically it is set 220 (British Crimean War Hussars) with a couple of extra poses. As a result, it is a compromise, and while some of it works, the rest does not.

Technically, at the time of Waterloo the British Army had no hussar regiments. In 1806 it had converted three regiments of light dragoons (the 7th, 10th and 15th regiments) to the hussar type by reclothing them in the hussar style, and the 18th regiment of light dragoons followed in 1807, yet in 1815 all retained their designation as light dragoons, but with the addition of '(Hussars)' after their title. In fact the difference between light dragoons and hussars at the tactical level was zero, but of course most felt the hussars got a much better uniform. So, as is clear from the box artwork, this set of light dragoons actually relates to just the four regiments dressed and equipped like hussars, all of which saw some action at Waterloo.

The set includes seven hussar poses, five of which are the same as the 'donor' set, with the hussars wielding a carbine and a pistol being the two new ones. Ironically these figures, new and reused, make much better Napoleonic Hussars than they do Crimean War ones, with no problems in the uniform at all. The only omission is that only a few are carrying a carbine, whereas on the Waterloo campaign hussars would always expect to have a carbine. While Esci mention 'Waterloo' on the box, these men wear the later-style busby with the shorter height and the chin-scales, which perhaps appeared around 1813 or 1814, making them also usable for the very last stages of the Peninsular War, but not for most of that conflict, when the busby was significantly taller. Also it should be pointed out that some of the British hussar regiments at Waterloo wore a shako. One defect which we would acknowledge is very hard to see is that the braiding on the chest has three rows of buttons when it should have five.

The horses have fared less well. They are quite correct for the Crimean period, but for the Napoleonic they should have a sheepskin over the plain saddle with a blanket roll over the front, under which would be two pistols. Consequently, as with the carbine no man is carrying pistols except the one actually about to use his. The absence of the sheepskin is a serious defect as this is a very recognisable part of a hussar's appearance. Also the bridle is not is well done as it could be; in particular the very noticeable cross straps on the horse's face are missing here.

Given these misgivings, the figures are very well sculpted with lots of good clear detail. The horses come separate from their bases, but the pegs with which they are placed in their bases fit well and should present no problems. All the poses are fair without being exceptional, and there is virtually no flash. However the horses do tend to have very unnatural looking circular mould marks on their flanks which require considerable effort to remove. As with most Esci sets, good quality workmanship, but the set could have been so much better if the trouble had been taken to redo the horses with the correct saddles, and to give each man a carbine and brace of pistols.

This set is much better than the only other British Hussars set at the time, that from Airfix, and mounted on more suitable horses from other hussar sets this provides some very useful light cavalry for Wellington's operations.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 7
Pose Quality 8
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 9
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"British Cavalry Equipments 1800-1941" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.138) - Mike Chappell - 9781841764719
"British Cavalry Uniforms Since 1660" - Blandford - Michael Barthorp - 9780713710434
"British Cavalryman 1792-1815" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.8) - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9781855323643
"British Napoleonic Uniforms" - Spellmount - Carl Franklin - 9781862274846
"Napoleonic Wars: Weillington's Army" - Brassey (History of Uniforms Series) - Ian Fletcher - 9781857531732
"Uniforms of Waterloo" - Blandford - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9781854093943
"Wellington's Army" - Windrow & Greene (Europa Militaria Special No.5) - Neil Leonard - 9781872004792
"Wellington's Light Cavalry" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.126) - Bryan Fosten - 9780850454499
Magazines
"Tradition (English Language)" - No.48

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