1806 was a momentous year. Well actually every year is a momentous year to someone, but 1806 has as much claim to the title as any other. It saw the birth of such notables as the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Mexican hero Benito Juárez, and the death of the politician William Pitt the Younger, while the Lewis and Clark expedition came to its successful conclusion. However in central Europe 1806 is remembered as the year that Prussia and Saxony fought Napoleon at the battle of Jena-Auerstädt and came a very bad second. Prussia’s military reputation rested largely on the successes achieved under Frederick the Great, but Jena was to prove how hollow that reputation had become. The repercussions were to shape European history for many years.
As with most European armies of the day, that of Prussia had three main types of infantryman - light, musketeers and grenadiers. In 1806 a Prussian line regiment normally had 10 companies of musketeers and two of grenadiers, although in most cases the latter were taken from their parent regiment and combined to create temporary all-grenadier battalions. Traditionally grenadiers had taller hats to emphasise their supposed greater height, and since 1799 the Prussians had worn a peaked cap with a tall leather front plate edged with worsted roll, as seen on these figures. On the left of the cap was a plume, and the front bore eagle and flaming grenade badges. Otherwise the uniform was much like the rest of the infantry, and has been quite well done on these figures. Proportions however are not quite so good, with coat tails that vary greatly in length (some being much too short), the worsted trim being somewhat exaggerated and the knapsack looking a bit too small, although it is good to see small items such as tent pegs included.
HaT have provided 10 poses, and have included all the basic essentials in the mix with marching, advancing and firing figures. The fifer, NCO and officer poses are all welcome although inevitably they are over-represented (for example the box contains four fifers for 36 grenadiers whereas in reality there were eight for about 700). However the officer is also usable for other line infantry as there is quite rightly nothing about his uniform that marks him out as a grenadier. The choice of poses are OK except that the fifer has his legs well apart, suggesting a wide stride or advancing rapidly, something that would make playing his instrument very difficult!
The figures are made in quite a soft plastic, and the detail too is a little soft, although it is reasonably good and clear enough. There is a slightly chunky feel to the sculpting and some very flat areas such as the officer’s back, but the overall style is very similar to the already released set of HaT 1806 Prussian Musketeers, which is a good thing for consistency. As grenadiers all the men should have moustaches, and in the past we have become accustomed to seeing these moulded on the figure, which does not seem to have been done in this set, although of course they could be very thin in reality and therefore simply need painting on. Also the badges on the hats are devoid of detail, with the grenade being represented as a simple circle. Finally the advancing man (first figure in second row) has one leg directly behind the other, a physically impossible stance which makes him very flat.
While not without fault there is nothing here that is a show-stopper, and most will find this a very useful set. Levels of flash are low, and any problems with accuracy (such as the cap badges) seem to be down to the sculpting rather than the design. For too long this period in Prussia’s history has been overlooked and it is great to see more sets like this now appearing. Another example of how HaT cover their chosen subjects with unrivalled depth.