Nassau was one of the many small German territories at the start of the 19th century, and joined the French-dominated Confederation of the Rhine in 1806. Its troops served the French in the Peninsular War but with Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig in 1813 Nassau, like most of his 'allies', switched to the winning side. When Napoleon burst back onto the world stage in 1815 Nassau troops were in the army of the new Kingdom of the Netherlands under William I, who being of the House of Nassau-Orange also held the lands of Nassau. These troops, around 7,000 in number, were very heavily involved in both the battle of Waterloo and the wider campaign, and greatly distinguished themselves.
After years of domination by France there was much about the Nassau infantry that was French in flavour. Like France they organised their infantry battalions with four fusilier, one grenadier and one light or flanquer company, and as with several previous sets HaT have duplicated this structure in one large set. All the figures on the first two rows are of fusiliers, and they wear the uniform suitable for the Waterloo campaign. At the time efforts were being made to change the uniform, removing some of the French influences, but this process was still underway when Quatre Bras and Waterloo were fought. These fusiliers wear an accurate uniform with rolled shoulder straps, in the newer style, but they all still carry the French-like sabre briquette. All the shakos are covered, which neatly disguises them and therefore avoids issues about the shape and origin of this item.
The next six figures are for the light companies. Their uniform was much the same as the fusiliers apart from colour details, but these men have fringed epaulettes which is fine. Indeed it means they could also be used as fusiliers as the latter had previously also had this item, for example in Spain.
The last two figures are grenadiers. This may seem to under-represent the grenadiers, but HaT have already made a half set of grenadiers which can be seen here, so these two merely add to what has already been made. Again their uniform, which dates from around 1810, is not so different from the rest of the infantry except for the fringed epaulettes and the colpack, which here has been given the plume, bag and cords as it has in the earlier set. Again there are no inaccuracies on these figures, although it is possible that they removed the decorative items from their headgear when on campaign, in which case some trimming would be in order.
16 poses is quite good in this hobby, but they are split over three different troop types. However in this case the differences are tiny and it would take little work to make any figure represent any infantry type. Therefore we find a good range of poses which include all the most important ones as well as some welcome officers and musicians. HaT have always concentrated on the basic poses rather than deliver more interesting but obscure ones which many customers dislike, and it is the same here so there are no complaints about what is on offer.
In reading some of our reviews of earlier sets you would get the impression we were not enthusiastic about the style or quality of some recent releases, and you would be right. It was therefore a real pleasure to examine this set and find slim, elegant and well-proportioned figures with good detail and natural postures. Some of the shooters lean forward as if genuinely aiming their weapon, while those advancing with bayonet seem intent on their task. Perhaps the most important place to assess the talent of a sculptor is in the faces, and we can report that these are uniformly excellent. The poses may not have a great deal of action to them, but the reality is Napoleonic armies usually acted in a slow methodical and disciplined way so what movement the sculptor has included is perfectly appropriate for this subject. By comparison to many sets these figures seem a little thin, but in truth this is more revealing of the 'chubby' nature of many other figures, particularly oversized heads which are mercifully absent here. Finally flash is minimal and there are no problems with excess plastic.
As we have said, in our view some recent HaT output has not been good quality sculpting, but that is clearly a matter of personal taste. With this set however we feel they have returned to their highest standards, and the style even works well with the much older grenadiers set, so everyone should be happy. A welcome return to form for this manufacturer and a very important addition to the ranks of figures available for all those recreations of battles in Spain and at Waterloo.