There have been several sets of British infantry made for the 1815 campaign, and at first glance this offering from Italeri seems to be merely one more. However a more detailed examination reveals the sculptor has been very specific about the men that he is representing, whether by accident or design, so we will begin our review by discussing the figures in the first two rows above, which are very different to those in the third.
Italeri have labelled these figures as for 1815, and those in the first two rows certainly have the correct look, with the 1812 pattern shako (later called the ‘Waterloo’ or ‘Belgic’ shako) with its raised front. All aspects of the uniform are correct, as is the trotter knapsack and other equipment, but there are little details which allow us to be far more precise about the men these models portray. First, all have a badge on their cartridge box, which reveals that they are Foot Guards as they alone had this device. Unfortunately the badge is too small to be clearly seen, but another clue as to identity is that all the men wear their trousers tucked into short gaiters. This feature was unique to the 1st Foot Guards, so we can be sure that this is the regiment depicted. We can even go further still, as the men have wings on their shoulders rather than straps, making them either Light Company or Grenadiers. Some of the figures have been done with covers on their shakos, which we were pleased to see, although these have been depicted tied at the top rather than over the badge as all contemporary illustrations show. The drummer boy has the correct chevrons down his sleeves, and with his three stripes on his right sleeve the man to his left seems to be a sergeant (the third man in the top row seems to have corporal’s chevrons). However we were surprised that this figure is armed with nothing more than a cane, when he would normally have had a short pike and quite possibly a musket (he does carry an ammunition pouch after all). He should also have a sword, but this too is missing. Beside him is the officer, in a slightly more combative pose. He has no epaulettes over his wings so must be either an ensign or more likely a lieutenant. His sword is not as curved and would be expected, but many officers tended to please themselves when it came to swords and the rest of his uniform is fine.
The bottom row holds some particularly interesting figures. Their most obvious characteristic is the old 1806 pattern shako, as the rest of their uniform and kit is entirely standard for Waterloo. The shako bears an unusual badge, and a much smaller badge at the rear. Such devices were unique to the 28th (North Gloucestershire) regiment at Waterloo, having been awarded for service in Egypt. This regiment distinguished itself both at Quatre Bras and at Waterloo, and was mentioned in despatches by Wellington.
For the most part the poses are perfectly good, although some wargamers will have little use for the crouching figure in the second row. Our only real complaint about poses however is the kneeling firing man in the bottom row. He is basically squatting – a very uncomfortable position which is hard to hold and forms no part of any Napoleonic drill book. It reminded us of the equally poor but similar pose in the Esci set.
It must be said that recent Italeri output has ranged from good to dreadful, but if all future Italeri output is done by this sculptor then we will be very happy. The figures are beautifully done with all the detail you could want being nice and clear. Unlike some recent sets the human proportions are excellent, with relatively little extra plastic and no flash at all. One peculiarity of all the firing poses is the awkward way they hold their musket – specifically their left hand, which wraps round the barrel far more than would be natural or normal. Also everyone here who has a bayonet fixed has it above the barrel of the musket, when it should be to the right as the man sees it - where it is it would interfere with line of sight, though aiming was vague enough with such weapons.
While the Foot Guards have been modelled before, the unusual 28th is new in this hobby, but whether you consider this as an addition of two important regiments or a more general injection of new British infantry figures, this is a very fine quality set. The sculptor could benefit from learning a little more about his subject, but any Napoleonic enthusiast will find plenty here to enjoy.