“Into the Valley of Death” is a phrase forever associated with the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War thanks to the famous poem written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in the same year (1854). The charge was a mistake and a failure, and cost the lives of many brave men. This brief action has inspired many artists and manufacturers over the years, and now Strelets have added to that list with this large set. It contains three sets that have already been released - British Hussars, British Lancers and British Light Dragoons - so we will concentrate on the original material in this set and point the curious reader to the reviews of these earlier sets.
The original components are pictured above, starting with a number of figures on foot. First we have what is surely Lord Raglan, commander of the British Army in the Crimea, holding his telescope with his one remaining arm. The rest of this row is made up of figures apparently returning from the doomed charge, having lost their horses and with many wounded. The second row starts in much the same vein, with more walking wounded, plus a number of prone casualties. The first such figure is in an odd position, and is perhaps intended to be carried by the first mounted figure in row four. We really liked the walking poses, but were not impressed by the prone figures.
Rows three, four and five show the 12 mounted figures. This is a selection of officers, more trooper poses and some casualties. The first such figure is clearly a senior officer, and the third could well pass for Lord Cardigan, the man who actually led the charge. The casualties include a man carrying another across his horse, although this has not been done well as the two bodies seem to merge together, making the figure no wider than a single man. However the ideas are good.
The horses are those included in the three previous sets, which are OK for the troopers but should really be a little more elaborate for some of the senior officers. The excellent crashing pose is here but a few of the others are not well chosen or realised. The figures tend to fit the horses very tightly, requiring the legs to part a little to allow the rider to sit on the saddle.
Accuracy everywhere is fine but the standard of sculpting is no more than those in the previous sets and perhaps a little less. Detail is fair but not sharp and some items are rather chunky in the usual Strelets style.
In conclusion this is a very appropriate addition to the existing sets of cavalry and a very nice idea. Casualties, particularly in the cavalry, are rare indeed in this hobby and the extra figures in this set go a long way to completing the figures necessary for this most famous of actions. Perhaps one day the role of the horse artillery will also be recognised, but for now this offers some particularly unusual and interesting figures.